Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - finished

It should be no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I enjoy sewing the same pattern over and over (and over…) again.  What can I say?  Once I go through the trouble of tracing, muslining, and adjusting a pattern, I like to get as much mileage out of it as possible.  Plus, there’s just something so satisfying about starting a project without all the fuss of fitting – just cut and sew.

So, here I present to you yet another pair of Carolyn Pajamas, this time in short sleeves and shorts for the upcoming spring and summer months.  The main fabric is a railroad denim that had been marinating in my mini-stash for over a year.  Since I don’t stash fabric, the fact that this piece had not yet been put to good use was driving me crazy.  It was one of only 2 uncut pieces of fabric that I currently own, and it was long overdue for its time at the sewing machine.  I had originally bought it to make a pair of pants, but I recently changed my mind and decided to use it for PJs instead.  Done and done!

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - back Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - side

Project Stats

Pattern: Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files, size 10.

Fabric: This project was a total stash-buster!  The main fabric is Robert Kaufman railroad denim, with contrasts of pink Oxford shirting leftover from my Flamingo Archer and printed floral voile from my Floral Voile Archer.  All 100% cotton.  All purchased in person at Gather Here, my local independent fabric store (which just moved to an awesome new location!).  I just barely squeezed the shirt and shorts out of 2 yards of the denim, excluding the contrast cuffs and pocket which would NOT have fit!

Modifications: Same as my flannel Carolyn PJ set: added a 3/8 inch broad shoulder adjustment to the front and back of the shirt, and added 1/2 inch to each side seam at the hips, tapering to nothing at the waist.  The only modification I made to the shorts was the addition of flat piping along the pocket openings, as in my recent flannel PJ shorts.

Level of crafty satisfaction: This set is ok, nothing too exciting.  The denim has a little less mechanical stretch (really, almost zero) than the flannel I used in my previous Carolyn PJ shirt, so I suspect the shirt will be just slightly tight across the upper back once I start wearing it (still a little too cold for short sleeves here).  I should really add a larger (maybe 5/8 inch) broad shoulder adjustment if I make this top again.  I like the color combination in this set though, and I think it’s fun to have another matching PJ set.  🙂

In the photos below I hiked up the shirt a bit so you can see how the shorts fit.  And no, I didn’t notice that my lapel was sticking up until I looked at these photos, oops!  The lapels do have a tendency to stick out when the shirt is buttoned, although this may be because I sewed down the facings (more on that below).

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - front with short waistband Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - back with short waistband

Construction Details: Shirt

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - shirt collar and lapels

The trickiest part of this pattern is the collar and lapel area, which is to be expected.  I’ve found that it takes quite a bit of fiddling, patience, and precision to achieve a smooth finish here, but it’s totally do-able if you take your time.  Accurate 5/8 inch seam allowances are your friend here.

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - lapel with topstitching

I’m happy with my results and enjoy gazing at this lapel corner and topstitching.  I didn’t include piping around the lapels in this set, which definitely made things easier to manage.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see where I stitched the facings down.

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - facing detail

I just serged the edges of the facings and stitched them in place, nothing fancy.  On my flannel PJ shirt, I noticed that the facings got all scrunched up and crappy-looking after washing and drying the shirt, and it was driving me crazy!  I hate facings flapping around like that.  Stitching them down does affect the ability of the lapels to fold outward nicely, but I bet if I had pinned the facings in place while the lapels were folded, it would have made a difference.  A dressform would have come in handy here, but alas, I don’t have one.  Anyway, I care more about the facings staying in place than a less than perfect lapel roll line.  After all, they’re just pajamas.

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - pocket and buttons

The buttons I used were some craptastic, cheapo white buttons that I had leftover from a craft project from a bygone era.  Again, I was trying to use all stash items for this project.  I probably wouldn’t have used them for a real shirt, but I deemed them ok for PJs.  The buttons are hand sewn, as usual.  For the pocket, I used a double layer of the voile, folded at the top edge, to give the fabric a little more opacity.

Construction Details: Shorts

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - shorts front Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - shorts interior

There isn’t much else to say about these shorts after my recent flannel pair.  Interestingly though, I used a different type of 1.5 inch elastic for this pair, and I noticed that I used a substantially different length to get a similar fit.  Just like fabric, all elastics are different!  I always try on the garment before sewing the elastic ends together, just to be sure.

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - shorts pocket with floral piping

I love the little bit of floral contrast along the pocket openings.  To give the voile a little more substance, I added some fusible interfacing before folding the strip in half and sewing it in.  There’s also a strip of interfacing along the bias-cut edge of the pocket opening.

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - elastic casing closure

I used the same elastic insertion technique that I mentioned last time, too.  You can see in the photo above how I zig-zagged the opening closed at the center back waistband seam.  (You can also see how my machine skipped a stitch, oops!)

Bobbin thread remaining at end of project

And here’s how much bobbin thread I had leftover at the end of this project – I just made it!!  I started with a full bobbin at the beginning of this PJ set, so I can report that sewing this set takes exactly 1 bobbin worth of thread.

Final Thoughts

Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim - front

For those of you keeping track, I’ve sewn 8 separate garments using this pattern, including muslins: 3 shirts, 3 pants, and 2 shorts.  I think that’s enough!  I don’t plan on using this pattern again anytime soon, but I really like it and will probably return to it for more fun PJ sewing at some point in the future.

Now the question remains: what to sew next?  I still have that floral trench coat fabric from my sewcation to cut into… hmmm…  🙂

14 thoughts on “Carolyn Pajamas in railroad denim

  1. Cute! Love the contrast bits. I have the same issue with flopping facings after a trip through the wash… I hate the thought of having to iron my pj’s!


    • I know, right? I actually ironed my flannel PJ shirt after the first wash and decided that it was pretty ridiculous. Sewed the facings down 5 minutes later. 🙂


  2. Those pj’s are super-cute on you!
    PS you have my utmost admiration for not stashing fabric. That’s my goal!
    I want to use up my stash and then just buy for one project at a time. I’m most excited about fabric right as I buy it, so that’s when using it is the most fun.


    • Thanks Chris! My non-stashing behavior is influenced heavily by my almost complete lack of disposable income (thanks, grad school). But I agree with you about buying fabric – the excitement fades over time!


  3. Generally I am not ever bothered about sleepwear (i just use old old scratty t shirts) but these pyjamas have me re-evaluating that. Lovely fabric and your sewing is meticulous! What an inspiration👏👏👏


    • Thanks for the kind words, Hila! I like to take my time with my sewing and enjoy all the little details. Having a few matching PJs sets is fun – worth the effort. 🙂 I’ve been loving your Renfrews too, BTW!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are inspiring me to pull out my Carolyn pattern to make a Spring/Summer pair of jammies! These are so cute– I love the accent fabrics with the denim. I used that same fabric to make pants for my boys. It’s such a nice weight and the stripes are so fun.


    • Thanks Teri! Isn’t it a great fabric? It has a really nice light/medium weight and was a dream to sew with. And thanks for sharing your interfacing issues with your Carolyn top a while back – I made sure to use the good stuff for this set.


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