Comfy child’s nightgown from adult t-shirt

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I got into a sewing groove with the Kids Clothes Week Challenge and I've just kept going. I *should* be sewing Maia's purple monster costume since we've gone to the store and picked out materials for it (purple crushed velvet!) but I'm a little stumped as to how to make the spikes (zigzags) stiff enough to stick out from her body. So I'm procrastinating with a couple of smaller projects.

This one is a super comfy child's nightgown made from one of my t-shirts. It turned out pretty well, I think. Here's how I did it (since I'm sure you want to make one for your daughter as well, right?).


The t-shirt I picked out (wrinkles and all) was a fitted tee made of pale pink eyelet knit. It seemed well suited to a nightgown transformation, but I really think any t-shirt would work. This would be fun with a funky image tee.


First, I trimmed the sleeves and armpit areas to cut it down to Maia's size. If you're starting with a larger, baggier shirt, you might want to trim all the way down to the bottom to make more of an A line.


I turned the shirt inside out and pinned the sides that I just trimmed off. I sewed the sides first, angling very gently from the current seam so the transition would be seamless (ha!). Then I hemmed the sleeves. I turned the edge up just once since the knit won't unravel.


And last, I pulled in the fabric at the neckline to make some pleats in the front and the back (and make the neck Maia's size).

I sewed them on with a double line of stitches at the neckline.


That's all! Now, since I very conveniently had two of the exact same t-shirts (I think they were on clearance somewhere for some crazy low price of $2 or something), you can see the finished child's nightgown next to the original adult shirt.


Maia likes her new nightgown and it fits well.


I might make a second one, or perhaps another of the kind I sewed
last year
, since all she has in the pajama department are
longsleeve/long pants and they won't cut it as it get's hotter.

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  1. says

    On the spikes…I made a fleece dinosaur/dragon and used some flat batting from some packaging, and I bet the foam used for packing sometimes would work to. If you don’t have any, you might be able to get remnants from the fabric store or a packing store, since you won’t need much.
    I love the nightgown, I’ve been trying to size down some tees and was having trouble with the huge necklines. Pleats! Genius!

  2. says

    This is so sweet and looks so comfy! I am definitely going to remember this when my daughter gets older (she’s only 8 months right now). Thanks so much!

  3. says

    I know. I want to make one of these for my 8 month old but there’s no way it’ll work with one of my t-shirts. Maybe with one of the 4 year old’s t-shirts!

  4. says

    oh, thank you! i need to make sienna some nightgowns. cotton ones (without licensed characters especially) are so hard to find.
    don’t know that this would be suitable for your/maia’s needs, but i once made sienna a dragon costume based on a martha stewart idea. i used sponges for the spikes! i cut them into trianglish shapes and glued them on. the scales were foil muffin cup liners. this worked great for temporary, short-term use.
    you have been a busy, busy sewing machine! ;)

  5. Fitzy says

    I would sew a simple pocket shape and fill very lightly with poly fiberfill. Then just sew them into the side seam. It’s going to be cute nonetheless! 20+ years ago I made a green dinosauer out of wide-wale courderoy, long tail running off the back, complete with spikes from the hood to the tail. Spats and handcovers too. Musta been love, lol.

  6. says

    I made spikes for a Brobee (from Yo Gabba Gabba) hat for my son’s Halloween costume two years ago, and I found that the perfect material to make them look substantial and stand up well was good old ordinary plain kitchen sponges – cut to shape and covered with felt! Just a suggestion :)

  7. amy says

    I made some felt toys (like a mailbox) that needed something to make different parts flexible, sturdy, and washable. I used plastic needlepoint canvas- it can be cut with scissors to any shape, doesn’t weigh much, and is very inexpensive. I can totally envision those dinosaur spikes poking out with a bit of plastic canvas inside them and a little fiberfill to make them a teensy puffy. Another idea is pipe cleaners and fiberfill/wool- if they are really skinny (used these for a bug costume once).

  8. says

    Hi- I’m new to your blog and am super happy to have link-leaped my way to it in the wee hours of the night (or is it say come 5am?). This nightgown is nearly identical to a dress I made for my daughter from one of old shirts. I love the evolution of ideas that extend from the craft community.
    Last fall I made my kiddo’s extra long (she is 4 1/2)and did strikingly similar (though less well executed)pleating on the neckline- it serves another purpose though. I did it so that I could let the back pleats out as she gets bigger. Combined with a variable length this one dress could last for quite some time. She is able to wear it as a shorter dress now with her growth spurt and the warmer weather- and I think by fall or early winter it will make a nice sort of swing-style tunic length top. Perfect for wearing with leggings or the like. At that point I will likely let out some pleats as well.
    I stitched the neckline first as it was cut and set so it was much too big and would have been like a vamp-y V-neck on a wee 4 year old! Then I made the pleats and stitched over them in a zig-zag stitch that would be secure but distinguishable from the original thread lines. Using a contrasting color thread helped and adds a sweet and subtle touch to the dress.
    To bring it back from the fall and winter doldrums my daughter helped pick out fabric for a long pocket on the front. She chose a lighter colored cotton camisole that had a broken strap and stain. So she got a pretty pocket with lace edging and I was able to sew it using a star-patterned stitch in yet another contrasting thread. Now that it is updated for spring and summer she is wearing it once a week again!
    Thanks to you I am all geared up to stop complaining about all pajamas being chemical laden or 2-piece style! I am off to the fabric and upcycling bin to gather the goods for some quick-sew nighties that my bitty girl will be gaga for. Thanks for the idea!
    I am getting ready to redo my blog and I plan on adding the dress project as an example of evolving upcycling as craft and consciousness as one. I will email you a link as soon as I do. Thanks again and I’ll be checking in on your projects regularly!