I love granny gowns–those big voluminous distinctly un-sexy cozy warm nightgowns that make the winters feel a little warmer. I have loved them since I was a kid, when I would get one as a gift every Christmas Eve, which I would then sleep in and wear to open presents the next morning. It’s a love affair I never quite grew out of.
Unfortunately, I’m also tall. And the whole granny gown gestalt doesn’t quite work if the thing only comes to your knees or so. Plus, while I love them in theory, that high neck with the eyelet lace thing had a tendency to choke me sometimes…
When I stopped at the fabric store to buy something for a Luke Skywalker costume a few weeks ago, I happened to notice that all their cotton flannel was 60% off. That’s all it took.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I am also interested in historical costuming, and that I’ve clothed my family for Renaissance Faires for the past couple of years. So earlier this week I took my favorite easy chemise pattern (basically, Elizabethan–or in this case, Italian–undergown) and made one up in flannel. It comes all the way to the floor, has long sleeves, and a low scooped neck that doesn’t choke me. And it’s as cozy and comfy as anything I remember from childhood.
The pattern I used is here (with elastic or drawstring–I used elastic–neck and wrists, very un-”period” but just fine for a nightgown), but this one (gathered neck and sleeves) looks also like a good one I might try next. (Hint: the smaller the overlapping area in the corners–those triangles you cut off–the wider your neckline will need to be–think armpits here! And if you are someone comfortable with sewing in gussets, those triangles can be used to add roominess under the pits as gussets–instructions for doing that you can find at this site, which has yet another pattern for making a chemise-that-would-also-make-an-easy-flannel-nightie. See how its suggested layout asks for four little triangles? Well guess what–if you use the FIRST site, the triangles will be automatically cut out when you make the neckline. I’m a big gusset fan, myself.)
It’s exceedingly easy–I’m 5’10″ and 4 yards of fabric gave me a really nice nightgown with almost no scraps afterwards. I could easily make several for my daughter too, if I can find a way around the whole flammability thing–on the one hand, I hate to have her sleep in chemically treated fabric…on the other, this stuff (I tested it) goes up really fast if you put a match near it, and given that we have a gas stove and she’s both highly curious and fairly klutzy I just would be a little too nervous. 100% wool flannel is naturally flame resistant, so if I can find some of that I will give it a shot for her, but in the meantime it looks like it’s just me…
This project took me just about 2 hours total, beginning to end, including taking measurements, cutting fabric, and ripping out the sleeves when I sewed something wrong the first time. (Yeah, I know, I do that all the time. My seam ripper is my best friend.) I’ve made about 4 chemises by this pattern in the past, so it wasn’t brand-new to me, but it’s still a pretty easy project if you sew even a little.
Go for it!