Clothing + Fashion Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

Published on October 24th, 2011 | by Julie Finn


Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

My children don’t need flame-retardant pajamas, and neither do yours. I sew their pajamas myself, using some of these five simple hand-sewn pajama projects.

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself
My children don’t need pajamas treated with chemical flame retardants. I don’t leave candles, incense, fireplaces, or fire of any kind unattended, I don’t permit smoking in our house, and even if I did do any of those things, I’m still going to go ahead and say that my kids don’t need flame-retardant pajamas.

They don’t wear flame-retardant play clothes, and play clothes are what they wear when they light incense and make crayon encaustic art and blow out birthday candles, anyway.

I sew my children’s pajamas by the season–two for cool weather, two for hot weather, two for cold weather, and by the time it gets to cool weather again we’re up to a new size. My girls have worn pajamas made from vintage Sesame Street bedsheets that they helped sew, nightgowns made from flannel that they choose brand-new from the store, pajama pants of fleece that got worn night and day and then night again.

Children’s pajamas are actually some of the easiest children’s clothing to make, and they can be the most fun to embellish. Check out these five pajama projects for inspiration:

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself
If your loved one already owns a pair of comfy, well-fitting pants or shorts with an elasticized waist, then it’s quite easy to copy that pattern to make a pair of pajama pants. The Simple Pajama Shorts tutorial from Made shows you exactly how to do it, even down to copying that fiddly little difference between the front and back of the pants.

For pajama shorts, consider some more unusual, but very comfortable, fabric choices–pillowcases, thrifted XL T-shirts with fun images, an adult’s fleece pajama pants, etc.

[Image by Made, used with attribution]

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

For a new take on pillowcase clothing, check out this pillowcase nightgown tutorial from Two Butterflies. Using a pillowcase saves you a LOT of hemming, and using a  shirt that the child already owns will allow you to get a whole season’s extra use from a shirt that has grown to short or has some stains at the bottom.

Just note–if you use a child’s pajama top for the top of the nightgown, it’s still going to be flame-retardant.

[Image by Two Butterflies, used with attribution]

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

Pajama tops are more complicated than pajama pants, but if you’ve ever sewn a shirt from a pattern, then you can figure out how to modify patterns. To make an even comfier pajama top, for instance, Handmade Intentions shows you how to modify a shirt pattern to make lapped shoulders. You can even use a well-fitting shirt to make that pattern!

Lapped shoulders allow you to sew a pull-on shirt from non-stretch fabric, such as fleece, or to sew a shirt especially for baby and toddler heads, which are enormous.

[Image by Handmade Intentions, used with attribution]

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

Sewing pajamas from a pattern, however, can give you access to details, modifications, and embellishments that it can be hard to come up with on your own. The source of some of my favorite pajama patterns, for instance, is Weekend Sewing, by Heather Ross.

There’s not much for toddlers in Weekend Sewing, but this kimono top is my go-to new baby gift, and for kids around four and up (as long as you modify for length), the Pajamas for Everyone is a workable pajama pants pattern for the entire family. I’ve used it to make pajama pants for an adult and two small children from the same king-sized vintage sheet–if I have both the fitted and flat sheets to work with, I truly can make pajamas for everyone!

Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

With the money that you save by not over-buying on-sale pajama sets from Old Navy, you can afford to purchase a high-quality boutique children’s pajamas pattern, one that you can use for several years of pajama sewing. I own several sewing patterns from Oliver + S, and I sew the (now out-of-print, alas) Bedtime Story Pajamas numerous times each year in numerous sizes–sometimes the whole set and sometimes just the pants or top, in fleece and flannel and quilter’s cotton, and always in the winter, in coordinating prints, the better to pose for Christmas card photos.

[Image by Oliver + S, used with attribution]

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

9 Responses to Kids Don’t Need Flame-Retardant Pajamas: Five Handmade Pajamas to Sew Yourself

  1. Kaotickrafter says:

    Guess I never much thought about the flame retardant thing for pj’s. My daughter typically just chooses to sleep in whatever she wore during the day. Occasionally she will pick out pj’s, but usually only when she takes a bath or shower before bed. 

    • Pumpkinbear says:

      We don’t *really* do a lot of pj’s here, either, although the kids technically have them, but my in-laws are going to be babysitting my kiddos overnight next month, so I figured that I’d better step up! In my experience, grandparents tend to expect things like pajamas on my children. And don’t even get them started about socks!

  2. Nancy says:

    Love the pillowcase PJ idea! I do something similar, but instead of a pillowcase, I cut off an adult t-shirt under the arms and use that tube of fabric for the skirt. Those are my daughter’s favorite thing to sleep in.

    • Julie Finn says:

      That sounds ridiculously comfy. I use the front graphics on XL T-shirts a lot for other sewing projects, so gathering the bottom fabric and using it for a nightgown, perhaps layered with several rows of T-shirts, would be a really excellent re-use, I bet.

  3. Jules Means says:

    I love this post because I have been a champion of natural untreated fabrics for pjs (and everybody else) since my children were born ( 1980 and 1982!) I alway said that I made their pjs because I didn’t believe that flame retardant chemicals were healthy and they were unnecessary because my children were not allowed to smoke in bed- ha ha…but seriously I wouldn’t even dress them in polyester because babies sweat so when they sleep. My son got a rash when he was very little and our pediatrician suspected Bounce dryer sheets. As soon as I stopped using those poisonous things the rash cleared up. I am also the queen of ripping out tags in all our clothes. Why do the manufacturers not realize how much the tags bother us?

  4. Pingback: Toxic Flame Retardants Are Found In The Vast Majority Of U.S. Couches, Research Finds | PlanetSave

  5. Pingback: Industrial Chemicals Present In Many Foods Within The U.S., Research Finds | PlanetSave

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