Suitable Fabrics For The Pyjama Party

Woo-hoo! Sounds like you’re well up for a pyjama party. You bring the marshmallows, I’ll make the hot chocolate. I am very excited – can you tell?

I thought I’d run through some of the suitable fabric options for making a pair of pyjama bottoms. I can already see that many of you will be using this as a stash-busting exercise (respect) but others, myself included, may be thinking about buying some fabric especially for the make.

What would be some good or less good choices? I’m going to run through a few swatch examples and would love it if readers made their own recommendations – or voiced warnings.

First up, the cottons – or are they?

Working left to right, the lemon yellow is actually some Italian suiting. But look at that drawn thread detail. Wouldn’t that make the most breathable wear on the planet? Some of you may be in or visiting hot climes, so natural, cool fabrics will be very important to you.

I think there’s a healthy debate to be had over natural fibres, yay nor nay on this make. My new jim jams featured in the launch for Pyjama Party are so synthetic I’m sure they’d have a real party with a naked flame. This makes them easy to launder and they don’t crease much, but I know that in a really hot climate I would be able to feel the heat being kept close to my skin. Thoughts, anyone?

The middle swatch looks like a really pretty floral cotton, but it’s actually a viscose. I’d love to know people’s opinions – would you use this or not?

The blue check on the right is that classic for a pyjama set – brushed cotton. Soft and cosy, easy to launder, natural fabric. You can see why a lot of people use this.

On to the next three swatches…

On the left is some shirting cotton. Those obvious stripes scream PJs to me, and I’d like the opportunity to work with shirting. I often admire it in fabric stores, but never know what to make with it. Not, you know, wearing many shirts myself.

In the middle is some nice giant polka dot cotton. You can have lots of fun with prints on a set of pyjamas, sporting the types of design you’d never wear in the street. Anything goes! But a word of warning: both the shirting and cotton samples above were pressed prior to photographing, and they’re still looking creased. Would these be difficult to wear and launder? Is 100 per cent cotton the right way to go – or should it be just the right type of cotton? Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

On the right is a black double jersey. I thought this would make an unusual, cosy option for winter pyjamas. There’s a lovely pattern woven into the jersey that you sadly can’t see in the photograph.

Now, onto the luxe options…

On the left is some printed silk, but immediately we come up across one of the cautions needed for luxury: what are the washing options? If you’re going to buy expensive fabric for your pyjamas, you really need to ask. This one is hand wash only. Want to hand wash your pyjamas? No, thought not.

The middle swatch is some silk crepe de chine that I’ve been lusting after for ages. It barely creases and is so soft to the touch. I’d have to enquire as to laundry advice, but something like this might be an option for a high-end take on that most basic piece of clothing.

Last but not least, an awesome swatch of Italian pink, grey and ivory printed silk satin. But it’s heinously expensive at £36 a metre and dry clean only. Um, no. Only in Hollywood films.

So that’s it from me. I hope I’ve inspired some thoughts and ideas about your own makes. If buying new fabric, you may want to keep a careful eye on the width. My pattern piece isn’t cut out on the fold – I need at least a 45″ width to accommodate my trouser pattern piece. It may be the same for you. So buy creatively, buy with excitement – and ask the necessary questions.

All fabric swatches are from Stone Fabrics. Not because I’m on commission, but because I had them in the house, being a member of their Cloth Club. If you want the details (and I know some of you will) I’ve outlined them below in order of appearance with Stone Fabrics’ reference codes for telephone ordering.

Stone Fabrics aren’t the cheapest in the world (though they are quality). I would happily use their swatches for inspiration and then get myself down Goldhawk Road. You may have a similair source to hand?

I recently had a conversation with Handmade Jane about buying linen. Could she get some at Walthamstow market? I’ll be honest. I love me a piece of Walthamstow market action, as you know. There’s myriad choice out there at stupid prices. But if I want an affordable option for quality fabrics – say, a crepe de chine or a linen – I would get to Goldhawk Road as fast as my little feet could take me.

A few people have got in touch with me recently about the planned demolition of the Goldhawk Road shops. I’ve mentioned this before; clearly the issue isn’t going away. You can find the protestor’s Facebook page here, but I thought it worth highlighting again.


CC944 Lemon yellow Italian drawn thread cotton suiting, £10.80 a metre

CC905 Small floral print viscose, £6.50 a metre

C834 Blue check brushed cotton, £8.50 a metre

CC720 Multistripe shirting, £7.50 a metre

CC685 Polka dot printed cotton, £11.98 a metre

CC792 Double jersey, £8.50 a metre

CC782 Printed silk, handwash, £14.30 a metre

CC614 Silk crepe de chine, £16.95 a metre

CC935 Italian pink grey ivory printed silk satin, dry clean only, £36 a metre

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25 Responses to Suitable Fabrics For The Pyjama Party

  1. Jane says:

    I’m going to be using cotton shirting for one pair (traditional PJ striped) and probably silk cotton for the other pair. This is available from the Goldhawk Rd at £4 a metre (Classic Textiles) and is luscious to work with. I’ve only lined a skirt with it before but Alana from Lazy Stitching reliably informs me that it makes lovely PJ’s.
    Talking of the Goldhawk Road, I’m in total agreement with you: I had a great day on Saturday in Walthamstow and got a couple of weird and wonderful bargains but for quality across the board the Goldhawk Road shops cannot be beaten. x

  2. Felicity from Down Under says:

    I’ll be using a printed flannelette (I don’t know if that’s meaningful to you; it isn’t quite brushed cotton but maybe it’s a close equivalent) for the trousers and a t-shirt fabric for the top. I’m not interested in pyjamas that require anything other than washing, folding and putting away before being worn again. Anything else is too much unnecessary work. (OK, I’m lazy; I prefer to think of it as practical, however.)

  3. shivani says:

    I’ll be using checked flannel. I bought mine from Fabrics Galore in Battersea, and they usually have a pretty great selection of checked cotton flannel from £4-£9.

    For me, PJs have to be cotton flannel – I like to be super snug, but not static-y (I had some fleece PJs once that gave me a little shock everytime I rolled over – not fun).

  4. Marie says:

    Eeep, it’s getting very exciting now! I’m going to go with an unusual option and use some cotton viscose! I have some for a dress and it’s so soft and buttery…so I ordered some pj-looking print. I hope it works out!!!

  5. Lucy says:

    I’m muslining in cotton interlock (going for the warm n’snuggly option). Just slightly worried that it’ll be too thick, but I guess we shall see.

  6. Bold Sewist says:

    I’ll be using a fun print cotton flannel / brushed cotton (I think it’s the same thing?) and if I get round to a second pair it will be straight cotton. Personally, I’m not fussed if they come out of bed looking wrinkled, and pj’s certainly don’t get ironed in this house no matter what they’re made of!

  7. LinB says:

    Karen. Who irons pajamas? Who, after sleeping cozily through the night, arises to note with dismay that there are creases on his/her pajamas? Who is examining you during the night while you are asleep, to criticize your pajamas’ wrinkled appearance as you lie abed?! If excessive creasing is a problem, a gentle spritz of water and a good shaking will dispel most of the wrinkles, readying your nightclothes for another night of slumber. Were I a maker of p.j.s, I’d go with any of the cottons, the viscose (rayon?) which is also in the natural fiber category, or any of the silks. Manufacturers put special-care labels on delicate fabrics so that the end user won’t sue them if a run through a washing machine should drastically alter the character of the fabric. Most silks are perfectly fine in a cold wash and low-heat tumble dry — especially the crepes.

    • Ha, ha, ha! I can just HEAR your tone of voice! Okay, I don’t iron pyjamas either. Thanks for the tip on the silks, though, and the crepes. That siren song just became stronger…

      • Bethany says:

        It would also look very Hollywood since you have the skill to use the silks well, plus you could wear them with heels a la the current

  8. Steph A says:

    Silk sounds great for PJs, and LinB is right about care issues. As long as the fabric is machine washed before cutting it should be good to go (and if your machine has a hand wash cycle even better). You can always test wash a large swatch for comparison. Oh, now you’ve got me thinking! Just need to locate some reasonably priced silk here in this fabric-sparse city of Ottawa!!

  9. Susan says:

    I’ll be using pure cotton or polycotton, not brushed flannel as these are for wearing in bed, and that would be too hot. I do iron mine so they look nice folded in the cupboard ready for wearing but one night in bed ruins all that!

    • LinB says:

      Hi, Susan! I am glad to have met someone who DOES iron pajamas, lol. My mock scolding of our hostess, above, was not meant as a dig at anyone, even at Karen. I salute your excellent housewifery.

  10. Oh this is going to be a stash busting exercise for me I think. I haven’t quite decided if it’s going to be for a more summery light cotton or a warmer fabric though. I actually like the thought of sear sucker for summer pj’s. I gifted some baby outfits out of sear sucker with an adorable cherry print, but I don’t think I have enough left or that would be my first pick.

  11. Roobeedoo says:

    Mine will be cotton. The creasing doesn’t bother me as nobody will see them unless the fire alarm goes off in the hotel… please no, not that!
    I don’t think I would mind handwashing something special though – like if they were “honeymoon pyjamas” or some such thing.

  12. Kat says:

    I admit that I do iron pyjamas. BUT only the
    cotton ones that scrunch up in the wash and then dry far too short…I do love a nice long pyjama! Anything flannel or jersey of mine has never met an iron though you will be glad to know…therefore for my PJs I am likely headed towards flannel…mmmm cosy 🙂 Am highly amused by the post above though and now have images of you waking up in the night in horror of your creased pyjamas!!

  13. happyhermit says:

    Where did you find your pattern? i have tried Jaycotts and Sewing World so far but no luck.

  14. MrsC says:

    I wear a lot of silk, and just chuck it in the washing machine and drier. It’s important to avoid those laundry liquids and powders with enzymes in them, however. And the really beautiful silk satins go a bit sandwashed looking, which I really like.
    Merino knit would also be fantastic, can you get such a thing in Blighty? It’s theee most fabbo fabric in the entire world, if not the universe (she said, without any resort to hyperbole at all!).

  15. redsilvia says:

    I would worry that the cotton knit would bag out in the knees and a*s. Not so sexy. I don’t have the silk jammie budget so I shall use some cotton flannel, hopefully with some age inappropriate cartoon characters upon it. I buy 2.5 yards for my standard pattern of fabric that is 45″ wide.

    Fresh mango mojitos are my cocktail nomination btw.

  16. grenouille78 says:

    I’ve been pondering this exact question the last day or so. I already have a pair of flannel pajama pants (pyjama trousers?) which are great for winter. But now that the days are warming up, I think I need a lighter fabric. The idea of using just a regular quilting type cotton bothers me; I think it would make me feel like my legs were tangled in the sheets. So something less sheet-like. Silk has been tempting me. Possibly a linen blend? I know, I know, that’s asking for creases galore, but I might just label them “character” and live with it.

  17. sophie says:

    definitely 100% cotton for this try as I don’t care about creases in nightwear, but some kind of silky of slippery fabric would be very luxurious!

  18. Scarlette O'Tara says:

    I don’t ever wear pjs (scandalous impropriety!) but I very much enjoyed your fabric roundup here! Despite being a relatively long-term sewist I’ve never really explored online fabric shops. Stone’s looks very exciting, will investigate right now!

  19. Alessa says:

    Great fabric options! I’m still thinking about mine… I think I’d love to go with a striped (or plaid, or floral) shirting/cotton/viscose for the shorts, and use some coordinating single jersey with some embellishment in the aforementioned fabric for the top…

  20. Coco says:

    Oooo, definitely cotton, sultry, humid Florida…ok, we do have air conditioning. But I don’t think I have anything but cotton and linen in my wardrobe, except for when it drops below 70 degrees and we pull out our woolies! This will be fun, I’m doing a set, girly girl robe and chemise top, drawstring bottoms (maybe shorties).

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