Finished Objects

Carolyn PJs – The Good, the Bad and the Ghosties

I’ve always loved the look of what I like to call “fancy pajamas”. You know, ones that actually match and aren’t just a men’s XL Logitech t-shirt that you got for free at Pax Prime almost half a decade ago (suspiciously specific much?).

Fancy pajamas!

If you’ve been in the sewing sphere for even a small amount of time, you probably know Closet Core’s Carolyn Pajamas pattern. Everyone raves about them and most of the versions I’ve seen look absolutely beautiful. The pair I made aren’t an exception – I think they look great and they’re very comfortable! However, I had some issues with the pattern that I haven’t seen many (if any at all) talking about.

Before I get into the criticism, let’s have a look at what I’m calling my “Ghosties PJs”

My Ghosties PJs

I’m not saying I bought a mug to match my pajamas, but I’m also not saying I didn’t.

Cute, huh? The fabric is a Katia rustic cotton that I got from L’oiseau Fabrics. It’s slightly soft and slightly crispy, fairly lightweight and feels like the perfect spring/summer PJ fabric. I think it would probably make a very lovely dress as well. I have a fair amount leftover and I’m going to see if I can get a long pair of PJ pants out of it. If not, hopefully a nightie!

My current measurements: B – 38″, W – 28.5″, H – 42″. I’m just under 5’8″.

For the shorts, I sewed a size 16. The alternations I made were to widen the pocket opening, forgo the faux fly and adjusted the waistband (more on that soon). The top is a straight size 12.

Why use a scratching post when mum will do?

Other than the issues I’m about to get into, my Carolyn PJs came together fairly easily! I used French seams so the inside would be nice and tidy, and I didn’t have too much trouble with the piping. I used store-bought, and it’s honestly not my favourite but I really didn’t have the patience to make my own. In another version of these pajamas that I’ll talk about shortly, I used homemade bias tape instead. I think it looks just as good, but piping does feel special so I’m glad I used it on my ghosties pair.

The piping on the collar is very satisfying.

Sizing Shenanigans

I’m very used to choosing a larger size on the bottom than on the top because I’m pretty pear shaped.

A gif of Rick Ross saying "Shoutout to all the pear"
Referencing Vines makes me ancient, doesn’t it?

I made a muslin of the Carolyn PJ short in the size that the size chart recommended (14) and, well, I’m not going to share the photo because while they fit, they really only technically fit and they are not well suited for lounging or sleeping. Unless wedgies are your thing, I guess (and I’m not going to yuck your yum).

I first want to acknowledge that they are meant to be a slimmer fit and that I also have thicker thighs which contribute to the fit issues I had. However, I think that the Carolyn PJs don’t have enough ease in the hips and thighs. If you take a look at the model in the navy and cloud print versions on the product page, you’ll notice that there are drag lines across her thighs on the longer pair, and the shorts fit very closely too.

Let’s take a look at the size chart vs. finished measurements:

The size chart and finished measurements for the Carolyn PJs.
You can find these charts on the Carolyn PJs product page.

My size 14 shorts had a finished hip measurement of 45″. That’s only 3″ of ease – no wonder they felt tight! As you go down the size chart, the ease decreases – size 10 and below only have 2.5″ of ease. This would be fine for more fitted pants or skirts but for something you’re going to be relaxing in? I just don’t think it’s enough.

So for my final pair I sized up to 16. I could probably wear an 18 no problem. The number doesn’t bother me but since the Carolyn PJs are not part of Closet Core’s extended size range, that means the pattern tops out at only a 48″ hip – and only if you don’t mind just 3″ of ease in your PJ bottoms. That’s, to say the least, not great.

Pattern Drafting Issues

With the shorts muslins I made (first a size 14, then 16), I had some issues with the waistband ending up too large which lead me to having to ease it in. It was disguised since the waistband is elasticized, but still bothered me. At first, I attributed it to maybe a tracing issue or maybe I had cut my fabric off grain. I decided to go back to my original printout (on A0 paper, so no taping errors here either).

I drew the seam allowances for size 16 onto the pattern, and measured the front+pocket, back, and the waistband. If my math is correct (and I think it is), the waistband is actually too large by about 1/2″ in the back.

Interestingly, the pants waistband is 1/2″ shorter:

The waistband pieces for the Carolyn PJ shorts and pants. A ruler is laid on top to show that the pants waistband is 1/2" shorter.

Speaking of the pants… I did make a pair of the Carolyn PJ pants in a different fabric.

A mirror selfie of Roxanne, a woman in her early 30s. She is wearing a pair of floral Carolyn PJ pants. Her cat Owen is sunbathing in the background.
Mirror selfie, featuring a sunbathing Owen.

I quite like the fit of these pants, but they aren’t the original pants pattern since I ran into another sizing/drafting issue with the pattern. Understandably, the pants aren’t necessarily going to be an elongated version of the shorts. They’re supposed to be a slim fit, so it makes sense that the pants will be tapered at some point. Let’s have a look at the pants pieces vs. the shorts:

Front pieces compared
Back pieces compared

I lined up the crotch curves (best I could on the back piece, since they’re slightly different) to compare the sizing. Measuring at the bottom of the short (AKA right at the top of the thigh) on the size 20, the pants are a total of 1.75″ smaller. Yikes! I would think that the tapering would start at that point since you still need the ease in your upper thigh/lower bum area. No wonder the pants look so tight in the product photos!

Based on how the shorts fit me, and knowing that I have fairly large thighs and an ample booty, I decided to just take the shorts pattern that already fit and blend it into the pants pattern.

Hello toes!

The red dashed line is where the shorts piece ends and the purple dashed line is the lengthen/shorten line of the pants. From the purple line down, the pattern is the same as the original pants piece. I also ended up smoothing the curve a bit more, similar to the bright green line.

To Top it All Off

Here’s the good news: I breezed through sewing the top. It came together lovely and the fit is spot-on for me. My only slight criticism is something that a crafting bud of mine pointed out: instead of sewing a back facing, the collar facing ends at the shoulder seams. When I make the top again, I think I’ll draft a back facing instead.

Shoulder cat, through and through.

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