Carolyn Pajamas and Shoddy JoAnn’s Flannel

Early this January, Heather of Closet Case Files sent out her latest pattern to a group of pattern testers along with a fabulous description of how she wanted to make a pajama pattern she could wear working from home and feel like a sophisticated business woman, or something you could make in silk and look like Katharine Hepburn… I mean, look:

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas

The pant + long sleeve view required 6 yards in my size for a 45″ wide fabric (most silks and flannels) which I just didn’t have in my stash, so I went to JoAnn’s with visions of fancy business lady pajamas dancing in my mind… and somewhere I went off track a bit…

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - CollageI mean, let’s be serious, there aren’t many sophisticated fabrics in the flannel section, so I just went totally goofy in the other direction with some kind of video game print. I’m not sure how I feel about them… I liked the pants when I tried them on by themselves, and the same for the shirt, but together… Instead of Katharine Hepburn I look like David Bowie’s chubby little sister at summer camp. Oh well!

I’ll start with a review of the pattern – loved it! I admit there are a lot of pajama patterns out there (and I have quite a few of them) but none of them quite check all the boxes for me. These have a slimmer fit (none of that unisex nonsense), cuffs, a notched collar, and POCKETS (a must!).

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Pockets

The piping instructions are great. A long time ago I tried to add piping around a sleeve and followed some crappy instructions on a blog that had you overlap the piping into the seam which turned out terrible and bulky and I never wanted to do piping again. These instructions give you the proper method (butting the piping ends together and overlapping the bias tape to cover the split) and it turned out great. The piping instructions for the notched collar also made something that looks difficult really easy.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Notched collar with piping

I appreciated that the method for attaching the stand-less collar eliminated the need for a back neck facing. I hate having a back neck facing on a normal garment because it always gets bunched up and I’m sure it would be 10 times worse in pajamas when you’re sleeping. If you take a look at the photo below, you can see how the front facing stops at the should line and then the collar just encloses the raw edges of the back.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Inside view of collar and front facing

The hem has a nice flattering curve to it. The instructions tell you to turn twice and stitch – I’ve been doing a bias binding on curved hems in tightly woven fabrics, but I found that on this loosely woven flannel the turn and stitch method worked just fine.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Inside view of hem and front facing

One of my favorite things about this pattern is that it does NOT have a long baggy crotch length like many pajama patterns. I’ll submit a tiny photo for proof…

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Back view

Now that I’ve established that the pattern is GREAT, let me talk about the TERRIBLE qualities of this flannel I bought from JoAnn’s. First off, when I ripped it to find the grainline, I discovered that the crossgrain was really warped. (Take a look at that top edge in the photo below!) I was back at JoAnn’s yesterday and looked at some of the other flannels and they ALL have this nasty warping problem, I think from being loosely woven but wrapped around a bolt tightly. I could not shift it to get the grainline orthogonal so I just cut it as it wanted to lie.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Warped grain on JoAnns flannel fabric

I wore the pants for two days before I took these photos and I could not believe how much they stretched. After an hour of wear they were baggy all over. When I washed them they snugged back up to the same width again… but they SHRUNK two inches in length! (I didn’t want to point it out in the full photos, but they look like flood pants now. They were hemmed to the floor.) And yes, I pre-washed the fabric in hot water and high heat in my dryer before sewing these. The second wash was in cold water and low heat in the dryer, and that’s what caused the two inch shrinkage!

In addition, I can really tell the difference in pilling between the pants (washed twice) and the top (prewashed once). I imagine after a few more washes they’ll either be shedding lint everywhere or shrunk down to child size.

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas - Pilled JoAnns Flannel Fabric

The pajamas weren’t hard to sew, but they were a little time consuming with having to sew two pieces and add the piping. So, it’s really disappointing to have them ruined by bad fabric. I didn’t want to spend $60 on silk and have the test version not fit, but considering they fit great (I just shortened the pant legs and sleeves because I’m only 5’2″) I’m wishing I would have opted for a nicer fabric to match the time I put into them. Next time…

If you’re interested in the pattern, you can get them in the Closet Case Files shop here.

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16 comments

  1. I know what you mean about Joann’s, I have had similar experiences with their novelty flannel prints. I would also recommend staying away from their sweatshirt fleece, it pills like nobody’s business. I did get some shirting flannel there before that has held up quite well, but that might be hit or miss.

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  2. They are adorable on you! I’ve found many of Joann’s fabrics declining in quality lately. It seems like ever since they added “designer” prints, the inexpensive prints took a tumble – not in price though. 😉

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  3. sorry about Jo Ann’s fabric. I have seen way to many flaws in fabric I have there bought lately. On your PJ top try a serge stitch around the bottom and then turn up 1/4 in and hem. I have found this makes a lovely hem.

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    • I live in Canada where there is no JoAnn’s. I did work in Detroit for several years and loved to shop there. I am sorry to hear the fabric quality is declining. Such seems to be the case for most products these days .

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  4. Surely JoAnn’s staff can see the problem with the flannel. I would talk to a manager about it. Let them know how disappointed you were. katboulder is right – they should be ashamed!

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  5. I love the way these pajamas look! They actually fit really nicely, unlike most PJs. I’m sad for you that the JoAnn’s flannel was so crappy. I think the print is cute, but the off-grain weave, piling, and shrinking are terrible! Shame on you JoAnn’s!

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  6. Joann’s flannel is awful. I just dumped a shirt I made last year because it bagged out during the day and made me feel like a slob. WHERE does good flannel come from?

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    • Yes, I had the same problem! I wore the pants for two nights and they looked like Charlie Chaplin pants by the end. I was googling around some more and the consensus on the various forums I looked at was that quilt shops sell better flannel. Of course, it’s more expensive too. I bought some from fabric.com that was a quilting brand, so I’ll have to wash that up and see how big the difference is. (If you’re looking at quilting flannels, make sure you get double napped so it’s soft on both sides.)

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  7. Awesome, I too have made pajamas with crappy Joann flannel. It just wears terribly. I would love to find a better source with fun prints. I may have to try these. I made Simplicity 3571 with piping last year.

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  8. Wow fabulous pajamas! I’d love to give them a try. Too bad the flannel was of such shoddy quality because the print is actually kind of funny. I wonder where we can get better flannel?

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  9. I actually love this print but I am so angry on your behalf that the fabric is so shoddy! Flannel is tricky. I lucked out with a few quality ones but the cheap stuff WANTS to pill like nobody’s business.

    That aside, I’m so happy to see these again! The fit is great on you. And thanks again for your help Jamie! I literally haven’t stopped thinking about sleeve caps since our convo, haha.

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    • I’m trying to work through a jacket pattern with a two piece sleeve that is doing terrible horrible no good things so I’m literally lying awake in bed at night thinking about sleeves. Pants get so much discussion, but the shoulder is probably the most complicated joint in the body. I’m glad I didn’t put you off with that email, I was worried it was too much! Plus, I’m thinking now that the warped grain has something to do with it.

      I still like the print, yours just look so much more sophisticated! Especially those clouds ones… argh, you have a good eye for prints.

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