Make It: Monkey Pyjama Case

So it turns out pyjama cases might not be a thing most people have heard of, but in my family they were (and are) a thing! My brother had one in the shape of Mr Chatterbox from the Mr Men. For my niece’s second birthday I made her one in the shape of a monkey, her favourite animal. I was going to make this as a downloadable thing but it didn’t work well enough!

Here is the finished case (with thanks to my sister for taking the photo!):

I did a search on pinterest for pictures of monkeys for inspiration and I came across this one! The first thing I did was to try to draw this photo in a way that I would be able to recreate in fabric, and I came up with this:

I then drew it a bit bigger on tracing paper (i.e. greaseproof paper), then traced all the smaller bits of the face onto other pieces so I could cut them all out, I also traced the face shape with the mouth cut out. I added a 1cm seam allowance to all the pieces except the eyes and nose (which don’t have seams).

I bought half a metre of brown cotton fabric from my local shop, which was more than enough for the size I made. I also used some cream jersey (which I used to underline my Sallie Maxi Dress) and some black jersey which I already had in my stash. I was going to use felt but I didn’t have enough cream/white felt for the mouth pieces.

Cut 2 each of the back of the head, and the front of the head (face) with the mouth hole cut out in brown cotton.
Cut 4 ears in brown cotton.
Cut 2 of each of the top lip and bottom lip from the cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 outer eyes from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 ear inners from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 pupils from black jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 nostrils from black jersey (or felt).
You will also need a zip for the mouth and some stuffing.
Cut wadding for the back of the head, the front of the head (face), and the ears. I cut 2 pieces for each part that needed stiffening as my wadding was quite thin.

The first thing I made was the mouth. The advantage of using jersey is that it is forgiving if it’s not quite perfect. Also it stretched to accommodate the stuffing.

I was using an invisible zip, but I sewed it with a normal zip foot so I think this would work with a normal zip too. I sewed a top lip piece and a bottom lip piece to the zip, with right sides together so the seams (and stitching) are hidden.

I then lined up the other 2 lip pieces, mostly so I would remember which one was the top lip and which one was the bottom lip.

I then repeated the first step with the other 2 lip pieces, with them right sides together with the other side of the zip. It will mean the zip is sandwiched between the 2 top lips and the 2 bottom lips, with the zipper tape hidden between the 2 layers.

This is what it looks like with just the top lip pieces sewn on both sides. It’s like it would look if you sew a lining to a zip on the inside of a dress, but you’re doing it with a machine.

This is what it looks like with both lips sewn on both sides, though you can obvs only see one side!

And yet another picture with the zip zipped up. I could have moved the top lip slightly to the left in the below photo – the monkey’s jaw is a little wonky!

I then sewed (with a zig zag stitch if you’re using jersey) the 2 top lips together, and the 2 bottom lips together, leaving a gap at one edge for stuffing. You can sew these wrong sides together, because the stitching will later be hidden when you sew the mouth into the mouth hole. The stuff both sides, and stitch up the gaps. And you’ll have something that looks like this:

Now you’ll want to attach the inner ear parts to 2 ears pieces, like below. You will also want to sew on the eyes at this point – I left it to a later step and had to fiddle to get them on without going through both face layers. You’ll want to sew the eyes onto only one face piece so you don’t see the stitching on the inside.

Next was to assemble the ears. You put the 2 brown pieces right sides together,

The the 2 pieces of wadding on the top (it doesn’t matter which brown piece you have on the top, it just matters that the wadding is on the outside of the brown pieces and not in between them). Stitch around the long curved edge, leaving a gap on the inside of the ear so you can turn it the right way around – and this part will be hidden when they’re attached to the head. You’ll need to trim the wadding of the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Now you need to sandwich the 2 head backs with the wadding, and the 2 faces with the wadding. For these you can sandwich them – brown cotton, wadding, brown cotton – and just stitch around the edge because these edges will be sewing into the seams attaching the back of the head and the face. You’ll not want to stitch around the mouth hole, because the inner piece will be used like a facing to hide the stitching attaching the mouth to the face.

The next couple of steps were quite hard to photograph! Pin the top lip, with right sides together, to the top of the mouth hole. I found it quite hard to stitch all the way to the edges of the zip, so you may find you have to sew it in smaller sections. This is where jersey is your friend by the way! You may need to turn the face inside out, via the mouth hole, to be able to get access to the right bits. You will be able to turn it the right way around using the zip opening, so you can completely seal the mouth into the hole. I found this out the hard way, with some unnecessary unpicking!

This is what it should look like on the right side with the top lip sewn. (You can see I hadn’t sewn the pupils into the eyes – I thought I could do it without having to change the thread loads of times, but I should have just sucked it up!

This is kind of what it looked like with the bottom lip pinned. I’m not going to lie, it was fiddley and took a few goes to get it right!

Once you’ve wrestled the mouth into the mouth hole, it’s time to assemble the thing! First I handstitched the nose into place – I don’t think you’ll be able to sew it on before everything is assembled on the face.

Then pin the ears on top of the face, with the inner parts face down. You may also want to baste them in place, which I didn’t do, then I turned it the right way around and one of the ears fell off because it wasn’t attached properly. 😦

If you’re putting hair on your monkey (which I made with pieces of wool which I undid, to make smaller strands) you’ll want to place it a this stage too. The part of the hair that will show is the part on the monkey’s forehead, not the part sticking out the top. I basted these in place. Then you lay the back of the head on top of the face and stitch all the way around. You can, again, turn it the right way around via the zip. Hopefully the ears and hair will all be in place and not falling off! I was going to do french seams, but that felt too fiddley in the end, so I overlocked the seam allowance on the inside to try to neaten it a bit. The last thing to do (which I did really late the night before I was travelling to deliver it so failed to take any photos!) is to hand sew the inside face layer around the edge of the mouth, folding back the seam allowance, just like a facing around a waist seam. I hope this makes sense!

And here is the finished monkey!

I made the mouth with the zip so that it could eat the pyjamas!

And here are the pyjamas inside the monkey’s….head…..

Have you every made a pyjama case? Have you every heard of a pyjama case!? I’m going to make another one for my nephew, who was just 4 (so I’m a terrible aunt and it will be late!), in the shape of a penguin. If anyone has any ideas how I can make it similar in having the pyjamas get in via the beak, do let me know. I’m struggling to think of how to get it to work!

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