Sleepy Gowns - Patsy Party Dress Hacked or Mashed

Sleepy Gowns - Patsy Party Dress Hacked or Mashed

When I first read the topic for the Rebecca Page Double Duty Blog Tour I was unsure what to make. I then remembered wondering whether the Patsy Party dress could be made with a knit back when I planned out my recent LEGO® version and figured this would be the perfect time to experiment. Once I started thinking about cozy Patsy nightgowns I couldn’t help but wonder how the Patsy skirt would look with the Olivia top and decided “why not?”. I went on to make both versions for my girls.

I hacked the free Patsy Party dress to make a simple nightgown. I couldn't stop there and had to see what the Patsy skirt would look like mashed with the Olivia top. Love how both turned out.

I’d previously sewn the original versions of both the Patsy Party dress and the Oliva top if you more details about them. I’ve also customized both garments with LEGO® inspired fabric marker created panels too.

Previously sewn Patsy Party dresses and Olivia tops.
Previously sewn Patsy Party dresses and Olivia tops.

For this hack and mashup I sewed two versions of each (one for Ada and one for Zoey) so you may see two versions of each dress in the photos below.

Patsy Party Nightgown with Knit Back Hack


I’d first sewn the Patsy Party dress back in December for both girls and was in the process of sewing two more while planning this nightgown hack.

Originally, the Patsy dress is made with a woven elasticized back so I wasn’t sure if replacing the back with knit fabric would work. Specifically, I was worried the back wouldn’t stretch enough to get the dress on or off and if it did stretch enough would it have enough recovery to act as tight as the original version once the dress was on? Now was the time for answers; but first we needed to decide on fabric. I had been planning on taking the kids to our local JOANN’s to pick out their fabric but Ada wanted to stay home, build LEGO®, and shop my stash so between the crazy stash busting kid-chosen fabric combinations I figured would happen and the fact I was deviating from the pattern made me decide to make our hacked version of the Patsy Party dress into nightgowns. Since we were making nightgowns I wanted them to be comfy cozy so I limited the fabric selection to our snuggle flannel fabrics only. For the knit fabric I chose some thick cotton lycra I had on hand from Whimsy Baby Customs as I knew I trusted their fabric’s stretch and recovery while also knowing the kids loved the heart fabric I already cut into once before.

Since I had finished a Patsy Party dress for either girl before I was able to use their finished garment to measure and compare with the corresponding pattern pieces. To check whether the knit fabric I chose would stretch as far as the original elasticized back I sketched out the measurements including the width of the center back bodice and the side back bodice pattern pieces (with the seam allowance overlapping) along with the finished garments back and side widths. I had assumed the knit wouldn’t stretch enough so I was going to combat that by potentially extending the center back pattern piece to include the side back pieces too. Once they were sketched out I took the folded knit fabric, lined it up with the fold, grasped it at the edge of the finished garments edge, and stretched it out to the original pattern pieces’ width. I found when I stretched it from the finished back center to the pattern pieces’ back center width it barely reached. When I stretched it from the combined back center and side back edge to the finished width to the combined pattern pieces’ width it was able to reach a bit further than needed. This justified combining the back center and side back pattern pieces into a single new pattern piece but I still needed to account for how much I should shorten the back center pattern piece before combining since there was going to be no elastic to shorten it up later on. I ended up getting confused by my first set of measurements and had to redraw it out from scratch but determined, for my daughters’ 12-18 month and 2-3 year sizes, that I needed to reduce my back center panel to 60% of it’s width (cut off 40% of it) and then overlap the pattern piece with the side back bodice piece (to include either piece’s seam allowance) and tape them together to make the new knit pattern piece. The fold line wasn’t touched (since I cut off the other end of the center back pattern piece) and the knit’s most stretch direction would stretch horizontally.

Photo collage when coming up with the design.
Tracing, measuring, comparing, and calculating while coming up with how to hack it.
Stretching the fabric to see if it stretched far enough.
I used the diagram to confirm the knit fabric I chose stretched far enough to work.

After combining the center back and side back bodice pieces into a single knit piece I cut the rest of the pattern pieces according to the Patsy Party dress’ instructions. Since I was scrap busting I ended up cutting some of the skirt pieces at a different direction than the specified grainline but that was the only other change I made while cutting.

Sewing the Bodice

Since I wasn’t going to line the back of the bodice I had to come up with another way to finish it. The original bodice had a half inch seam allowance so I marked (one inch) and folded over the top of the knit back bodice a half inch. I then used my stretch stitch (zigzag on my sewing machine) to finished the edge.

Both back bodice marked showing the where one inch from the top is.
I find it easier when folding the edge over half an inch to first mark one inch over the length I need to fold.
Top of the back bodice folded over a half inch.
After marking I folded the top to meet the marks, pressed it, and clipped it in place to make sure it wouldn’t unfold before sewing down.

I followed the original instructions to piece together the front of the outer and lining bodice. When sewing the two bodice layers together along the top I left the first and last half inch unsewn. When following the directions to understitch the top of the bodice I also stopped a half an inch from either side so the space between the outer and inner bodice wouldn’t be closed.

Bodices marked at a half inch.
After clipping the top of the inner and outer bodices together I marked a half inch from either end so I’d know where to start and stop sewing.
Both bodices with the last half inch unsewn.
After sewing the bodices together you can see where I left it unsewn.

To attach the knit back to the bodice I first prepped the bodice front by opening it up, marking it, folding it over a half inch, and then pressing the fold into place.

Both bodices marked and one of them pressed.
I then unfolded the bodice and marked one inch in from the side before folding the fabric in and pressing it into place. In the picture I’ve already ironed the one on the left and haven’t gotten to the one on the right yet. I repeated this on the other end of either bodice..
Closed and prepped front bodice.
After pressing the fold I closed the bodice so you can see the more finished side waiting for the back piece.

I marked a half inch on either end of the knit fabric so I could quickly sandwich it between the outer and inner bodice layers without second guessing how far it was tucked in. After clipping the top and bottom so it wouldn’t move I made sure the right side of the knit was facing the outer bodice with the wrong side facing the lining of the bodice so it wouldn’t be inside out.

Knit back bodice nestled into place within the front bodice.
Open the bodice back up and nestle the knit back piece into place. Line up the edge of the fold (woven bodice) with your half inch markings on the knit back.
Knit back clipped into place.
Close the bodice to fully nestle the knit back and clip it into place.
Outer side of the bodice.
Flip it over to confirm both sides are laying flat and clipped properly. Make sure the knit back is facing the right way so it won’t be inside out later on.

And then do the same to the other side of the back piece.

Knit back clipped into place in the bodice.
I then placed and clipped the other end of the knit into the other end of the woven bodice so the bodice would be closed.

I then marked an inch from the bottom of the bodice (to leave unsewn) before topstitching over the layers from the top of the bodice to my mark. I left the space at the bottom so I’d have room to sew the bodice to the skirt (half an inch) and turn up the seam allowance into the space (another half inch). As a precaution I chose to topstitch two separate straight lines in case one popped in the future while getting the dresses on and off.

Marked bodice.
Mark an inch from the bottom of the bodice to leave open. This leaves a space to sew the skirt on, fold up the seam allowance, and topstitch the liner in place later on.
Topstitching the knit back into place.
I then topstitched through the layers so the knit back would be sewn into place. I stopped at the inch marking and sewed another line beside the first to reinforce it.
Two lines of stitches with one going off the liner.
Making the double line of stitches means it doesn’t matter as much when you discover the first line of stitches missed some layers.
Both finished bodices waiting for the skirt.
The outside back of both the bodices all ready to attach the skirt on.

For the straps I wasn’t sure if they’d end up pulling too much on the knit and stretch it vertically. Since I didn’t have any better idea I ended up sewing them to the knit fabric anyway and made sure each dress had the straps spaced the same distance away from the edge (Zoey’s was 1.75″ and Ada’s 2.5″). As a caution, to not disrupt the horizontal stretch, I attached the straps with a vertical stitch.

Sewing the strap on.
I started sewing the strap on further away from the clips so I could pin the strap into place before removing the clips and sewing higher. I sewed a vertical line so it wouldn’t destroy the back’s horizontal stretch and wondered if next time I should just sew a straight stitch instead of a zigzag.

And the altered bodice was done.

Finished bodices. One right side out and one inside out.
Bodices are now hacked and waiting for the skirt. I left one inside out so you can get a view of both.

Attaching The Skirt To The Bodice

I sewed up the skirts according to the original directions and even hemmed it before attaching it to the bodice. When attaching the two together I started by pressing the liner, placing the outer bodice and skirt right sides together, moving the liner out of the way, matching the front and sides seams, and then clipping them together. I then deviated from the instructions. When I came to the edge of the knit section on the back I had to make sure to get both the folded woven (outer bodice) and knit edges clipped together while keeping the liner out of the way (easier since the bottom inch of the bodice hadn’t been sewn together).

Bodice clipped to the skirt.
When attaching the skirt to the bodice I made sure to get the the unsewn junction point of the knit back and woven front properly clipped to the skirt so it wouldn’t budge while making sure the liner was out of the way.

For the rest of the knit section I marked the center of the knit and the center of the skirt’s back panel before clipping those two spots together. Then I chose a half to focus on and stretched the knit to match the width of the skirt while clipping them together.  My original plan was to gather the skirt then sew them together but I hoped this way would allows the skirt to stretch with the bodice like the original Patsy did just over a wider area with this version (since it included the center back and side back pattern pieces). I then stretched and clipped the other half of the back together.

Most of the dress clipped except for the back.
After matching and clipping the fronts and sides I was left with the knit back panel and excess skirt that had to be joined and clipped.
Mostly clipped together Patsy nightgown.
I marked the center of both backs to clip them together. I then kept stretching the left side and clipping until I was happy with the coverage. At this point I still had to clip the other side of the back (right side when looking here).
Stretching the knit fabric and clipping it into place.
While clipping it into place I found it easiest to stretch it over my knee (knit is under the woven), hold it in place with my left hand, clip it with my right, and then release that section and go on to stretch and clip the next section. I kept taking an unclipped section, stretching it, clipping in the center, and repeating until I had enough clips in place.

After I was happy with how the bodice and skirt lined up I sewed the two together making sure the bodice liner stayed out of the way. When I sewed over the knit back I made sure to keep the fabric taunt so it wouldn’t bunch up.

Sewing the bodice together with the skirt.
While sewing over the knit fabric I made sure to hold it taunt so it didn’t bunch up.

I then pressed the seam allowance up towards the bodice so I could hide the seam allowance between the layers in the front and sides. The instructions have you hide your stitches when attaching the liner but I decided it would be simplest, in this case, to topstitch the liner down. To make sure all the layers were caught I carefully pinned the liner overtop of the seam before sewing it in place (hiding the original seam allowance). Since the knit back was only one layer I wasn’t able to hide the seam allowance in the back (though looking back I guess I might’ve used bias tape before topstitching so the edges got caught under the liner). When I reached the back I stretched out the knit and continued to topstitch the seam allowance down. I was originally going to zigzag stitch the back but figured by stretching the knit a straight stitch would be fine to continue since the woven fabric might stop the stitches from getting overstretched and popped.

Inside of the dress showing the bodice liner pinned overtop of the pressed up seam allowance.
After pressing up the seam allowance I pulled down the liner, making sure it was still folded inward, and pinned it in place.
View of the outside of the dress with the pins in.
Since I was topstitching the layers the pins are all on the outside of the dress.
Topstitching the layers down.
I then topstitched through all the layers on the sides and front of the dress.
Topstitching the seam allowance up on the back of the dress.
When I arrived at the knit back I made sure the seam allowance was still folded up and I stretched the bodice so the knit would be stretched as far a the woven skirt allowed.
Inside out view of the bodice and skirt seams.
Inside out view of the dress shows the liner sewn down over the seam allowance (on the sides and front of the dress) and the seam allowance sewn down on the back. Next time I can see trimming the seam allowance on the back before topstitching. The right side is the inside of the back while the heart fabric on the far left is the outside of the other dress.

And you’re done… or you just have to hem if you wanted to try it on your model first.

Flat lay of the finished hacked Patsy nightgowns.

Zoey absolutely loves the train fabric so I made sure to use as much as I could for her dress. When I didn’t have enough for the side panels of the skirt she picked dinosaurs to go with it.

Overview of Zoey's dress.
Overview of Zoey's dress showing the back of the bodice.
Back of Zoey's dress.
Front of Zoey's dress.

Ada wanted some of every color. I cut out her bodice to match Zoey’s and so she’d also have some of the train fabric. I then cut each panel of the skirt with a different fabric paying attention to which was what so I’d be able to alternate the solids and prints.

Front overview of Ada's dress.
Back overview of Ada's dress.
Comfy laying on the floor.
Comfy building.

I did notice the Ada’s nightgown is a bit loose whereas Zoey’s was fine. Since they’re nightgowns I’m not too worried but if I was I could see maybe sewing some elastic along the top of the back bodice to further cinch in the knit fabric.  

Patsy Skirt Mashed With The Olivia Top

The other two Olivia's I've sewn up before.


When I started planning the above hacked Patsy I couldn’t resist doing another nightgown using a mashup of the Patsy skirt with the Olivia top. When I started planning this I had already made five Olivia tops and was in the process of making two more. Like before I started by sketching out the measurements, starting with the width of the Patsy skirt, so I could figure out how to mash the two together. At first I forgot to factor in the height of the Olivia top and was going to taper the sides in to match the width of the Patsy skirt top. That would’ve created a really long dress. Luckily I realized I needed to shorten the Olivia’s pattern pieces to match the Patsy bodice height. Once I shortened the Olivia bodice piece I realized the width wasn’t that much different than the Patsy so I didn’t change anything else.

To figure out how much to shorten the Olivia pattern piece I measured both girls’ original finished Patsy from the top (folded strap on the hangar) to the seam connecting the skirt and bodice. I measured four times; the left and right side on both the front and back. I then averaged that number (with a bit of rounding up since apparently Ada’s straps were uneven on the original… oops) and transferred that number to the Olivia bodice piece. The childs’ Olivia has the same pattern piece for the back and front; otherwise I would’ve averaged the back and front measurements separately. To transfer the measurements I measured and marked both along the foldline and near the armpit of the Olivia pattern piece. I then started with a straight line from the foldline for about an inch or so and then used a french curve to join the started line with the second marking using a slightly curved line.

Olivia bodice pattern piece with curved line.
The slightly curved line I added to the traced Olivia bodice piece. The top is going to be the new bodice of the nightgown.


Other than using an altered bodice piece I followed Olivia’s original instructions but skipped hemming it. For the skirt I cut out the original Patsy skirt pattern pieces and sewed it up according to the original instructions and, like the previous hack, I also hemmed the skirt ahead of time.

Finished Olivia nightgown bodices.
Here are the two, unhemmed and shortened, Olivia tops I made.

Once the Patsy skirt and the unhemmed Olivia bodice was completed I compared their width to see which was wider or if they matched. Here’s where the different sizes came into play more. Zoey’s patterns were a lengthened 12-18 months and when I compared her shortened Olivia bodice with her Patsy skirt they were practically the same width. To attach them together I started by marking the center front and center back of both the top and skirt. Since the skirt’s back panel was slightly larger than the front I matched the front and back to find the side seams. I then put them right sides together and clipped them at the marked front, marked back, and the marked skirt sides with the Olivia’s side seams. I then kept clipping each large section in the middle until I wasn’t worried about the two layers shifting while I sewed.

Almost matched width of the skirt and bodice.
After lining up the one side I found Zoey’s shortened top and skirt matched widths almost perfectly.
Lining up the markings.
After putting the bodice right sides together with the skirt I lined up and clipped the front and back marking together before clipping them together at their side seams.

In contrast Ada’s outfit was 2-3 years in size and her skirt ended up being wider than the bottom of her Olivia bodice. Since it wasn’t too much wider I decided to run two basting stitches along the back center skirt panel so I could gather the back later. If there was a bigger size difference I would have run the basting stitches over more of the skirt panels. I then marked the center front of both the bodice and skirt before putting the bodice inside the skirt so they’d be right sides together. I lined up and clipped the front center points along with the side seams before clipping around the circumference until I arrived at the back panel. At this point I pulled the top threads of my gathering stitches until the back panel was the same width as the remaining space on the back of the Olivia bodice. All I had to do was clip it in place before sewing them together.

The extra width of the skirt is more obvious here.
After clipping the front of the skirt and bodice together you can see how much larger the skirt is compared to the bodice.
Bodice and skirt clipped together and back panel of skirt gathered to match the remaining Olivia's width.
After clipping the back side panels of the skirt together with the Olivia bodice I then gathered the back of the skirt to match the remaining fabric on the Olivia.
Bodice and skirt all clipped together and ready to sew.
I then clipped the gathered skirt back with the back of the Olivia bodice.

If there’s only a slight difference in widths between the bodice and skirt I’d recommend matching and clipping as best as you can before sewing them together with the larger side down since the feed dogs on your sewing machine will help cinch the bottom fabric in to match the top fabric while you’re sewing. For Zoey’s dress I made sure the skirt side was down while sewing the two together since the skirt was vaguely larger than the Olivia bodice.

Once sewn together I trimmed and pressed my seam allowance up towards the bodice before topstitching the seam in place.

Topstitching right over the seam making sure to go over the seam allowance.
I skipped pinning and made sure the pressed seam allowance was still folded up while topstitching it down.

And your mashed Patsy skirt with the Olivia is done…. and adorable. I absolutely love this mashup. I ended up using our ‘race cars’ for both girls Olivia bodices. Ada really wanted the snowman fabric and I had enough to make her whole skirt snowmen (snowy road theme?). Since I had more of the cars I used the remainder on Zoey and I let her choose which fabric she wanted to add to the skirt when the cars ran out. Funnily enough the first time Zoey wore this she wanted to change before bed. Lately she’s been wearing these more than Ada and reaches for the Olivia mashup before the hacked Patsy. Not sure if the Olivia one is more comfortable or if she prefers the ‘race cars’ over the trains.

Back of both the mashed up nightgowns.
Overview of Ada's dress.

With dresses like these you can’t stay still and must dance the evening away!

Dancing together.
Spinning together.
Overview of Ada's spin.
Another Ada spin.
Zoey's happy dance.
Zoey can't let go of the skirt.
Zoey's spin.

I loved how these nightgowns turned out. The kids were so happy with them and they were both impressed with how well either nightgown spun. I could definitely see these being worn as much as possible.

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