Gift Sewing: a 1943 Flannel Bed Jacket for My Mom

When it came to coming up with something to give my mother for this past Mother’s Day (2015), I couldn’t think of anything which would be more of a treat than a de-luxe handmade item from off of my sewing table. The gift of one’s talents and time is a special gift to give, especially when my mom appreciates my sewing skills…now it’s her turn to enjoy some of it! I made her cozy vintage bed jacket, one which will make her feel feminine, fancy, and special wearing it, all the while accommodating to her physical needs as one living with Rheumatoid arthritis. Meeting all of this was a fun challenge.

Throughout this post I will be the one modelling her bed jacket to save her from the public eye.

100_5052-compNow don’t get me wrong – it’s not that my mom really wasn’t picky or demanding or anything when I offered to make her something. All she asked for was something not challenging for her to close and something in a color easily washable (not something bright or odd which would need to be washed separately). I couldn’t help but choose my favorite color – a shade of purple…the softest pastel lavender in various shades for the buttons, flannel, and floral decorations.

To further the special touch to this bed jacket, I used a pattern which was given to me from my mother-in-law. The pattern is from 1943 and it belonged to her mother, my hubby’s Grandmother. I think that using this vintage family pattern makes for a special connection all-around linking all the mothers on both sides of my family by marriage, linked together by me! When using the pattern for the bed jacket, I could tell that hubby’s Grandma had definitely used it. This is interesting because she was a very straightforward woman, but at the same time she did put a lot of work into making her home life beautiful (I can tell when I see her hand embroidered pillowcase and tablecloths). I can’t help but hope she’d be smiling if she knew I’ve used her pattern and I wonder what her bed jacket version looked like.


FABRIC:  a 100% cotton brushed flannel

Grandma's bed jacket pattern-compNOTIONS:  I bought everything needed for this bed jacket: fabric flowers, bias tape, buttons, thread, and nylon flower decorations. I wanted it to turn out a certain way and didn’t want to cobble it together at all by relying on what I have on hand.

PATTERN:  Simplicity #4756, year 1943 (look at those darling house slippers to make!!!)

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Not long at all, maybe 4 hours. It was finished on May 1, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  Clean bias bound seams are all around inside for a nice finish inside.

TOTAL COST:  …let’s not mention it (reasonable enough to think I should be spending more on such a special woman)

There are so many options to choose on this pattern! It’s so versatile. Between differing sleeves, collars, necklines, ruffles and such, it has a little of everything with no need to have a project look the same despite coming from the same pattern. My mom chose the ¾ sleeve so long sleeves wouldn’t be in her way, and plain front high neck to keep her cozy but not too toasty. She is very similar to myself in the way she gets chilly easily all year ‘round, because even in the warm weather air-conditioning blows chilly air, then in cold weather any draft seem to be all too noticeable. Sweaters and bed jackets are year ‘round needs – they keep our upper half just warm enough to combat a chill.

100_5055-compMy mom is smaller than me (an aftereffect of her illness) so what fit me was in all probability would fit her. I was right…sorry, but I love saying that! The pattern I had was a very small sized small but I laid the pattern against my mom and it seemed more generous than expected. If I was making a full closure front I would’ve graded up but with the open front of the version I was making, “as is” worked just fine here.

The closures are simple, just over-sized loops and buttons. Using the same flannel I made skinny bias tubes for the loops. This makes it easy for her hands, many times stiff and achy, to close on herself rather than ties as shown on the pattern as she can’t visually see what she’s doing that high up under her neck. The idea is to make this bed jacket relaxing and easy to wear not a frustration because of its closure. This is the nice thing about sewing for someone – you can customize according to their needs and tastes, giving them exactly what is “up their alley” for the perfect treat.

100_5056-compI had to give the bed jacket a little extra fancy touch. I looked for an applique or transfer I liked but ended up choosing these little detailed nylon flowers, sewing them down in a tiny bunch on the chest side and one on a pocket, too. I’m not sure exactly what the flowers are meant for (meaning sewing, crafting, or scrap booking), but they seem 100% washable and stable, and besides, the way I sewed them on they aren’t going anywhere. There is a small square of interfacing behind the flowers on the inside of the jacket just to support and stabilize that spot for the decoration.

This new bed jacket is such a far cry from her old one – all worn, over-sized, pilled-up, and stained. As easy as this was to make, I’ll have to get around to making one for myself, too.

The nightgown you see under the gift bed jacket is another night time vintage creation made for myself, posted here on my blog. Just like the bed jacket made for my mother, my nightgown is also so very elegant, comfy, and was incredibly easy to make. Making home loungewear is worthwhile and so much more effortless than thought. Nightwear is truly a joy to sew – it is low pressure, not being made to impress anyone but the wearer. I think handmade loungewear is the most enjoyed since it is on during “personal” down time. So far most of the night wear I’ve made all relies on small cuts of fabric, too. Treat yourself to fun, different, and simple project and at the same time end up with a special garment for you or someone else to enjoy!

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