Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!

Papercut Patterns summer pajamas!


IMGP9755It’s been really hot and sunny here lately (love!)!  But…since we have to keep our window closed at night to prevent our cat, Jazzy, from climbing over our faces so she can meow into the night breeze for hours on end, we’ve been soooooo hot and uncomfortable when trying to sleep (don’t love!).


To combat this, I’ve sewn up some summer pajamas using the Pneuma Tank from Papercut Patterns and Cloth Habit’s free Rosy Ladyshorts pattern!


I really love the new Papercut Patterns Tri Collection.  The designs were presented in such a modern, and (for our yoga crazy, Lulu Lemon loving area of the world) relevant manner.  I’ve been planning an entire sports wardrobe around them for my sister and I.  For a little while now I’ve been sewing my yogi sister crazily patterned leggings.  Since the Pneuma release we have elaborated on our yoga gear plans and have been working towards creating her ideal sports bra – how awesome would crazy matching bra and legging yoga outfits be?!


I’ve sewn up four versions of the Pneuma pattern at this point, each one improving by miles as I got used to working with thin stretch knits, with my new sewing machine and also with my sister’s very specific requirements and preferences (the first one is absolutely hideous, these are my second and third ones and then the fourth has happily headed off to my sister!).


The tank version above has been sewn almost as per the pattern instructions.  I added bands of fabric on the front to make the intersection point between the straps and tank narrower and more gathered.  The width at this area made my sister and I look like football players since we already have very square shoulders.  This gathering is (hopefully) much more flattering on the both of us.

IMGP9777After sewing this second version of the pattern, I’ve made more elaborate changes to suit both my sister’s and my individual preferences.  Of course, this isn’t at all necessary – the garment that results from the instructions provided is just great!  My sister is REALLY picky though (love you KK! :P) so I want to make something that she deems to be PERFECT.  You can see the outcome of these changes on my third Pneuma – the blue sports bra.IMGP9753

I’ve begun avoiding bra strapping since I can’t find any locally that matches the printed fabrics I’ve bought and that is thin, soft and delicate enough to gain my sister’s approval.  I like these thick fabric straps I created because they are super easy to sew (and easy to turn right side out because they’re so thick!) and they are way more comfortable than bra straps.  It would be simple to put some elastic inside the tube so that they don’t stretch out over time (will do this on my next one!).IMGP9765

I also prefer the cross-over method I came up with because I am quite prone to getting myself tangled in garments as I try to put them on and would like to feel elegant when slipping into my sportswear or pjs rather than look like a salmon thrashing about at the end of a fishing line!  I have no idea if my sister is the same…hopefully she is a little more graceful at donning yoga wear since she is such a skilled yogi lol.


My last change is that I lined the bra because my top stitching left MUCH to be desired when I sewed on the bra straps on my first sports bra.  By changing the construction methods, I could sandwich the straps between the lining and the self fabric on both the front and back and then later treat the self and lining layers as one when I folded up the thick bottom elastic (this will make sense to you once you’ve read over the pattern directions).  I think the lined version looks much tidier than the unlined version (below).  Probably mostly to do with how messy I am when zig-zagging!


My goal is to add some more layering to match my sister’s favorite sports bras – hers tend to include an exterior layer (often with interesting seams and mesh vented areas), a mesh lining, and then a third partial lining that holds removable padding.  This partial lining and padding will be my next addition to the 5th sports bra!IMGP9747

As for the underwear, I have used the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern a couple times before and love it for everyday comfortable underwear.  Here is my original post on this pattern along with the two pairs I made last summer.


The only problem I have with these underwear stem from the stretch lace that I use – of the many types I have tried so far, I find they are either lovely and soft but deteriorate extremely quick or they are scratchy and not stretchy enough but hold up over time.  I wish I could find some that lasts as well and feels as nice as the lace that is used on my store-bought underwear!  So for my ‘galaxy’ pair, I used elastic trim with a picot edge.  Hopefully this will help these undies last longer.IMGP9786

Aside from showing you my latest sewing projects, I have an important question to ask you today:  Matt and I are making some secret plans for future pattern releases which involve some thought on packaging and printing.  Also, just the other day, a worker at one of our local retailers was chatting with me about feedback she has had on printed patterns in general (not just pertaining to our company).  She said that she often hears customers complain about thin tissue patterns and that her customers in general prefer when patterns are printed on heavier paper.  I was very surprised to hear this because Matt and I had done extensive research when we initially planned our packaging and had come to the conclusion that most sewers prefer tissue to be used.  We found that this is because it is easier to flatten and re-use and it is also easier to pack away and store since it is not bulky to fold.  People, we read at the time, prefer to pin into tissue and generally trace off their patterns and thus don’t mind that tissue doesn’t withstand long term wear.

So, now that we have a pretty broad customer base (when we were initially planning our packaging we didn’t have all of you guys to ask!), we want to hear what you think!  Thanks so much for your feedback!

31 thoughts on “Papercut Patterns summer pajamas!

  1. I’m new to sewing designer patterns. Growing up I used to see the cutters in my mothers garment workshop use oaktag patterns which meant tracing with chalk directly onto the fabric. This would be my ideal way to cut. However recently I took a course at my local college and we were always working with tissue paper and we were told to NEVER cut your original but to trace it off and use a ‘working copy’. We pinned tissue patterns to fabric and cut around. This is what I now do at home.

    No matter what weight the paper I will unfold, flatten, trace, fold-up and put away the original and use a tracing/tissue paper working copy. I have some oaktag handy for the patterns that I think will get a lot of use down the track. What I didn’t like was unfolding the huge Simplicity tissue pattern. It felt really cumbersome compared to say the Merchant and Mills pattern which was printed onto two sheets heavier stock paper (maybe A0 size). I will avoid PDF patterns that I have to pull out the sticky tape for and if its an independent designer I am more likely to email for a copy shop version that I can print on larger paper to save me lining up and taping a stack of A4 paper.

    • Thanks so much for the insight on your process! I agree with you about how annoying it is to unfold large sheets of tissue – that’s a great point to bring up as it would be a nice goal to work on getting our pattern sheet size smaller.

  2. I wish we lived closer together, I need a yoga buddy! 🙂 And I need some more yoga gear, so I’ve got to work on that too haha.

    I bought the Papercut Anima pants and have made one pair. The pattern is great, I was just being a shithead when I sewed it together and messed up the waistband. I have been debating the Pneuma tank for yoga and I’m pretty sure you have sold me on it!

    • Aw I wish the same! I have yoga gear but now I need to learn yoga! Anima pants are the next one up on my long Papercut Patterns sewing list. I really want to make some glamorous lounging pants that feel nice enough to wear out but feel like PJs around home. I think Anima will fit the bill perfectly. Did your pants turn out wearable? I’d love to see them on your blog!

      • I wear them, but only with a long shirt to cover the waistband! I bought fabric to make another pair though because it really is a great pattern. Knit pants are sooooo comfy!

      • Good luck with your next version 🙂 I think I’ll sew mine this weekend!

  3. I prefer tissue, for what it’s worth. It’s just so much less bulk, they’re easier to iron, and they’re easier to, well, tissue-fit.

    And hooray for loud yoga clothes! Love that light blue/white fabric.

    • Ah good point you bring up with tissue fitting. I used to do that all the time before I started using predominately PDF patterns and I must say, it sure saved a lot of time when it allowed me to avoid a mock up! Thanks so much for your input!

  4. I actually kind of prefer tissue patterns; they are more compact, they don’t hold a crease as much as heavier paper does (so I can take it out of the envelope and flatten it with my hands) and I usually trace out my size and just tuck it back into its envelope anyways. This probably doesn’t help though as people kind of seem to all over the place with opinions on this…

    Also, super cute tops! I love the ink drawn blue fabric!

    • It’s really helpful to hear your approach as it is very similar to mine (especially the hand flattening). You are right though, it seems like every single person has a different approach to using printed patterns – it’s really amazing actually and is proof just how creative the sewing process is – even before we actually get sewing we are inventing ways to use our supplies differently! Thanks for your input!

  5. Wow, I love your take on the Pneuma pattern! It’s lovely as it is, but your description of trying to get into all those straps made me chuckle. I’m most ungraceful so while I love the idea of wearing this to hot yoga, I bet I’ll look a total wally getting it on and off. I’d love to give it a whirl one day anyway!

    Re. the paper question, I did some research on this once too and found that most people I asked prefer heavier paper. You don’t need to trace the pattern before using it. It doesn’t tear so easily. It folds back up neatly, as opposed to scrunching into a ball when you try to get the cut pieces back into the envelope. Plus for me it means I can get my patterns printed in the UK rather than shipping them from the US.

    On the other hand, something you should bear in mind if you switch to heavier paper is that postage is going to cost more – for both you and your wholesale customers. And for finer fabrics, tissue may be better – but in that case, users can always trace onto tissue or baking paper or something.

    Wishing you lots of success with whatever you decide! xxx

    • Thanks for your input Tilly (and thanks for joining me in the ungraceful dresser camp lol)! Our pattern packaging is already quite heavy due to the chipboard envelope so you are very right that we should keep in mind the cost of postage! At the same time, local and sustainable printing is very important to us and so it would be lovely to be able to print the pattern itself at our local printer along with the rest of the packaging. Decisions, decisions!

  6. I love the idea of using the tank as pajamas. Has my “make sleepwear” gears spinning. I didn’t even know I had those!

    I don’t mind tissue so much but I like to trace my patterns onto my fabric and that does work better with sturdier paper. I will always prefer full paper patterns over the mess of piecing PDFs.

    • Glad I got your PJ gears spinning 🙂 Thank you for your input about tracing on to your fabric – that is an interesting point for those that like to use this method…I always end up ripping the tissue with my chalk wheel when I try to do this so I can see why heavier paper would be an advantage!

  7. I also needed more room in other haha. I love tissue because it’s lighter therefore cheaper for postage, and if I’m sure the pattern will fit right out of the packet can cut it out on the spot for a quick make, then I iron on some interfacing to make it last, hate trying to get it back in the packet!

    The thicker paper is so sturdy but super heavy to post. But I will more than likely trace the heavy paper especially if I need to do some alterations. Haven’t used a pattern printed on newsprint yet.

    And I love the pajamas! Especially the galaxy fabric pair.

    • Thanks for your input! I haven’t tried ironing on interfacing to tissue patterns but always mean to. I think that would make it behave even more like fabric and thus be very nice to work with when cutting out slippy or delicate fabrics. I’m more likely to trace a pattern if it is in heavier paper as well…which I think is positive for using heavy paper for menswear patterns because people are very likely to use the same pattern over and over again and also spend time adjusting the fit of the traced pattern. I will certainly be keeping your points in mind as we make our decision!

  8. First, love the sleepwear, I’m trying to control the urge to buy that entire collection (at least all at once) but they’re all so cute and wearable.

    On patterns, I didn’t fill out the survey as I honestly don’t have a preference. I trace most everything, partly for altering partly because I prefer patterns full width, so I can watch prints and cut single layer. I use tracing paper which has the benefits of tissue, compact folding, iron flat, transparent, but it’s slightly more sturdy and easier to fold crisply and mark up when altering. Tissue is fine until you walk away from a work in progress. If it’s shifted around especially while pinned to fabric it rips in horrible ways (yes, I live with a cat and kids). Even though it folds compactly and can be smoothed, I imaging many don’t like how crumpled it is when pulled out compared with heavy paper and only the most compulsive have the energy to re-fold the uncut tissue along the original creases–failing that it becomes quite bulky and often barely fits back in the envelope. When cut it’s easy for that one key facing to float away and never make it back into the envelope. All this is to say I’ve heard a lot of complaints about tissue patterns. They’re associated in bad ways with the big pattern companies. Although I also hear gripes about needing to trace or at least reluctance to cut paper patterns, it seems people expect heavy paper from boutique pattern companies and see anything less as some sort of scrimping. (I don’t know if printing on tissue is actually a cost savings but that’s the general perception, I’d think sourcing tissue printing would be a bigger commitment even if the unit price comes down). My impression is that tissue became ubiquitous in patterns not as a cost savings but because it is a more sensible medium to work with as it’s transparent and mimics the quality of fabric allowing tissue fitting, etc. But, not everyone sees this and the aesthetics of crisp white paper seems to win out.

    • What an interesting analysis of the opinions you have heard – thank you so much for this! I really agree that tissue is lovely how it mimics the quality of fabric and thus tend to prefer it more. But you are right that sourcing tissue printing is very difficult – especially since we are trying to source our suppliers as locally and as sustainably as possible. I will certainly be considering all the very good points you made and appreciate very much that you shared them with us without skewing the results of the survey by picking an arbitrary answer :).

  9. Amazing stretchy wear! I’m a pattern tracer, but I do find heavier paper is easier to trace. The only correct answer to your question is you’ll never please everyone!

    • Thanks for bringing that up – even though I should know that by now I always find myself trying to please every sewer in the universe! Whatever decision we end up making will use the great results we have had with this survey paired with a few other factors that are important to me – we would love to print our patterns more locally and sustainably (by using the same company that we print the rest of our packaging through) and we would of course like to come up with a perfect balance for the cost of shipping (the weight of the patterns) and the cost of printing…very tricky to do!

  10. I also ran out of room in the ” other” box. I prefer heavy paper to use. Tissue, is as previously noted is hard to fold,fragile and magnet for cats.(it seems that sewing and cats are often found together, tho they don’t mix well. My cat is 19 and sewing can still bring out the kitten for long enough to rip a pattern). That being said I am smitten with Thread Theory’s tissue package! I purchase both the PDF to “use” and the paper pattern to enjoy in my sewing room. I don’t think that white heavy paper would work with the lovely package you created, I would hate to see it change. I print off and cut the PDF but use the handy instruction booklet from the paper pattern.

    • Hi Marion, It is really interesting to hear that you use both versions of our pattern! If we do end up switching to another paper type, our graphic designer will have all sorts of great sources, ideas and opinions to help us keep the pattern in line with the packaging aesthetic I am sure! So far my cat has only toyed with the idea of ripping the tissue to shreds by laying on it and fondly patting it (she’s adorable) but I know heavier paper wouldn’t put that same fear in my heart while cutting out my patterns lol!

  11. I have little storage space and prefer tissue or digital.

  12. I love all the modifications you’ve done with that lined top. It looks so soft and cozy now! Where did you get the fabric? I love the hand-drawn look. I voted for sturdy paper too – I rarely bother with tracing, so I like something that can be reused.

  13. I trace off my working pattern pieces with all patterns, whether .pdf or printed. The tissue ones are much easier to store though, and after making a lot of indies last month I am really appreciating a printed pattern on tissue!

  14. Okay, I definitely prefer sturdier paper. I generally make a mess of tissue patterns because my iron doesn’t always hone my “no steam, please” requests and I’m just a clumsy person and tend to rip tissue paper. And I, for one, am terribly bad at re-folding tissue patterns so they’ll fit into the envelopes again!
    But then I’m one of the completely crazy people who usually prefer PDF patterns to paper patterns. That’s partly because I can just not easily afford paper patterns, particularly when you add shipping, but mostly it’s for security. If I make a mess of a pattern or want to make it for someone else, I can just print it again! So I don’t necessarily have to trace it—and if I make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.
    Also, many companies will let you re-download PDF patterns, and that usually includes any fixes they make later on. In the case of the Colette Negroni shirt, for example, that meant that I got the expanded size range for free when they re-released the pattern with the Walden branding. Yay!

    • Great points about PDF patterns – I completely agree with all of them (I happen to be a PDF sewer all too). Thank you for your input about the paper. I have always preferred tissue but have not quite been able to make a list explaining why…I wonder if it is just because it is what I am used to! It is great to hear that there are sewers out there who actually are able to make a list of reasons and your points will really help Matt and I with our decision!

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