I have 2m of fabric, and I want to make a cotton nightie with it. I want to create drawstrng shoulders and also a front drawstring that ties losely. I managed to find an image similar to what I would like to create (the top bit):

drawstring shoulder dress

What I am wondering is whether I can just make the pattern from two large rectangles and then the shape just comes from the drawstrings, or are there other things I need to account for? I have a similar shape to the girl in the image, about size 10, tall, slender.

Any tips on making the drawstring? Do I make a casing and then sew on top of the shoulder?


1 Answer 1


There are a few things to be considered here:


Are you sure the drawstrings will be comfortable when lying down, either on your back or your side? If you aren't sure, consider pleating instead.

Will you be able to ignore the loose ends of the strings or will they bother you? You can keep them shorter than shown in the picture (sew them in place) or pleat the fabric instead.


The front is basically a big rectangle with a very narrow triangular neck that gets stretched by the drawstrings. The width of the front panel looks a little wider than the width of a well-fitting t-shirt. I'm sure you can adapt a simple tunic pattern.

Unless you want a drawstring at the back as well (keep your comfort in mind!), the back must be cut to your actual size. That poses the problem that the shoulder of the front panel is wider than the back. You either have to cut the back panel wider from the waist up, or find another way to fit both pieces together.

Construction of a drawstring

I assume the fabric for your nighty is rather thin. In that case you should encase the drawstring on all sides to protect the frabric from wear. Cut long rectangles (the width depends on the size of your strings), hem the short sides and sew the long sides together to make tubes. Iron the seams open right in the middle of the tube (will be the underside). Place the tubes on your nighty seam facing down and sew then in place along the top and bottom edge, then insert the strings.

If that adds too much bulk, you can get away with encasing only the top of the drawstring. Cut long rectangles, hem the short sides and sew them in place with the cut edge double folded inwards.


If you have any cheap fabric like muslin lying around or an old bedsheet you want to throw away, make a mockup before cutting your desired fabric. This helps you finding the correct size and refining your pattern.

If you don't want to make a mockup, I advise drawing the pattern without seam allowences and then adding generous seam allowances all around (at least 1.5 inch / 4 cm, more is better). This gives you enough fabric to gradually refine your pattern.

Remember: you can always cut away, but you cannot uncut.

  • Thank you this is so helpful! I have dug out an old sheet so I can play around with that first perhaps! I think I am fine with drawstrings but on the back I will perhaps pleat as I sleep on my back. If it turns out nicely, I may just wear as a dress :) Thanks again
    – Nila
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 14:57
  • 1
    I just wanted to add an update, the nightdress is now done and it came out really well and there is no drawstring at the back so it is also pretty damn comfy imgur.com/elN5ZFC
    – Nila
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 13:58
  • @Nila And it looks cute, too ;D
    – Elmy
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 5:32

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