It starts in September. I begin trolling the fabric stores looking for just the right fleece. The holiday prints start appearing then, and I know I have to act fast when I find the right one. Something cute and Christmasy, with small enough prints to be recognizable on a baby yet still appeal to an almost-teenager. This year, the perfect fabric jumps out at me – I just have to have it.
But first I have to do my homework. Grandkids grow each year, so I need to solicit the moms for current sizes. Then there are adjustments. Extra length in the legs for this one, slimmer through the body for most, feet or no feet. The almost-teen has aged out of the one-piece model, and wants fleece jammie pants. A new pattern is introduced.
Then the guessing begins. Seven Grammy Jammies adds up to 11.5 yards of fleece fabric. But combining all those pieces on the fabric means I can fit them on a smaller yardage – the question is how much less? My search turns up only small quantities in each store, so I take a leap of faith and go online to order a whole bolt of fabric, 10 yards.
Soon my kitchen island turns into a conveyor line. I roll the fabric across its massive length over and over again, laying out all the pattern pieces, breathing a sigh when they all fit with room to spare. Taking a deep breath, I dive in with weights, scissors and ruler, cutting and collecting the pieces child by child, designated by post-it note names.
The best part is yet to come. With the necessary logistics behind me, I can finally thread my machine and commence sewing. I start with the largest ones first, as they take the most time and I can finish each set in less time. This year adding my new serger into the mix lets me zip through those long seams, assembling and binding in one pass.
One by one, the jammies come together and join their partners on the couch. They are usually completed within a week, and already I visualize them snuggling the little bodies of my grandchildren.
Grammy Jammies are always presented around Thanksgiving so they can be worn during the lead up to Christmas. And it has to be in person. By now, the contents of my fabric gift bags are no secret, and the kids dive in to reveal the newest model.
As the calendar turns to December, I begin the second round. Each grandchild has a special Friend who also wears jammies, which are gifted for Christmas. It all started long ago, and in some ways is my favorite part of this whole project. The first two Friends were uniquely shaped, and required quite a bit of ingenuity to develop a pattern. But after standardizing on cuddly JellyCats, I was able to replicate the same size across the remaining Friends.
That is until Isabel had an urgent need to clothe “tiny bear” as well. Measuring under 6″ tall, it was an exercise in miniaturization, but I took on the challenge.
This year we were able to assemble the whole family for a special New Years weekend together in Milwaukee. A chaotic photo op ensued, capturing 15 Grammy Jammies in all. And lots of love.