Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Swim Robes

I bought the beach robe pattern by Dana of MADE, when it came out a couple years ago. I actually used it to make Thing One a fleece robe, rather than a towel one. But since he's been doing swimming lessons this summer we've had a lot more trips to the pool and I thought a towel robe would actually be really nice. Walmart had a great deal on towels a couple weeks ago so I bought some for $3.88, and planned to make the robes. Only I didn't go back and read that I should have bought two towels per robe and three packs of bias tape for each as well. Hmmm. Rather than get the "right" materials I decided I would just alter the pattern a little bit and see if I could make a robe out of one towel and use more of the existing hem to cut down on the amount of bias needed. Guess what? You totally can and in probably half the time! Here's how I adapted MADE's robe pattern (you can get it here for $8) to make a robe out of one towel and just three yards of bias tape.  


This worked for both the 18 mo-3T and the 4T sizes, but you have to line things up just right to make them fit on one towel, and make the most use of the existing finished edges. Some things that the original pattern says to cut on the fold I didn't, and other things that just said "cut two" had to be cut on the fold.
Rather than use the two overlapping front panels I traced the back piece of the pattern (it comes with just half the back). Then I taped both halves together to make one solid back piece. I cut out two layers and used this as the body piece for the front and back of the robe. I also traced a second sleeve piece so I could just lay them both out at the same time.  
I folded the towel in half, hamburger style and right-side-out, and laid the pattern out like so:
  • tops of the sleeves are cut on the fold
  • the hood is lined up with the finished edges
  • the bottom of the body piece is lined up with the finished edge at the bottom


Below you can see all the cut-out pieces. The hood is inside out, ready to be sewn together, and the body piece is two layers with the patterned part on the outside. This towel only had circles on one side so I had to make sure I was sewing the right sides the right way, but luckily if you cut it out folded like above all your pieces will be right. Warning: cutting towels is messy!! I was picking towels thread/fuzz off of things for days, even after vaccuming! You can see the blue in the carpet here.


The next thing I did was take the front body layer and cut it down the middle. For Thing One's I sewed on an exposed zipper that I happened to have. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on that because frankly, I wouldn't do it again. I wanted to try doing the zipper because I've never done one and an exposed zipper seemed like a good place to start, but it was a pain to make the zipper the right size and the towel edges still fray and get caught in the zipper some times. It looks cool and it does mostly work, but I would recommend using bias tape (like I did on the orange one). This was so much quicker.


If you cut it out like shown above, the only other cut pieces that have to be finished with bias tape are the sleeves. I sewed the robe together basically using Dana's tutorial found here. I like sewing the sleeves on first rather than last. I've done it both ways and I just think it's easier to do them first. I sewed the hood on just as the pattern shows, except for the blue one I did bias tape along the front collar before adding the hood, just to give it a little extra color.


On the orange one I did a lined hood because I had this cute frog flannel that someone had given me. Without doing the zipper, it was a pretty easy project. I don't have a serger, so I just zig-zaged all the edges when I was done. For the one with bias on the front I just made a little strap with towel scraps and sewed on some velcro. It works pretty well. I may add another velcro tab further around so it would wrap tighter, Thing Two's pretty skinny : )


If you want to make kids robes I'd definitely recommend Dana's pattern. If you want to use just one towel and less bias tape, then hopefully this methods makes sense. You could try to make your own pattern and use this method. To me it's worth it to have the measuring work done for $8, plus you get three sizes, and all the directions with pictures. She does such a great job with her patterns. MADE is one of the first blogs I ever really followed and I have appreciated a lot of her tutorials as well as some free patterns so I was happy to pay for this one. Plus you can use it to make a great house robe as well! My boys are loving their towel robes and I am loving not having to drag around as many wet towels. 
Happy Swimming!
- Haley

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