Now that I have a bathing suit that I don’t mind wearing to the gym, I turned my thoughts to making swimming at the gym easier. When I do a swim, I have to carry a bag with a minimum of a towel, swimwear, shower shoes, bathing cap and toiletries. Ideally, I would have a bathrobe to come and go from the dressing area to the showers. I never bring one, though, because the ones I have take up too much room in the bag.
Somewhere in my past, I picked up a few yards of soft double-faced cotton. One side is plaid, the other stripe. I realized that reversible fabrics don’t necessarily need facings or hemmed edges. I could use bias tape or a densely stitched overcast to neaten the edges.
I took a pattern for a short, shawl collared robe I have already made and made some modifications. I eliminated the seam allowances and hem length on all of the outer edges. The original sleeves were slightly puffed 3/4 length, which wasn’t what I wanted. I measured the front and back of the arm opening at the seamline and wrote the numbers on my pattern. Then I looked for a simple, full-length sleeve with the same measurements. Luckily, the first one I tried was a very close match. The belt didn’t need a pattern, since it was just a long rectangle. Although it added a little extra bulk, I thought it was worth it to add patch pockets, a loop at the back of the neck, and belt carriers.
I knew if I wanted the finished product to look good, I would have to be careful about placing my pattern pieces. There are a few things I do that make this process much easier. Before even starting, I try to choose a symmetric plaid. I think about how I want the plaid to be arranged on the garment, then make the foldline on the stripe I want to run down the center back. I lay out the doubled fabric on a large, gridded cutting mat. If the fabric is slippery or hard to align, I use blue painter’s tape to keep it aligned to the grid. To make sure the upper and lower edges stay aligned, I pin the bottom and top together on a prominent stripe every few inches or so. It probably goes without saying that I have pre-washed and ironed first. I carefully examine the plaid and make sure the stripes align to the cutting mat’s grid in several places. They almost never do at first, but a little patience smoothing things out always pays off. Then I arrange the pattern pieces so they line up on the sides. Commercial patterns almost always mark the waist, so that’s a convenient place to check alignment. Otherwise, you can use notches to match a horizontal stripe. I usually start with any piece I want to go on the foldine.
After all of that, I cut the front and back. I decided where I wanted the patch pockets to go and cut squares in the right size, again being careful to match the plaid.
In the next post, I will be trying out different types of edge and seam finishes. See you there!