Let’s get started with flurry of instant-gratification craft posts! A while back, I made a few travel trays, which are just little padded rectangles that can be transformed into trays by pinching the corners together. The idea is that you can throw one in your suitcase. Then when you get to your hotel room, you have a little place to collect your glasses, jewelry, etc. on your nightstand. I thought I would give them away as gifts, but somehow they ended up becoming permanent fixtures on my work table. I guess it’s more accurate to call those stationary trays.
I have seen variations on this idea using ties, velcro, or snaps on the corners. I prefer snaps, but didn’t have any snap setting tools when I made the first ones. I remember having struggled with using snap pliers. I think I don’t have the grip strength, or possibly the patience for it. So I used a new gadget that works with a hammer instead. It was much easier for me, but the hammering noise caused my dog undue stress. I guess I’ll have to do my hammering outside from now on.
I quilted the base of my trays. It’s an easy way to experiment with different quilting methods. I don’t think it’s really necessary for a small size rectangle though. My favorite was the result of quilting with one of my machine’s decorative stitches. I also experimented with using multicolor thread.
Once again, I can assert that sewing is a small part of garment construction. Putting the robe pieces together was a relative snap after all of the planning and preparation.
After sewing the pockets and the darts, I was ready to start putting pieces together. In the last post, I tested various seam finishes and landed on flat-felling as the best option. I love the clean lines the enclosed seams make.
Of course, nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I carefully pinned the sleeves in place and was ready to sew them, when I realized that I had pinned them right sides together (flat-felling starts wrong sides together). Rather than pull everything out, I figured it would be fine to have the sleeve cap seams on the inside and use faux-french technique to finish them. It turned out fine, I am happy to report.
I also forgot to put a loop in the neck seam for hanging the robe on hooks. This goof I dealt with by sewing a small reinforced panel with my name tag and loop, then stitching it to the inside back neck. I used a panel because the fabric is so light and fragile that the weight of the whole garment pulling on two small attachment points would quickly lead to holes. Stitching a square creates stability by distributing the load over a larger area. Just for fun, I used the selvage to make the loop. I just liked the way the thread frayed around the edge – and because it is the selvage, it is very stable.
I really love the finished result. I will be taking my super-light robe not just to the gym, but any time I pack a suitcase for myself. It’s so light that I could even find room in my carry-on bag.
The whole project became much more of a technique sampler than I intended. I hope that some of my experiments and fixes inspire you to do something you haven’t tried!
I chose to use hook and loop tape for closures, but snaps would work equally well. I also found that the tray looks neater if you press a crease into the corners and along the bottom edges of the assembled tray.
I also omitted the optional bottom quilting, but I would put it in if it did not disrupt the pattern of the patterned fabric.
Some ideas for future versions might include trimmings on the edges or ribbon around the bottom side. An embroidered monogram or monochromatic design would work well centered on either side. This could be a fun part of a set of travel organizers.