Fashion · Useful Thing

A Minimalist Bathrobe Part 1: Making Plaid Work

robe_plan
Step one: make a plan

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.

plaidlayout
Fabric pinned to itself and taped to mat. Pattern pieces aligned to match plaid at seams. Plaid sorted!

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!

 

General · Useful Thing

20 Ways to Use Your Scraps

While I wait for a replacement for my leaky iron, I’ve been thinking about how to use what I already have.  Lately I have been pondering what to do with my scraps.

You can always use your scraps to practice on, or rip into strips to tie up your tomatoes. But you love that pattern!  Every time you see it in your stash you sigh and put it back.  It’s just too small.  Or is it?

Here are some things to do with that piece that you may not have thought of:

  1. Bias tape
  2. Quilt squares
  3. Pocket linings
  4. Facings
  5. Doll clothes
  6. Covered buttons
  7. Multi-colored projects
  8. Accent stripes
  9. Color blocking and piecing
  10. Contrast welting
  11. Headbands, barrettes, bows
  12. Luggage tags
  13. Pattern weights
  14. Applique
  15. Patches
  16. Baby clothes
  17. Patches
  18. Napkins  (assemble a mixed set)
  19. Small bags (coin purses, earphone case, etc.)
  20. Sachets for your drawers

Of course, these are just a few possibilities.  What do you do with your scraps?

 

 

Useful Thing

Coupon Wallet with Owls

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Pattern has 8 dividers arranged accordion-style for expansion

Here’s a cute quilted coupon organizer with divided sections and a magnetic snap closure.  This pattern is a great choice for playing with color.  You can vary colors on the bias tape, sections, sides, lining and cover.  It’s also a good choice for using up small pieces of pretty fabric that aren’t quite large enough for a major project.

The pattern I used is the Coupon Organizer from iSew.biz.  If you love it, but don’t want to make your own, you can buy finished ones on the iSew etsy page.

The pattern comes as a pdf file which you print yourself.  Instructions are detailed and come with lots of pictures.

Cutting is super simple.  Compared to clothing and home dec, it’s a treat to cut all of your pieces on a small surface!  The other side of the coin is that small pieces make assembly a little fiddly.  If you take your time, you shouldn’t have any problems though.

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Interfaced divider pieces and vinyl labels in “curlers”

I opted to hand-write my labels, but there are excellent instructions for making printed versions if you prefer.  You can choose from fabric labels, vinyl tabs with paper, or whatever works for you.  I chose vinyl.  Although I read the clear instructions, somehow I still managed to sew all of my labels on upside down.  Fortunately, I only had to rip out 8 2-inch seams to get back on track! (Yes, I didn’t notice until I finished all of them).

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I can’t believe I sewed all 8 labels on backwards!!!

TIP: In order to get a sharp folded edge on the vinyl labels, I pinched the vinyl closed with wonder clips over small pieces of fabric.  Without the fabric to protect it, the vinyl would get imprinted with little divots from the inside of the clips.  I only had to leave them on for a few minutes to get the nice crease I wanted.

If I were to do this again, I would interface the divider pieces before cutting.  That is, just fuse a large rectangle, then cut all of the small rectangles from that.  That would cut the amount of effort for the divider cutting almost in half.  I used Pellon SF101, but I think any midweight interfacing would work.

I would also consider using a spray adhesive to keep the layers of the cover together while quilting.  Even using a walking foot, mine shift a little.

TIP:  Consider using a different color in your bobbin if you are quilting very different top and bottom fabric colors in your quilt sandwich.  I chose pale pink on top and black in the bobbin.

For years I have been toting around my coupons in paper envelopes.  This organizer is a huge improvement.  I already have my coupons in it.  Maybe matching grocery bags next?  Hmmm…..

Travel · Useful Thing

Travel Trays

I love this idea!  I think I first saw this on pinterest and have been looking forward to making a few ever since.

All you need is enough fabric to make two small rectangles, a matching piece of batting, and either snaps or velcro to secure the corners you pinch together.

It’s clever, quick and a fun way to use up scraps or play with embroidery.

You can get instructions as a free download from Craftsy here.  Credit for the pattern goes to Angela Padilla.

Three rectangles
Cut rectangles ready to sew.
Travel trays
Finished travel trays

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.

 

 

Fashion · Useful Thing · Vintage

Vintage Vogue Apron V8643

Here’s the basic information:

Vogue 8643 – Aprons

I made View A in size M (12-14), but shortened to the view B length.  View A is the yellow one in the envelope illustration.

This was a little difficult to make, but the instructions were clear and I am really proud of the results.  I am definitely keeping the pattern and will pull it out again whenever the mood to make an apron strikes again.

If I make it again, I would consider using the serger on the vertical seams.

The fabric is a cotton quilting print from Jo-Ann.  The pockets are lined in white with pieces of an old sheet that had also seen duty as a dropcloth.  Yay, recycling!

And…  here is the finished product: