Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Satin robe to kimono top

I bought a satin robe at a thrift store because I wanted the material for another project. Looking at the top on the hanger, I couldn't help but think it would make a great kitschy kimono top.

I searched the Internet hoping to find a tutorial to tell me exactly how to make one. I found an inspirational picture and a tutorial that didn't fit my materials but was helpful nonetheless. I love people who make Internet tutorials and share their knowledge. I hope to be one.

I had a black t-shirt that was a bit tight on top that I thought would be perfect for the bottom.
So, all I had to do was sew the top of the robe to the bottom of the knit shirt, what could be easier? Well, it was pretty easy but as a novice sewer, it took me about 4 hours with the results being slightly wonky but still wearable in my book!

Sorry I don't have step-by-step pictures. The first thing I was try on the robe part and pin it where I wanted it to close, checking to be sure that I'd still be able to get it over my head. Then I stitched horizontally across the bottom of the robe top to keep it closed. I thought just sewing the black bottom on wasn't interesting enough, so I decided to add some of the red trim to the front waist for a sort of belt look. When I cut the bottom of the robe off to use for my other project, I did not want to use the red trim, so I cut that off and saved it - this is what I used for the front belt. If I was an adept sewer, I might have put one on the back as well.

I opened it up and ironed it flat. Then I started to play around with it.  I ironed one edge down to hide the raw ends and stitched that, right sides together to the robe where I wanted the waist to be. 

I didn't measure anything, just eyeballed all of it and left the rest of the robe without trimming it up. Since the satin was so slippery, I started to sew from the middle to one end. Then I sewed from the middle to the other end. I went back and top stitched the belt down, leaving a nice-looking finish, if I do say so myself.
Now, here is where things got really fun and I stopped photographing. I tried on my t-shirt to decide where I wanted to cut and decided to cut a bit higher than the waist of the t-shirt because I wanted the kimono top to have a bit more length than the t-shirt did. Since the t-shirt is knit, it didn't matter that I cut it above its waist, it shaped nicely around the new waist. 

I pinned the t-shirt bottom to the top of the robe and was really sort of random about it. I safety pinned, tried it on, checked the mirror. For the front, I just sewed the t-shirt and the robe belt/red strip right sides together. I did not top stitch it down like I had with the top of the strip. Why? well, I didn't want to really. I thought it might affect the fall of the back of the knit top and/or didn't know if it would create some sort of pull on the front. Basically, I didn't care all that much. 

One concern I did have was that I find sewing on knits to be a bit difficult. I read a hint to use tissue paper underneath the knit when sewing on a machine and I have found that it does help. In this case, I just made sure I was always sewing with the satin robe on the bottom and the knit on top, so I pinned and re-pinned, changing the orientation so that I was always sewing with the knit on top. 

I continued my approach of sewing from the center to one edge and then starting again at the center and going to the other edge - I really think this helped me to keep things a bit more even. On the back of the top, I knew I had much more robe material than t-shirt and decided to put a couple of tucks on the sides of the back to accommodate this. You can get a sense of that here
This is what the top looks like from the front
Not bad for 4 hours and a newbie sewer. And I've actually worn this in public a few times.

A note about the edges -- I used pinking shears to cut the edges but the 100% polyester robe seemed eager to fray. I had learned from the Internet (various fabric flower making tutorials) that man-made materials melt nicely to seal off edges so I took a lighter to the inside robe seams. Aware that the melted seams might scratch me when I wear the top, I took the extra length from the knit top and sewed it over the edges. This might not make sense but a lot of my approach to making this top didn't make a lot of sense and was trial-and-error all the way.

My only concern now is that wearing a 100% polyester top is a bit like wearing a trash bag. Given that it's black, I'm concerned that wearing this out in the sun will turn this into one of those "sweat it off weight loss" tops. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reconstruction posts under construction

I've got some writing to do. I have slowly been getting into clothing reconstruction and need to write up my projects. I'd love to post tutorials as I've seen so many wonderful ones on the Internet that have helped and inspired me.

If there is anyone out there reading this nearly defunct and oddly focused blog, maybe you can let me know if there is anything in particular you'd like to see and the might encourage me to post.

Here is a rough listing of what I've done so far and need to write up:

  • several not-so-interesting t-shirt reconstructions based on books I've read and Internet tutorials I've seen
  • converting a sheath dress to a flippy dance dress by inserting godets
  • Converting a satin robe into a kimono shirt
  • Steampunk costuming - tiered bustle, swag overskirt, converted velvet skirt by adding a godet into the back seam, working on decorating a small top hat I purchased 
My projects are all a bit unorthodox because I can't draw straight, cut straight or sew straight. The concept of using a pattern and starting with fabric bores me. I'm most interested in taking thrift store buys or something I have and don't wear and converting it. I am a novice sewer. Sometimes I do try to be accurate but I just don't think I have the genetic disposition to be a neat person (you know, those people with neat handwriting and who can do things gracefully and accurately with such ease). I'm sort of a mess, but I'm having a heck of a good time.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I'm not dead yet!

I've been spending my computer time on Facebook and Pinterest. I'd like to return to blogging to memorialize my clothing reconstruction projects. This will require that I upload photos I've taken and that I write posts. Wonderful ideas but I'm not sure whether life will allow this. Still, I should try.

Cashmere cardigan remake

This sage green 2 ply cashmere cardigan feels yummy but looks dowdy. It was very large on me but I machine washed and dried it and it shrunk a bit. I don't like the boxiness of it and I could just try to shape it, but I don't think I want a cardigan anyway. I'm also a bit nervous about cutting this.

this is a project waiting to happen -- I've been pinning lots of remake ideas on Pinterest but haven't gotten around to it yet.