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. 

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