It is hard to believe it, but the sew-along is here. This is a simple project – perhaps the easiest in my year-long roster – but due to the large swatches of yardage, it still needs a little TLC. To that end – and given we’re using a somewhat intermediate pattern style – if you have any questions please contact me through comments, through email, or on Facebook!
So there’s no time like the present, to get started! Am I right?
We’ve talked a bit about supplies and our pattern; next, we found our fabrics. Today we’re cutting and marking. And as goofy as it is, I’m going to show you my build of the Bootstrap robe pattern – which I built for a 36″ plotter – and talk a bit about the pattern before proceeding:
Something you’ll notice immediately if you’re at all familiar with sewing patterns, is that Bootstrap generates whole pattern pieces instead of half-patterns to be cut on the fold. This means the paper pattern takes up more “real estate” (and costs more to print). But if you want to cut pieces on the fold, you only need to bisect the patterns that can be halved: the back, the sleeve (which is symmetrical), and the sash. I personally like that Bootstrap’s pieces are whole because often I do want to cut in single layers (for plaids, or fiddly fabrics).
And before we cut our fabric, let’s talk about changes that I will be making and discussing during the sew-along. One, we can add to the length of the robe (as I did, with a floor-length version). This is very simple: measure from the nape of the neck to your desired hem, and compare this measurement to the line bisecting the back piece. Add any required length you need, factoring for your hem – and remember to add this same length to the front pattern piece. Remember that since this is a long robe and made with a knit or lightweight fabric, you may want to hang the robe before hemming it (like you would a circle skirt or some such). Or you can do as I did, and build the robe 1″ to 2″ shorter than the intended final length, trusting it will “grow” with time. I also “balanced” my hems, so that the hem on the sleeve and the hem on the robe were equal.
My second major change: I am going to draft a facing for the robe. This is done by simply tracing another pattern piece the width of the little collar peninsula on the front piece, curving around the bodice, and extending straight down to the hem (and this long facing increases the required yardage). If you don’t want a facing – no problem. But keep in mind, when your robe falls open at the collar, the wrong-side of your fabric will show. I also find the facing add some elegance to the garment. I will be demonstrating how to finish it with machine-sewing or invisible hand-stitching.
And finally: I am omitting the welt pocket at the breast. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, to me!
Cutting long swaths of any fabric is kind of a pain (to me anyway) – particularly if your fabric shifts or stretches at all. I like to lay out my fabrics and let them “rest” for a bit, before cutting. Here, you can see I’m about to cut the back piece – yes, on the fold. I have all the fabric supported on the table so it does not distort the grain. And I really take the time to straighten the grain. It’s worth all the careful folding and pulling and smoothing to do so. Remember, for both the back and the front pieces, to mark your sleeve notches and your pocket placement notches. I did so by snipping 1/8″ into the seam allowance (shown four photos below):
Notice I am only cutting one piece at a time. First, I don’t have a cutting table long enough to lay out everything (that’s almost five yards worth of layout!). Secondly, I have found it advantageous to cut one piece at a time for larger projects. I am skilled enough at pattern layout that this doesn’t backfire. But when I was a new stitcher, I used to clean my floor and lay everything out at once. I also used to cut with scissors (instead of a rotary setup). The way I do things now is much faster, obviously. But you can lay out and cut out in more ways than one.
Shown below, you can see my front piece – and that facing edge (the red line), than can either be cut or traced for the facing pattern piece. The tiny sliver at right is the fabric fold – I will be slicing it off right after this picture).
Shown below: the upper curve of the back pieces – I snip 1/8″ into that seam allowance to help me line up with the collar piece:
And finally – here are the pocket notches I was discussing. You can see my little 1/8″ notches, that I cut through paper pattern and fabric. These are very easy in-seam pockets, and pockets are nice to have in a robe!
Remember to mark your sleeve notches. I also like to block-fuse a strip slightly longer and wider than my sash, and then cut the interfaced piece. Remember, if you are sewing your robe with a stretch knit you want an interfacing that has give – knit or tricot. It doesn’t need a lot of give, but a non-stretch interfacing won’t perform well on a stretch knit sash of that length.
So that’s it! We should have two fronts, two front facings (self-drafted), two sleeves, one back piece, four pocket pieces, and a sash.
We’ll be stitching next entry!
As always, if you have any trouble at all – give me a ring!
See you soon!