Ever since I made Tyo’s, Syo has been wanting a house-coat, too. Except made out of fleece. She’s a big fan of fleece. Finally, on our last trip to Fabricland, she selected this plain, white, not-terribly-thick but also not-terribly-expensive fleece (after I refused to spring for the $25/metre blue camo-print).
The most frustrating thing about sewng for Syo (aside from her exacting and often ephemeral style expectations) is that she can’t always articulate what it is she’s wanting. Should it have wide sleeves or narrow? Short or long? Patch or inseam pockets? I’m not sure if she just doesn’t get me, or if we need to do some serious garment-vocabulary lessons.
Anyway, after a certain amount of discussion, it became clear that she wanted a pretty standard house-coat (yawn), with pockets, and appliques reminiscent of Tyo’s. She also picked out the fabric for the appliques, a cotton quilting flannel with a random dye-splotch kind of pattern.*
Excited to have a chance to finally use it, I pulled out Sew What! Fleece, and offered the house-coat project for approval. Approval was granted.
I won Sew What Fleece from Clio in a giveaway back around Christmas, and have been feeling guilty about not using it every since. It’s even had me on the hunt for reasonably-priced, yet attractive and tempting, fleece—not the easiest thing to come by around here. So I was pretty chuffed to have a reason to use it.
I have to say—where was this book when I was “sewing” three years ago? Five? Ten? This would’ve been *right* up my alley. The method of drafting a rough pattern from measurements, doing a lot of shaping as you go, and generally throwing everything together—that’s perfectly suited to what my sewing was for the first twenty years of my sewing life. And honestly, there are plenty of super-cute projects in the book (helped by having some super-duper-cute fabrics, I will say).
The problem is, I left this method behind about two and a half years ago, when I decided I wanted to step up my sewing and produce “real” garments. These days, I like carefully-drafted patterns, extensive fitting, complex little details. I don’t want to just roughly shape the fabric and trust to the stretch to make everything fit.
It makes me a little sad, actually. I would be tempted to give the book to my fourteen-year-old niece—I think it’s the perfect “style” of sewing for a teenager—but a) most of the projects don’t resemble much what she actually wears, and b) when they were visiting at Easter, she declared she hated sewing. I suspect that *really* means she hated having to sew stupid boxers in a stupid gr.8 home-ec class, but if that’s what’s in her head, I’m not going to hand over a book like that. I mean, I understand finding sewing frustrating—just getting the sleeves in right can be a pain—but to me, hating sewing is like hating drawing, or hating dance. It’s a means of creation, a medium—even if it’s not your artform, how can you hate a medium? /endrant.
ANYWAY, I took the required measurements, drafted out the basic pattern pieces, more or less following the directions—I was a bit confused in places between what they expected you to draft on paper vs. what would be modified on the fabric, but I think this has more to do with me not reading the text closely than anything else. This is one of the more “advanced” projects in the book, so there’s a lot of referring back to previous pages for instructions. Also there didn’t seem to be any discussion of ease, which made me a bit nervous; I wound up padding out Syo’s measurements a bit as I drafted, and I’m glad I did. Syo helped a bit, mostly with the cutting-out, but was pretty darn bored with the whole drafting process. “Do you always take this long with making the pattern?” she demanded.
“Sometimes it takes much longer,” I pointed out. She rolled her eyes. We’d been drafting for about ten minutes at that point…
I took a bit of a liberty with the collar, “drafting” a shawl-collar just like the one I made for my Lady Grey Kimono-Sweater. And then, to make it extra-cozy, I filled it with some poly batting that I think arrived with my Aunt’s stash-purge last fall. It seems to have worked, although figuring out how to get that poly in place was a pain in the butt. Quilter, I am not.
I discovered on unrolling my Steam-A-Seam Lite that I actually had very little remaining, so the appliques are not quite as lavish as on Tyo’s robe. Which I think is fine for the smaller scale of this piece. I also didn’t zig-zag the edges quite as densely—it’s not quite as smooth a look, but the fleece is quite soft and I was really worried about ending up with a lot of rippling.
Note the interesting shape of the patch pockets? I was originally planning to do simple inseam pockets, but Syo eventually managed to get it through my skull that she wanted patch-pockets instead. Having already cut out the four pocket-pieces, I turned them into double-thick patches by stitching two together and turning that inside out, then topstitching them down. I actually stitched them in place with white thread then added the coloured zig-zag. It’s decorative. Quit looking at me like that. (OK, downside of the slapdash pattern method, I feel pretty darn slapdash about the whole project. Yes, the pocket-topstitching sucks. No, I’m not going to go fix it.)
The instructions don’t mention measuring your sleeve-caps or anything to make sure they fit. When I first went to insert the sleeves, the armscye opening on the pattern was bigger than the sleeve opening. I “fixed” this by re-cutting with a bit more of a typical set-in-sleeve shape (as opposed to the simple shirt-style shape of the sleeves they have you draft), and it worked fine, but it’s certainly not elegant. The armscyes are also really high—I mean, I like a high armscye, but these seem a little high even to me. Fortunately lowering is easily done. Honestly, I suspect that a straight-on T-sleeve would’ve been fine for a piece like this, but anyway.
I was too lazy to return to my original Lotus Lady post to double check which edge of the robe should wrap over the front (and this is not as much of a kimono anyway, although the main difference is the sleeve). So it is what it is.
Completion was delayed several days because I decided it really needed a second layer to line the main body; last weekend Syo and I made it to Fabricland and managed to find a metre of what I *think* is the same fabric in the remnant bin—the large bolt we bought off of was nowhere to be seen. I cut out another set of body pieces, assembled, stitched around the entire outside edge, flipped it through one of the armholes, and then hand-stitched the arm-holes into place. Not my preferred method of lining something, but given the late change in plans, I didn’t mind (really, it took like ten minutes, max, to hand-stitch).
So, I now have a second deliriously happy child. I’m figuring it’ll last until the first wash, anyway, when the fleece looses some of that brand-new fluffiness.
Also, white. Why do my kids have to want white robes?
*Originally purchased to make christmas gifties. I actually recently found some of the exact same fabric at the thrift store, but passed it up because I’ve been sitting on 2m of it for a year and a half at this point and have only used up maybe .5 m.