It’s always risky taking my big girl to a fabric shop. She has clearly inherited the fabric-loving gene and will wander around happily touching stuff or hiding behind the displays. On this last visit she impressed the ladies by working out how much bias binding she could buy with her pocket money (not that she knows what she’d do with it – she’s not *that* whizzy!)
Anyway, she adores soft fluffy fabrics and fell in love with a light green fluffy fleece with pastel swirls on. Now, for the past week she’s been wearing a dressing gown for ages 2 – 3, so it wasn’t a big jump to think that maybe I could buy the fluffy fleece and run her up a dressing gown.
Initially I offered a poncho design – benefits being it’s kind of like a snuggly blanket plus you don’t have the open dressing gown flapping about, which is my main gripe about children in dressing gowns (ie I run around after them trying to bundle them up). But in my heart of hearts, I knew it was a kind of cop-out. Then I wondered about a jelaba (spelling?) style – like a long T-shirt, I suppose. No, it had to be a proper dressing gown. So, without the aid of a safety net, I went ahead and, you know what? It worked!
First you need to make some measurements:
- total length of dressing gown
- across the back of the shoulders
- around the waist
- length of arm from shoulder to wrist
- around the armpit
- back waist (ie, from the back of the neck where that little bumpy bone is, to where the waist is)
The basic design is a really simplified kimono, so no tricky sleeve fitting. Use the across the shoulders measurement to work out how wide you want your back panel. My girl was 15″ or so, so I added a few inches and came up with the back panel being 18″. It helps if this number can be easily divided into two and three. The length came out at 30″, so I cut one rectangle of 18″x30″ for the back.
For the front panels you need two rectangles, each 2/3 as wide as the back, so there’s room to overlap. So I cut two of 12″x30″. Then to make the neck space and cross-over at the front you need to cut a triangle off each. Measure half-way in at the top and make a mark (so in mine it was 6″). Then measure the back-waist length at one side and make another mark. Join the marks with a diagonal line and cut along it. If you lay the pieces out now, they should look quite like a dressing gown already!
You’ll need sleeves, of course. A big rectangle for each measuring the length of the arm and as wide as the armhole measurement plus a little. I folded them in half lengthways and trimmed a long but narrow triangle off them so they’d taper at the wrist – just eyeball it, an inch or two should do it.
At this point, it’s helpful to sew the fronts and back together at the shoulder seams only.
Now you’ll also need a belt – just a piece of fabric folded in half to your preferred width and probably 1.5 to 2 times the waist measurement depending on how likely your child is to trip up on long ends. I hate turning long tubes inside out, so I just ran the overlocker over the raw edges – it’s not perfect but it was so much quicker and easier!
And finally you need a collar. I made mine a little too narrow so I think a piece at least 10″ wide sits best, maybe even wider. To work out how long a piece you need, I think you’re actually best to measure it once you’ve sewn the fronts and back together. You measure from the start of one diagonal front, round the back and down the other front, ie the length of where you’re going to place the collar.
Take your large rectangle and fold it in half lengthways and then again widthways. Now mark a curved line so the collar will taper into the dressing gown. All the folding means you just do one cut so it will all be the same. A picture will probably show this best!
Ok, so now you need to sew your collar. I do this before the sleeves as it means you have less fabric to wrestle with. What I did was sew the pieces right sides together and ended up with an inside-out, completely closed-in shape (on purpose!) then made a little slit at the centre of the non-curved part so I could pull it through to the right way out. The reason for this is that my fleece was extremely fluffy and little bits kept coming off so I wanted to keep as many raw edges tucked away as possible.
To attach the collar, pin it in place WRONG sides together, so it looks like the collar’s going on the inside of the gown. You’re going to sew it on and then flip it back out, so the seam is on the right side of the dressing gown, but hidden by the collar, and on the inside is a nice smooth seam that won’t annoy little necks. To make the pinning go smoothly, pin the ends and the centre point then adjust as you go to make the rest space out smoothly. Once that’s sewn on you can breathe a sigh of relief – the end is in sight!
Pin the sleeves on to the body section and sew that seam.
The finishing seam runs up the side of the dressing gown body and out along the underside of the sleeve. Before you sew this last seam, make two loops out of ribbon if you like, or the same fabric as the dressing gown, measure down the backwaist length on the back section and sew them in place right sides together and raw edges together. Now when you pin the back and front together to join them just make sure your loops are tucked into the middle of the sandwich.
Then all you have to do is hem the bottom and the cuffs!
I will try to come back and edit this with pictures and diagrams, but as this is my first dressmaking (ha!) tute, I’d love to hear feedback and wow, if you actually sew this, I’d be over the moon if you told me.