Dolphins ahoy!

Yes, OK, that was a bit hearty and nautical, but I couldn’t resist.

You’ll recall the lovely dolphin fabric my sister sent me, along with the two florals. I said I was going to make a summer dressing gown from it, and I’ve been as good as my word. Here it is, hanging flat on the design wall, where you can see the detail a bit better. In case you’re interested in how I did it, here are words and pictures. It’s quite a long post, sorry about that, but if you don’t use a pattern but wing it, you need to do a bit of explaining. Fortunately, it was a fairly easy make.

I did finally dig out the overlocker, which has been sitting in a box since we moved house {mumble mumble} years ago. After an initial clunky-grindy start, I have it cleaned, oiled, threaded, tension balanced and running again. So I almost completely constructed the robe using it. Only the hanging- and belt-loops, the pockets, hem and bindings were done on the sewing machine. I’d forgotten how fast overlockers/sergers are, and that you really, really don’t want to make any mistakes if you have the knives fitted. I didn’t, luckily, as I had only just enough fabric.

The back was one rectangle, cut on the fold. The length was how long I wanted it, the width was half the bust measurement plus a couple of inches. The two fronts were the same length, but I didn’t have enough width of fabric to make them the full width I wanted, so I had to piece together a front edge strip from the dolphin and blue batik.

I did have a long narrow strip left at the bottom from the full fabric width which was just enough to make a long sash. I also had to use the blue batik for the sleeves, and having decided to do that, I decided to insert a band of aqua batik at the top of the sleeve, edge the sleeves with a dolphin fabric turned-up cuff, and make pockets for the front of the robe in the same blue batik with matching aqua binding on the top edge.

I measured 2 inches down from the top edge of the back, and 1/4 of my neck circumference along the shoulder to shape the neck. A dinner plate was a handy size for giving a smooth curve. For the fronts, I added the pieced sections to give extra width to the fronts. It’s important to have enough width, or the robe won’t wrap around enough for full coverage. You also need to make sure the crossover comes high enough; I don’t think the world is ready for the sight of me with a plunging neckline! For this, it was a question of pinning on the extra, putting the garment on and seeing where I wanted it to cross, then cutting the diagonal accordingly.

For the sleeves, I just ran the measuring tape down my arm to where I wanted the sleeve to stop. From this, I subtracted 2 inches for the aqua strip, and another 2 inches for the cuff. I measured how deep I wanted the armhole from the top of my shoulder, doubled this, and cut a rectangle the right size for each sleeve in the dark blue batik. To these, I stitched the aqua band and the cuff whilst still flat.

Then I sewed and pressed the shoulder seams. Laying the whole thing out flat, right side up, I marked the centre of the sleeve rectangles, and aligned these with the shoulder seams. I pinned the sleeve edge to the garment edge, right sides together, and sewed and pressed it flat, repeating this on the other side.

After that, I made the belt and hanging loops, using leftover aqua batik strip. I folded this in half lengthways and pressed. Opening it out, I pressed first one, then the other long edge towards the middle crease, and then pressed the whole thing flat. I top-stitched two lines, one next to the open edge and one next to the fold, and cut from this two belt loops and a hanging loop.

I then turned the garment right sides together, pinned the belt loops into the side seams, and stitched and pressed all the way from the cuffs down to the hem on both sides.

For the pockets, I cut two long rectangles in the blue batik, folded them in half across the short axis, right sides together, and stitched up the sides, leaving the top open. I turned this through, pushed out the corners and pressed it flat. I then bound the top edges with the last of the aqua strip, and top-stitched the pockets in place on the front, after testing to see where I wanted them.

I then bound the raw edge of the opening, using the pink batik strips, using the same process as for binding a quilt.

I made a sash from the long strip left over from cutting the back and fronts. You can either sew it right sides together, turn and press, or you can turn under the edges, top-stitch and press. I loathe turning long thin strips, so I went with the latter method. A bit lazy, but hey, whose robe is this anyway?

Finally, I turned up and hemmed the bottom edge. Done!

It took me a day to do it, interspersed with other jobs. Mostly it was working out how to make the best use of the fabric I had, without any waste. For a large garment like this, there wasn’t enough to do everything in the same fabric, but I like the mixture. It’s also not a sophisticated garment, requiring careful fitting, but it is comfortable and soft, so fits the dressing gown bill perfectly.

And there we have it, a nice lightweight summer dressing gown, in all my favourite colours 🙂


56 thoughts on “Dolphins ahoy!

  1. Lovely complement of batik with the dolphin fabric. The calendar has ticked over to July, so summer isn’t far away 🌞

  2. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    I bet you look stunning in it !!Love it !!

  3. manicmumdays says:

    Gorgeous! love the pop of pink too 🙂

  4. Looks fabulous. I really need to find some time to play around more with my overlocker as I’ve never tried it without the cutters in place. In fact the instruction manual is open at the page explaining how to make exactly that adjustment and I just haven’t got round to doing it. TBH I’m still a bit intimidated by the beast!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m used to the cutters, and they do tidy things up nicely. Considering this one hadn’t been used for years and years, I’m rather pleased I managed to get it going. At the start, I though it had totally seized, but I refused to take no for an answer!

  5. nanacathy2 says:

    What a beautiful creation.

  6. writinghouse says:

    It’s always good to have a porpoise! 🙂

  7. Emmely says:

    Nice one! And yes, overlockers are super fast! Good that you finally unearthed it, you’ll probably find more uses for it now that it’s up and running again.

  8. Aye, you are a clever lass indeed. Gorgeous.

  9. claire93 says:

    I was expecting a trip out in the ocean with photos of live dolphins all leaping and swimming beside the boat lol.
    This looks lovely and cool, for wafting around in, after a shower.

  10. kymlucas says:

    Looks very cool and comfy. The colors are so restful!

  11. That little pop of pink against the blues is just what this fantastic robe needed! You are always a master with your color design:)!

  12. craftycreeky says:

    Wow, looks fabulous, love the colour mixes, and no pattern – very clever 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s basically a kimono with lots of crossover at the front, so very simple shapes. The fabric’s nice and light, it’ll work well in the very hot weather.

  13. Kathy D says:

    Love the batik – it looks like bubbles in the ocean. And the hanging loop is the piece de resistance! Well done.

    • katechiconi says:

      I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re quite right, it is like bubbles. And I had to have a hanging loop, I hate it when you end up with a bump in the back of something you’ve hung up with no loop. And I had spare from making the belt loops!

  14. kathyreeves says:

    You’ll feel like a queen who you don your robe each morning! I bet those basics are just soft as can be. Well done creating your own pattern!

  15. anne54 says:

    What a clever lass you are, Kate 💕The combination of fabrics is lovely, and I agree with the others that the flash of pink just makes it!

  16. nettyg says:

    Ooh fancy. You’ll feel pretty swish and cool swanning…….or dolphining as the case may be :)……. around in your lovely dressing gown. Nice job and a great way to combine fabrics to get the best use and effect.

  17. Lynda says:

    I hate using patterns for garments, but I haven’t your skill to go at it without one. Your summer dressing gown is perfect! I love the clever use of your batiks. They mimic bubbles and the lighter of the two reminds me of jelly fish. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      The chief virtue of this was that it was made completely flat! No shaping, no darts, so it was hard to get anything wrong 🙂

      • Lynda says:

        The construction reminded me of a kimono. I might be able to manage that. But I think I would have to make it out of only one fabric or my brain might melt. 😛

      • katechiconi says:

        In my case, the multiple fabrics were a necessity. But a kimono is easy to make up – wider sleeves than I’ve made, and straight front edges, so hopefully brain meltdown is not in your future 🙂

  18. as someone who manages table cloths and basic curtains, mostly that was white noise – but white noise of the good sort – I want to sew something now, and I’m going to send a link to my friend who does love to sew, and made me a fab mobius apron for catching my bouncing silver scraps!

  19. rutigt says:

    Like!! Turned out great! And a great idea to use pink fabric for the binding!!!!

  20. Winging it without a pattern on the overlocker at speed with the knife blade down?! You really do love to live dangerously!
    Of course, you know that I will love the pink accents too.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have extensive history with much badder overlockers than this one. At art college, I was the only one who was able to thread and clear an industrial overlocker. Now THAT baby was scary… And we all need some nice hot pink in our peaceful blue lives!

  21. Now that is just magical. I imagine one might have extra powers in such a garment. Maybe you need a secret inside pocket to keep spells or treats for frog friends….

    • katechiconi says:

      I suspect the spell I’d chiefly need would be the one that makes me looks a bit less like I’d just crawled out of bed – which would be nothing other than the strict truth!

  22. tialys says:

    So! Where’s the photo of you reclining on a rattan chair on the porch with a cup of coffee and the morning paper?

    • katechiconi says:

      That would require me to set up the camera on the tripod, set the timer and then arrange myself elegantly (and decently) before the flash went off. An exercise in narcissism too far, I feel! Actually, I’m thinking this nice garment may end up living in Miz Lizzie, where it’ll be far, far more useful on my brief midnight forays to the loo… Plus it goes so well with the colour scheme in there!

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