Making a Fleece Robe from Scraps

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Last week, we talked about the challenges of using leftover fleece to make clothes.

simplicity pattern 1562

Detail from Simplicity pattern 1562. All right, if you’re into hetronormative fashion.

In this case, Younger Son (YS) needed a bathrobe, bathrobes can be made out of fleece and JoAnn’s ran a 99-cent pattern sale. The stars aligned. I bought Simplicity 1562, a full-length bathrobe pattern that is sized for the whole family, from extra small to large for kids and extra small to extra large for adults. I prefer getting the long version, because it’s easy to make a full-length pattern shorter than making a short robe pattern longer. Since everyone else in my household either has a bathrobe or won’t wear one, I only bought one copy of the pattern.

This turned out to be a mistake as when you piece smaller bits of fabric into larger ones, cutting pattern pieces as you go, it really helps to have a paper pattern for every garment section. I discussed this at some length in the Making Clothes Out of Fleece post. I didn’t feel like waiting for another pattern sale, and I certainly wasn’t going to pay full price for the pattern ($14.95!) so I laboriously made copies.

Copying clothes pattern

Makin’ copies …

I dug through the stash and pulled out all the scraps that weren’t pink. There was a lot. YS really appreciates random psychedelic color combinations, and he got his wish as you can see from the picture.

fleece clothes robe front

Young son’s fleece robe, front

fleece clothes

Young Son’s fleece robe, back

Because I was working with fleece, which doesn’t ravel and can be bulky at the seams, I put this garment together very differently from the norm. I decided to put ALL my seams on the outside of the garment, leaving the inside smooth. This is a deliberate design element and not a mistake. I used up all my old orange and yellow thread, making the overcasting and the seams really stand out.

fleece robe

This is the outside of the robe, showing the seams.

For each section, I sewed the fleece wrong sides together. I then overcast the seam and sewed it down, and then cut out the garment section using the paper pattern. Thus, the back is made of two separate pieces of fleece sewn together. The left front side is four pieces of fleece, the right side, a single piece. The right side sleeve is a single piece of fleece, the left side is two sections, looking rather like a cuff. Each of the facings are made of two pieces sewn together. The tie belt is seven separate pieces sewn together. Two more pieces of fleece for both pockets, three belt-carrier loops, and a neck loop to hang the finished garment on a hook wraps it up.

I controlled the chaos, somewhat, by making the strips that make up the garment vertical (other than the one sleeve), using the same fabric from top to bottom. If you look closely at the left front, the dark green fleece has three seam lines. Each of the two facings is seamed part of the way up as well. I alternated colors, a little, spacing my blue and green fleeces so they’re separated by hot bands of orange and red.

Every piece of fleece you see, other than the rainbow squares, is from a set of pajamas I made, for my Dear Husband, Older Son, and Younger Son. The rainbow squares on the left facing came from the stash of my friend. She had no idea why she had a single pant leg, front and back, for a child size set of fleece pjs. It blended in well with my choices so it found its home. I chose to make the pockets on each front side match the fleece on the opposite side.

overcasting an edge and sewing down on a fleece robe

“Fleece doesn’t ravel so I overcast the outside edge and sewed them down.”

A close-up over the overcasting on the edge of the fleece.

A close-up over the overcasting on the edge of the fleece.

Once I had pieced my fabric and cut out all the garment sections, it was time to sew them together. I started with the pockets. Fleece doesn’t ravel so I overcast the outside edge and sewed them down. I didn’t trim the seam margins off, so the pockets are a little larger than they otherwise would be. I arranged the pockets so that the seams of the psychedelic pocket did NOT conflict with the seams in the dark green front panel. That is, they don’t lay, one on top of the other but are slightly offset.

I sewed the garment sections wrong sides together, putting the seam allowances on the right side, using a 3/8-inch seam margin for most of the garment. YS wanted a loose, roomy bathrobe, so I made him an adult size large and this gave a touch more room. It also meant less trimming. As I finished each seam allowance, I trimmed the edges so they were perfectly aligned, overcast them, and then sewed them down.

The yellow and orange thread (I emptied a lot of spools and bobbins) really contrasts with the different fleeces. I did not always sew the seams towards the back. The two main side seams, running from the sleeve hem to the garment hem, were sewn, overcast, and then sewn down facing towards the front. I did this so I wouldn’t have a bulk problem with the carrier belt loops at the sides. The pattern doesn’t call for a center back carrier loop, but since I had a seam there from piecing the fabric to make a section big enough to cut out the back piece, I thought why not? I made and inserted one as I sewed.

Let me say now that if your carrier loops don’t look big enough, make bigger ones. Cut the rectangle longer. You can always make them shorter. I sewed each of the carrier loops so that the seams are on the outside edge, overcast and trimmed. I really like how this turned out and so does YS. It was easier too, not having to sew, turn, and press those skinny tubes.