Wednesday, March 26, 2014


As you know, I had already completed a functional hoodie.  All I really needed to do was hem all unfinished edges and send it out into the world.  But I wanted to do more!

A poncho is simply a folded-over panel, with a neck hole.  I had stitched mine into a large square tube, making it more of a robe.  That was all I really needed.  However, I knew from the sweatshirt hoodie that I was using as a sizing reference that my friend had longer arms than the width of my robe.  For increased warmth (and privacy while changing), I decided to add narrow sleeves.

I cut out two 14" squares.  I folded each square in half and pinned and stitched it to create a 7" wide tube.
I turned the sleeves right-side-out, so that the stitched seam was on the inside and along the bottom edge when laid flat.  Then I slipped each sleeve into an armhole, and pinned it in place.  The sleeve is aligned so that the folded edge is pinned to the top corner of the shoulder seam, and the stitched edge is at the armpit.  I also pinned the unneeded open portion of the side panel closed.
 Stitching the sleeves into place is easier from the inside:
I decided that the robe I was making had enough going on pattern-wise, so I would not edge the hood with a different fabric.  Instead, since I had left extra fabric to allow for a deep hood, I simply folded the fabric edges inward, and pinned them.  This gave me a 1/2" seam, that I tacked down with a straight stitch.
I stitched the seam on the "right" side of the fabric, for better control:
I then folded this seam inward again, and pinned it down.  I stitched two zig-zag seams (at 1/4" and 1/2") to hold the thicker roll of fabric down securely and to add a little design flair.
At this point, my friend tried on the robe, and asked for a little more neck room.  I cut the neck area to provide a slight V-neck, and pinned the fabric down for my standard 1/4" seam.
A close up:
The robe was now functional and ready for a test-run.  I should note that I zig-zagged all inner seams except for the side seams, in case I might need to rip the seams and adjust the fit or add potential inner pockets. I also left the bottom hem unfinished (for the same reasons).
Test-Run: Surfing at Sunset
Next week: Final Touches, Pockets, etc.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


To begin: I had two pieces of fabric, each approximately two yards squared.

I started out by folding each color fabric in half and cutting off the top 14", and setting the larger portions aside.  The person this robe is for is 6' tall, so I wanted to allow plenty of fabric for the main body of the robe.
I now had two 14" x 72" pieces to use for my hood, sleeves, and pockets.
I started out by measuring the sweatshirt hoodie.  The base of the hood was 26" in diameter when zipped, and the roomy hood was 15 1/2" high when folded in half.  Now, when wearing a zipped hoodie, your head does not need to fit through the neck hole.  I wanted the hood to be a little wider at the base, so that my friend could fit his head through the neck hole.  I decided to leave a little extra space at the front of the neck to allow for this.

I started out by cutting two 13" x 14" rectangles, one of each color.
 I pinned two adjoining sides together to create the hood shape, and stitched my pinned sides together.
Now, I want to point out here that I made everything much more complicated by using two colors.   If I were making a hoodie robe out of one color, I could have cut out one rectangle for the head, two rectangles for the body, and an additional two rectangles for sleeve extensions (which are optional).  For example, I could have taken a 26" x 14" rectangle, folded it in half, and pinned the top to create the hood:
Not Used: A rectangle, folded into a single-color hood.
Once my hood was stitched together, I had to decide if I wanted a cone-shaped hood.  Many of the tutorials I had read recommended cutting off the corner of the hood, to create a more rounded fit.
I found that the hood still had a very boxy shape when worn, so I ended up using the sweatshirt hoodie to trace a more rounded hood.
At this point, most tutorials I read suggest trimming the front edge of the hood with a piece of bias fabric (an accent fabric with all edges folded under that creates a pretty, presentable edge), so that you can sew it onto the body of the garment as a finished piece.   I was not sure how I wanted to finish the hood, so I decided not to finish the outer edge at this point.

To make the body more interesting, I cut out four panels of fabric.  The body would be comprised of four alternating colors, sort of like a harlequin costume.  Each panel was approximately 18" x 58".

I pinned two panels together lengthwise, and rolled my joined fabrics up into a nice log, with the pinned edge on the outside.  I have found that this facilitates moving and sewing large pieces of fabric.
 All you need to do is position your roll of fabric next to your sewing machine.  The bottom half of the fabric sits in your lap.  Be aware that having so much fabric in one place creates a lot of weight, so your fabric will try to pull away from the machine.  This makes maintaining an even seam allowance more difficult.  I find that it's helpful to stick my right hand through the center area of the sewing machine and tug the already-stitched fabric lightly to the right, while feeding the unsewn portion of the pinned fabric into the sewing zone with my left.  Sew slowly, taking care to maintain a straight seam, and pause every few inches to readjust your roll of fabric. 
I  pinned and sewed my second pair of panels together in the exact same way.  I then pinned these larger panels to each other on one side, taking care to keep all stitched seams on the same side.
I needed to tack my unsewn shoulder seams together, to facilitate construction, so before sewing my new, larger panels together, I sewed the last inch of each shoulder corner.  I then sewed my two side seams, together, from the bottom up, taking care to eave the final 12" unstitched (this is where the arms will need to come out.
I then pinned and stitched the second side seam to create a tube, again keeping the arm opening unstitched.
My stitched body now looked like this:

I then pinned just over half of my hood (approximately 8 inches) to the back panel, starting at the middle seam.

Pinned hood.
I pinned the shoulders together up to the hoodie, and then I pinned the remainder of the hoodie base to the now-adjoined front panel.  In this way, I was able to ensure a centered neck hole with enough diameter to be slipped over a head.
Pinned hood, front view.
You now have a robe!
Next week: Finishing the edges, and adding sleeves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014



Three common types of hoodie towel:
Hooded Cape, Hooded Robe, and Hooded Poncho
There's been a huge craze for children's hoodie towels lately.  There are hoodie capes for infants and toddlers, hoodie bathrobes, and hoodie ponchos--the latter is usually a rectangular towel that has a hole in the middle for your head.  A lot of these towels are super cute, with faces and even teeth on the hoods, and colorful embellishments that turn the towels into animal costumes.

Now, I love how simple it is to turn a functional item like a towel into a shark or a tiger.  Add some eyes and ears and some spikey terry cloth teeth, maybe some paws!  I think this would be a lot of fun.

If you would like to try a couple fun, simple projects of your own, it looks like you basically only need some cheap towels, scissors, some pins, a ruler, and a sewing machine.  I looked at a lot of online tutorials when developing my own towel hoodie (just Google "hoodie towel" for lots of tutorials and images), and it looks like most of the basics are the same.  For a kid's cape, all you have to do is turn half of a hand towel into a hood, sew it onto the full-size towel, and embellish!

These two websites were my favorites: This link shows you links to 25 neat do-it-yourself beach accessories that you can make out of towels.  This link shows how a mom used the elements of a favorite sweatshirt to create a unique towel poncho design.

In this particular instance, I was asked to create a hoodie towel for a grown up.  A friend of mine surfs a lot, and he does not always have access to a place where he can change back into his clothes.  He has a few friends who wear hoodie towels that they got in Japan, and he wanted something similar.  He described the hoodie towel to me as a wide tubular robe with a hood, that was warm on a cold day and was roomy enough to change inside of.

In the following blog series, I will show you how I worked, step by step, to create my first hoodie towel robe.

Brainstorming options for combining color panels

As I said, I started out by looking at lots of DIY tutorials and images online.  Most of the images were of cute animal capes and striped ponchos that were designed for children, and only required a towel and a hand towel.

My hoodie needed to fit an adult man, so I was going to need a lot more fabric.  I will start out by saying that I bought my terry cloth at a fabric store.  In retrospect, I think that I might have saved more money and found more fun designs if I had bought cheap towels.  See what is available near you and decide what works best for you.

The fabric store I went to only had terry cloth in solid colors, so I ended up buying 2 yards of light green fabric and 2 yards of brown.  The green and brown were fun, natural colors that would show fewer stains than the lighter color options, and having two colors would make a giant robe look more interesting.

My materials:
Sewing Machine, Pre-Washed Terry Cloth,
Matching/Complimentary Thread Options, Pins, Scissors,
Ruler & Measuring Tape
I made sure to pre-wash and dry the terry cloth so I wouldn't get uneven shrinkage in future.  Be forewarned: the edges of the fabric shed a lot!  My work table had a steadily-growing collection of terry-cloth-nubbins.

With this project, I sewed all seams with straight-stitch first, with a 1/2" seam allowance.

When I was certain that my piecing and fit were correct, I went back over those seams with a zig-zag stitch, with a 1/4" seam allowance (closer to the edge of the fabric).  This is a much more secure stitch.

This method was recommended in a lot of the tutorials I looked at, which recommended a hand towel and a bath towel or beach towel as base materials.  And I would say that these stitches do in general produce a lovely, sturdy, functional item of clothing.   However, since I was not using finished towels for my project, I had a lot of rough edges and cut threads along the inside seams of my robe.  This was especially noticeable on the inside of the hood, which is visible whenever the hood is not being worn.   For a more professional look, if I were to do this project again, I would have given myself a larger seam allowance, at minimum in the hood and neck (maybe 3/4"?).  I would have then folded all edges under and stitched them down, for a cleaner, more presentable seam.

Next week: Creating the hood and body of the robe

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sock Creatures!

Remember making sock puppets?
I've recently noticed a craze on Etsy for sock animals.  I guess a sock is already a convenient shape for a creature--when you stuff one you've already got a head and body to work with...

These artists really take sock creatures to another level.  Check out their fun shops for inspiration!

Sock Puppets:

Sock Stuffed Animals: