It was destined for the rag bag, my worn out bathrobe—one of those pieces
of clothing that get used and used and fit your body comfortably, yet never get
any attention. The fleece was pilled, stained, and worn thin in places. I really didn’t care for the color, a
purple, which I had chosen as the best of what was available on the rack—you
know, best of the worst.
However, a dilemma faced me--how to replace
it. Obviously, I could buy a bathrobe, but probably not in a color that I liked.
Or, I could make one, but, I would then have to find a pattern and go hunting
for bathrobe fabric—if-fy at best. I started toying with the idea of
sewing on top of the rag bathrobe. Nothing to lose.
Then Melanie Testa announced
that she was going to spend December 2011 working on and posting about a beautiful
red velvet jacket that had seen better days (here). She organized a Flickr group that she called Rockstar Boro (here), “boro” being a Japanese
method/art of recuperating and mending cotton fabrics by hand. The perfect motivation! So I tagged along in the Flickr group and
began my bathrobe.
My color choices from recycled fabrics:
I do like blue with green--and then a bit of purple snuck in:
At first, it looked like it would be my worst piece ever. This is the closest you will see of the “before” bathrobe. I don’t want to publicly humiliate myself.
The purple slowly disappeared under rectangles and triangles of various
sizes that were machine appliquéd onto the fleece, raw edges showing. The fleece was surprisingly
easy to sew upon. Very time-consuming, however—there was a lot of ground (or
fleece) to cover. And to think that I considered going back into it and adding
However, the appliqué did not appear strong enough to survive the washing machine. So I tested machine-quilting the arms with a scribble.
When that got boring, I started to put in simple shapes--houses, hearts, leaves, flowers,
and some wobbly cars.
With all that machine stitching, my soft bathrobe became stiffer, however, the washing machine should take care of that. Hand stitching would have worked much better, but would also have taken another 5 years. You have to choose your battles.
I thought about adding a lining, but now I like the purple with the black stitching.
So I put on bias binding, changed the buttons (old pewter ones from my collection), and did the buttonholes by hand. As the internet is so public, you see the headless photo of the finished product:
In the end, this isn't very “boro.” In fact, I’m just
not a very “boro” person--I like playing on the sewing machine too much. However, the Rockstar Boro group was
nice not to kick me out. In fact, they were encouraging (Thanks,
everyone!). Still, I do like to admire other people’s work in the boro
style, and Jude Hill’s Spirit Cloth
blog (here) is a good place to see some exceptional creative work along those
lines, and she lists other sites of interest.
Problem : my "new" bathrobe is now so beautiful that I don’t dare wear it!