From Kimono to Sorbetto to Oh, No!

Back in dressmaking mode, I ordered some fabric online.  I know, I know, I’ve got plenty in my stash – although not as much as in my patchwork stash but we won’t go there.  Anyway, I fancied this ‘satin’ type fabric would make a nice kimono style robe to wear in the mornings to replace my big fluffy dressing gown now the days are getting (a bit) warmer.

I searched for a freebie robe tutorial online and found one here 

I should know by now that free online patterns and me do not go together well especially where measurements and calculations are involved but this one seemed very simple.  After all, it basically involves five rectangles.  I did notice, in the comments, some people had found the measurements resulted in a somewhat ‘skimpy’ fit so cut it out a little bigger.  At least, that was until the ‘satin’ slid about under my rotary cutter and I ended up having to trim it up a bit where the bottom layer had shifted out of place.  Pressing on regardless, I got the thing sewn up and looking gorgeous – until I tried it on and realised I couldn’t actually move my arms in a forward direction without risk of hearing the ripping of fabric.

Mlle. Tialys the Younger had admired the fabric so I thought I could salvage enough to make her a Sorbetto top.  This is a free pattern from Colette which I have actually had lots of success with in the past.

All was going O.K. until she tried it on and the shoulders were too wide so I took them in but alterations aren’t my strong point and there was a bit of puffy action going on here and there.

Still, I thought she could live with that and proceeded to bind round the neck and sleeves.

I used commercial binding because I couldn’t bear the thought of making it myself with the satin fabric which moves and shifts and generally makes a nuisance of itself badly enough without trying to make binding out of it.  I couldn’t find any satin binding locally though so used the stuff that is usually available which is of some unknown cheapo material and a bit stiff.  You know what’s coming don’t you?

Flushed with the success of  neck and sleeve binding and wilfully ignoring my better instincts, I bound the hem too.  Which, as you can probably guess, removed the drape and made the hem stand out from the body in a way I couldn’t possibly pretend was intentional.

Shame – the back looked very nice.

If the sleeves had been perfect I would have taken the time to unpick the binding from around the hem but, it wasn’t, so rather than spend more time on what was, in any case, a second go round, I decided there was only one thing to do.

Sometimes it’s just best to move on and get on with your life.

I have learnt some good things about binding and some bad things about slippy fabric so as long as I remember those things next time, which is not guaranteed I’m afraid, the process will not have been a complete waste of time.

I have also learnt that ‘pressing on regardless’ and ‘ignoring my better instincts’ are stupid things to do.  Lessons I’m sure I have encountered many times before but, again, sometimes I live and learn and sometimes I just live

Satin – especially the type that is cheap and creates electricity when you move – is now dead to me.

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  1. #1 by nikkibnb on April 8, 2018 - 11:01

    Oh no. 😦 That’s a shame, i hope you can find a print you like in a better behaved fabric. Maybe a crepe backed satin if it isn’t too heavy. I rarely sew with satin because I find it such a pain.

    • #2 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:37

      I think I need to buy an actual pattern too – I’m one of those people that like to be led gently around and have everything explained in great detail when it comes to sewing clothes. The thing is, if a garment, sewn or knitted, doesn’t turn out to be perfect, I won’t wear it.

  2. #3 by Jo on April 8, 2018 - 11:34

    That’s such a shame, it would have made a really pretty kimono. I know nothing about fabric but I can imagine what a pain satin is to work with as it’s so slippy.

    • #4 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:40

      I think I will have another go – in the fullness of time – with a proper pattern and some not so slippy fabric.

  3. #5 by craftycreeky on April 8, 2018 - 12:01

    Oh, I’ve been there! Such pretty fabric too, but sometimes it’s just not meant to be 🙂

    • #6 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:42

      There comes a time when you just have to cut your losses and move on – which is a sentence ridden with clichés but you know what I mean.

  4. #7 by katechiconi on April 8, 2018 - 12:10

    It was a lovely design, but satin isn’t fun to work with unless you really have to. I made a satin wedding dress once for a flatmate. Two words: Never Again. It looked amazing but I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Sometimes wisdom lies in knowing when to move on… Can I recommend a nice printed Japanese cotton voile, for lightness, coolness and much greater ease of sewing?

    • #8 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:47

      I can’t imagine being brave enough to make a wedding dress for anybody in any fabric at all, let alone satin. The responsibility of it would unhinge me.
      I actually have some very nice fabric – from the same seller – that I originally intended for a dress but, if I can find the right pattern, would make a lovely, flowy robe. I could come over all Blanche Dubois.

      • #9 by katechiconi on April 9, 2018 - 08:12

        I do love a pretty robe, kimono, dressing gown peignoir, what have you. I do in fact have plans to make us each a simply kimono robe for the caravan, because who wants to get dressed just to go and pay a midnight visit to the amenities…? I have some lovely blue and white printed voile for me, but Himself is a slightly trickier problem.

      • #10 by tialys on April 9, 2018 - 08:39

        What about a nice Japanese indigo print for the Lord of Chiconia – something like this

      • #11 by katechiconi on April 9, 2018 - 16:07

        Yes, exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of!

  5. #12 by Steph (@resting_whippet) on April 8, 2018 - 12:39

    This sounds so much like the trajectory of many of my projects.
    Better luck next time.

    • #13 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:52

      I like to be honest about my projects! My trouser fitting one went very well, however, and I will be bragging about that in a future post along with close ups of my bottom 😉 You have been warned.

  6. #14 by claire93 on April 8, 2018 - 13:07

    oh no!
    A real shame the kimono was too tight around the shoulders because it actually sounds as if you were doing really well with that, before the slip while cutting.
    And yep, your experience with the stiffer binding rings a few bells with me. I know it’s too late now, but you have learned loads from this experience and I’m wondering if you really did leave the top in the bin, or whether you fished it out afterwards with a thought to trying to salavage fabric for something else?

    • #15 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:57

      It is still languishing in the bin at the moment but, despite covering it up with other stuff, it keeps winking at me from its sea grassy grave and tempting me to cut off the offending bound hem, do a rolled hem on the overlocker and not stress about thé slightly puckered sleeve. The jury is still out.

  7. #16 by Beads and Barnacles on April 8, 2018 - 15:19

    Once thing I do find with that commercial binding is that it gets a lot less stiff with a wash…
    That fabric looks lovely but you are right satin can be a pain.
    I’m looking to make myself a nice robe at some point, but I think it might take a while til I get down to actually doing that.

    • #17 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 18:58

      If you find a good pattern that doesn’t involve me resurrecting my o level maths please advise 😉

  8. #18 by mariannasew2pro on April 8, 2018 - 16:00

    But you made me laugh on a wet Sunday afternoon so that’s a learning experience + entertainment!

    • #19 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 19:00

      Well, there you go, a very useful few hours as it turns out :). Plus, if it makes you feel any better, it has hissed down all day here too.

  9. #20 by Lynda on April 8, 2018 - 16:54

    Lynn, that is gorgeous fabric! If the blouse is not on its way to the landfill already, then you might consider opening the back from neck to waist and inserting a double bordered lace into the center back to give you the ease you need. Now you can attach a new binding so it encloses the neck edge of the lace and hem it at the bottom along with the blouse fabric.

    • #21 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 19:07

      The fit wasn’t actually too bad – just overly large across the shoulders so that they slipped down provocatively in a way that did not meet the approval of youngest daughter and, as it was she that would be wearing it, I had to make a show of fixing it. I have not yet emptied the pretty bin into the more functional one so there is still a glimmer of hope for the beautiful birds and comely chrysanthemums.

  10. #22 by rrita on April 8, 2018 - 19:41

    I love your honesty and how you shared this story! I had lots of unsuccessful projects and I’m usually ashamed to share it… But there is always something we learn from our failiers and that’s what we need to focus on, just like you did! 😉

    • #23 by tialys on April 8, 2018 - 20:29

      No need to be ashamed! Everybody makes mistakes and the more of us that admit it the less bad we all feel 🙂

  11. #24 by rosejasm on April 9, 2018 - 00:14

    It always amazes me how much there is to learn in the world of sewing – go on pull it out of that bin…. I try so hard not to get disheartened! Love your post x

    • #25 by tialys on April 9, 2018 - 08:34

      I’ve been sewing for a long time and should have made a better job of this really but sometimes it’s best just to move on to the next project and make it a good one!

  12. #26 by anne54 on April 9, 2018 - 01:53

    Oh dear! It is such a beautiful pattern too, and would have made a dramatic robe.
    I recently read this tip for sewing velvets, and wonder if it might work with satin (not that you will ever go there again!!!). It comes from Ann Wood, who sews the most beautiful little animals, toadstools, sailors etc. She says she staples the velvet pieces together ~ very close to the edge. The staples marks don’t show when you take them out afterwards. I am a very rough sewer, so have no idea if this would work with larger pieces to sew. And at the moment you probably don’t care! xx

    • #27 by tialys on April 9, 2018 - 08:33

      Thanks Anne – I have since read lots of tips for cutting this type of fabric including starching it first, cutting with serrated scissors, cutting between tissue paper but, all in all, I think I’ll just try to avoid slippy stuff in future.

  13. #28 by poshbirdy on April 9, 2018 - 11:36

    It’s a shame as it’s very pretty, but hopefully you’ll find somewhere to use it

  14. #29 by KerryCan on April 9, 2018 - 12:23

    It’s very refreshing to read a post like this, where you keep it real and admit you struggled. The blogosphere tends to be a land of perfect outcomes . . . or at least that’s all we admit to!

  15. #30 by jendavismiller on April 9, 2018 - 16:04

    Well I’m sorry your lovely fabric went into the bin….although perhaps by now it’s been reprieved? It is a sweet top that you can likely be saved, I’d say. Not by me, but your skills are so good! And I always get a chuckle from your posts.

    • #31 by tialys on April 10, 2018 - 23:22

      I’ve been thinking I could cut that bottom binding right off and just do a rolled hem on the overlocker – might be worth a try.

  16. #32 by Kim on April 9, 2018 - 19:06

    Aww, sad. The fabric was very pretty but sometimes you just have to know when to call a halt. Onwards and upwards 😉.

  17. #34 by sewchet on April 9, 2018 - 20:20

    Oh dear, this was obviously a cursed project from start to finish and how galling to have to throw it away after thinking you’d rescued the first failed garment! Yep, satin is almost as much of a pig to work with as organza….I once – no, three times – combined both in cocktail gowns. Beautiful when it works, but hard going, nonetheless.

    • #35 by tialys on April 10, 2018 - 23:20

      You must have been a glutton for punishment! Do you still have the gowns now?

      • #36 by sewchet on April 11, 2018 - 14:18

        Oh yes! You don’t put all those days work into gowns like that and get rid of them – ever!

      • #37 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:40


  18. #38 by Oh Sew Tempting on April 9, 2018 - 23:49

    Hmm, I’ve got some silky fabric with a request to make cushions. Hopefully, cushions will be a lot easier to make. Sounds like you learned a lot. It seems a shame to bin the fabric but I can understand how you feel.

    • #39 by tialys on April 10, 2018 - 23:16

      I’m pretty sure cushions will be easier but good luck anyway.

  19. #40 by Stephanie Altobano on May 7, 2018 - 05:37

    Oh no! I love the honesty of this post and the humour as well. But I guess with every failure, you learn so much more on the way. I tried sewing a blouse with rayon, it was such a frustrating material to work with and when it came to putting in the button holes it was a nightmare! One of my many early projects that I abandoned haha!

    • #41 by tialys on May 7, 2018 - 08:57

      Thank you – I hope I do learn something when a project goes wrong although I have been known to make the same mistake twice.
      I’m surprised to hear you found rayon a difficult fabric to work with – I have some in my stash that I’m hoping to make a dress with and it feels as if it would be O.K. Having said that, I bought it in a market so it’s probably a blend of things rather than rayon alone.

  20. #42 by nottaholiday on July 1, 2019 - 14:08

    Like that time I tried to make replacement bather pants….they just kept getting smaller and smaller..but still..I pushed on stupidly. Were possibly good for a passing pole dancer by the end

    • #43 by tialys on July 1, 2019 - 14:26

      Very brave of you to attempt bather pants (bikini bottoms??). Anything that small that I have to wear in public needs to be made by companies with decades of experience in keeping rude bits hidden and wobbly bits contained. 👙

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