I remember (from the 1960s), caftans my friends had made out of towels. I seem to remember one horizontally for the yoke (with a slit for your head to go through), one for the front, and one for the back. They were nice for wearing to and from the showers and now I am thinking they would be nice for wearing back and forth to the showers at a campground. I am about to retire and look to do more traveling. Any one remember how they were sewn together or actually constructed?
By Frances from Valdosta, GA
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I made one of those robes way back then. I saw a neighbor lady wearing one and studied that. If I remember right a small circle was cut out of the center of the towel that would go cross ways on the robe. Then I centered the two vertical towels on the top one and sewed them in place on the horizontal one. Then I cut a slit vertically in the center, starting at the neckline and going as far down as I wanted it for the length of a zipper. I think I went down quite far, as long as I could find a zipper for. I installed the zipped then sewed matching bias binding around the neckline and then sewed the side seams, leaving about up to the knee open on each side. To sew the side seams I started at the end of one sleeve and went around the arm pit and down the side as far as I wanted the slit to begin. These are really comfortable. The neighbor that had one wore hers almost every morning, they were new in town and had no family nearby and she had new born twins.
I took 3 lighter weight bath towels (not the huge and heavy ones), stitched them together at the seams, folded over the top for elastic insert, did a trim around the top and then put a GIANT button and button hole. Wore these pregnant, wore it to the beach, on a hot day when everything else felt bad. My favorite one I still get compliments on at the pool, and I made that one back about 1980. Never wears out. Perfect for over the suit to the pool, making some for my little grand-girls this summer.
I believe my Grandma made some of these. She took two bath towels and folded the first length-wise, cut a slit for the head in the middle and faced it. She then took the second one and cut it in half width-wise to sew onto the middle of the top towel for the skirt.
Take three large bath towels, whatever design, fold one in half the long way,(the robe's bodice) and cut a hole in the folded part for the head and fold in and sew around the hole's edge to finish it off, next you take one towel for the front and one for the back, and sew them onto the front and back part of the folded towel which is the bodice for the robe, then sew up both sides of the robe upto the towel used for the bodice and continue to sew together those sleeves
I've been looking for instructions too for the ones my Mom made for me in the 60's. My recall is that it used one hand towel and two bath towels. I was 16 so pretty much a grown up. The hand towel was folded in half lengthwise. I believe it was slit in the middle a bit more than wide enough to fit your head through, and bound with bias tape.
I remember one of the students at my nursing school had the robe you are describing. It was such a great idea. But the neckline on hers was a boat neck so the robe did not require a zipper. There was a space under the bustline where the horizontal towel met the long front and back towels that held a ribbon of about 1 1/2 inches in width. This was used as an adjustable tie that flattered the fit. There were 2 slits, 1 on either side of the legs, for ease of walking.
My Mom made these in the 60's with three bath towels, usually using patterned towels, as described. She also bought a hand towel in the same pattern as the bath towels + cut it in half to make patch pockets on the robe.
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Here's one site with a pattern, Karen :) http://www.ez-fit.com/bath_towel_robe.cfm (10/30/2006)
By SL Edens
I don't have a link for you, but my memory is fairly good for those days when Terrycloth was so popular and used for so many sorts of bath clothes. I'll bet the one you remember is like this:
It takes three large bath towels. One across the shoulders for the upper body and arms, hole for the head cut/shaped/bound (in matching colored biased tape that is hand finished to lay down inside robe edge), to accommodate a long zipper(preferably invisible if you sew well and the towel is thin), for the front. The other two towels were sewn to the middle lower edge of the top one, back and front.
The long zipper opening is also cut much of the way down the front towel that is split vertically to allow the "step in" robe, with side slits at the knees left unsewn to allow for movement.
The entire robe is a T shape. The trim on the original towel purchase makes trim for the sleeves and lower hem, requiring fast completion and no hemming, but extra heavy duty sewing machine needles if any pre-hemmed seams interfere. The under arms are somewhat tricky to finish out, and
very important to do so as smoothly as possible for maximum comfort. This finish out can make or break the robe's usefulness/comfort. It had no pockets which would have been too thick.
Tip: Cut the head hole very evenly, oval, slightly forward, higher in the back, lower in the front, but not too low. Cut EXTRA straight when cutting the front and top towel zipper opening. Double stitch all seams, binding any raw edges inside, VERY WELL, because Terry edges fray badly when left raw.
Use "Body" long Towels for oversized needs on extra large persons, otherwise, normal sized large
bath towels work for a number of people's sizes, with
the smallest persons having the benefits of looser fit, longer sleeves and robe length, wqith this "one size fits all, back then" design, but the med./larger persons having a snugger fit, shorter sleeves and a slightly shorter finished robe, depending on the person's height.
Use the best poly-blend thread you can afford, carefully matching the towel.
Keep in mind that this makes for an "Empire Robe", with a seam right across the breast, if young/small, or on top of the breast, if for a more mature/larger person. Young people preferred solids and velour. Older preferred the patterned terry in two-three colors, longer looped weave.
The thicker "original hems" on a towel can be a roughness to the wearer, so search for towels with good woven edges instead of sewn/hemmed. 100% Cotton Terry seemed to shrink and draw up at seams especially, including the zipper, so look for a velvet napped/velour towel( but remember they are heavier and thicker/hotter.. than ones that have a polyester blend fabric.(Sears have always had good towels, if you can afford them/buy on sale.)
I hope this helped and that you can understand my directions? God bless your efforts and help you succeed. : )
Karen I don't have a pattern, but here are some pictures of one I still have ...from the 60's LOL (11/29/2006)
By Great Granny Vi
YES Linda that is the one I remember my Dad had a lady sew it for me as a Christmas present. The only difference in mine was no zipper it had an empire waist with elastic and you could pull it over your head. Thanks for the instructions.
My mom also made the empire waist design and made a casing to conceal the seam that joined the top and bottom and put a draw string through it to make a more personalized fit. It was great and I wore it until it was worn out! Now I'm planning to make them for my children. Just couldn't find the empire waist design. Thanks!! (12/01/2007)
By Becky Menefee
Does anyone know how to make a robe from bath towels? If so, I would appreciate the instructions. Thanks.
Betty from Redding, CA
I just ordered a pattern from "Linda's Sew Be It" which is what you are looking for. Good luck.
See this site for more pictures. Click on the picture and they enlarge. I hope you are able to make it now with the pictures and Lynda's instructions. If I see the right towels, I may try.
I make the children's for the pool. I use hand towels. 1 for hood, 1 for arms (cut in half), one for back and 2 for front. So that would be 5 towels.
They are the envy of moms at the local pool. I made these for my boys growing up till it was not cool any more (they loved them on lessons' weeks) and my granddaughters love to wear theirs.
Snap closure on the front, take tucks where you have to make them fit better. They look like a little hooded jacket. (09/17/2008)
By Grandma J
Try this site. I was looking for instructions, as well. Years ago, my former mother-in-law made one for me and I loved it. Good luck with your project.