Introduction: T-Shirt Kimono Robe

The comfy soft feel of a t-shirt is perfect for a good bathrobe. I was inspired by the simplicity of the kimono for this project. This project can be done over a weekend and is a great way to reuse t-shirts.

Materials and Tools

  • 8-12 Tshirts (See Step 1 for more information)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing Thread
  • Sewing machine ( Serger or regular)
  • Quilters ruler (or a very rectangular object about 8 x 18 or so)
  • Tailors Chalk
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Planning and T-shirt Gathering

The shirts I recommend are 100% cotton. The super stretchy or tissue thin shirts don't work well for this project.

You will need 8 to 12 T-shirts depending on the size of the shirts... the bigger the shirts the less you will need. It also depends on the size of the robe you are making. It is always better to have extra. You can purchase your shirts from a second hand store or from your own collections.

Regardless of where you get your shirts make sure to wash and dry them before you start. Lay them out nice an flat when they come out of the dryer! It will make it go much easier for the next steps.

I planned my robe with a color story using a dark blue to dark green gradient with one sort of odd green pop color.

Step 2: Figure Out How Much Fabric You Will Need

For your pattern you will need to figure out how the sizes for the following pieces:

  • Back panel
  • Front panel one
  • Front panel two
  • Sleeve one
  • Sleeve two
  • Edging

Take your measurements

  1. Measurement A: Measure from the edge of your should to the desired length of your robe.
  2. Measurement B: Next measure the widest part of your body - usually your hips or shoulders

Figure out the size of the pieces

  1. Take Measurement B and add a little ease. I wanted it medium loose so I added 5 inches. This is Measurement C
  2. Take Measurement C and divide it by 2. This is Measurement D
  3. Take Measurement D and divide it again by 2 and add 4 inches for overlap. Measurement E
  4. You will need large rectangles for the sleeves. I like to approximate with about 16 by 22 each.
  • Back panel = Measurement D wide by Measurement A long
  • Front panel one = Measurement E wide by Measurement A long
  • Front panel two = Measurement E wide by Measurement A long
  • Sleeve one = 22 inches wide by 16 to 20 inches long
  • Sleeve two = 22 inches wide by 16 to 20 inches long
  • Edging = 4 inches wide by what length you need

Calculate approximately how much whole cloth to layout

When it comes to making the whole cloth I don't get finicky. I like to make once piece for the front and back panels (Piece A) and one piece for the sleeves (Piece B). This is how you calculate the size of the pieces.

For Piece A:

Measurement D + Measurement E + Measurement E = Width

Measurement A = Length

For Piece B

Sleeve width times 2 = 44 inches wide by approx. 16 by 20 inches long

I am a short plus size person so this is what how this works out for me:

Take your measurements

  1. Measurement A: 53 inches
  2. Measurement B: 60 inchs

Figure out the size of the pieces

  • Measurement C = 60 + 5 = 65inches
  • Measurement D = 32.5 inchs
  • Measurement E = 20.25 inches
  • Sleeves = 22 inches wide and 18 inches long
  • Back panel = 32.5" by 53"
  • Front panel one = 20.25" by 53"
  • Front panel two = 20.25" by 53"
  • Sleeve one = 22" by 18"
  • Sleeve two = 22" by 18"
  • Edging = 4 inches wide by what length you need

Calculate approximately how much whole cloth to layout

For Piece A: 32.5 + 20.25 + 20.25 = 73 inches wide by 53 inches long

For Piece B: Sleeve = 44 inches wide by approx. 18 long

Step 3: Start Breaking Down the Shirts

Cut off the sleeves neck binding and bottoms hems. Save all these bits as you will use them later for embellishment.

  1. To cut of the sleeves start in the pit and cut off close to the seam edge (see the photo)
  2. Cut off the bottom hem about 1/8th inch above the stitching. Try to keep in in one long strip
  3. Cut off the hems of the sleeves about 1/8th inch above the stitching.
  4. Cut off the neck binding

Step 4: Cut the Shirts Into Rectangles

So the goal here is to cut the shirts into nice even rectangles that you will use to create your strips of fabric.

Use the quilters square and the tailors chalk to plan how to get the most from each shirt before you cut.

I like to pay attention to the designs and how I might use them later when I cut the blocks.

Step 5: Layout Your Columns of Fabric

You will most likely do this part on the floor or many tables.

You are laying out your rectangles of fabric in columns that are a little longer than your desired length and as as wide as your two main fabrics. My widths were 73 and 44. Now here is the tricky part. You are going to loose about 12 inches or so of your width when you even out the edges of your columns before you sew them together later. So make a little extra.

Now my design was a gradient so sometimes when I was making my columns I would have to sew a few pieces together to make something wide enough.

IMPORTANT: When you are laying out your stripes be sure the columns are with the grain or that the direction of the knit is straight.

Step 6: Sew the Columns Together

Sew the columns together

Sew the fabric into columns using a serger and a flatlock stitch using a bright pretty thread that went with my color story. You can use a zigzag stitch if you have a regular machine or if you are into hand sewing you could do that but it would take a really REALLY long time.

Next cut the strips down and sew them together

Once your strips are sewn together fold them in half and even out the edges so that the columns are fabric are of even width.
Then choose what columns to sew together to make Piece A and Piece B of the whole cloth. Things to consider are your final panels and where the designs will go. Remember those numbers from Step 2... those panels.

Step 7: Cut Out Your Panels and Edging

Now that you have two pieces of whole cloth (Piece A and Piece B)

Using the number in Step 2 cut out your panels.

These were the sizes of my panels:

  • Back panel = 32.5" by 53"
  • Front panel one = 20.25" by 53"
  • Front panel two = 20.25" by 53"
  • Sleeve one = 22" by 18"
  • Sleeve two = 22" by 18"

Any remaining fabric from the whole cloth is cut out in 4 inch strips to be used for edging.

Step 8: Cut Out the Neck

Decide how deep a vee you want in the front. Cut out neck hole using the rough area show above. If you don't want to wing it you can use a v-neck shirt that fits you well.

Step 9: Sew Together Panels and Sleeves

Sew together the shoulder seams. Then sew the sleeves to the body of the robe.

Step 10: Add Embelishments

I like to use the hems and such as embellishments to create patters. I sewed them on using a straight stitch in a contrasting pretty thread.

Step 11: Sew Side Seams and Loops

Match and pin up the sides and try it on.

Choose where you want the belt loops to be.

Make loops out of the left over scraps and pin them in.

Finally Sew up the sides seams and if desired hem the bottom.

Step 12: Add Edging

I like to add a edging to the front edge of the robe. I do that by folding over the four inch strips of fabric and adding them to the open edge with a flatlock stitch.

Step 13: Make Belt

Next take all the sleeve bits and sew them together and create a belt of a comfortable length. Add scraps as needed