Welcome to VTNS (Vintage Textile and Needlework Sellers) Fan Freebie Friday!
Today’s Freebie comes from an article printed in a 1955 magazine called Profitable Hobbies. The articles were written by hobbyists with a good idea they could explain clearly. Most had never written articles before. They just wanted to share their experiences making some extra cash.
Even though the articles were written years ago, many of the ideas in them can be applied today. There is quite a difference in the cost of materials and what you can earn from your item, but the basic instructions haven’t changed.
I have several of these magazines and this article caught my eye because it’s about sewing. The author suggests buying new towels, but if you’re like me, you have several towels in very good condition that could be repurposed as a sweet robe for a child in the family. If you decide to sell them, say at a holiday bazaar, than it’s probably best to buy new.
This robe would be a great two for one. Use it as a beach towel after swimming and a robe in the hotel room. Less luggage on your summer vacation.
The full article is below along with a PDF file you can download for future reference if you’d like.
TERRY TOWELS have moved out of the bathroom into the sewing room. These softly textured cotton towels are easily converted into bath robes for the small fry.
I was intrigued by the idea after seeing my sister-in-law making robes from old bath towels for her children. Even when old material was used, the robes were so clever I could scarcely wait until next day to buy towels to try my hand at fashioning some of my own designs.
Selecting two towels, one a beautiful sun gold color, and the other white, with orchid stripes, I hastened home. In no time at all, and with little expense, I had made two very attractive robes.
To see them was to admire them, and many of my friends and neighbors in Plainview, Texas, asked that I make robes for them. Before realizing it, I was in the bath robe business. A big investment is not necessary but originality and neatness are essential.
Towels of three sizes can be made into robes for three age groups as follows:
- Average towel, 20 x 40 inches, for age fifteen months to two years.
- Large towel, 22 x 24 inches, for age three to four years.
- Extra Large towels, 25 x 46 inches, for age four to five years.
Materials needed for finishing each robe are: 31/2 to four yards of grosgrain ribbon, the same color as the robe it is to be used on, and matching thread. Robes bound in self-color ribbon have a more pleasing look than when contrasting colors are used.
A TOWEL robe can be made in a jiffy because the firmly woven selvage edges and hemmed ends cut the sewing time to a minimum. Only three steps are involved in converting a towel into a robe and are as follows:
First: Determine the correct measurement of the child by folding towel in center, with hemmed edges at the bottom; hold folded edge to shoulder, measure from shoulder to a few inches below the knee, which gives a short-length robe.
Second: In cutting, leave towel folded at center, then fold length-wise to cut the neckline and sleeves. Butterfly sleeves are formed by placing the scissors on the edge of towel at waistline, and cutting a few inches toward the small of back, then curving outward. Unfold towel and split through center to make front opening.
Third: Gather skirt sides even with waist; sew to slit in waist, then seam sides together. Bind front opening, sleeves, and neck with ribbon, leaving loose ends at neck long enough to tie. Stitch ribbon across the waistline gathers, leaving sufficient length for tie.
The terries, vat dyed and guaranteed colorfast, have made their debut into this modern age in exquisite rainbow colors. The lighter tones include such new shades as Malibou coral, Pacific blue, mint green, petal rose, sunshine yellow and heirloom white. While darker shades are. Victorian wine, spice brown, cherry red, charcoal grey and spruce green, in addition to the old favorite shades.
CUTTING GUIDE for towel robe. Dimensions will vary in accordance with size towel used, but all sizes are cut the same way. Inset shows a completed robe.
IN SELECTING towels, I keep in mind colors that will be most suitable for each child. I also watch for the novelty designs, as well as solid colors. The solids are always popular with both the boys and the girls. Many of the solids have border designs that stand out like lovely cameos against the velvety ground.
Robes for boys are attractive when made from the reversible patterns, like the “under-sea” motif of coral. Branches and sea horses. The broad-stripe towels with white background as gay as a carnival, definitely give that “he-man” look to the little boy.
For a little extra trim for a boy’s robe, applique a pair of animal. Figures near the neck, spacing evenly on each side of the front opening.
Robes for girls made from the jacquard patterns of flowers, scrolls and graceful swans are especially attractive. Embroidered borders on the solids give a dainty feminine touch.
After making several robes, one accumulates an assortment of scraps which can be made into artistic trims for the solid color robes. For example, a deep purple robe with a yellow rosette perched on the left shoulder of the “Little Miss” robe will give an exciting look.
To form rosette, merely cut a circle, about two inches in diameter, out of desired color and gather the edges. (The gathered side is used for the right side.) For leaves, cut tube-shape on the fold, sew and turn. Arrange leaves on the opposite side of rosette.
Once you let yourself go “artistically,” so to speak, there is no end to the designs and unusual color combinations that can be worked out.
Create your own patterns for animal designs, practice cutting patterns from paper until you get one that pleases you. If, however, you prefer, you can find many interesting pictures in magazines, from which you can get patterns for designs to use on robes.
A LOCAL needleshop sells my robes on a commission of twenty per cent of the retail price, but I sell more of them from my home.
Throughout the year people buy the robes for birthday gifts, but my best season is Christmas. I keep seasonal colors in stock. The dark shades sell better in the fall and winter, and the pastels in the summer months.
The towels cost me an average of forty-nine cents, eighty-nine cents and $1.29, plus thirty-five cents for the ribbon for each robe. Since so little thread is used, I do not count the cost of it. Finished robes sell for $2, $2.49 and $2.98. The profit on each robe is small, but I make them in my spare time and find that items sell much better if one does not overcharge.
The robes invite hard usage by the preschool children, they are colorful, attractive, and no more trouble to wash than a towel, so are very practical and both mother and child adore them.
Written by Pauline H. Smith, Profitable Hobbies, December 1955
The article is in PDF format so to download it you’ll need the Adobe Reader software on your computer. Most computers come with it, but it is free and can be found here.
Download Instructions: Right-Click the link and select either “save target as” or “save link as” depending on what browser you are using or simply click on it and save or print.