How to make a simple Festive Robe

There are basically three steps: (1) Get a piece of cloth, (2) Cut it up, and (3) Sew it. We'll discuss each in turn. Again read everything all the way through before buying anything major or cutting cloth or anything else you can't undo if it isn't the way you want it.

Getting a piece of cloth

I've been using all-cotton fabric, as opposed to a synthetic or a blend. This is partly because it seems more "natural" at a Pagan event, and partly because I like the way it hangs and feels.

You can use solid colors, prints, or (depending on what the store has in stock) batik or tie-die patterns. I sometimes get material intended for shirts, and sometimes get the somewhat heavier fabric intended for quilts and such. Browse around and get a feel for what's available (and what may be on sale). Look at the designs, and feel how the fabric feels when you handle it.

I suspect my choice of fabrics is not entirely up to my rational mind, but involves some of the more touchy-feely parts of me. This may well be true for you also.

For your first attempt you might want to get something inexpensive so if things don't go entirely to your liking you won't have lost much. And you may still end up with something you can wear around the house.

In the US (I don't know about elsewhere) fabric is sold by the yard, and comes in various widths. The fabric I've been using is between about 40 and 44 inches wide. I assumed 42 inches when I made the drawings. For most people it won't really matter much, unless you're a good bit heavier than I am. Then you may need to recalculate, or just experiment.

Print patterns come with a sort of margin strip on each edge, sometimes printed with information such as the name of the company and the catalog number of the design. This is usually about half an inch on each side, and you'll want to cut it off. Don't forget to subtract this from the original width when doing calculations. Solid colors and the tie-dyes don't seem to have this, so you can use the full width.

I usually use a three-yard piece (9 feet or 108 inches), but you may want to change this. If you're really tall, or want to show less of your legs and feet, start with a longer piece. If you're shorter or more concerned with tripping when climbing stairs, get a shorter piece.

Left to themselves, the edges of a piece of cloth tend to come undone. In professional contexts this is usually handled by hemming. But I'm lazy, so I just use "Fray Check" which is a liquid plastic that comes in a squeeze bottle. Just apply a thin line of it to the cut edge according to the directions on the bottle and let it dry.

So this "Fray Check" is something else you'll want to get while you're at the fabric place.

Once you have the fabric you'll need to cut it.


Read this entire page before doing anything!

As you can see from Figure 1, you define the sleeves by cutting four triangular pieces out from the areas under the arms. You also need to cut the hole for your neck. This is shown in Figure 2.

Notice that the main outline of the piece after you cut it will be symmetrical about the left-right axis as well as the front-back axis (the two centerlines on the drawing, marked with the ℄ centerline symbol (a C and superimposed L which may not show in some browsers)). The neck hole will not be symmetrical in the front-back direction in that it will end up mostly in front. It is left-right symmetrical in that the left side (as seen by the wearer) is the same as the right.

Notice that the corners of the underarm cutouts are rounded slightly. Stresses tend to concentrate at sharp corners, so rounding the corners eliminates a potential weak spot where the fabric could rip. How much to round them isn't critical: Maybe a radius of an inch or so?

The length of the sleeves can also be varied. If you're heavier than I am or the fabric is relatively narrow, you may want to make the sleeves four or five inches long instead of six, so more of the fabric is available to make room for your torso. On the other hand, if the fabric is wider or you're relatively skinny, you may want to make the sleeves longer.

Likewise, the circumference of the sleeves (the dimension shown as twelve inches each side of the centerline) can vary depending on how thick or thin your arms are and whether you prefer a roomy or tight fit. I tend to prefer things roomy. If you make the sleeves too tight you'll have trouble getting the robe on or off.

The neck hole can also vary, but don't make it too small. If you're using non-stretchy fabric the tight neckline often seen on men's T-shirts won't work in that you won't be able to pull it on or off over your head. Aside from that, you can vary the dimensions depending on things like how much chest hair (or smooth skin) you do or don't want to show off.

What I do to determine where to cut is to lay the cloth out on a flat surface and mark the cuts with a washable (NOT permanent) marker. These are often sold for use by children so if they mark up something they shouldn't the marks can be washed out. Likewise, any marks you make on the fabric will wash out in the laundry. Look for them in the parts of the stores where they put the school supplies.

Seal all the cut edges with "Fray Check". One bit of caution: Putting "Fray Check" on a mark can seal it so it won't wash out. As added insurance against this I try to cut along the side of the mark toward the main piece, so the mark ends up on the scrap piece.


Once the "Fray Check" has dried simply fold the back of the garment down over the front (as shown in Figure 3 ) and sew the sides.

Most print fabrics will have a "good" side and a "wrong side" (solid colors and tie-dyes and such generally won't). You should fold the piece with the "good" side of the fabric inside and the "wrong side" showing. In other words, sew it so it's inside out. Then when you turn the finished garment right-side-out all the messy seams will be hidden away inside.

I start sewing at the sleeves and work my way down. Then if I'm an inch or so off in my estimate of where the center of the piece is, the error will end up at the bottom where it's least likely to be noticed.

Once you're done sewing you may want to put "Fray Check" on the seams to keep them from unraveling.

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2013-11-26 23:48:50
by Bubbles