Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year! And a stylish bathrobe

Happy 2013 everybody! With vacation over and the new year begun, I'm looking forward to kicking off an excellent year of sewing. I've also really enjoyed reading everyone else's "year in review" posts. I can't believe how prolific some people are! For example... Sewaholic releasing 10 new patterns this year? That's a lot of work! Plus, Tasia is my new favorite for releasing pants for curvy ladies. No, I haven't sewn them yet, but I own the pattern and I'm so gonna do it.

Myself, I have not been so prolific this year. But I do have a finished project to share! For Christmas I wanted to sew my mom something special, and I decided on a robe since it's something that will keep her warm and get a lot of wear.

Mom looking glamorous in her loungewear
I forget which blog I read it on, but I remember being struck by someone who pointed out that most of us spend most of our time in loungewear, often changing into our "cozies" as soon as we come home. But for a lot of people who sew, the temptation is to make pretty party dresses more often than the basics and especially more than the stay-at-home comfy clothes that we like to wear. Since we have the ability, wouldn't it make more sense to treat ourselves to really nice clothes for lounging around the house? So that's how this idea formed.

The pattern is Vogue 1060. It's supposed to be a coat pattern, but I think it lends itself very well to a robe.

I don't much care for the standard bathrobe look - it doesn't really say "elegant loungewear" to me.I think this pattern has a lot more style. It has rows of darts on the front and back for shaping. Plus, it features kimono sleeves which allowed me to make the most of my limited yardage.

wrinkly, but you get the picture
In fact, I think I was able to cut this out of only two yards of 60" wide wool, although I did have to do some piecing at the collar to make it work and use different material for the facings. The outer fabric is a medium weight felted wool which I got off eBay. It was a fantastic find. A guy sold me a bunch of pieces of wool at just $4/yard. This soft green is my Mom's color, so I knew it was destined for her.

The lining is a cotton/silk blend I found on Etsy, and the facings are silk that I bought at Vogue Fabrics in Chicago. This was my first time working with these kinds of fabrics, and I have to say.... they were a pain in the butt.

Both these fabrics were super shifty while cutting. The cream colored silk was definitely the worse of the two though. I can't believe how much it can shift off grain while still lying flat. As a result, my facings ended up way longer than the front edges of the robe that I was supposed to line them up with. I made it work by doing a whole lot of easing, but it probably would have been wiser to just re-cut them, using spray starch this time. Lesson learned. On the bright side, I think the fabrics go beautifully together, and they do make for a very luxurious feeling robe.

When I took this home to Montana for Christmas and fit it on my mom, I discovered that the dart placement was just not working for her. I ended up picking all the darts out. The directions wisely recommended using basting stitches for the darts and putting them in last, but of course I did not listen. Another lesson learned. Once the darts were out, though, the robe fit much better. We decided to leave them out entirely. It does take away some of the shaping, but it's okay to sacrifice style for comfort for a project like this. Still, I'd like to make this robe again in a larger size and use the darts. I think they really add to it.

The final challenge for this project was inserting the lining. In fact, I had to bring it back to Indiana with me to finish the job, because I ran out of time in Montana to work on it. I'm a little disappointed that there's not a place online where you can find a complete, well-illustrated guide to bagging a lining. If found several that were good, but it was only by consulting four different sources that I was finally able to put it all together. Here's the four I consulted:

That last one in particular was helpful for figuring out what the heck is going on in the area where the facing meets the lining meets the hem. I'll admit mine do not look so nice as Gigi's, but next time I'll know to look there instead of just fudging things.

the trickiest part of bagging a lining, in my opinion
Despite its imperfections, my mom was very happy with it. And I'm happy to know it will get a lot of wear on those cold Montana mornings.


  1. Aw, that's a really nice present! Your mom looks very nice and warm.
    I was going through a few bags of clothes a friend left me and a found a bunch of fabric...will be bringing back to the states, though it might be too lightweight and too little to do anything cool with.

  2. What a gorgeous gift. I agree about trying to sew more loungewear and housewear than party dresses. I think a lot of us are realizing we've made way too many of those!

  3. I lov how you looked at a pattern that most others would only see use for it as an outwear coat, but you created a robe from it. Someone like myself who is new to sewing probably doesn't even consider other ideas for patterns except exactly what is on the cover. Thank you for opening my eyes a bit to see that I should give patterns a second look over before tossing them aside if I do not like the exact look on the patern envelope. I probably have been passing up something I could easily tweak into the perfect sweater dress, which I have yet to find what I truly want.

    The lining is gorgeous and thank you for posting the links you used to help you pull it all together.

    1. Thanks! I've learned over time to pay more attention to the line drawings on patterns and less attention to the way they've been sewn up and photographed on the live models. Sewing.patternreview is good too, because you can see the many ways other people have interpreted a pattern.