and One to Gift

I need new robes.  A robe for me is not a furry, cross over garment that is belted and tied in front.  Such a garment always slides open either exposing me or making me cold. I use my robes either first thing in the morning or after an evening bath.  At camp, they cover me during the walk between my camp site and the public bathroom when the after-dark need occurs.  At home they keep me warm after the evening bath and warm in the morning; plus if I don’t get dressed before UPS shows up, I’m half-way decent. I’m retired. I don’t have to get up early and dress.  So I prefer a closed or caftan style robe. Slip over the head and I’m covered and don’t become uncovered.  I scoured my Burda magazines and decided that #122 07/2008 would be perfect. I checked the size and was surprised that a 46 was me with a 1/4″ to spare.  But it seems to me that I’ve always traced the next size up and for pants, traced the back inseam two sizes up.  So  I traced the pattern but before adding seam allowances I started measuring.  The bust had about 3″ ease. Good. Hip? I measured 7″ down from the waist mark. I knew this was above the normal hip. I was thinking if it was big enough 1″ above the hip, it should be OK.  Oh Joy, it was!  I calculated 4″ hip ease.  However far too long.  I cut 3.5″ off the length at the hem and that’s in addition to the 1″ BWL I always do.  I also made my 1″ NSA.  I’m figuring this is a loosely fitting 3rd layer. I don’t even want it to fit like a blouse. I want it to float around and if it has deep vertical folds of fabric, I’m happy.

This is an easy garment to make.  I traced and made my alterations one evening.  Took about an hour maybe hour and half because I had to add seam allowances and make alterations.  My fabric is a 100% silk, I think.  I did not do a burn test. I didn’t buy this fabric it was given to me.  A friend’s mother died and my friend brought me a box of fabric.  According to my friend, her mother was a great seamstress and refused to work with anything but quality fabric. However, she was not above a bargain. So when she saw this 36″ wide silk, brocade on sale, she bought the whole bolt. I have 7 yards of 36″ wide silk to work with.  It smells like silk.  My friend told me it was silk. I believe it is silk.  It must be 30-35 years old.  I’ve had it for 16-17. The original owner hadn’t sewn the last 15 years of her life and sometime before then had purchased the fabric on sale . This was during the days when stores kept stock rather the being immediate supply demand (aka JIT just in time). A bolt could sit in a store for while if it was good quality stuff, and that was OK with the store. Moral of the story is I’m pretty sure it’s silk and it is old old silk.

When cutting,  I felt like the brocade was directional. Subtle, but when it was stretched out on my 6′ cutting table, I could see the repeat and direction of weave.  Since I was making a large garment, I decided that the directional nature could be come apparent during wear.  I opted to cut all the pieces directionally even going so far as to cut the front and back upper bodices individually. In the pattern, the back bodice is placed on the fold.  With 36″ width to work with, I added a center back seam. Once all the pieces were cut, I hung them on hanger and threaded my machines. Then snapped off the lights (and all the machines) before going upstairs for the evening.

The next day I stitched this together. I serge finished the underarm, sleeve hem and lower bodice edges. But just serged and top-stitched the other seams.  I put the bodices together first. Finished the neckline and basted the front pieces where they are overlapped. Then I serge finished the hem before turning it up and stitching using, once again, the flat felling foot.  I had no idea this foot could be so useful.  Then I serged the front and back skirt to the upper bodice. Serged the by now long underarm-side seam and finished by adding 2″ folded bands to the sleeve. Done. About 3 hours maybe a bit less.

That’s me in the morning in my winter PJ’s.  No head because I still have bed-head.

So why is this ‘One to Gift’? The empire line is tight and the hip is close.  If the empire line was not tight, I would keep the garment.  But since it has  two things I don’t like in my robes, it will gifted to someone smaller and probably younger than me.  Possibly I should have followed my hunch and made it a size larger.  I could have checked this blog.  Even a few posts would have told me that I always make Burda patterns a size larger than recommended. The few jeans I buy, are a size larger than recommended. I like my clothing semi-loose to loose-fitting. Or knit. I don’t like clothing that binds and restricts movement, especially when that movement is breathing. I’m surprised that measuring failed me. I wondered it the silk shrunk when pressing.  I press all my seams as I’m sewing.  But I think I should have known I needed more hip ease for a robe. Would that have automatically given more ease to the empire line?  Not sure. It’s quite common for me to add 1/2″ to back or all my blouses. I notice that I frequently take in the front side seam, but add ease to the back. Just seeing that the hip didn’t have the desired ease might not have prompted me to trace or grade-up at the empire line as well. The bust itself if fine. It is the seam under the bust and over my ribs that give me fits. It has never occurred to me that sufficient bust ease with a constricted rib cage would ever occur.

Lovely garment.  I will make it again. I could use the pattern as is with a knit fabric, two sizes larger for woven.  I chose the right length for me if using a simple 1/2″ turned up hem.  I like my robes just above my ankle so they won’t trip me if I need to go downstairs.