I always make my daughter her Birthday and Christmas gifts. It's usually an involved project, so she just gets one. This year I have decided to make her a super-warm robe. We live in the Northeast where it's pretty cold for several months, so she'll get lots of use out of it.
In deciding how to design the robe, I've taken some input from her and also analyzed what I don't like about certain features of different robes that I own, plus have added some extras that'll make her love it even more!
Step 1: The Design
(nice christmas card, eh? I haven't taken it out of my sight since she gave it to me earlier today. She's at the Wang Theatre in Boston, seeing "White Christmas")
I've never understood why robe sleeves are so wide at the bottom, I mean, we're not Father Christmas here. My sleeve openings always catch stuff: my knitting needles, when I'm cooking they get in the way, and they are just breezy. So I want the sleeve bottoms to be narrow, like what hoodie sleeves have.
Speaking of hoodies, wouldn't a robe with a hood be so cool? Teenagers like hoods. A lot. So I'll make the robe hooded. I might add a drawstring so she'll have the option to cinch it if she wants to.
I prefer robes with front patch pockets as opposed to side, hidden pockets. The side ones sometimes tend to flap to the back when you are putting the robe on, plus stuff can fall out more easily. So I'll go with two patch pockets in the front.
The ties. Most female robes have at least a tie on the inside, usually on the right, so you can fasten the left front of the robe to to side seam of the right, inside seam. Male or unisex robes don't have that. Well, the problem with even the ones with that one tie, is that then the right front flap of the robe just lays against the underneath layer, but doesn't get tied to the outside, on the left, so it creeps or shifts over. No matter how tightly I have the belt tied, it still moves over to the right. I hate that! So I will also put a fastener on the left, outside seam to lock that flap there. If you have ever put on a Gi you know what I am talking about.
My last design issue is the length. She doesn't want a long robe, so I'll pattern it after a lovely spring robe that she has, which ends just at mid-thigh.
Step 2: The Fabrics
She picked out a pretty blue material at the fabric store. It is SO soft. It also has a bubble pattern on it which makes it even more cozy. The material is kind of thin though, so I still needed another fabric as I want this lined for extra warmth.
Have you have ever been to a home-goods type of store and seen those luscious throws that they sell, a lot of them are faux furs or velvety-types that are just really luxurious to the touch? Well I found a beautiful, light grey velvet one that was actually blanket size, rather than a smaller throw. Perfect! I'll probably have a good bit leftover to make a pillow or stuffed animal. An Octopus sounds adorable! Maybe even put a pocket insert to allow those charcoal warmer bags to be put inside. Yay!!
(stay focused on the robe, it is 12:24 AM, December 22)
Step 3: Let's Start Cutting!
I will use her existing robe as a template, making the changes where necessary.
I lay the blue fabric over the grey one, right sides together, then place the robe on top of that.
I leave plenty of room for seam allowances and cut along outer edge of front flap. This can be a bit tricky around the arms. Go slowly and make sure it makes sense before you cut. You could also pin in certain spots if this helps you.
When finished with the right front piece, I flip over for mirror's view onto material to cut out left front piece.
I now have 4 front pieces, 2 of each fabric, mirror images of each other. Let's move onto the back.
I lay it down and take some time to arrange all of the edges. When laid flat, the back comes up over the shoulder onto the front, so take note of where the cut should be.
I cut out half, then remove the robe, fold over what I just cut onto the remaining fabric, and cut the other half out. This is much easier than tracing around both edges of the robe.
Well. it is almost 2:00 so it's bedtime. I'll do the sleeves, belt, pockets, hood, ties, etc. when I wake up.
Step 4: The Next Day - More Cutting
Two sourdough pancakes sandwiching a fresh, runny egg, paired
with maple sausage from our pigs. Fed and ready to continue!
Sleeves: I lay a sleeve down, inside out, centering, straightening along the grain. I cut this along the inside of the sleeve, across the bottom, skip the outside and cut out the top of the sleeve, pulling the robe down to access that line. Then I just flip that over, creating a fold/mirror's view and cut out the other side. This gives the full sleeve, Now I have a sleeve pattern, and I cut one more pair from the remaining fabric. I have made some slight changes from the existing sleeve to narrow out the bottom. The sweater I am wearing is a good guide for what I want to achieve, so I compare that to my sleeve pattern. You'll also notice that I have to jump down on the fabric, essentially wasting some; I'll use that later for pockets and such. Don't be tempted to flip your patterns around to save fabric. There is a nap to both of these fabrics so you need to make sure you orient your pieces up and down consistently.
Step 5: (even) More Cutting ~ the Fun Extras
I want to cut the hood next as it is the largest piece for what I have left to cut. A hood is made in two pieces. Let me go look to see if I can find a hoodie for some guidance.
I found a basic one, so the hood is round, which is fine, but I think a pointy hood will be cute, kind of elfin like. Maybe I can put a tassle of some sort on the end. Or maybe not. I can just see it now...
"Why is the kitty cat trying to scale my back all the time.... oh.. the plaything on the end." In a few weeks it'll end up with his toy stash.
Since I am not rounding the back of the head, I really just need a large square. Using the hood as a guide, I cut half, remove the hood template, fold my piece over and cut the mirror image. I also allow a generous neck as I somehow need to incorporate this into the robe neck part later.
Okay, we need a belt, two patch pockets, , and 4 tie pieces. The belt is just over six feet long so I take one of the long edges of the grey blanket and fold it , lengthwise. 46" x 2 = 92" ... perfect! I'm going to use the blanket's finished edges for the inside/outside ties, so I cut off the edge for those, just outside the serged stitches, and then the strip for the belt, doubled in width as I am essentially sewing a tube.
Wow, that created a lot of fuzzies!!
For the two pockets I cut out (2) 8 x 9 inch rectangles. This gives me very roomy pockets, plus enough for seam allowances. I am flipping the nap for the pockets, partly because I want to take advantage of the blanket's bottom, finished edge, and a slight variant in the pocket's shade is totally fine, as long as they match each other.
Isn't this fun?!
I think that's it.... oh, no, the belt loops.. I think I want those with the blue. I have plenty of scraps and she really likes the color, so I think that'll look cute as a contrast against the grey.
Oh my gosh.. I think I can start sewing... how exciting!
Let me get out the serger.
Step 6: Start Sewing!
Why use my serger? These fabrics are both very stretchy so this is really the best machine to use to sew this project. I have all 4 threads engaged for maximum strength. I put two new 80/12 Jersey needles in. I'm also locking the cutter as this stuff will make a Dusty Mess if I'm slicing a small amount off the edges.
First I'll sew the two fronts to the back piece just at the shoulders, then sew the sleeves and side seams all in one go. I'm treating this as two robes, which I'll then sew together after.
Follow along my photo/video tutorial for a play-by-play of the construction!
Step 7: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
(if you do the math, this saves me a LOT of typing, which I am horrible at)
Step 8: I Hope You Enjoyed the Quick Video...
Here is a pic of the final robe!
It was the last gift that she opened on Christmas.
She loved it and it looks great on her!
It is indeed VERY warm.
Maybe too warm...
Her birthday is in February, so I'll start on the Octopus in a few weeks.... shhh.
Thanks so much for reading and watching through the entire Instructable, and I would really appreciate a vote from you if you liked it!!
Runner Up in the
Homemade Gifts Contest