I asked for a new dressing gown for Christmas this year. But because I am a picky little snowflake, my family wisely chose less controversial gifts like gin and an Aeropress. So after Christmas, I set out to buy one for myself. And because I am a picky little snowflake, weeks of searching ended in failure. So I gave up and made one.
I’ve been sewing my own clothes since I was 12, when I complained one too many times about the clothes my mother was making me and got given a hand sewing machine and told to make my damn own. If you are like me and get a picture of something in your head that you’re never going to find in the shops, making your own clothes is the only way. I have a small set of very easy patterns in shapes that I know suit me, and I adapt them in various ways. I know making clothes seems daunting but it is basically the same as the blessed Nigel Slater’s adage about cooking: that you are only making yourself something to eat – or in this case, to wear. So you start with a basic shape and then stitch it, try it on, pin it, and adjust it until you’re happy.
There are some things that I never bother with when I sew, like tacking, facing and tailor’s tacks. Then there are things I always do, like washing the fabric before cutting, adding pockets (pockets are a feminist issue for me), and pressing every seam to within an inch of its life. (This is the only time I iron.)
Making a wraparound robe like this is much easier than you think, and doesn’t need a bought pattern as it’s based on rectangles that are easy to work out. I used pattern-making instructions from the excellent Melly Sews. I made a few changes: the binding is a little wider (5″ instead of 4″), the sleeves a little shorter (I’m always pushing my sleeves up), and I added belt loops at the side seams and patch pockets. I made the pattern for these by drawing a square round my hand and adding 1/2″ all round for a seam allowance.
The main fabric is a 100% viscose print from The Fabric Man on eBay, from whom I’ve had several excellent fabric buys. It’s 58″ wide so I only needed 2 metres. I decided to use a contrasting grey glazed cotton for the front band and sash for classic Lazybones reasons: the softness of the viscose meant the band would need a Vilene interfacing to stiffen it, and I couldn’t be bothered to cut strips for that length and then worry about getting them straight to the fold.
The making up couldn’t be easier: you sew the shoulder seams, then sew the sleeves on, then sew sleeve and side seams in one go. Then you sew the band on (I always start from the centre back and stitch down each side), fold it over and secure the back by pinning and sink-stitching into the seam to hide the stitches. Hem the cuffs and bottom edge, add the pockets and belt loops, and make the sash by folding over the long strip and stitching down the long edge to make a tube. Then turn it inside out, tuck the ends in and stitch them closed. Press everything as you go, like an ironing maniac.
Easy. And now I have a lovely robe to wear while I lounge around and drink my gin…