Last week I showed you the inspiration for a recent project to make a new summer over-robe ahead of the Summerfest gathering at the Bank Holiday. I promised I would show you the finished article when done, and here it is for your preview!
I give you my mash-up robe – a blend of Simplicity 5840 and Simplicity 4059 patterns.
The plan for this over-robe was to combine Simplicity patterns 5840 and 4059 to create a similar silhouette as the inspiration Zimarra, which could be pulled on during the day to protect me from the sun / keep me warm or layered over other surcoats or my arming jacket on an evening when the temperature drops. The material is lighter than my existing sleeveless over-robe in black which takes up a lot of room in my kit bag and is quite heavy for daily wear. So with the recent heatwave and concerns
Choosing materials from my stash (this is an entirely stash busting project) I washed and ironed them before cutting – though the satin lining kept creasing regardless – and got all the bits cut out and marked before sewing it all together whenever I could get a spare hour or so. Having used the patterns several times before I was confident that I could whip up this over-robe before the fest (not sewing the night before a fest, this is a novelty!). The only downside was that I had no time to make a mock-up to figure out how the different parts of the pattern would work together. Word to the wise, do a mock-up. Or don’t sew when sleep deprived. I’ll learn this one day.
Following the instructions from Simplicity 4059 pattern A, I sewed the sleeve outer and the sleeve lining together. The pattern calls for the sleeves to be turned out and sewn together at points down the length of the sleeve. Because I wanted to be able to have the sleeve hang loose and be turned inside out, I decided it would be best to use ribbon ties like Handcrafted History’s sleeves. Pulling some ribbon from out of my stash I cut it into lengths to put down the sleeves and to lace up the front of the robe, and pinned and stitched it to the sleeve outer after finishing the edges with a lighter. These may need the ends hand sewing in future, but so far they’re not holding up too badly (only a trial wear and some washing will prove if the lighter treatment has worked). I then sewed the outer to the lining, trimmed and clipped the seams, and turned the sleeves inside out before pressing them as per the instructions. Sewing the open edge of the sleeve closed, I then made the cuffs.
The cuffs are from the same pattern but are for the shirt. I thought that by gathering the sleeve I could fit it to the cuffs which would make them fit a bit closer around the wrist than the cuffs that come with the doublet sleeve as these cuffs swamp my hands badly. The outer and lining of the sleeve was cut, and interfacing applied to the lining to give the satin a little stiffness. I folded down an edge of the outer and pressed it so I could whip stitch it in place to enclose all the seams. Sewing the outer to the lining, trimming the seams and clipping the corners, I was ready to piece the two parts together. This took a bit of thinking to make sure I was going to orientate the cuff correctly onto the right sleeve (and involved looking at my own blouses and my OH’s shirts to make sure I was going to get it right).
Adding a couple of lines of running stitches to the bottom of the sleeves allowed me to gently gather the material to fit the cuff and sew it in place. Pressing the seam into the cuff and trimming away the excess material I hand sewed the folded edge in place and pressed the cuff flat.
Once everything was stitched in place I added in the buttonhole to fit the buttons I had found in a big tin of buttons I’ve inherited from a member of my extended family, and sewed a pair onto the opposite side of each cuff. This was to allow the sleeve to be turned inside out and still fasten, and there is enough ease in the cuffs so that the buttons on the inside won’t dig into the wrist of the wearer – though after I’d sewn the pair on I realised I could have possibly gotten away with a single button.
I actually starting work on the robe first, but in the order to make this blog make sense I’ve put it second. The body of the robe comes from 5840 without the sleeves, capelet or hood. Following the instructions, I sewed the yoke and body pieces together but held off sewing up the side seams until after I’d finished work on the sleeves (from Simplicity 4059) so that I could add the shoulder piece and tabs. After leaving the body to hang for several days on a hanger I trimmed the bottom of the robe to shape and sewed a zig-zag stitch along the bottom and sides to keep the material from fraying whilst I worked.
I applied the interfacing to the satin lining to give it some strength (in a similar way to the cuffs) and ironed a fold the edge of the outer material so that it would be whip stitched in place once everything was sewn together. My plan was to sew the lining such that the seam would be pressed out into the shoulder and the tabs would be attached to the shoulder as well (rather than trying to transfer the markings from one pattern to another) before sewing the whole thing up nice and neatly. Except I forgot I wanted to fold the raw edge of the armhole back on itself to make a nice edge, and this would have to fold the other way. Oops.
Making the shoulder tabs as per the instruction I sewed these onto the interfaced satin with a 1/2″ seam and sewed the outer to the lining and turned the shoulders out. I made these tabs a little longer than the ones that come with the pattern so that I could add two eyelets rather than one for lacing sleeves onto. Pressing this to give a nice neat edge, I puzzled over how I was going to attach the shoulders (and realised what I’d done) and debated unpicking everything and making it the way the doublet pattern tells me to add the shoulders. This would have required me to cut and sew a yoke lining, as I didn’t have enough material to make a lining for the whole robe, but this would have left a weird partially lined piece on the inside of the robe that I wasn’t sure would work. So what I did instead was pressed the seams back into the shoulder and cut a notch in the edge of the armhole at the point where I would need to fold the seam back the other way. I sewed the edge of the notch with a zig-zag stitch to keep it from fraying and pinned the sides together.
Pressing the seam open I folded the edge of the armhole down and pressed it in place with the help of my sewing ham. I sewed the seam down and then added a line of top-stitching for detail and to help keep the edge in place, before handsewing the top of the shoulder down. My accident I found the tabs naturally now fold back into the body unless attached to the sleeves, which means I don’t have silly bits of fabric poking out at odd angles if it’s being worn sleeveless.
To allow me to fasten the front closed I sewed some crochet wool down the front opening for about 10″ from the top, creating small loops every 1/2″ or so. This way I can thread a ribbon or bootlace through as I choose and change the neckline of the garment depending on who is wearing it or the layers underneath. For now it works, but I might pretty this up in future or do something different.
The final project
I should sew eyelets into the shoulder tabs and onto the sleeves, but for now I’m going to safety pin everything in place as sewing eyelets takes forever for me and I’ve been pinning my sleeves onto my black robe for the last year. But with the over-robe finished I have a new piece of kit ready for the fest to go over my existing gowns and hopefully swoosh out behind me in a suitably noble and dramatic way (when appropriate).
Here are some photos of the finished article, modelled by my lovely assistant / dress form Betty-Sue.
Sleeveless; worn with navy sleeves; worn with blue satin sleeves
Worn with sleeves partially laced; Worn with sleeves unlaced; Worn with alternate sleeves (from my banquet kit)
Details: shoulder; front lacing