I really should have made myself a spa robe years ago!
As a curvy woman who is petite in both height and arms, I find the "One Size Fits All" trend in robes to be a sad joke. Droopy shoulders, saggy wrap fronts and overwhelming volume are what I can expect from store bought lounge wear. But I guess I always thought making a robe would be boring.
As it turns out, I was wrong!
I decided to treat myself to some real daily luxury and make a high-end spa robe that FITS to celebrate February being Love and Intimates month over in Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests FB Group.
The Spa Robe Equation
I needed 3 elements to make a truly special robe:
1. A well drafted pattern with options to personalize my size
2. High quality fabric
3. Subtle details to make my garment unique
1. The Pattern
I selected the Lahja Dressing Gown from Named Clothing as my pattern. Named Clothing is an independent sewing pattern company founded by two Finnish sisters, Saara and Laura Huhta. They have put out a collection of garments with clean lines and interesting details twice a year since the fall of 2013. On their website, you can see each collection in a High Fashion-styled digital look book, and purchase their patterns in either Finnish or English. Named Clothing has been a sponsor of the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests FB Group since our very beginings, providing both free patterns for us to give away as prizes and occasional discounts on patterns for all our members to enjoy.
-Unisex pattern suitable for both men and women
- Long and cropped sleeve options
-Calf or above-the-knee lengths
-Large patch pockets
-Kimono style collar
-PDF Layers to print only the size(s) you need
2. The Fabric
I'm not the sort of woman who swans around the house in an elegant wrap like some sort of 1940's movie star. No. I'm much more the Practical Robe sort. I need something put on after my shower. Something to keep me covered and warm as I brush my teeth and dry my hair. (or feed the dog and let him in & out, as he inevitably needs just as soon as I'm naked and wet).
Sourcing just the right fabric for my spa robe was much easier than I expected. I wanted an absorbent terry cloth that was thick and durable. Something I could wash and dry often, but would still last many years. My search started, and ended, at Organic Cotton Plus. Organic Cotton Plus is a small business who has been passionate about organic fibers and the impact fabric production has on our environment since long before it was fashionable or cost-effective.
In addition to being the first fabric retailer in the U.S. to be fully GOTS-certified, they have been a long time supporter of us in the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contest FB Group, donating hundreds of dollars worth of gift certificates over the last couple years to be given away as prizes to our members. When Organic Cotton Plus learned about my spa robe project, and my intention to use the 16oz Terry Cloth from their shop, they made the incredibly generous offer to donate 3 yards of that fabric to me for the garment.
Creating My Spa Robe
As you would expect, construction of my Lahja Dressing Gown was pretty straight forward. I measured myself and the pattern before deciding on which size to sew. I cut the cropped sleeve but my arms are so short, they hit on my hands like long sleeves. I decided to leave them that way, knowing I could always roll them up if I needed them to be shorter. I also decided not to shorten the length, even though at 5ft, I am significantly shorter than the drafted pattern. This means the woman's "above the knee" hem hits me at the top of my calf. I don't mind at all because I have a teenage boy and the longer length means I can bend over and still maintain my modesty.
If you also choose a natural fiber when you make your Lahja Dressing Gown (or really, for any pattern), keep in mind that there will be shrinkage. Some organic cotton can shrink more than 10% when it's washed and dried. Make sure you pre treat your fabric, as you plan to care for the finished garment, before you cut. I had an approximate 5% shrinkage in my 3 yard length after washing in cold water and drying 3x.
I used my regular machine and my walking foot to stitch this robe, only using my overlocker to finish the seams and prevent shedding of the loops. My Brother 1040d is a wuss. If it won't slice through 2 layers of denim, there's no way it was cutting through the pile on terry cloth. After washing and drying, the fabric was soft and fluffy and nearly 1/4 inch thick!
In some places, like on the collar where I was supposed to stitch in the ditch to finish the inside, I decided to hand stitch, rather than try to shove all the layers though my machine. This resulted in an unexpected bonus: an absolutely beautiful roll on the collar edge.
A big pet peeve I have about mass produced robes is probably something you never even thought about: placement of the patch pockets. It makes me totally crazy that when I have my robe on, the wrap front covers one of the pockets. In my Me-Made version, I am able to customize this smallest of details. I have positioned the pockets all the way over, aligned to the side seam. When my robe is on, the pockets are not covered. I also placed them higher, so that my short little arms can still reach inside.
3. Subtle Details
As I mentioned previously, this terry cloth is thick! Too thick for details such as belt loops and tie belts. Fortunately, I found some scraps of washed silk dupioni in my stash in a Not Quite White color. The smoothness and sheen are a lovely contrast to the nubby texture of the terry cloth.
The sides of my robe were already finished, so I could not insert the belt loops into the seam per the pattern directions. Instead, I had a little fun and did some narrow double loops with my dupioni scraps.
Though swapping out the expected same-fabric belt and loops for a washed silk dupioni was a pretty touch, I found the robe needed something a little more unique to really make it special...
Each time I've ordered fabric from Elliott Berman Textiles, my goodies have come wrapped in this absolutely gorgeous lace trim. I've saved them all, and tucked them into my ribbon box over the years. Turns out it is the perfect subtle compliment to the warm vanilla ice cream color of my terry cloth.
The pieces of trim I have are not terribly long, but they fit very nicely around both sleeve hems and across the top edges of my pockets.
I found hand stitching worth all the time and effort it took.
My Finished Spa Robe
What do you think? Have I achieved my goal of a luxurious yet sensible spa bathrobe?
YOU BET I HAVE! I love this robe. I wear it daily.
It fits me wonderfully. My wrap front stays wrapped. It is long and over sized, without being overwhelming.
The fabric is thick and plush and heavy. It does not shed loops.
You know how when you buy new towels, they always feel so soft, then when you try to dry off all the water just gets pushed around, and the towel doesn't really absorb anything? This organic terry cloth is NOTHING like that!
My spa bathrobe is really an elegant wearable towel, which is exactly what I wanted!
My Project Resources
Here's the link to the 16oz Terry Cloth I used from Organic Cotton Plus.
Here's the link to the Named Clothing Lahja Dressing Gown Pattern I used.
Here is the link to Elliott Berman Textiles.
Here is the link to my Sewing Family: Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests Facebook Group.