The contemporary fabric scene has become increasingly more substrate friendly over time, and as someone who predominately sews garments, that's wonderful news. Quilt weight cotton is great for quilts of course, and for learning to sew clothing on, but most of the time I prefer rayon, cotton lawn, wool, or knits. When Cotton + Steel branched out into rayon, I was super excited, because it's by far my favorite fabric to wear. It flows beautifully, but is so much easier to wear and live in than silk. Sometimes people think I'm crazy for thinking so, but there's no silk I would ever prefer over a quality rayon. It has more crossgrain stretch than silk, breathes better, and is easier to care for. All wins in my book.
I know I wasn't the only person that was elated to hear that the ladies at Cotton + Steel had paired up with Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co. to do a collection of fabric. Due to my close friendship with the C+S ladies, I was able to see it all very early on, and they kindly let me pick out a bunch of it to sew with for myself. I immediately picked the navy floral rayon to make something from, but not the red floral. I was viewing the fabric on my computer and not in real life, and red just isn't something I typically wear. Fast forward to the fabric being available, and I uncharacteristically flipped out over the red floral. I really don't wear red hardly ever, at least not out of the house anyway. I think it's flattering on me, but I guess I'm just not quite that flashy to wear red floral out of the house.
I've had this fabric in my stash for some time because it's taken me a long while to decide what to do with it. (Of course, I haven't cut the navy yardage either. The pressure!!!) I basically wanted to drape it on my body all the time, because the rayon feels amazing. The red floral feels a little exotic and naughty, so I decided to sew up myself a saucy lounge robe. No, not many people will get to see it in real life, but I will get to put it on and feel beautiful everyday.
I searched high and low for a basic robe pattern, and dear lord, how hard was that to find?! I didn't want a shall collar, or a hood, or lace detail, or fancy intricate seaming, or anything else on it. I just wanted a simple robe with a band along the front and a waist tie. While digging through everything in my studio for my massive studio sale next weekend in Los Angeles (PLEASE COME!!!) I came across this pattern in my stash, Simplicity 5685 from 1973. Perfect!!! It's a men's medium, and after measuring a white cotton robe I wear often at home, it turned out the size was nearly identical to the pattern. Hallelujah!
Though the pattern was nearly perfect, I still changed it up a bit to fit all the things I want in a robe. I used nearly every inch of the fabric I had in my stash and cut all the pieces in the floral and skipped the contrasting band and belt. I made the size as is with only two exceptions: I tapered the sleeves from the armscye to the hem to trim off about 3" of circumference around the sleeve hem, and I cut the length to be between the maxi and the midi lengths. Actually, the previous user had cut it to this length, and it matched my current white cotton robe exactly. So I went with that length too. Seriously, it was meant to be!
The only other changes I made were to add champagne colored silk piping between the band and the body of the robe; inserting the waist belt loops into the seam instead of sewing them on top after the fact; sewing all the seams with French seams; sewing in a loop at the base of the neck to hang up the robe on a hook; and adding in interior ties to hold the robe closed from within (pictured above). This is something my current robe has and I love it. I like my robe to remain closed, or at least loosely closed, and I find that without this interior tie, my robe is either sliding open, or cinched super tight to prevent that from happening. That happy loose medium seems to only happen when the inside is attached in some way. This is entirely personal preference, but since I knew I was going to want to lounge in this robe a lot, I knew it was something I wanted to add in. With the French seams, piping, and inserting the belt loops, the interior ties, and the hang loop into the seams, it was still a super easy make, but it did require a tiny bit of planning to make sure each seam had all the parts in place before I started the French seams. But it all went together perfectly.
The rayon itself is a dream to sew with and wear. As previously mentioned, I love rayon and I wear it all the time, but not all rayons are created equal. This is not my friendship with Cotton + Steel talking when I say that their rayon is by far and away my favorite on the market. I absolutely love it. It's fluid and has great drape, but is still substantial and thick for rayon. It's also smooth and soft and has no crepe texture. It really is pure heaven. I will say that it absolutely shrinks though, so despite all recommendations, I wash it in warm and dry it in a hot dryer twice before cutting. That way it has gone through the full cycle two times to get all the shrinking out. I find that there is still some shrinkage on the second wash and dry, which is why I do that. But I know many people who don't and are just fine. So take all of the above as my practice and not as gospel.
I'm super happy with this robe and can't wait to spend each evening lounging in it. Now what to do with the navy colorway I have of this print in my stash...