Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Super-Secret Christmas Robe from 1951

A couple of years ago, I found an amazing vintage Mens' robe pattern on Etsy and fell in love. I snapped it up, ordered some amazing rayon fabric and some ultra-soft micro fleece to line it with. When the pattern arrived  I was so excited... and then somehow I never made it. You know how it is, projects pile up, work gets too busy and then before you know it, it's two years later - no robe.

Vogue 8753

So this year I was determined to sew it for my husband for Christmas, and I was determined that he wouldn't even know I was sewing something for him. In the middle of finals project and a really busy month at Mrs. Depew Vintage I was sewing this robe like a crazy person. And let me tell you, lining rayon with micro fleece is about as easy as getting a puppy to hold still during a cat parade.

I sewed between assignments and studying, before and after work, at midnight while he was working night shifts and every time my husband rode his motorcycle into the driveway I madly dashed to stash everything into my studio closet and delint the threads from my clothes to hide any evidence of my undertaking.

The flat felled seams with the added bulk of a lining fabric, no matter how much I graded, were insanely hard and I ended up hand binding all of my seams inside just to keep everything clean. I was determined to use every skill in my playbook to make this robe the nicest thing my husband ever owned.
2/3 of the sewing was by hand to get everything just right and after about 70 hours of work, it was finished with just one day to spare! I even had time to embroider his initials on the cuff before wrapping it.

The rayon had two beautiful sides to it so I made the cuffs, pockets, sash, carriers and lapels with the lighter, contrasting side.

The black micro fleece lining looks really sharp in contrast to the grey and is so soft and warm that I have to resist stealing the robe for myself every morning when I let the dog out at 6 a.m.

The rayon has just the slightest metallic sheen to it on one side.

Of course it's about 4 sizes too big for Lusty Lulu (love her new name!) but it looks great on the man himself. (I don't make him pose for blog photos, he's shy.)

I also finished the inside with a hilarious "This took Forever" label by Sublime Stitching that makes my day every time I catch a glimpse of it.

And now I'm quite relieved to be done working on this giant project and back to sewing for myself. This week I'm making myself a few bras using this pattern.

How about you? Did you make any of your gifts by hand this year?


  1. He must have been extremely happy when he got your beautiful and thoughtful gift. I would have loved to see his happy face. It looks like a first prize judging from the photos. And no, I did not make any handmade gifts this year, but we will soon start renovating son's room (he moved a few months ago), so I'll have my own sewing room - yipeee! :D

  2. Oh, lovely! I still have designs on making something like that for the man in my life, just as soon as I can find a small enough pattern! (And I can sympathize with the whole lining things in fleece thing... augh!) Your robe looks gorgeous, though... well worth the struggle, I'm sure!

  3. What a nice gift! And it looks great too, the monogram is so classy ;) Should have had some of those labels *lol*, seems everything I make takes forever!

  4. I love it, what a nice gift. Very impressive to secretly complete this in time, I can never complete anything in December.

  5. Oh my! What a gorgeous gift. It looks divine, and so well constructed! Such a beautiful robe.
    I love (vintage) men's robe patterns, and would love to follow your example, but I don't think the boy would love it as much as I would.

  6. Wow Anna! You've done a superb job on the robe...the contrasting shades of grey work perfectly. I love your comparison, "about as easy as getting a puppy to hold still during a cat parade"-too funny. Love the label!

  7. What a gorgeous gift - looks really lovely. And those labels are awesome^^

  8. It's so fantastic! I love the fabric and the details on the cuff :) He'll be so warm this winter!

  9. Beautiful - and the vintage font style of the monogram is a perfect touch. I did sew a gift this year. A coat for my daughter-in-law. I used Butterick pattern B4928. A repro from 1952. She has broad shoulders and the sleeves for this pattern are not set in so its very accommodating. I used a sherpa fleece that way it required to lining. I lapped most of the seams except for the underarm and side seams. It turned out beautifully and my daughter-in-law was so surprised and touched that I would hand make her something.