Clergy Robe


My robe project is finally complete.  It only took 5 yards, a special foot and a variety of adult beverages to finish.  This robe adventure started with a friend asking me to make a copy of a clergy robe for her mom.  The original robe was purchased overseas on vacation years ago and they haven’t been able to find the same one in black since.  Seemed easy enough.  **warning: over confidence is hazardous to your sanity.**

Finished robe

The Fabric

The first big mystery to solve was the fabric.  It had to be light weight, draped nicely and not cost and arm and a leg. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  I decided on a silk satin backed crepe from The Fabric Store. It’s was gorgeous but super pricey especially at 5 yards worth.

The Draft

Drafting the pattern was fairly easy. The robe had a yoke, tunic like facing, mandarin collar and side seam pockets.  I ended up changing the collar pattern to a curved shape as the original had the collar drafted completely straight along the bottom edge that attached to the neckline.  I also added 1″ seam allowance as I wasn’t certain how I was going to finish the seams.  I would later have to trim this down to 1/2″.

Cutting the Fabric

Yes, this needs it’s own section.  Even at 5 yards I did not have much extra to spare with the floor length and large sleeves.  I rolled out marker paper in the kitchen area to protect the fabric and rolled out as much of the 5 yards as possible.  I strategically placed the pieces single layered to use up every bit of fabric.  I second guessed my drafting repeatedly.  I don’t make muslins and I’ve never had any screw ups I couldn’t fix.. yet.  ::fingers cross::  Self doubt kept creeping in until after 1/2 bottle of wine, I just went for it.

Pattern Layout


I started off easy and sewed the yoke burrito method.  Easy peasy.

In the collar I used fusible hair canvas to add rigidness with flexibility. The only issue was the cheap adhesive came off in tiny beads that created a mess on the table and an even bigger mess on the collar. Some of the fusible glue balls got on the outside of a black collar. I’m still picking off this stuff. I see now why people use sew in hair canvas.

Sewing the front facing was a bit scary as I had to cut down the front bodice. If it was crooked there was little I could do to fix it, short of cutting a new front which would be 2 yards worth.  ::gasps::  I folded the front in half and pressed to crease a guide.  All was well until I tried embroidering it using my cams.

decorative stitchesI spent a lot if time picking the stitching pattern and thread color only for it to end badly. I couldn’t get the stitching straight for that length of distance because of the unevenness of the layers underneath. Up close it looked find but stand back and the embroidery looked obviously off. So I painstakingly unpicked it.  I tried some free hand designs but that was also a fail.

Felled Seams

The felled seam went well once I figured out the seam allowances I needed to go with my 4 mm felling foot. One SA is 1/2″ and one 1/4″. A roll of 1/4″ fusible wash away tape and I was humming along.

Fell Seam

The Pockets

Again my confidence wanes.   My friend had requested a zipper in the pocket.  The original one was just an opening in the side seam.  “Sure, no problem” I said.  Until I got to actually doing it.

zipper + felled seam + slipper and stretchy fabric = need for more adult beverages

At first I tried felling the seam first, unpicking the pocket area and then inserting the zipper.  Everything was lumpy and bumpy and looked horrible.  After some help from IRL friend Ms McCall and Twitter friends @LadyKatza and @Gjeometry which involved drink suggestions and laughing, it dawned on me that I should put the zipper in first and then fell seam around it.  That way the zipper was nice sew in.  To complete the look, I topstitched to make the felled seam looking continuous.  I also used a rayon purple fabric for the inner pocket for a little pop of color.



The last step was to add the snaps.  I’ll share with you a neat trick I learned from Cynthia Guffey years ago.  You sew on the snap end with the sticky out part.  Rub some chalk over it.  Close the opening and the sticky out end will stamp a little chalk mark on where the other half of the snap should be.  Then take a pin and poke it through the middle of the snap and pin to the little chalk dot.  You can use this to hold the snap in place as you sew it on.

Sewing Snaps


Wow after all that simple Christmas gift sewing, this project sure stretched my sewing abilities.  It was really worth it as the recipient was ecstatic just seeing crappy iPhone pictures of it.  Can’t wait until she can actually wears all this gorgeous, drape-y, goodness.

Happy sewing,

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3 Responses to Clergy Robe

  1. Pingback: Macaron Measuring Tape - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Accordion3 says:

    It is a brave woman who takes on the sewing of vestments. The completed gown is fantastic and most likely exactly what was wanted.

    Well done – you should consider eating cake now.

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