Sewing: robes

John Michael Greer‘s open post this month included a lot of comments from people either looking for places to buy robes, or looking for people to make robes for them.  I feel it’s important to start off with the idea that you should make your own robe as a magician…. it teaches important skills that it’s hard to get any other way.  But I did admit over there in a comment that yes, I make robes.  We’ll see if it gets through the comment-filterer. 😉

I don’t at present have any of the Servants of the Light style robes; I tend to make those to measure, and I don’t let them linger around the house too long.

The Dalmatic is a tau-style robe, probably originally of a Roman or Mediterranean cut, usually worn by officials of middle rank in the Roman and Byzantine empires, and then converted into the formal ritual wear of a Catholic deacons.  I have a pattern for this, and I can put one out in a few hours after I have the fabric.    This was one of my first robes; in a darker color it makes a good tunic for cosplay or costume work, although you should probably have a different neckline than just an oval.

The haori is a sort of Japanese shirt pattern, more of a jacket or a coat that’s worn under a men’s kimono or happi or yukata. Given the methods by which most Japanese clothing is constructed, it’s really just the length that changes in most of these designs, although a happi coat is a bit blockier and more rectangular than this garment.  It’s shorter than the dalmatic, but has roughly the same proportions of sleeves — that is to say, draped and flowing.  A more complex garment than a dalmatic, the haori is made of ten pieces of fabric where the dalmatic is one piece.

And it’s worth noting that the haori doesn’t have to be produced in a plain color like white. This is the same pattern of coat but in a pattern of peacock feathers (XXL, though if I can find the fabric again, I can make it in any size). There’s a single tie at a little bit above the waist on the right hand side, so you don’t risk tying it the wrong-way-around, with the right-hand side over the left. I’ve made this Haori pattern almost a dozen times now, and usually nothing goes wrong with it; again, it takes about half a day to produce one.

img_8175The length can also be extended, too.  I’ve redesigned this haori pattern as an ankle length robe which looks quite stunning in either white cotton or linen or some other color.  So far I’ve worked out the pattern for this robe only in the XXL size (because that’s my size), but with some additional measurements I could make it as small as an XS, I think.  It’s just a matter of adjusting the size (mostly the length) of the rectangles that make up the garment.  Nearly all Japanese garments (for that matter, most Dark Age garments) are based on squares and sometimes triangles, because they’re easy to produce to the right scale on a loom and then assemble into a garment.

So, yeah. Robes. They’re not that hard, and you can learn a lot from making your own.  On the other hand, if you want to pay me to make one for you, that can be arranged.

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