Monday, September 24, 2012

Sari Open Robe

I've lately been busily working away at a slew of commissions . There seems to be high demand for regency period clothes for next month's Jane Austen Society of America's Anual General Meeting  in New York.
 I've been commissioned to make no less than 3 ballgowns for this event. Last week I made a lovely open robe for Julia the proprietor of Bingley's Teas to be worn at the grand ball.
For Her open robe Julia sent me a gorgeous midnight blue sari with a woven in gold border and with little gold dots strewn across. Despite being some sort of synthetic material it it looks just like silk with the crisp hand and remarkable shimmer of a quality silk taffeta, the gold border gives a brilliant contrast to the deep rich blue. 

5 yards of pretty pretty sari fabric!

With woven gold dots

And an ornate gold border.

I've made made quite a number of open robes, so 'm getting to be an old hand at it and the thing went together without a hitch. I used a pattern I re drafted a while back from Sense and Sensibility's Elegant Ladies Closet Pattern, with the front altered entirely from the original pattern,but the back portion left the same. I like using this pattern as a base for it's versatility, it my not be the most historically correct opttern out there, but  it can be improved much with just a few little alterations. In any case I have pretty mcuh perfected 2 open robe pattern from this original pattern one for he 1790's and and one for a later early 1800's look. In this case I chose to go with the later look since the dress to be worn under the open robe is of the later higher waisted style and not a 1790's round gown.

Re drafted pattern pieces all cut out.

As I already mentioned the pattern went together without any issues. I've discovered it helps to first cut the lining and then use the ling pieces as pattern pieces to cut out the fashion fabric. That way they will turn out exactly the same size and the lining and fashion fabric layers will fit together perfectly. Because nothing is as vexing as a lining that doesn't match up with the size of the garment. I lined the bodice , but not the sleeves, with  dark blue poly cotton broadcloth.

The fashion fabric and the lining

The robe had no need of any sort of  additional trim, as I simply used the gold border for decoration. I ran it vertically down the front of  the robe, and used it at the hem of the skirt and sleeves, as well as for the front flaps that close the gown. I love using sari fabric for open robes as it not only looks stunning but also saves me a lot of work because with the border at the skirt and sleeves i don't need to do any hemming.

Bodice without skirt showing the use of the gold border as trim and for the front flaps

The skirt is attached to the bodice with the bulk of the fabric tightly gathered in the rear to create a dramatic full sweeping skirt in back, as well as giving a slimmer silhouette when seen from the front, and also displays the gold border to it's best advantage. Since this dress is meant to be worn to a ball it does not have a full train but just the tiniest bit of elegant sweep.

Finished dress back view.

Front view

Side view

Side view close up

This dress was made in 2 days, it was just one of those projects that wants to be made and went together like a dream. I sent it of to it's owner on Friday. I sure hope she likes it as much as I do and hope to see some pictures of her wearing it soon!


  1. What a handsome robe! It cries to be worn and I imagine the new owner will feel regal in it.

    Very best,


  2. Thank you for sharing your expertise with working with saris--I just bought an "art silk" (artificial silk) sari on Ebay and I'd like to use it to make a tunic. The robe is just stunning! I bet she absolutely loved it.