My husband is pretty hard to buy gifts for, unless I want to part with large sums of cash to buy some sort of bike component or gadget! Having both agreed not to spend silly amounts of money at Christmas, I decided I would lovingly craft him a luxurious new dressing gown. His old one was a navy blue waffle offering from good old Marks & Spencer. It stood the test of time reasonably well, but it was over ten years old and looking pretty tired.
I did however, know that the style was spot on and he would probably appreciate any replacement to be fairly similar. With this in mind I set off on a world-wide-web hunt for the perfect waffle (aka basketweave). Something simple, yet a little more special than the average ready-to-wear selection, because otherwise, what’s the point?
My search took me to a little gem of a website which I discovered a few years ago and I urge you to take a look at their wonderful fabrics. Namely, the Organic Textile Company. This is a fabric seller with a really personal feel, and plenty of information on exactly where their fabrics come from and who makes them. I discovered a whole selection of basketweave fabrics and I took the time to order samples to ensure I made the right choice.
I duly ordered a few metres of a slate grey basketweave – a beautiful shade of grey with a hint of blue. I’ve never made an adult dressing gown before and discovered that this was not a seriously budget gift as you really do need at least three metres. The fabric arrived and was as lovely as I’d hoped. Unfortunately I then ran into my first ‘issues’. When I washed the fabric, it really shrank a lot more than I would have expected, and unfortunately it meant that even with some very imaginitive pattern placement, there was no way I had enough. But the lovely people at the Organic Textile Company were so helpful and immediately sent an additional length of fabric at no extra cost to me. When this fabric arrived I carefully took before and after measurements and passed these on. These are now on OTC’s listing for the basketweave fabric as an aid to other customers.
I had left my gift making a little late, what with the usual Christmas preparation goings-on. And the day I had set aside came and went with my early yardage issues. I ended up completely neglecting my poor children on the first day of the holidays as it was the last day without the recipient around!
The pattern I used was Burda 2653. After a little shopping around I settled on this as it looked pretty versatile. Three different ‘collar’ options (simple, shawl and hood), along with two different lengths, and it’s unisex. When you think about it, dressing gowns are so roomy, why wouldn’t a pattern be unisex?! I cut a size 42/44 (ladies 16/18) after taking measurements from the ‘old’ dressing gown to make sure I was on the right track. The long pattern length is pretty ridiculous so I used the standard length.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow and I had no problems with them at all. The fabric itself however, did cause a few headaches – obviously magnified by the fact that I was under silly-season time pressure! This basketweave is a really thick fabric. It actually changed hand quite significantly after washing. Upon arrival it was quite soft and not overly thick. But after washing, it’s as if during the shrinking process everything tightened up and created more raised and defined waffle ‘boxes’. I tried to get comparison shots, though ignore the light difference – they are the same fabric! On the left is my unwashed sample, with neat little basketweave squares; on the right is the washed fabric. You can see that the weave has really tightened up and the result is a much thicker, coarser fabric.
It’s a lot of fabric to work with and with anything more than two layers e.g. a turned under facing being sewn to the main body of the dressing gown, my sewing machine did protest – a lot! After several snapped needles and serious tension in my shoulders, I turned to my 1907 hand-cranked Singer to breeze along some of the thicker sections – most notably the tie-belt.
The pockets are GIANT, but I was making a man-sized dressing gown so I went with them. They’re perfect in fact, as my husband can fit a tablet in one and a kindle in the other! All in all, despite a few difficulties along the way, the dressing gown was a success, and was very well received by my husband on Christmas morning. Here is the end result.
Of course, then the envy started. I own a dressing gown but haven’t worn it for years because it just didn’t appeal to me. I was getting by perfectly well throwing on a Fat Face hoodie in the morning thank you. But when I spotted some super plush marl grey sweatshirting fabric at The Village Haberdashery it just sang to me that I had to have my very own snug dressing gown.
I’ll keep this simple, as you’ve come this far and there’s not much more to add about the pattern. I trimmed the pattern down to a size 12/14 but also shaved off an extra 1cm. I was totally swamped by my husband’s dressing gown and this is a really loose fitting style. I also hacked a little more off the bottom as I didn’t feel the need for a long dressing gown. Sewing this lovely jersey was a joy and plain sailing all the way, mostly whizzed up on the overlocker. I decided to use the inside ivory plush for the outside of the shawl collar and cuffs (cuffs are not included in the pattern, this is my addition). A word about the fabric: it is so unbelievable soft! The marl grey outer is a cushion-y delight, and the inside is short-pile, velvety soft. My kids raided the fabric bin for off-cuts to snuggle and fought over who could try on my dressing gown first! In the end they both squeezed in together!
What can I say? It turned out perfectly and I’m loving wearing it every morning and every evening. I’ll almost be a little sad when the weather gets too warm for a winter dressing gown. But then I may have to treat myself to something a little more summery! Burda 2653 is a great pattern and I would definitely make it again.