Simplicity 1562A Bathrobe: A Pattern Review
I live in my bathrobes. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I am not. As I type this, I am wearing my pajamas and my warmest fleece bathrobe made with this pattern. I put it on in the evening when it's time to relax and, in the morning, regularly wear it until it's close to lunchtime. When it gets a bit warmer, I'll switch to my flannel, shorter version of this same robe. Eventually, I'll make one to use as a coverup in the summer.
You see where this review is going. I love this robe and I like this pattern. I've made so many of this robe that the next time I need to use the pattern, I'm going to have to make a paper copy because the tissue paper is about to fall to pieces.
That said, let's talk about why I love this pattern, some things I've learned, mistakes I've made, and some little changes.
Total time to complete: About 1-2 hours to cut out the pieces, about 4-8 hours to sew it up, depending on sewing speed*.
*Note: I'm ballparking this figure - it's been about a year since I last made this pattern and, clearly, I did not take enough notes.
Fabric - fabric choices discussed below - amount will vary with size and whether you decide to color block as shown in the example with the whale print. Somewhere between 3 - 7 yards in total (see back of pattern for amounts)
Interfacing - whether you need it depends on your choice of fabric. For most fabrics, you don't need it. I would only recommend using it as instructed if you are working with a very light fabric and then I would still use the lightweight interfacing suggested by the pattern. Discussed further below.
Sewing machine with a straight stitch OR a coverstich / serger machine
Universal sewing machine needle of a weight to match your fabric
Hand sewing needle and thimble
Fabric scissors and snips (or a rotary cutter and mat, if that's what you prefer)
Optional: Fabric marking tool for transferring the pattern - I use Saral transfer paper in various colors with a tracing wheel
Optional: Fabric marking tool (chalk, pencil, pen, fabric marker) if you prefer to cut out your patterns and trace onto the fabric
Optional: pattern weights
Sewing pins or clips
Ironing board and iron
Optional: Tailor's ham
The pattern itself can be purchased here directly from Simplicity or from any local retailer. I bought this pattern at JoAnn Fabrics during one of their $1 pattern sales.
Notes and Thoughts on the Pattern
Important Pattern Notes
Sizing - The sizing here is pretty true to size on the back of the envelope. Remember that there should be a nice overlap at the front of the robe which means a good deal of ease is needed. I based my sizing on the hip measurement as it's the larger between bust and hip for me. Below are the finished measurements for the robe as printed on pattern piece 1:
Teen / Adult Sizes
The robes shown in the photos here are size adult medium (whales, blue gingham) and adult large (hunting motif).
Cutting - Every time I cut this pattern out, I think I've made the same mistake - cut only ONE carrier, piece number 4. It's written on the pattern, but I finally highlighted it after making the same mistake again. I recommend highlighting it for yourself right now before you forget.
Cutting - when cutting out piece 7, the tie belt, the pattern has you cut out two and then later stitch them together at the short ends to make one long belt. If you have enough fabric, you can cut one double-length piece and skip the first part of step 19 when stitching.
Step 12 - In this step, the pattern says to trim the sleeve seam below the notches only. I disagree - trim the whole seam. The exception to this is if you're using a fabric prone to unraveling, in which case, yes, follow the written instructions.
Step 17 - Here, we are instructed to slip-stitch (by hand or by blind hem on machine) the pressed edge of the facing and collar over back neck and shoulder seams. I recommend slip-stitching the entire seam from hem to hem. This takes a while longer BUT makes the robe wear better after washing several times. If you do as instructed, the unstitched portion tends to wrinkle in on itself and can sometimes get caught on things. Taking extra time now means you won't feel the need to press it later and eliminates the whole "robe getting caught on the door handle" thing which has happened to me more than once.
Adjustments to the Pattern
In my latest use of this pattern, I decided I wanted a robe for Spring and Fall weather when my fleece robe (which I dearly love) is just a little bit too warm. I made two significant adjustments to the pattern - length and color blocking.
Changing the Length
Any changes to length need to be made on pieces 1 (1A for adults), 3, AND 5 (5A for adults).
I am 5 feet 7 inches. In the flannel whales version shown in this post, I shortened the robe by 10 inches. The full length in the pattern goes to my mid-calf where this shorter version goes to my knees. When I finally make a summer version of this robe, I think a 12 inch shortening will be in order to hit just above the knee.
You can, of course, also lengthen the pattern if you want a very long robe or are quite tall. My husband, shown in this photo to the right, is 6 feet 1 inch and the regular pattern length is just below his knees.
To determine by how much you want to adjust the pattern length, use the Finished back length from base of neck provided on the back of the pattern sleeve. Using a measuring tape, decide how long you want that back length to be. Then, take the difference between what you want and what's provided in the pattern. Add or subtract that final number from the bottom of pattern pieces 1, 3, and 5.
Example: adult medium size, pattern length is 51 1/2 inches. Desired length of 41 inches.
51 1/2 - 41 = 10 1/2 inches --> I rounded this to ten inches.
The pattern does include a lengthen/shorten line, but you don't really need to use it as the bottom of the pattern is rectangular. Adjusting at the bottom hem line will have the same effect.
While I was standing in the JoAnn Fabrics deciding what fun flannel I wanted to buy, I decided that going whales all over would be a bit much for me and that color blocking would really make the fabric's pattern pop without being an overwhelming amount of whales.
To color block as shown, the main body of the robe is cut from the patterned fabric (in this case, whales) and all other pieces are cut from solid fabric (navy). Cut the pattern pieces using the guide below:
Patterned Fabric - 1A (cut two mirror image pieces) and 3 (cut on fold)
Solid Fabric - 6 (cut two mirror image pieces*), 7 (cut two**), 4 (cut ONE), 2 (cut two), and 5 (cut two mirror image pieces*)
*If you're using a solid fabric that is the same on both sides, it doesn't really matter if you flip the pattern piece over for the second cut which creates the mirror image. It DOES matter, however, if the fabric has a right side and a wrong side.
**see note above on cutting out piece 7.
A majority of the pieces will be cut out of the solid fabric. When purchasing for the adult medium robe, the pattern states about 6 yards of 45" wide fabric will be needed (always round up!). Because of the length of pieces 1A, 3, and 5, I ended up needing about 3 yards EACH of the patterned fabric and solid fabric for the shortened robe.
To get a good estimate when purchasing your fabric, take the amount prescribed by the pattern and round up to the nearest 1/2 yard. Divide that number in half (half for the patterned fabric, half for the solid). Now add an extra 1/2 yard for a shortened robe or an extra yard for the full length, just to be safe.
Example: adult size medium - the pattern says to purchase 5 3/4 yds of 45" wide fabric. Round that up to 6 yards. Divide by 2 = 3 yards of each fabric. Add an extra 1/2 yard as I'm making a shorter robe = 3 1/2 yards of each fabric.
You'll likely end up with a little extra, but I feel it's better to have a little leftover than to have no room to make mistakes.
Notes and Thoughts on Materials
The pattern sleeve recommends the following fabrics: flannel, cotton interlock, fleece, sweatshirt fleece, velour.
A nice suggestion, but there's no need to limit yourself to that list. So far, I have made this pattern using fleece and flannel, as suggested, but I do plan to make a third robe for myself out of a lighter fabric, as mentioned above.
I did also make one version of this robe out of terrycloth - I do not recommend this as the fabric was so prone to unraveling itself that some of the seams fell apart. If you have your heart set on terrycloth, this can be avoided by binding every seam with garment or bias tape.
As a general statement on fabric choice, any woven fabric that drapes well will be a good choice. I would not recommend stiff cottons (e.g. quilting fabric), but shirting cotton would be OK as would cotton blends with a nice drape. If you use a very light fabric like shirting, I would recommend using a very light interfacing as recommended by the pattern to help the robe maintain its structure and avoid needing to iron too often.
Knit fabrics could also be used in this pattern if you are careful about pattern layout. Ensure that the fabric is cut so that the stretch is horizontal across the robe and no pieces are cut on the bias. If you choose to use a knit fabric, I recommend using a light knit interfacing where recommended by the pattern AND on the pocket as well, just to give it some extra structure to avoid sagging with time and weight.
Interfacing - do you really need it?
My general thought on this: no, probably not.
I've found that commercial patterns call for interfacing far more than is necessary and this is a perfect example. The fabric recommendations are wovens with very little stretch. Simply put, there's no need for it unless you want the front facing and collar to be very stiff (think Victorian era smoking jacket stiff). If you prefer that, then yes, use the interfacing. But for a comfortable garment worn daily, skip it.
The exception, as briefly discussed above, is working with knits or very light wovens. In these cases, the fabric will likely need a bit of extra structure to avoid sagging with time. Importantly, the use of interfacing in these cases will also help to prevent some wrinkles.
The Final Verdict
If you read the intro paragraph, you know that I recommend this pattern. So far, I have made two for myself, one for my husband, one for my mother, and one for my sister. The first one I made for myself, in blue gingham fleece, is from November 2017 and is holding up rather nicely. The fleece is a little thinner and sure, it's pilled a bit, but it's still warm and comfortable and really, what else can you ask for in a bathrobe?
That's all for this week, friends! I hope you enjoyed this pattern review and found my recommendations for adjustments to be helpful. This is the first post for 2022 and it's 5:30 pm on Thursday night as I finish it up - how are your 2022 Resolutions going?
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