Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pattern Review: Burda Style's Allie Robe

My sister Claire is a budding seamstress, so when she planned a Christmas visit, I promised her some sewing. I originally lured her in with a promise to make pajama pants (sadly, the first pair I made for her never worked out), but as I started to plan for the project, I thought "who wants to wear boring old pajama pants anyways?" Instead, I opted for more sophisticated, whimsical lounge wear. We sewed Burda Style's Allie Robe and matching Colette Pattern's Bloomers.

I have two machines, and originally we were going to sew our respective lounge wear simultaneously, me working on my bloomers and robe, and her working on hers. But time got away from us (actually, we spent too many late nights watching Mad Men Season 1 and then sleeping in late in the mornings), so to hustle our efforts I helped with her projects. Two hands on one robe is better than one, I always say!

Pattern Description:
The Allie Robe is a kimono sleeved dressing gown or robe with a loose fit and dramatic kimono sleeves. The pattern is designed to feature big blocks of color or pattern, as the sleeves, back, sides, and front center pieces are separate.

Pattern Sizing:
The pattern features European sizing, sizes 34-48. This essentially translates to a US size of 2 through 14 (or a 24 1/2 waist to a 32 1/2 waist). For Claire we sewed a size 42, roughly a US 10. Because this is a pattern with lots of ease, the sizing is more flexible.

Fabric Used:
The fabric chart recommends using 3 1/2 meters of fabric, but this is for a cutting layout using all one fabric. In my opinion, all one fabric defeats the design elements of the pattern (and certainly refutes the suggestions and sample garment published by Burda Style). To accommodate three different types of fabric, I had to use 6 yards of 54-60" material (1.5 yards for the Sleeves/Belt, 1.5 yards for Center Front/Back Center, and 3 yards for the Side Front/Side back).

We used Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush Viole, including the pattern "First Impressions - Blush" and Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks Viole in "Square Dance - Dusk" and "Pastry Line - Marine". The cottons were GORGEOUS, very soft with a lovely drape, and easy to sew. We purchased all fabric from Fancy Tiger in Denver, Colorado and they were incredibly helpful.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I substituted handmade bias binding for the facings, as facings seem messy and floppy in a lounge robe (in my opinion). I created bias binding from left over pieces of the fabric and used it to trim the robe opening and the hem. Because of this I eliminate any stabilizer or interfacing, except in the collar and in the sash. I also added an inside tie at the waist to help hold the robe closed when lounging. Other than that, I sewed the robe as instructed and designed.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Like: The design is lovely. The blocking in the pattern design makes this an interesting robe. I love the ample and dramatic fit of the kimono sleeves.

Like: This is a quick sew.

Like: The generous fit means this can be versatile for different sized and shaped people.

Dislike: I dislike tracing patterns or taping hundreds of pieces of paper together, so I took the PDF to FedEx Kinkos and they printed the pattern on their large scale printer for $15. Of course, at this price the pattern becomes as expensive as a commercial pattern, but it saves so much time and energy that it is worth it.

Dislike: The facing design seemed odd to me. I almost always find that facings flap open on wraps and seem to poke out of the inside of a garment. This designed called for facing the front and neck. It was an easy fix to swap bias binding for facings, so that's what I did.

Dislike: The instructions are sparse and do not clarify much with illustration or descriptions. Because of this, the robe is best sewn by someone with basic sewing experience or a good mentor. Luckily, there is not much technique in the construction, but certain parts of the sewing - like creating the collar or attaching the belt loops - was completely vague. I recommend keeping the instructions up online while you sew. The PDF that comes with the online pattern purchase is too small and awkward to be much help, but the online instructions include larger and more complete images.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I am in the process of sewing it again, for myself. As the sizing does not go quite big enough for my measurements I am going to grade the pattern up by adding a few inches to the side seams, and do a Full Bust Adjustment to add some inches across the chest.

I recommend this for beginners with some experience, or beginners sewing with someone with some experience.

This is my first Burda Style pattern and I enjoyed sewing something with a little more pizazz than the big four pattern designs. I do not enjoy the printing, taping, and tracing required of Burda, but it is a necessary evil for this affordable and fashionable pattern line. The good news is that I have the fabric and the pattern ready to go to create my own version in a slightly larger size, so it will be interesting to repeat the project and see if I can't iron out any kinks.

* This is me modeling her robe before mailing it home to her in Colorado. I am significantly larger than she is, so the size 42 was not quite big enough to comfortably wrap. However, I plan to make this in the size 46, and add a few inches to the side seams and perhaps a small full bust adjustment. I think it does have very flexible sizing and I was surprised that I could fit into her smaller size at all.


Sarah said...

What a fun robe! I love the fabric. I think you are an amazing big sister!

Anonymous said...

I think you are an amazing big sister too! I LOVE it!

Nicknamed...Annie said...

Dang, I am so jealous! Nice work Kate, and nice fabric choices Claire!