Making a Ritual Robe

Choosing Your Fabric

Do take the time to put some thought into the color selection for your fabric and also the type of fabric you will use, it used to be that most Wiccans wore white cotton robes, however many Pagans of other traditions have different preferences (Shamanic pagans may prefer to make robes from Chamois or other soft leathers).

Note: Whatever your preference one thing to remember and I see many Pagans make this mistake — wash your fabric according to directions before you make your robe, new fabric often shrinks and it's is a horrible thing to spend many hours making and decorating a robe only to have it shrink the first time you wear it!

Decorating Your Robe

You can also add trim, bead work, or magickal symbols to your robe. Personalize it, and make it yours. Embroidery is a great way to embellish your robe, but if you're not good with a needle and thread, then check out your local fabric and craft stores for iron on transfers and patches they always have a great selection of moons, stars and often others such as fairies, dragons and leaves for example. Just ensure your fabric is ironable before you purchase an Iron on.

Note: You may want to think about the need to wash your Robe when adding embellishments — while feathers look lovely when they are attached they don't look so hot after you have washed them a few times! If you do want to attach items which may not fare well in the washing machine you can attach them to small jewelry clasps which will allow them to be attached to thread loops sewn on the robe and removed prior to washing.

Anyone can make a robe of their own, and it's not hard to do. If you can sew a straight line, you can make a robe.

How to make a Robe without Sewing

If you can't thread a needle even if you're life depended on it, you can still make yourself a functional and practical ritual robe.

The first thing you will need to do is to find out your body's length from the bottom of your neck to the knees or ankles (which ever you prefer.) This can be done one of two ways:

  1. Have someone take a tape measurer and measure down your spinal column from the bottom of your neck (where that funny lump is) to your knees or ankles. Once you get past the derriere, keep the tape measurer straight if you were following the line of a rain coat. This will give you your length.
  2. If you can't find someone to do this, take your favorite bathrobe or any clothing you have which is not very fitted and is long and simply measure the length from the collar to the hem along the center of the back. This will give you your length.

Now, it's time to sit down and do some math. Take your length and divide by 18 (Length/18=X). This will give you your yardage. Then it's off to the fabric store. You will need to buy the following:

  • X yards of 60 inch wide fabric (45 inch if you are slim and want short sleeves). Cotton or poly-cotton blend is best for this purpose. (If you buy 100% cotton fabric, add ¼ yard to your yardage to allow for shrinkage.)
  • 2 Yards of Ribbon or Trim to match fabric.
  • 4 yards of ½ inch permanent fusible web tape (this goes by a variety of brand names). Have the store where you buy the fabric make sure both edges are cut straight.

When you get home, wash and dry the fabric. Then iron out any wrinkles. Now you are ready to make your robe.

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and hold it up to your shoulders to check the length. Trim off excess fabric if necessary. At one end (the short side) fold the fabric up ½ inch (this will make your hem). Then following the instructions on the package of fusible web, gently steam the webbing in place along the hem. Then fold again and press in place. Repeat for the other end.

Fold the fabric into quarters making sure all edges are even and lay out on a large surface or floor. Measure three inches from the outside edge along Fold A. Then cut along the fold towards Fold B.

To finish the neck opening, steam the fusible webbing to the wrong side of your ribbon. Then pin to neckline. Press permanently onto the neck line. (You may need to add extra webbing to each corner or V to ensure it stays in place.) You're robe is now done! Congratulations!

To wear, simple put on over your shoulders, fold the front edges back and belt. The back hangs free like a small cape. If you want a bit more security, you can either pin the back or add ties to the edge.

Consecrate and Bless your robe before wearing it for the first time.

Making a Robe Without a Purchased Pattern

To make a basic robe without buying a pattern, you can follow these simple steps. You'll need the following:

  • A piece of material in the color of your choice, make sure you select something that will be easy to sew and comfortable to wear. On the average, you'll need about three yards, but if you're heavyset or extra-tall, add in some more (A flat bed sheet is actually the perfect size for this) your local textile store can usually assist you in working out the measurements if required.
  • Scissors, thread, tailor's chalk, pins and a measuring tape.
  • A sewing machine.
  • A length of cord or light rope, approximately 6 feet long (3 meters approx).

Method:
You'll need some help for this first step, because you need to measure yourself from wrist to wrist with your arms outstretched. Unless you have a third arm, you will need to get a friend to do this for you. This measurement will be Measurement A.

Next, figure the distance from the nape of your neck to a point even with your ankle, this will be Measurement B.

Fold the fabric in half (if the material has a print on it, fold it with the pattern side in).

Using your A and B measurements, cut out excess, making a sort-of T-shape. Don't cut out along the top fold, that's the part that will go along the top of the arms and shoulders.

Next, cut a hole for your head at the center of Measurement A. (Don't make it too big, or your robe will slide off your shoulders!)

On each side, sew along the underside of the sleeve, leaving an opening at the end for the arms

Then sew from the armpit down to the bottom of the robe.

Turn your robe right-side out, try it on, and adjust it for length if needed.

Finally, add a cord around the waist.

In some traditions the cord may be knotted to indicate degrees, level of training or education, in others, it may be different colors to indicate rank within the Coven Hierarchy, or it acts simply as a belt to keep the robe from flapping around during ritual

Note: You may wish to try adding a hood for meditation which is simply a half circle stitched into the neck hole at stage 5

Sewing a Robe From a Sewing Pattern

Choosing a Pattern
For experienced sewers, there are a number of excellent commercially available patterns out there. You can check catalogs at your local fabric store under "Costumes", which is where most of the good robes are hiding out, especially in the "historical" and "Renaissance" categories.

Here are some Patterns of Robes you can check out as possibilities:

  • Simplicity 3616: Sure, this wizard costume may seem too comical to 'serious' Pagans, but if you eliminate the trim and the long white beard, it makes a version of the ritual robe that is more suitable for the guys than some of the other patterns.
  • Simplicity 3623: This pattern set includes a pattern for a muslin under dress to be worn beneath the bodice and skirt — this makes a lovely ritual robe (would also be nice as a handfasting gown), and can be assembled in just a couple of hours.
  • Simplicity 4795: There is an angel design in here that's fantastic for a ritual robe. You may want to reduce the drop in the sleeves a bit, though, just to keep from setting yourself on fire while lighting candles, or tripping over it when rising from a meditation
  • Simplicity 7016
  • Simplicity 7438
  • Simplicity 7781
  • Simplicity 8274
  • Simplicity 8944
  • McCalls 4490: (For more advanced seamstresses), this lovely Renaissance-style dress can easily be adapted for a ritual robe.
  • McCall 2433
  • McCall 2665
  • McCall 2853(Adult)/2854(Child)
  • McCall 2937
  • McCall 6774 Folkwear Kinsdale Cloak (Advanced tailors/seamstresses only)
  • Butterick 3084
  • Butterick 6796
  • Style 7110
  • Vogue 7110

If you choose to make a robe from a pattern then all you need to do is follow the instructions that come with the pattern.

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