The Simplicity 8323 pattern was released in 1985, so it falls well within one of the definitions of vintage fashion. From Live About:
The term “vintage” is used to describe clothing between 20 and 100 years old that is also clearly representative of the era in which it was produced.
1985 was 35 years ago. This Simplicity pattern is older than my husband!
Since I didn’t create the robe until 2020, we should technically call it vintage-inspired. But really, how much do men’s robe patterns really change from decade to decade?
*Housekeeping: please note that I received this pattern for free as a member of the Sew My Style 2020 team. All opinions are my own.*
Simplicity 8323 is long out of print, but can still be found on Amazon and other sources.
I was lucky enough to find my copy either in a pattern swap exchange or at the annual ASG Orange County chapter’s garage sale. They’re either a dollar or free!
Simplicity 8323 is a 5-view pattern. All told you have the following options, from the envelope:
Men’s or teen boy’s easy-to-sew robe and pajamas in two lengths and nightshirt: pajama top V. 1 or 2 with optional piping trim and nightshirt V. 3 have front button closing, shirt-tail hem and optional banded pocket. V. 1 or 2 pants (without side seams) have elasticized waistline and fly front opening. Front-wrap robe V. 4 or 5 has shawl collar, long sleeves with rolled up cuffs, patch pockets, tie belt and carriers.
I chose this specific robe pattern because it was the only one I own with a shawl collar. And one thing I noticed was how different the tissue paper from 1985 is than today’s. It felt thicker and less fragile, despite being THIRTY-FIVE years old!
It wasn’t until I decided on this pattern that I realized it was a single-size—and that it was too small!
Ryan is a straight size 42, or a large. This pattern in my possession is a size 40. It could have been a face palm moment, but my dad is also a size 40. And I’ve had to grade down one of Ryan’s shirt patterns to fit him, so I knew what the jump intervals were from one size to the next. I simply traced those onto a new piece of paper and we were off!
The recommended fabric is cotton flannel or madras. The robe can also be made in terry cloth, chenille, or velours with a contrasting collar in satin or velveteen.
I chose a super thick “luxe” fleece. Because I am a glutton for punishment! That stuff sheds like the dickens and gets EVERYWHERE. But it’s also very soft and feels delightful against the skin, which is the point of a robe.
It also has nap, so you have to be very careful when laying out pieces and consistent when choosing a “wrong” side. I put the “softer” side on the inside and on the shawl, so there’s a subtle contrast on the collar. Plus I used piping for the first time ever!
Pattern Instructions & Tips
If you think Big 4 instructions are a bit difficult to understand, trust me that they haven’t changed much in 35 years. If you’ve used them then you know they come in sheets that are slightly smaller than 16×20″ (40.6 x 50.8 cm) and divided into 4 columns of text and line drawings.
The instructions for the robe make up all of 3 full columns on one side of these pieces of paper. That’s it.
There’s nothing inherently difficult about the instructions. The cuff instructions didn’t make sense to me, but that’s probably just me. There IS a lot of hand sewing to be done, which I don’t think makes a project “easy.”
Simplicity 8323 doesn’t require any special notions beyond thread, according to the envelope. But that’s misleading because the interfacing isn’t listed in notions!
You’ll need 1.625 yards (1.5 m) of 22-36″ (55-91 cm) light to mid-weight interfacing.
I didn’t actually use this because my fabric was pretty heavy, but I do recommend it.
The sleeves were 3″ (7.6 cm) too long. Thankfully the bottom 6″ (15.2 cm) of the pattern are pretty straight so I could simply take the length off the bottom.
I also added 8″ (20.3 cm) of overall length to the belt tie. That way it could be loosely tied and still have enough length not to come undone.
The rest of the adjustments I made were simply decorative. I added piping to the collar and pockets, and a hanging loop to the center back.
The final addition was a request from my husband. The belt loops turned out to be absurdly large (probably because the fabric stretched—my bad!). Because of that, the belt itself hung really low in the back. So I added a third loop to the middle in the back to keep the belt along the waist.
Pattern Difficulty Rating
Simplicity 8323’s envelope boasts that it’s an “easy-to-sew” pattern, there are some tricky bits here. Shawl collars require a little bit of extra attention. And hand sewing is a really beautiful way to finish a garment, but it’s SO time consuming.
Ironically, the envelope also states it has “time saver instructions for sewing on Overlock/Serger or conventional machine.”
Maybe the other views are easier? Some have button holes though. So I’d still rate this for an adventurous beginner. Definitely a 2-3 out of 5.
I had initially thought I was done with this about 4 days early and even submitted it to a challenge*…then realized the facing hung lower than the hem. So I had to rip stitches out of fleece and redo. I simply cut off the overhang and hand-stitched the hem back into place.
SO. MUCH. HAND SEWING.
I also should have understitched the piping in the collar so it stayed in place better. But at this point, done is better than perfect, dammit.
Ryan loves his robe, and that’s all that matters. I started working on this before Christmas last year. It was finally FINALLY finished this week. It only took 27 days!
Thankfully my husband is patient. Even if he doesn’t love posing for pictures.
Now he can hang out in his home in a proper robe, drinking his beer, and yelling at the television while the Green Bay Packers are playing.
That’s living the dream.
*Submitted to the 52 Week Sewing Challenge Week 2: a work in progress/unfinished object. Fits, right?
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