Banyan Construction

Based on the Man’s Banyan at LACMA – fabric: China, 1700-50; robe: Netherlands, 1750-60

I’ve wanted a Banyan for years and had been compiling examples and images for a while now. I definitely like the fitted robes better than the wrap-bathrobe types, and when LACMA held their Fashioning Fashion exhibit in 2011 they had a fabulous double-breasted banyan with two rows of knot buttons. So beautiful!


Next was fabric. On a random trip downtown for something else, Home Fabrics had a bolt-end of a lovely upholstery-weight white satin with couched black cascading flowers. It was 3.5 yards of poly at $2.50 a yard. How could I say no? I didn’t know what to make of it yet but eventually selected it from the stash for the Banyan.

Banyan back

LACMA has their banyan pattern drafted and available on their website so I printed it off and started tweaking it for my non-manly-figure and measurements. I’m sucking up time being very picky about the design placement. The couched motif is in three railroaded rows; I want the row of couching down the center front and to match on the overlap as well as to be right-side-up down the center back. That took a while and some piecing on the back to get the same flare for the side seam.

Once I had those pieces cut, I was able to determine that I had enough of a sea-green pin-tucked dupioni to line it with (another $5/yd HF find). It’s actually two different pieces that are slightly different dye lots and pin-tuck patterns but inside the robe, no one will know but me. Oh, and… uh… you, now. front overlap match
For “lining” it I like to essentially flatline the satin with the dupioni (wrong sides together) then lap the seams on the inside. It goes together quickly and doesn’t lead to issues of hanging hem weight since the pieces are all joined at each seam. Very quick and easy to get together by machine. I’m running out of the white satin scraps so the sleeves, which have a cuff, are integrated into one piece. I have the satin layer which ends about 2″ above the wrist, then the lining layer which extends past the wrist to the cuff edge then back to the satin wrist join all in one piece. They are sewn at the wrist join first, then turned right-sides-together and sewn the whole length of the under-arm seam. I flatten the sleeve to iron the seam flat then pull the satin layer out over the whole thing, arrange the cuff and fold it back. Voila! When I insert the sleeve into the armseye, I sew only the satin layer, then clip the seam allowance and whipstitch the lining layer over for a clean edge inside. It’s almost the only hand sewing on the garment. Frontshape

Last up are the hem and collar. The hem is just bias binding made of the lining silk. I like the color edge to balance out the cuff color block. The collar is similar, also in green, a curved piece that is sewn onto the neck opening, turned and whip-stitched into place. I’ll hand finish the overlap edges and all she needs is closures. I’m kinda leaning towards frogs now… but I settled for a curtain pull-back and tassel in the same crème and sea green. My stash is good to me sometimes!

The Cap capshape

The cap is also based on the nightcaps from the Fashioning Fashion exhibit. I measured my head, added some ego… ah, I mean ease, and sketched about a 3” band with 4 curved peaks on top. Those peaks are sewn together to make the squared point at the top. Repeat with the pintucked lining, added a 2.5” band of the lining as a fold-up band to the cap, then tore my stash apart looking for the light green tassel I KNEW I had and would match. No luck. Next time I was downtown, I saw a long tasseled trim in crème and light sea green and knew it would match. They gave me a swatch which had two little tassels for free! I tacked one at the top and voila! One little sleeping cap!

I threw this together for Costume College 2012 but didn’t end up wearing it. No idea when I’ll get the chance.