WOTC Extra – Making Your Own Ritual Robe
Many Wiccans and Pagans prefer to perform ceremonies and rituals in special robes. If you’re part of a coven or group, your robe might have to be a certain color or style. In some traditions, the color of the robe indicates the level of training a practitioner has. For many people, donning the ritual robe is a way of separating themselves from the mundane business of everyday life — it’s a way of stepping into the ritual mindset, of walking from the mundane world into the magical world. Most people prefer to wear nothing at all under their ritual robe, but do what is comfortable for you.
It’s not uncommon to have robes for the different seasons, symbolizing the turning Wheel of the Year. You can make one in blue for spring, green for summer, brown for fall, and white for winter — or any other colors that symbolize the seasons for you. Do take the time to put some thought into your color selection — it used to be that most Wiccans wore white robes, but many people prefer to use earth tones, because it’s a way of establishing one’s connection with nature. Some people choose to avoid black, because it sometimes has negative connotations, but use the color that feels right for you.
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. First of all, 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 that look nice and can be made without too much sewing experience:
* Simplicity 4795: Believe it or not, this is a set of patterns for a passion play. There’s 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.
* Simplicity 3623: This pattern is for a Scottish-themed costume, complete with tam. However, it also includes a pattern for a muslin underdress to be worn beneath the bodice and skirt — this makes a great ritual robe, and can be assembled in just a couple of hours.
* Simplicity 3616: Sure, the wizard costume seems campy, but if you eliminate the trim and the long white beard, it makes a version of the ritual robe that is far more masculine than some of the other patterns.
* McCalls 4490: For more advanced sewers, this lovely Renaissance-style dress can easily be adapted for a ritual robe.
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 bedsheet is actually the perfect size for this.
* Scissors, thread, tailor’s chalk, and a measuring tape.
* A sewing machine.
* A length of cord or light rope, approximately 6 feet long.
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, 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 along the lines indicated in Figure 1, 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 (X) 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 Y for the arms (Figure 2). 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, as shown in Figure 3. In some traditions the cord may be knotted to indicate degrees of training or education. In others, it acts simply as a belt to keep the robe from flapping around during ritual. You can also add trim, beadwork, or magical symbols to your robe. Personalize it, and make it yours. You may also wish to consecrate your robe before wearing it for the first time.