by Sherezzah
The suggested measurements provided in the Khaleegy Thobe Basic Instructions were developed by measuring an actual commercially-made thobe, adding seam and hem allowances, and making a couple of other minor adjustments, all of which I'll explain below, before I summarize the things you might need to consider when making adjustments to measurements.
I used the first thobe I ever bought as the basis for developing this "pattern". These are the measurements I got from it. Keep in mind these are "finished" measurements, so don't include seams, hems, etc.
Item | Width | Height |
Center | 15" | 66" |
Sleeve | 80" | 19" |
Side | 30" | 26" |
Gusset (triangle) | 13" (base) | 5" (at center) |
I'll also observe that the thobe I took these measurements from is actually a wee bit short for me--I'm 5'7" so these would probably be better for someone 5'5"-5'6".
So, obviously I needed to add in seam and hem allowances. The gusset has seams on all sides, but the other 3 pieces have hems on their bottom edge while the other 3 edges have seams. Using 1/2" seam allowance and 1-1/2" hem allowance, we get the following:
Updated Measurements #1 | ||
Item | Width | Height |
Center | 16" | 68" |
Sleeve | 81" | 21" |
Side | 31" | 28" |
Gusset (triangle) | 14" (base) | 6" (at center) |
So I used those measurements (set #1) the very first time I made my own thobe, and I had a bit of a problem. You may note that the side piece is close to, but not quite, a square. When I was sewing the thobe together, I got confused about which edges of the side piece were the top and bottom vs. which were the sides, and I ended up stitching it in sideways, which threw off the hemline.
I figured that if I made the piece square, then I wouldn't have that confusion. Since I also had a preference to make the thobe longer (to match my height better), I decided to add 2" to the overall height. Per the height rules described below, this meant the height of the center pieces would be increased by 2", and the height of the side pieces could be correspondingly increased by 2". I could then decrease the width of the side pieces by 1" to get my square (a free(ish) change, per the adjustment chart). This gave me this new set of measurements, which are the ones I use in these instructions:
Updated Measurements #2 | ||||
Item | Finished size | With seam/hem allowances | ||
Width | Height | Width | Height | |
Center | 15" | 68" | 16" | 70" |
Sleeve | 80" | 19" | 81" | 21" |
Side | 29" | 28" | 30" | 30" |
Gusset (triangle) | 13" (base) | 5" (at center) | 14" (base) | 6" (at center) |
The most likely change you'll be wanting to make is to the overall garment length, i.e., the height. The key point to remember is that if you make any change to the height of the center pieces, you must make a corresponding change to the side and/or sleeve pieces, because they need to fit together along the side of the center pieces. For the side piece, you'd adjust the height, easy enough. But for the sleeve piece, you need to remember that it's the width of the sleeve that affects the height of the finished garment (the bottom of the sleeve is at the end of your arm, toward your hand, so think of standing with your arms outstretched), plus the sleeve is folded, which means the overall garment height is only changed by half the amount you change the sleeve width. Refer to the picture at right and/or the pseudo-mathematical formula below to see the relationship:
[CenterHeight] = [SleeveWidth]/2 + [SideHeight]
And also note that this applies to the finished measurements, so be sure to use the numbers without the seam/hem allowances included. As an example, check our Updated Measurements #2 chart. Looking in the "Finished size" section, the Sleeve Width is 80, divided by 2 is 40, added to the Side Height of 28 makes 68, which matches the Center Height.
Other Methods: There are a couple of ways to change the height of the
garment without actually changing overall measurements.
The easiest, of course,
is to change the size of the hem. You can make it quite a bit shorter that
way, or about an inch longer since there's a 1-1/2" hem allowance.
Another way is to move the neck opening, but
see Notes About the Neck Opening, below.
For the most part, because this style of garment is designed so loosely, minor changes to the measurements won't affect the overall "look" of it very much. So there is some flexibility for you to adapt the measurements to suit your fabric, etc. The following chart shows which measurements can be changed freely, or what considerations there are if not:
Adjustments to Measurements | ||
Item | Width | Height |
Center | Free | See Height Adjustments, above |
Sleeve | See Height Adjustments, above |
Free to make longer.
Free-ish to make shorter. See Side Assembly Relationships, below |
Side | Free-ish. See Side Assembly Relationships, below | See Height Adjustments, above |
Gusset (triangle) | Free-ish. See Side Assembly Relationships, below | Free-ish. See Side Assembly Relationships, below |
Refer to the Notes About the Neck Opening section below if you're interested in making adjustments there.
There is a somewhat complicated mathematical relationship between the measurements of the gusset and the pieces it connects to, i.e., the width of the side piece and the height of the sleeve piece.
For the most part, you can change any of the associated measurements by an inch or two without any problem. But for bigger changes, you might need to make note of these. I'll show them in pseudo-math format like I did for the height relationship, above, then I'll try to explain in plain English.
Before we get too far, we will need to know the measurement of the side of the gusset. We know the width is the base of the triangle, but we don't know the actual measurement of the other sides (although we know both sides are the same, and we know the height). If you've made a pattern, or have already cut the gussets from your fabric, you can just measure it (remembering to ignore the seam allowances). Otherwise, you can calculate the measurement. To make it easy, you can do a "gross estimate" calculation by taking the gusset width, dividing it in half, and adding the gusset height. For example, with our original measurements of 13" width and 5" height, we get about 11.5" for the gross estimate. This result will be bigger than the actual side measurement, but if it works out using the rules, then everything is good. If not, then you can make a more precise calculation using the Pythagorean Theorem, but I'll put off details on that until later, after we figure out if it's necessary :-)
So here are the rules. As before, these apply to the finished measurements only (i.e. do not include seam/hem allowances).
The width of the gusset must be less than or equal to the width of the side piece. Otherwise the gusset won't fit on top of the side piece.
This is checking the underarm seam. The sleeve needs to be at least as long as the side assembly it's connecting to. That side assembly is the side of the gusset, plus the bit of side piece that isn't connected to the gusset. The size of that bit of side is the width of the side piece, minus the width of the gusset, divided by 2 because it's folded.
So, if you used the gross estimate method to figure your GussetSide measurement, and the underarm seam rule did not work out, you might have a problem. You might have an easy out by just making the sleeve height longer (a "free" change per the adjustment chart). If not, it might help to get a more accurate measurement by doing the math.
Using the Pythagorean Theorem: You may note that you can divide the gusset right down the middle into 2 right triangles. The gusset side is the hypotenuse, one side is the height of the gusset and the other side is half of the base. The formula is therefore as follows:
[GussetSide] = √ ( [GussetHeight]^{2} + ([GussetWidth]/2)^{2} )
So, for example, with our original measurements of 5" height and 13" width, we'd get about 10.4".
Thobe | Circle Diameter | "Slot" Height | "Slot" Width |
Black | 5" | 8" | 1" |
Red | 5" | 5" | .5" |
Brown | 6" | 5.5" | .75" |
Teal | 5" | 5.5" | 1" |
White | 5" | 5.75" | 1.25" |
I measured the neck openings for 5 of my commercially-made thobes. The raw data is shown in the chart at right and is reflected in the measurement ranges I provided in the basic instructions for making the thobe. As you could reasonably infer from the chart, these measurements have some flexibility; I would call them "free-ish" (meaning you can change them a bit in either direction). I would advise being careful of the following:
You can change the position of the neck opening, but be aware
that it affects the overall length of both the front and back
of the garment. If you move the neck down, closer to the bottom
of the center piece, you'll make the front part shorter but the
back part longer, enhancing the "train" effect.
If you move the neck up, closer to the "shoulder" seam, you'll
make the front longer but the back shorter, thus reducing
the "train" effect. You can even move the neck opening so it's
centered right on top of the shoulder seam to create a more
"normal" caftan style, as explained in a little more detail
on the basic instructions page under
Making Other
Caftan Styles.