Welcome to the most all encompassing pastime in the world! This is going to
Cloaks are very easy to make- most of the time. Do you want a circle, 1/2
circle, or even a rectangular one? Some of this depends on when and where
you want it to be from. It also really depends on how much of that burgundy
velvet you have. You really can't go terribly wrong for most centuries and
places with a 1/2 circle.
Remember if you make it out of velvet you are likely not to want to wear it
outside at a camping event where you are likely to get wet and muddy. If
you line it with satin it will make light a bobsled and slide for the bottom
of the slope (you) as fast as it can.
Suggest that you might have 2 cloaks here if you already have the satin or
the quilted fabric. Line them both with some light cotton or linen fabric
in a matching or contrasting color. These will help them stay on your
shoulders without you constantly adjusting them so they don't slide back and
strangle you! (voice of experience here!)
My way of making a 1/2 circle cloak and hood (not attached) is pretty
simple, and doesn't involve much sewing at all. It takes about 4 yards each
of fashion and lining fabric, involves very little sewing, and no expensive
pattern from Simplicity. Best of all, I'll back it as being a period cut!
Figure out how long you want it to be (I don't suggest you make it floor
length unless it will definitely be an INDOOR cloak since climbing a hill or
walking through tall grass with a long one on can be a trial. Take a piece
of string, measure out that length. Now take your fabric and fold it with
the selvages together (the woven edges rather than the cut ones).
(Depending on how much you have of the velvet this may make the difference
in length right there). Then you do with the fabric exactly what you did in
kindergarten or geometry class when you wanted to make a circle.
Take your string that you have measured out and pin it firmly to the corner
of this folded piece at a folded edge and preferably something that isn't
going to move around. Stretch the string out and measure the length you
have decided for your cloak against the selvage. Make a mark. Keeping the
sting taunt, swing it a little along the fabric, pivoting along the place
where you have the end of the string fixed. Continue until you either meet
the other edge or corner of your folded fabric (My cloaks all tend to be
between 54" and 60" long so I can utilize the width of the fabric I have,
but I've made ones of 45" that I wanted to be 54" with this method). Put
weights on your fabric to hold it in place and cut along your marked line.
Voila! You have a 1/2 circle cloak. The left over bits on the corners can
become the hood, or you can turn them around and sew them along the sides
and make the cloak a bit more than 1/2 circle.
If you make your first attempt out of your lining fabric - and it is the
same size as your velvet you can use it as your "pattern". Sewing velvet to
a smooth fabric can cause some "surprises" because it tends to be thicker
and you will swear you have cut both pieces exactly the same size and be
surprised by an inch!
Take both lining and velvet and put them on separate hangers and let them
hang for at least 5 days so they can stretch along the diagonal (bias).
Since they are different weaves, they are likely to stretch at different
rates and if you sew them together immediately you are going to have the
fabric doing "interesting" things after a short while.
I agree with the other poster who suggested hemming the pieces separately
and just doing a tack in 8 or 10 places along the bottom (look up swing tack
in a sewing book or on-line) That will allow the lining and fashion fabric
to move separately. If they continue to stretch at different rates (they
can do this for Years) you won't have your lining hanging out and you can
whack it off if necessary and re-hem.
Personally, my first successful outdoor cloak - which I still have and use
24 years later - was made like this out of two outdoor washable wool
blankets. It doesn't have a lining because the fabric is thick enough not
to need one. I actually made it 2 1/2 circles and sewed them together 1/2
way, cut and reinforced a small neck area (remember that most of your neck
is towards the front, with just a little wodge at the back) and left the
rest of the seam open. I then trimmed it with some inexpensive woven trim
(lots and lots I found out) down the front and along the bottom to encase
the raw edges. I could have just blanket stitched since the wool had no
interest in raveling, but I happened to have the trim that I got very
I pieced together enough for a hood and capelet from the cut offs (pieces
not big enough but you have area left over? Whack it off where it doesn't
fit under your pattern piece, sew it on, and put the pattern back together.
Did they care about which way the nap went? NO!)
If your fabric isn't wide enough to get a 1/2 circle out of in one go, you
are still not dead in the water. It takes a bit more sewing, but it can
certainly be done (write me off list and I'll tell you about the 2.5 circle
velvet cape we made for a friend out of 9 yards of 45 inch velvet. Swirls
like Dracula could only dream!)
Capes and Cloaks are only circles and segments of circles. No shoulder
shaping. Why make your life harder if you don't have to?
If you want warm and outside, consider wool, wool blends, or wool look
alikes. Some people swear by fleece, but I don't recommend it because I
don't think it really looks all that good or stands up to treatment. Others
have had better luck than I have obviously but remember that my wool one is
still going strong after 24 years!
Subject: [SCA-Garb] any hints on making a cloak?
my husband and i are new to the sca and i need a cloak i do know how
to sew but im also still learning. i would like something simple i
have burgandy velvet that im going to line with black satin or a
quilted fabric. any suggestoins?
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