First commission! The Big Black Cloak

Newsflash: Actually sewing is way more interesting than blogging about sewing – for me, at least. Well, it’s not the blogging that’s a pain; it’s the photos. I have a whole pile of finished objects that haven’t been shown off to the Internet. This one is actually an August project.

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I’ve been making my own LARP kit for a while now, but hitherto politely declining requests to make other people’s as I didn’t feel I had the skill. Recently, though, a friend made noises about wanting a big black cloak for a new character, and I figured I could do that, because cloaks are not difficult, single colours make things easier, and black will hide a multitude of sins. 

My own cloaks (three of them) are all full semicircles. This is dead simple for me, because I’m 5′ 6″, meaning that a semicircle five feet/1.5m in radius – such as can be cut in one piece from 3m of 150cm wide fabric – is a perfect full-length cloak once it’s been fractionally shortened by seam allowance (at the hood join) and hemming.

My friend Alex, however, is 6′ 2″, specifically wanted it full-length, and figuring out how best to piece a semicircle that big was doing bad things to my brain. So I switched tack. After a lot of sketching I ended up with a design that had front and back yokes, then the body of the cloak made from a single rectangle the full width of the fabric, and a hood that was also just a rectangle.

The only sections that are fitted are the yokes, which were cribbed from the shoulder component of Simplicity 4923 as it was a pattern I had that included Alex-sized shoulders. That’s where the interesting diagonal seam across the back shoulder came from. I put in a bit extra at the side to cover the notch where the upper sleeve would go, then tweaked it again when I’d sewn up the first couple of seams and it became clear I’d put in too much extra. This means it’s relatively snug around the shoulder – it’s not a cloak you can fight in, but for a priest/medic/wizard/otherwise noncombatant it works fine.

Below the yokes, the body of the cloak is an 11ft/3.3m length of 60″/150cm fabric dropping straight down. I hemmed the ends that would become the visible edges at the front, then pinned the centre of the length’s upper edge to the centre back point of the yoke’s lower edge, and started pleating. The finished cloak has 17 pleats across the back and four each on each side of the front closure.

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Using the full width of the fabric for the cloak body meant that the bottom edge of the cloak was a selvedge, thus sparing me 11 feet of hemming (or so I thought; in the event it needed taking up.) To provide extra support/warmth at the shoulder, and to better secure the cloak body – 55 square feet of cotton drill is heavy – I self-lined the yoke section and trapped the edge of the rectangular body piece in-between the outer shell and the lining. I also went over this seam twice for added stability. I did the same with the hood (another rectangle, folded to self-line).

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This is me in it. It’s comically, exit-losingly huge.

The cloak is fastened at the front with three heavy hooks and eyes (size 10). I’d already pressed back the seam allowance of the yoke at the front closure, so hand-stitched the hooks and eyes to the inner yoke – except for one I accidentally stitched to the outer layer and couldn’t summon the will to unpick – then sewed up the edge and caught them again (and only broke one needle on the way).

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To put in the hooks and eyes neatly, I had a look at this tutorial from Did You Make That? The garment Karen is applying them to in the post is the Anna dress – a fitted, feminine maxi, about as far as it’s possible to get from heavy all-enveloping LARP cloak! I guess it just goes to show that good basic techniques are universally transferable.

Unfortunately I don’t yet have a picture of the final item on its intended recipient. Watch this space, I suppose.

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About Craft (Alchemy)

I make things and make things up.
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One Response to First commission! The Big Black Cloak

  1. Interesting post! Looking forward to the final pics.

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