AND I SEWED 2 ELVEN CLOAKS!
|I love how the hood turned out. This one was unlined, but the fabric was thick enough that it worked really well.|
I had promised my twin to make cloaks for her and her roomate for a Halloween party. I thought, half-circle cloak? I got this totally figured out.
I learned a lot, I think I've perfected my cloak making technique now.
First, I used the Medieval piecing technique to get the half-circle cloak long enough.
|From a Bog Man http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/bockclok.html|
Last time, I had used 55" wool, and cut that into a half-circle with a radius 55". But I had not accounted for the neck hole (radius 8"), and thus ended up with a cloak only 47" neck to shoulder (after hemming, perhaps 46"). It showed off my awesome boots (too large hand-me-down snow boots with twill tape wrapped around to keep them from flopping. Looks kinda like the boots in Skyrim), but was a bit shorter had wanted.
|Last time (no piecing) cloak ended up shorter than I wanted, approx 46-47" from shoulder to edge|
It worked really well. I made my twin's cloak, cutting it with a initial radius of 62-63" (using piecing to fill up the edge on the bottom, like the Medieval example above), with the 8" radius cut out of the top for the neck, I ended up with a shoulder to edge length of 54-55". At my 5'4" height, this brushed the ground. I ended up cutting 3" or so off the bottom and getting a nice length of 51"-52".
|What I ended up with, perfect for a 5' 4" person|
I thought it ended in just the right spot.
For the closure, I used 2 metal rings we had made from a hanger (instructions here,[ insert link]), and brown cotton canvas I sewed 2 layers together, then flipped inside out and ironed to make an "applique". I then handsewed this to the cloak, and sewed the rings onto it. Its then an adjustable opening, with a leather strap. I did a little quick leave embroidery on them.
And here's a few more glam shots of it.
|Ignore my silly expression. Note the beautiful drape of the cloak.|
I LOVED the drape of this fabric. It looks like linen, although its actually 100% cotton. It's medium-heavy weight is matched with a loose enough weave, that it drapes really well (unlike canvas, whose tight weave keeps even its heavy weight draping stiffly). I dyed it to its current elvish color myself, with dark green RIT dye, and extremely hot water and salt.
Sadly, I didn't get the best pictures of this. I was up till 11:30 last night finishing the Princess Leia dress, and then spent all morning/early afternoon sewing up these cloaks. Then I had 2 minutes to snap pictures, and then we rushed to the post office to mail them before they closed. Hence I didn't get to show off the drape as well as I wish. Just trust me, it looks awesome.
For the neck-hood attachment, I knew I needed at least a few pleats in the cloak, so it wouldn't pull so hard on my shoulders like my wool one did. I put 2 pleats in on each side, approx 5" from the neck opening, and then another 1" away from that. Each pleat was about 1/2" thick, "eating up" about 1" each. See diagram.
It worked really well, just enough ease in the shoulders that it didn't pull funny, and yet not so fitted (like a bag) that you lose the cool sweep of the half-circle drape from the shoulders.
This one, I had some adventures. First off, I didn't have enough cloak fabric for 2 cloaks, so I went to walmart, where the only thing I could find that could possibly work, was a beautiful deep forest green fabric that was sadly, rather light-weight (quilting cotton weight) but was 100% cotton, claimed to be 44/45" wide, and had this beautiful soft feel to it. I bought 4 yards, and washed it on hot and dried it in the dryer to shrink it.
It turned into the crinkliest stiffest stuff ever. I washed it 2 more times, trying no soap, air dry, and more dryer dry. It remained stubbornly stiff. Which is what you want for a vintage sundress, but not what you want for an elven cloak. (the drape is all about the loosness/tightness of the weave ratio to the weight of the fabric.)
Well, I knew with multiple washings/wearings it would soften over time. Theoretically. Praying. But the color was gorgeous and we didn't have time to go back to the store.
Then I measured it. It had somehow shrunk (?!?) to 38.5" from its vaunted 44/45".
I had a brief freak out.
I tried to cut creatively, to piece, etc, but there just wasn't enough fabric in the 4 yds.
In the end I ended up with a cloak 47.5" from shoulder to hem, just a smidge longer than my wool cloak. I was sad. But it still works, and shows off your boots. I think Faramir's cloak hit him about there too.
So that was the sad part.
The good part, was I spent a lot of time trying to make it look beautiful. I sewed on a strip of brown fabric to the inside edge of the front, and really liked how it made the forest green pop. I then bag lined the inside of the hood with brown, and it really really looks good. (If I say so myself)
|You see the facing strips down the front. And how awesome the hood looks. Ignore the weird faces, I was tired.|
Strangely enough, it seems it did come down a lot longer than I thought it would. Interesting.
|I really like how it looks when the hood is down, how it falls and the brown peaking out.|
|How the hood looks down with the cloak thrown back. Ignore the face.|
I went a little crazy with the applique. 2 layers of brown broadcloth, cut and sewn in the shape of a leaf, flipped inside out to hide the seams, hand embroidered.
Also to make up for the cloaks other problems, I used a fancy clasp that adds instant class. I tried to mirror the leaf theme with the applique.
I think it worked :)
|I was quite pleased with how my embroidery turned out. And how the clasps mirrored the effect.|
Anyways, at the end of the day, I think it looks pretty awesome :)
Things I learned:
- French seams are awesome, don't do the half-job of just felling it, taking the time to trim and iron in order to enclose the raw edge is totally worth it (especially for many washings...)
- Stabilize the front opening. Fold over/hem the front opening twice, or better yet, sew a facing onto it (that folds under, enclosing all raw edges and sewn down on the inside) to stabilize the drape of the front opening.
- Bag Line the hood. It looks really good. Especially if you do it in brown.
- When Sewing the hood to the cloak, sew it with a facing strip, then fold down the facing strip over the raw edges, enclosing everything nicely before sewing it down. No scratchy raw edges at the neck!
- For a 5'4" person, a shoulder to hem length of 51-52 is nice.
- Keeping circular hems as narrow as possible and try not to stretch as you are hemming, it keeps it from going all rumply.
- Don't trust the bolt when it says 44/45", bring your measuring tape and measure it. And if you do get 45" wide, buy at least 4.5 yards.
- You never know what a cotton's drape/weave/softness will really be until its shrunk and washed
- Avoid quilting cotton weight for cloaks in the first place
update: here's pictures of the finished dress
I finished a (gorgeous) rendition of Princess Leia's Ceremonial Dress for my sister in law. I improved the bodice and sleeves from the original design, in my humble opinion.
I actually inserted in invisible zipper, drafted double French darts and (drumroll) SEWED WITH CHIFFON!!!
It was a series of firsts for me, and it turned out absolutely beautiful. Photoshoot and construction
details coming soon.
It looks like these, only much better :)
And to me, it looks kinda like Arwen's angel dress.
I also sewed Isaiah up a little Luke Skywalker outfit. I haven't finished the outfit yet, more on that too...
And still am working on Jenny's R2D2 dress for tomorrow.... ahhhhh too much sewing.....