Making a Mantle & Long Tailed Hood

It’s taken me a while to get this post out but I think i’m finally ready to get back into the swing of things with twice a week updates. And i’m starting by blogging about the cloak/capelet/mantle which is the final piece in my Cotehardie ensemble. You can read about making the cotehardie here, and I also have a post about making the matching shoes and leggings, which can be read here.

This mantle also has a liripipe, which is a long tailed hood. They look a bit ridiculous, but I kind of love them. It was my first time making anything like this, and also my first time attempting dagged edges. So lots of new experiences were involved in making this project!

The first step was creating a pattern. This would have been really easy to flat draft, but I chose to drape it on my dress form and trimmed the fabric until I liked the length and shape. I copied the pattern onto paper and added seam allowances.

Then I created the dagged edge pattern. First I drew out an arrow shape, then I cut it out of bristol board (a very thick paper) which gave me a template. I placed the template on the hemline of the cloak and traced around it ten times, until the arrow pattern was repeated all the way across. The finished pattern looked like this!

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I traced my pattern onto the lining fabric I purchased for this project – which is a stiff quilters cotton.  I chose this fabric since wanted a sturdy material that wouldn’t slide around or fray much, since the seam allowance will be trimmed quite small at points. The only one I could find in the color I wanted has a glittery spray on it and a star print to it…which probably isn’t historically accurate, but it’s super pretty!

In case it wasn’t obvious, I designed this pattern so I could cut it on the fabrics fold so I don’t have to have a seam at the front.

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I roughly (as in, with more than an inch of excess at each edge) cut out the cotton lining and my top layer of fabric (which is a heavy wool coating).

Then I pinned them together. I used a lot of pins across the dagged edge to make sure neither of the fabrics would move when I sewed them.

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In hindsight, I probably should have used safety pins instead of straight pins, since I pricked myself a lot. 

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Now this part should have been pretty straight forward. All I had to do was sew around the lines I had drawn on the fabric. Shouldn’t be that hard.

Apparently my sewing machine thought differently. It decided it wasn’t going to sew curved lines. I changed the needle, adjusted the tension, tried different threads. All sorts of things, but it still refused to stitch any part of the dagged edge properly.

So each arch is made up of lots of choppy straight lines, instead of being beautiful curved ones. I think the thickness of the fabric goofed my machine up which is why it gave me so much trouble. Luckily the heavy weight of this material hides the wonky stitches, and by some miracle all the curves were pretty smooth when I turned everything the right way out.

Once I finally finished sewing the hem I trimmed the edges down between one quarter and one eighth of an inch. Then I snipped the tips of each arrow and the arches between each one, so they would turn over nicely.

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I used a pen and tweezers to help turn everything the right way out.

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Then added more pins to keep everything in place while I moved onto the next step.

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That step involved tacking the wool to the lining, then stitching around  each edge with embroidery floss. I like how the floss looks around the edge, but i’m disappointed that the tacking created such visible divots in the wool.

The stitches aren’t actually visible from the front side of the fabric yet they are still very obvious. There isn’t much I can do about it now, but i’ll keep this in mind for the next time I work with coating fabrics.

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With that done the cloak portion was mostly finished. So I moved on to drafting the collar piece and hood. To help me visualize the hood a bit better I used this pattern as a guide – and by that I mean I drew out something that looked kind of similar based off of measurements I took.

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Then I cut out the collar from blue wool.

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I did up the back seam and sewed a half inch away from each edge to create guidelines for where the edge gets turned under. I turned the edges over by hand and secured them with a running stitch.

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Unfortunately i’m missing a few photos here, but the process should make sense without them. The next step was sewing up the shoulder seam/darts on the cloak, which I did by machine. I also sewed up the back edge, but that was done by hand.

Then I sewed the bottom edge of the collar onto the cloak with a slip stitch. I made sure the opening of the collar lined up with the center front of the cloak, and the seam lined up with the back seam of the cloak.

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And I sewed bias tape over the raw edge where I trimmed the excess fabric from the shoulder darts.

(“shoulder darts” sounds a lot more exciting and dangerous than they actually are)

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Now time for the hood/liripipe!

I didn’t make a mock up so I decided to start by cutting out the lining layer. This way I could get an idea of the shape before potentially ruining the remaining wool fabric. Once I placed my pattern on the fabric and drew out the seam allowances I realized the tail was kind of tiny. Not nearly as dramatic as I like things. So I made it bigger.

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Here are the lining pieces cut out and pinned. I sewed the edges together with half inch seam allowances and did a little test fitting. I was pretty happy with the end result so I moved forward with the wool layer.

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Since my paper pattern was now inaccurate I used the lining as a pattern for the wool layer. Before sewing the edges I marked the turn over point at the front of the hood. The raw edge will be turned inward by more than an inch to create a facing of sorts.

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Here the hood is, turned the right way out with the front edge turned inward.

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I tucked the lining into the top layer of the hood, then whipstitched it in place an inch away from the front edge of the hood. This way the lining isn’t too visible when the hood is worn.

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Then the hood got sewn onto the collar.

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And lining was sewn into the interior of the collar so none of those ugly raw edges are visible from the inside.

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The front closes with three small buttons and loops. The buttons are the same ones used on the Cotehardie, and the loops are made from some cheap twine I bought from Michaels.

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As cool as this hood looks, it’s not very practical. It really didn’t want to stay on my head, since it isn’t very deep. I didn’t want to be constantly fiddling with it so I added a plastic comb on the interior of the lining. This isn’t noticeably when it’s worn (whether the hood is up or down) and makes it way easier to wear.

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And that’s it!

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Here is the finished piece worn with the rest of the ensemble!


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And one without the mantle, but with the crown I made!

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Now I guess I should get to work on the matching ladies ensemble!

Thanks for reading!

Dewdrop Series – Making a Velvet Cloak

I really love cloaks. They are so dramatic and different from everything in modern fashion. Putting one on makes you feel like a magical princess from another time and world.

So it’s pretty weird that I haven’t actually made one. I made a hooded dress, a dramatic velvet overdress, and even a cape at one point, but never a proper cloak. Horrifying, isn’t it?

But don’t get scared! I’ve resolved the problem and can now officially say that in addition to being a cloak enthusiast, I’ve also made and worn one. And this post is about that process.

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I started with a bunch of doodles. Doodles are the best way to figure out how on earth to make something.

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I actually wanted the hood shape to be very similar to the one made for my Blue Dress, but I wanted to achieve the shape through gathering, which meant I couldn’t reuse the same pattern.

On the bright side, there is a lot more wiggle room when you’re gathering, if something is too big it’s easy to gather it down to be smaller, and if it’s too small you can let it out. Because of this I felt really confident – so confident I decided not to make a mock up.

In my defense I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a good idea of the finished product through a muslin mock up. Velvet is so much heavier then most materials, it reacts really differently and I don’t have anything around that will imitate that.

I also have an extra two yards of velvet, so mistakes were acceptable.

The main pattern pieces looked like this.

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I set aside the brim pattern (which is just a long rectangle) and recut the hood pattern from my ivory damask, which I decided to use as lining. Then I basted these pieces together by using the largest stitch length on my sewing machine.

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Then I set that aside and began work on the brim. The brim is the most important part since it supports the rest of the hood, and it’s also the most visible piece, so it needs to be very nicely finished.

I started by fusing a heavyweight interfacing to the back of it, this gives it more body, and it also prevents the fabric from stretching.

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I cut two strips of my demask material, then I folded them in half and sewed them on to the underside of the velvet brim. These are channels that will eventually house hooping wire, which is what gives the hood shape.

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I could have just rolled the edges and been done with it, but I decided to be fancy and add cute little chiffon ruffles. I used three inch wide strips of chiffon which were folded in half and ironed down, then I ruffled them by hand and stitched them onto each side of the brim.

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Next I prepared the hooping wire. I used bolt cutters to cut two forty-four inch pieces – I later decided these were too long and cut five inches off each piece. These got threaded through the channels I made, and were then set aside.

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Moving on to the  actual hood piece!  There wasn’t that much to do here, I just had to cartridge pleat it down to the right size.

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Once that was done I sewed the brim on and it looked like a hood! Wow.

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Though there was still a bit of work left to do on the hood I decided to take a break and work on the cape instead. Capes are really easy, they are either half circles or rectangles that are gathered down. In this case I was using rectangles, I cut three panels of velvet to make up the cape, after they were sewn together the final measurement was 67″ x 118″ or so.

It’s a real beaut, huh?

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I pinned my hood and cape up on my dress form and it looked like this, already taking shape!

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 I went around ever edge and hemmed them with a three inch seam allowance. I usually use a slip stitch so you can’t see the thread from the other side, but I found that puckered the velvet. So instead I did two rows of a running stitch, and I kind of like that it’s visible from the other side. It gives it character.

I apologize for the lint – I did all the handsewing on the couch and i’m pretty sure my dogs used this as a blanket for part of that time.

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After that was finished the cape needed to be gathered. But first I had to figure out what to gather it onto. I really didn’t want to do the traditional cloak attached to the hood type of thing, because that’s no fun. So I came up with a funky idea that involved these U shaped bits of material. I rolled the edges over and sewed around them, then used a heavyweight interfacing to make these a little more sturdy.

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I gathered my cape down with cartridge pleats and sewed it on.

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Then I did the same thing to my hood.

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I cut away the excess material, then used linen as lining to bind the seam closed. I sewed the edges of the hood piece and cape piece together, so the back ended up looking like this. I think it’s a lot more interesting then the traditional hood back, plus it doubles as a sweat vent in super hot weather.

(is that gross?)

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The last step was attaching hooks and eyes to the cloak and dress so they would stay together. The weight of this thing is pretty crazy, there is no way it would stay on without them.

So that’s that!

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And here are a few of the dress, after trying it on for a few minutes I quickly realized the petticoat will not work – it really needs a pair of pocket hoops underneath it to achieve any sort of shape. But other then that, i’m really pleased with it!

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 So theres that project, all finished! I currently have a few things in the beginning stages, but i’m not sure what my next post will be about. At this point it could be a regency dress, a tulle ball gown, or a Raphael painting i’m trying to bring to life

Thanks for reading!

The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 3

Sorry for the late post – WordPress was being odd on Sunday and wouldn’t let me post…then I forgot about it until tonight, oops!

Today I’m going to spend way too long writing about something which seemed like an awesome idea when I was doodling out a sketch. In actuality, making a cape from ten yards of stretch velvet sucks. Seriously, not something I would recommend doing it unless you have masochistic tendencies or enjoy getting into screaming matches with your sewing machine.

When you try to take your anger out on the horrible fabric, it just sits there looking all pretty, draping all nicely, and feeling super soft, all innocent looking! Psh. If this fabric was reincarnated as an animal it would be that cute puppy that pees on everything but is so adorable you can’t bear to part with it.

Yeah. That’s the relationship I have with this project.

I had a very clear picture of how I wanted this cloak/overdress to look, and it was pretty complicated. To make it look the way I wanted I had to build a functional bodice, then add the cape and shoulder details ontop of it.

To get a rough idea of what I wanted, I sketched on some muslin to get the rough shapes.

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This gave  me enough information to draft an actual pattern.

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I was quite pleased with this, it only needed a few minor adjustments.

I cut each piece once from velvet, and again from quilters cotton. Though I purchased stretch velvet, I didn’t want my garment to stretch.Stretch velvet is just the cheapest of all velvet’s (six dollars a yard) and happened to come in the exact color I wanted.

I sewed together my lining at the shoulder seams. Then I used the pattern I made for the bodice sleeves to create the sleeve covers from velvet.

I gathered these by hand, then sewed them on to the lining.

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Then I made up the back panel, this was my first real look at how tricky it is to work with velvet. Honestly, I think it just may be my machine, but no matter what thread/needle/tensions I used the velvet shredded my thread and the machine would unthread every three inches or so. I got so frustrated I switched off to hand sewing for the vast majority of this project.

So it wasn’t that awful, but a project that should have taken a week from start to finish took a lot longer since I had almost twenty hours of hand sewing to do.

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After that was finished I cut the cape, and sewed that onto the back panel. The cape pattern was just two giant rectangles gathered down, and hemmed later on to be the proper length.

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 After this was done I sat down with netflix on and watched a dozen Say Yes to The Dress episodes, and a full season of River Monsters while I went through and hemmed every edge of the cape.

Then I started sewing the velvet pieces to the bodice, which, at this point, was still just quilters cotton.

The bodice pieces looked like this.

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And when they were pinned onto the bodice roughly, the whole thing together looked like this!

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The first part of the back panel was sewn on like so.

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Then the front piece was stitched onto the back panel (the part that had the cape attached) these were sewn on the same way the back panel was.

It’s all sort of complicated to explain, since the pattern was so odd.

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And voila!

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I sewed the side seams together and tried it on over the dress to make sure it all looked right, which it did.

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And that was about it. It wasn’t a terribly difficult project, it was just a lot more time consuming then I had expected when I started! Velvet definitely goes on my hated materials list now, it’s not a fun fabric to work with. But it does look really pretty and drape in a lovely way~