Friday, 26 August 2016

Making an 18th century cloak

Making an 18th century Cloak 
~It's All in the Hood~

Like a lot of people, I assumed cloaks were one of those "generic" garments that changed very little over the centuries when when it was worn, sort of like the standard lady's shift (which isn't as generic as we thought either). I soon found, however, that the hood shape was the easier way to tell if something was 18th century or later. 
Available on Etsy HERE
Fabric: Cotton jacquard, charcoal black. 100% silk lining, gold-orange.
Construction: Hand stitching for all visible areas, including hem edge stitching. 

~It's Not a Round Hood~
I started with McCall's 4698 pattern, shortened by about 25" (it's a floor length cloak). I went so far as to cut out all the pieces according to the pattern, including the massive, rounded hood with the gathered front edge. But, then I asked around to some experts and discovered that the giant gathered hood is really more suited to the romantic affectations of the 1830 and 1840s. 

The shape of the hood alone should have clued me into this. Anyone who makes a lot of 18th century garments knows that they weren't big fans of rounded shapes, especially not in anything large. Rounded garment pieces are a notorious waste of fabric, and even the super rich of the 18th century and earlier did not waste fabric (no matter what tales you may hear about Marie Antoinette changing the silk lining of her jewelry case every day). 

The hood piece of the McCall's pattern (shown as a half here), is basically a flat giant crescent that is then cinched down to fit around the face. This shape doesn't appear in the 18th century, at least not that I could find. The actual 18th century hood is a rectangle with a angled neck edges (see below)

I got this pattern from the write up done by Fashion Through History, which was taken from the book Costume Close-up.

~Fan Pleats in the Hood~
These are incredibly simple to make, and yet troublesome to explain. I think the good ladies at Fashion Through History did a much better job describing the method: 18th Century Red Riding Hood

I did my pleats with the lining and hood treated as one. The pleats are all "drawn to the same point", as it were, then turned to face each other in a circle rather than laying flat, as pleats typically do. 

(above) tacking down the pleats on the inside. The pins are there to simple hold the hood fabric into the pleat while I tack it down in a circle (I later discovered that the pleats will lay in more of a fan shape than a full circle, which is what you want anyway).

(below) outside view.

~Hand Slits~
What better way to slip your hands into a muff or carry bags without opening your cloak to the cold air? I have always liked hand slits and pockets that are accentuated rather than hidden. 

The method is pretty much the same for doing the opening on a welting pocket, except without the pocket piece. 

(below) The ruffles around the hand slits are done entirely by hand, including the narrow hems.

 (below) inside view of the hand slits


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