‘A well-made cloak is a thing of beauty, the best of friends, the essence of comfort and coziness.’ –Claston Yop
If you don’t own a cloak you need one. They are useful for so many things, and a great comfort to wear, especially once you get to know yours. The above quote is one of many from Dreaded King as cloaks feature fairly prominently in the stories. Which made me think that perhaps you would like to know how to make your own. Here is a step by step account of a recent cloak making project of mine, with a few scattered quotes from Dreaded King to make it more interesting. If you don’t care to make a cloak, breeze through the quotes anyway, and leave a comment telling me your favorite. These are directions for a reversible cloak; you basically make two cloaks and then sew them together, versus sewing one and hemming it all about. If you would rather not make it reversible, simply edit the directions in your head accordingly.
“I stood up softly to draw my cloak on. It was growing old, but I would not willingly change to a new one. This gray rag had been faithful for ten years. I knew its weaknesses and strengths, and no one had ever found the pocket in its hem.”
Step 1. Find material and notions. You can of course go and buy material from a craft store. Wal-Mart sometimes has excellent deals on fabric but their selection is not the best, while Hobby Lobby has an excellent selection and their coupons make buying their fabric a great deal cheaper. (Price ought to be taken into account as you will need a good deal of fabric, about ten yards if doing a single sided cloak, more like twenty if following the directions for a reversible one.) My favorite method for this step is to visit a thrift store and buy two different full to king sized sheets. You can mix and match colors and textures this way, and the price is right. But be sure to visit either Hobby Lobby or Joann’s Fabrics for a good cloak clasp and thread to match your fabric.
“It had taken some scrimping in the food budget, but I had managed to obtain some lovely crimson and black fabric. A reversible cloak would do very nicely, red for special occasions and when he was feeling well, black for everyday use and going unnoticed in the dark.”
Step 2. Cut out your pieces. This can be difficult if you own corgis. But stick to it. Double your fabric and cut out one back piece on the fold. Then lay out your pattern for a side on the doubled fabric, and cut one. Low and behold, you will have both sides to your cloak cut out and ready. Choose your hood pattern and cut it out still on the doubled fabric. From the scattered material left, cut out pockets in the desired sizes. Be careful as you cut, this is the main step for sizing your cloak. I have left all measurements rather vague as everyone is a different size. You want the cloak to be as long as you are tall, from shoulder to foot. Measure your shoulders, and cut the shoulders of the back (the top of the piece) out to that measurement, leaving about two inches extra for sewing it together and enough room that you are not choked. Then make the shoulders of the sides and the hood’s neck to match the shoulders of the back piece you already cut out. You want it to fit, obviously, so take your time. And remember you can always trim it down, so go for too large versus too small. Here is a picture of the basic shapes you are after.
“The cloak made him look ridiculously small and skinny, but I was glad Charlie had it with the way the cold was beginning to grow more bitter.”
Step 3. Sew a side to the back, right sides together, matching the shoulders. Begin to sew about two inches from where the hump forms the shoulder and then tumbles down to make the elegant sweeping-ness of a good cloak, leaving enough room for your neck to fit comfortably.
“I leapt to my feet and yelled to get the murderous Plammit’s attention, running forward with the cloak wrapped round one arm. Plammit spun around, his warty face suffused with fury and his hand coming up with the iron bar. I yelped and flung my cloak over his face, diving under one of the benches.”
Step 4. Cloak Pocket. I am assuming you want a pocket. Everyone should want pockets in their cloak, this is intuitive really. Moving on. Sew your pocket together on three sides, leaving the opening open of course. [A note on sizing pockets; I always strive to make certain the pocket will fit at least a paperback book, or perhaps my Kindle fire. Design your pocket for what you want it to carry, before you cut it out.] Take the remaining cloak side and begin to sew it to the back, like you did the first one. But stop halfway down, where you can comfortable reach in with your hand while wearing your cloak. Turn your pocket right side out. Place your pocket right sides together in the seam you are creating, in between the back piece and the side piece. Pin, and then check to make sure you have it correct, and the pocket seam is on the same side as the cloak seam. [I recommend pinning and testing like this because I always seem to get it wrong the first try, even after making a number of cloaks.] Once you know you have it right, sew the pocket in firmly. Finish sewing the back to the side.
“I looked around me, though moving my head took rather more effort then I particularly liked. I was lying on a bed of blankets and cloaks, placed over the springy needles, in a sort of cave made out of the naturally interlaced boughs of the black pine trees.”
Step 5. Place the hood right sides together, and sew a seam from the top to the bottom. Open it up and position the neck of your hood in the center of the neck of your newly sewn cloak. You may have some differences in sizes at this point (i.e. perhaps the sides of the hood are an inch shorter then the rest of the cloak), don’t fret over them, this is where you correct it. If needed, trim the hood and cloak to match. Then sew the hood firmly to the cloak at the neck.
“Corinth ran stooped low, her cloak hood up and the long ends wrapped round her arm to keep it from dragging on branches and briars.”
Step 6. Do steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 all over again with your other colored fabric. Now you have two cloaks! [Note; with this method you end up having two pockets in your cloak. If you are feeling at all creative, which you probably are if you are trying this, don’t stop there. I have put pockets in the necks of my cloaks, and the hems, all over the place. This is a good time to pause and puzzle out any other pockets you want to add in.]
“A kind of gurgling cough came from the great lizard, and it was a truly disgusting sound. I saw Charlie’s hand go into his white cloak pocket and noticed he was tensing. Whatever he was going to do, he was about to do it.”
Step 7. Put the two cloaks right side together. There is libel to be a slight difference in the sizes of the two different cloaks. Check it by the hood, put the two hoods together and get the seams at the top and neck to match. You might have to re-sew a seam or two to make it work. Once you see it matches, sew all along the sides, hood, and bottom. Leave only a hole on the bottom wide enough to fit your hand comfortably through. Then shove your hand through your hole, grab your hood, and pull your cloak through the hole. Congratulations, you have a two sided cloak.
“Four filthy wretches leaned out the second story window, eyeing my cloak and sword, and dangling throwing knives from their fingers. Common sense dictated finding Ham Boofont swiftly and getting back to the better end of town.”
Step 8. Finish it up. Iron down the hem and seams, whip stitch your hole on the bottom closed, and sew on your desired clasp. Now put your new cloak on and either go adventuring in the woods, or curl up with it in a chair with a good book.
“The would-be king nodded at me, another of his funny smiles sliding over him, and he curled up under his cloak by his dog, one arm falling over the shedding creature.”