Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Thrifty Childs Cloak

With the weather tuning cold my mind has been on cloaks. Bright red cloaks in particular!

Red 18th century cloak form the met. 

 Red cloaks where all the rage in the 18th century and very common wear in the country and for the less fashionable set well into the first decades of the 19th century. I lust after a scarlet cloak!

I just love the hood.  From theManchester Galleries.

I have a perfectly lovely fur trimmed heavy blue wool cloak but for some reason my heart is set on making myself a new red one.

Woman's hooded cloak. Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Since I already have a full length winter cloak I figured it would be a good idea to make a cloak for fall, a short cloak from a medium weight wool would be just the thing.

I need a cloak lie thins in my life! The Comtesse Tessin sure had good taste!

And I happen to have just the right fabric in my stash!  I dug it up a couple of days ago and discovered to my dismay that I don't have enough of it. Such a bummer! So there went my dreams of  a spiffy red short cloak. I have some very nice tan cashmere wool in the stash and it's enough but somehow that color is just not calling me...

The color just does nothing for me....

I could go out and buy some red wool but I'm stingy and won't buy any unless I get it for a steal like  the stuff that's currently languishing in the stash, I just refuse to pay upwards of $15 for wool when I have perfectly nice stuff at home that i paid $5 a yard for, even if I loathe the color! So I resigned myself to being short cloak less for now. But the red cloak idea just kept nagging me. So to get it out of my system I decided to make a cloak for my daughter Charlotte instead. First I considered using the fabric I initially wanted to use for myself, but it's only medium weight and Charlotte really needed a heavier cloak for winter wear. So I decided to save the medium weight wool to make myself a spencer from in the future sometime. Instead I turned to a solution that had been in the back of my mind for a while. I cut up one of my old winter coats.

I loved my white coat, it was kind of retro looking
3 yeas ago I bought myself a white coat, I'm not sure why, it's impractical to wear a white coat while toting around a toddler, it's bound to get filthy very fast ,which it did... By the end of the winter my once pristine snow white coat had all manner grime and of stains on it that the tide pen I carried in my coat pocket could not remove. it remained dirty and abandoned in my closet the next winter until last fall I had the brilliant idea to dye it. I dyed it red! It was not a success. the dye job came out very uneven due to surface dirt the dye took better in some places than others giving a blotchy appearance, in addition to that the stitching stayed white.

I dyed it red, it did not look so good...

While the coat fabric is wool the thread used to sew it with is most likely polyester, which means it stayed white when dyed. This added to the fact that the dyed coat looked like crap. So here I was with a ruined coat that I could not bring myself to trow away, cause even though it's ugly it's still wool!I figured that perhaps i col cut it up  for a craft project . So it lived on a hanger hidden in my guestroom closet for about a year. Until a couple of days ago I remembered that I had perfectly good red wool sitting in my guestroom, so why cut into a virgin length of fabric when I can cut up a coat for free! I pulled out a kids costume cloak pattern i got on sale at JoAnns for 99 cents and set to cannibalizing my once beloved winter coat.

Kids costume pattern
 After taking the coat lining off I happily discovered that the dye had taken much much better on the inside of the coat, where the wool had been protected from dirt and grime by the synthetic lining. So I used what was once the inside as the outside for Charlotte's cloak.

What remains of my coat.
I really wanted to make a cloak with a hood for her but after cutting up the coat's skirt for the cloaks body I realized that there was not a piece of fabric big enough in the coat bodice to cut a hod from.

All the pieces cut out including the original coat collar.

 I did not want to piece the hood because I figured it would look all wrong. While I was mulling over what to do about the lack of a hood I noticed the coats collar laying discarded on the floor. Eureka! I had an idea. I had a perfectly nice pre made collar just sitting there why not attach it to the cloak! I did. and it turned out pretty nice with none of the tedious cutting and shaping that usually goes into making and attachung collars, it fit the cloak neckline perfectly!

18th century Men's claok, with collar. Colonial Williamsburg

 So while it may not have a spiffy hood, the collar looks dashing and is perfectly period! I lined the little cloak with crimson cotton flannel for added warmth and added a red velvet ribbon for a tie and voila!

The finished little girl's cloak!

A cute, warm and super cheap cloak for my princess to wear! Total cost was about $3for the lining everything else i just had laying around the house. I love it when I can make something neat for next to nothing. ?And it was a nice break from all the commissions I have been working on lately. Best of all Lottie loves it, because she thinks it looks just like the one snow white has.

She had to wear the Snow White dress underneath to model her new cloak
 I would say this was a total win!


  1. It came out so well! I bet she is thrilled. Good call on rescuing the fabric from that coat...

    Very best,


  2. thanks natalie!
    lottie is very excited about her spiffy new coat!