I’ve been working on a lot of things lately, but today I completed something new and different for this blog. For some reason I’ve been obsessing over cloaks (I suppose it is a winter thing?) I even bought a Folkwear Moroccan “burnoose” pattern, but then the thrifted wool blanket I had was too small for it. My fabric stash wasn’t any help either. (I have several lovely wools without enough yardage for the big and flowing garments I like.) Eventually I went down a Google rabbit hole, and I think I came around full circle to the reason I noticed cloaks in the first place: using woven baby carrying wraps to make them.
I don’t believe I’ve written about baby wearing or wrapping, but I have a few lovely wraps. One, leafage by Didymos, is particularly stunning in my opinion. (It is also wonderfully comfortable and cushy to wrap with. The best of all I have tried.) It is half wool and half cotton, and the wool is what makes it a great carrier for me. It is also gorgeous with scrolling green foliage in a sort of art nouveau design. I just had to make a cloak with some of this fabric.
So I did. I began measuring and cutting a felted size six last night. (Felting makes wraps entirely unsuitable for baby wearing.) It measured 5cm narrower and 20cm(or was it half for 40cm? I can’t remember) shorter than it originally had been. The felting probably makes it a little warmer and the wrong side looks nicer for a cloak, but compared to my carrying wrap I’m rather sad at how the right side looks. I can’t really source and make another though, so hopefully it doesn’t bug me after I am used to it. Didymos wasn’t kidding not to tumble dry. Oops. With my wrap I was cautious but wondered if I really had to hand wash and air dry, but YES to hand wash only. For real. Do not use a machine for leafage, and especially not a dryer on air dry! Regrets! Closeups of felting:
There is a vendor in the UK that turns wraps, generally Firespiral, into cloaks and ponchos regularly, but I found little web presence other than theirs. Oak Wren is what triggered my longing for a cloak at the start, well besides any trip to a renfaire.
Cloaks are fairly simple items, but there are some variations for hood and fullness and even piecing. I thought I wanted to use my usual 18th century inspired hood, and a wrap requires piecing. Ideally, I thought, I’d prefer a 2 metre piece for the left and the right side of the body to have metre draping front and back from my shoulders, but mine had to be less than that. It turns out to be plenty long except perhaps if I want to throw it over my shoulder. At the last minute I changed the hood to a slightly (2″ more at the centre) pointed one. I’m still not certain that I should have, because that always seems too renfaire for real wardrobe piece, but I’m not likely to re-do it.
The next thing I decided was to keep the original hems and match them on all cut edges then hand whipstitch the pieces together with linen thread like things were sewn centuries ago. This allows for lovely flat seams and would be the easiest way for me to go about it. After all, I didn’t want to trim or unpick anything only to restitch a bulky felled seam or something. Along this same train of thought I also decided not to cut a neck hole. It seemed like I could treat the V left at the end of centre back like a godet and insert the hood. It worked out just fine and made construction a breeze. I was even able to complete the entire thing in what amounts to a day! I’m not used to that anymore, and it was so great!
And the complete cloak:
I think it looks better on me than the dress form, but please excuse the mirror shots and my lovely pyjamas and socks. I wanted to actually write and post this, so…
Lastly is a shot from a recent walk with Mini on my back:
I have been working on a full, cloak-like coat for myself and Mini too, but it is going slowly being hand stitched with embellishments A.C. style. It was nice to take a break to accomplish an entire project meanwhile. Here is a sneak peak at Mini’s coat to also illustrate the hood type that I first meant to use for the cloak: