Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood!

Winter is fast approaching and this historical lady needs a warm outer garment.  While I have a wonderful early 19th century Pelisse, I need something for my 18th century outings.  The most common outerwear of that period was the cloak.  Cloaks were made of many different materials from common wool to fancy lace and embroidery.  Those worn for warmth were typically wool.  The wool used in these garments was very dense, almost felted, which didn't ravel when the edges were left raw.  Lower and working class women often wore simple cloaks that were unlined with raw edges or hemmed edges and tied with wool braid or simply held closed by hand.  Those of higher social standing may have had cloaks trimmed or faced with silk and a few were fully lined with silk.  Some cloaks had collars as well as hoods.  Some were long and others were half or 3/4 length.  Red seems to have been the most popular color as it is the most commonly found in the surviving examples.  Here are a couple of examples of 18th century cloaks:

From the Met Museum--Red wool bound with red silk. Late 18th century.

Detail of hood.  Radiating pleats were the most common construction of these hoods and this is a perfect example.

From the Boston Museum--shorter cloak in red wool bound with black silk. Late 18th century.

I liked the idea of binding the cloak in black silk so I decided that I would make a red cloak fully lined and bound with black silk.  I used red wool broadcloth from Burnley and Trowbridge which is very dense and heavy.  I first made the cloak with raw edges using the Mill Farm diagrams.  It is made from 4 large right angle triangles with the hood being a large rectangle.  The triangles were stitched together and the neck was pleated.  The hood was stitched in the back, pleated then the neck edge was pleated to fit the body.  The seam was very bulky so I stitched red wool braid over it on the inside to flatten it out.  Because this diagram uses triangles, the hem is not even and must be either tried on with an assistant to even out the hem or placed on a dress form.

Hood pleating detail:

I then cut the same pieces out of the black silk.  I pleated the neck of the body and stitched it into the wool outer garment.  I assembled the hood, turned under the neck edge and pleated it to fit, stitching it in place.  The lining and outer garment were then basted together around the edges.  

Bias strips 4 inches wide were cut out of the same black silk and stitched 1 inch from the edge, right side to the right side of the cloak.  The binding was then turned into the inside and stitched to the lining.

I cut a strip the width of the silk that was 3 1/2 inches wide, cut it in 2 pieces and angled one end of each piece.  I finished these strips with 1/16 inch rolled hems, whipped and gathered the straight edges and stitched them just below the neck seam at the binding seam.

I'm pleased with the finished product. It's extremely heavy but I've found that the combination of wool and silk is very warm.  The hood is huge and will fit over any kind of big hair I can muster!  Here are the final pics, though the cloak needs a good steaming!  My mannequin is wearing it over a 1940's crepe dress -- but then she was never very good at picking out her outfits!

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