Construction Details

I began by sewing together the pieces of the lining. Since it had been a while since I had done much hand-sewn garment construction, I figured that staring on the less-seen portion was best. I selected a linen thread in a lemon yellow, which was a somewhat lighter shade than the lining fabric (since that’s what I was able to find). Mathew Gnagy says in his book The Modern Maker that thread for construction seams was not the lightweight thread that we use modernly. Rather, seams were sewn with thread more similar to our modern topstitching thread[1]. Therefore, I went with a somewhat heavier thread than you might expect. It may, in fact, have been slightly too heavy, but it was what I ordered so I moved ahead with it.

The seams to attach the lining sections together were sewn using a running stitch. I worked to keep the stitches as small and even as possible while still maintaining the running stitch style (with the needle angling up and down only slightly) rather than switching to a stab stitch (with the needle being perpendicular to the fabric for each stitch).  Lining-runningStitchSeam  
Since the edges of linen are particular susceptible to fraying, I wanted to finish these seams, even though they will be enclosed within the cloak. I chose to fold over the seam allowances and use a fell stitch to stitch each side down. I did a sample using the same linen thread, but did not like the appearance of the large visible stitches. Therefore, for the fell stitches, I used a narrower cotton thread.  Lining-FellStitchSeam  

I sewed the two pieces on each half of the cloak lining together, and then sewed the two completed halves along the center back seam. 

I then moved onto sewing the ten wedge-shaped sections of the cloak together. I again used a thicker linen thread with a running stitch. This fabric was significantly thicker than the linen, so my running stitches could not be as small since the fabric won’t fold up and down as tightly for the needle to run through it. However, the stitching seemed adequate for constructing the garment.



I initially attached the cloak collar to the garment, also using running stitch. However, at this point I questioned whether I wanted the embroidery to be on the inside or the outside. Most of the inspiration garments show a standing collar with the fashion fabric and embroidery on the outside – same as the cloak. However, some of the extant items and images of men wearing cloaks diagonally across their shoulders show a fold-down collar, with the decoration on the folded side. Since I wasn’t sure at this point which I would want to do, I removed the collar and decided to embroider and line the collar and cloak separately at this point and make the decision later.

I considered finishing the edges of these seams as well, so I did a few samples. I did not want the bulk of a folded over seam in this heavier fabric, and doing a fell stitch along the edges without folded them seemed ineffective. I considered doing a stab stitch along each side of each seam, as Mathew Gnagy does for his doublets in The Modern Maker. However, I did not see any evidence in the extant cloaks that there was this stitching along each side of the seams, so I chose not to use this approach. In the end, the fraying on the wool seemed minimal, so I simply pressed the seams open and moved on.

I had originally adjusted the pattern to be an equal length from the neckline all around the garment, thinking that it would mostly be worn diagonally rather than sitting across the shoulders. However, I did place the cloak on a dress dummy, and the unevenness of the length when it was worn on the shoulders bothered me. So, I did trim the bottom edges of the cloak, primarily in the front and back, so that the lower seam hung more evenly. This should not affect the drape of the cloak nor be noticeable when it is worn diagonally.

cloak-draped  cloak-drapedTrimmed 


Since I wanted the embroidery to be evenly placed compared to the edges of the garment, I pressed the outer seam allowances in around both the cloak and the collar. I tacked it down using a basting stitch, which I never ended up removing since it was not noticeable under the leaves.

The details of the embroidery process are shown in Appendix D.

Once the embroidery was complete, it was time to complete the cloak construction. In order for the collar to have some structure, I chose to add layer of heavy canvas as collar interlining. I used pad stitching to attach it to the collar lining, working back and forth in columns of small stitches. I then pressed the seam allowances of the collar and hem stitched it to the collar. In this photo, the bottom edge of the collar is finished in this same way, since I was thinking I would finish the two pieces and whip-stitch them together. But later I decided it was better to open up this edge and use the seam allowance to attach it to the cloak.

cloak-collar-pad-stitch  cloak-collar-lining  collar-completed2 


Now it was time to add the lining to the main part of the cloak. I laid the lining out, with the outer layer over it. The lining was quite a bit larger than the outer layer, so I trimmed it to about a half inch seam allowance.

cloak-main-lining1  cloak-main-lining2 


Rather than sewing the two layers together based on their positions when laying flat, I wanted to be sure that the layers hung nicely. At this point, I attached the collar in order to give a solid section for the cloak to hang from. I attached the collar with the leaves facing in at this point, to see if I liked how it looked with the collar folded over. I hung up the cloak from the collar, and saw a significant and uneven difference in the lining length compared to the outer layer.

cloak-lining-collar-attached  cloak-lining-collar-hang 


I trimmed the lining so it more closely matched the outer layer, and pinned it into position. The final test before sewing the lining into position was to see how it draped when worn. I draped the cloak over my dress dummy, and saw that the lining pulled in some areas, causing a bulge in the outer fabric. By adjusting the lining slightly, I was able to get it to hang nicely. I stitched the lining into place using a hem stitch.

At this point I also evaluated whether the foldover collar was going to work. The collar really didn’t fold over evenly, and hid some of the decoration on the narrow piece. I decided that a foldover collar would have needed to be larger to account for this, so I ended up removing the collar and turning it so that the decoration was on the same side as the main cloak decoration.

cloak-lining-hang-wrinkle  cloak-lining-hang-fixed  cloak-collar-foldover 



[1] The Modern Maker, Mathew Gnagy, p. 46.