Friday, April 5, 2013

An 1813 cloak for Jane Austen Festival Australia 2013

I'm making an 1813 cloak for Jane Austen Festival Australia 2013 challenge, which is to create an outfit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.

I've been in love with the gorgeous blue cloak on the left since I found it and pinned it to my 1813 Pinterest board. I love everything about it, the shape, especially the pointed front, its colours, the embroidery, its so stylish, so I am replicating the design for the challenge.

First challenge was to figure out how the shape was created, its not a simple circle, the water colour doesn't show any seams, so really, its all guesstimate informed with period construction.

My Jean Hunniset book has been fabulous an gave me the period cloak shape to use. The triangle points at the top can be extended to create the style I am after. This cape is one from the early 19th century and therefore totally possible to use for 1813.

The back has a lovely curve that I can also emulate, I cant see the back of the Ackerman's water colour, but it does curve up towards the back, so I can use this detail happily.

I drafted my toile from the above pattern, elongating the front and back pieces and this is what I got.
Look at that, its an almost exact replica, very pleased.

Here's one with the hood toile included, used a different pattern for the hood, still from Jean Hunnisett, but the type used by the fashionable red cloaks of the period with the pleated centre.

So toile done, now to get into the fashion fabric ...

Fashion fabric
The cotton velvet is much harder to work with than the calico of course, but the results are so pretty.
I love this fabric, the lining is a floral cotton.
With hood pined on, hood lined in silk taffeta
Back view
Front view with hood
Trimming pinned on for hand stitching
Hand stitching trim
Its coming together, now I need to hand stitch down the trim, and the hood and embellish it.
As the cloak is hand stitched I had issues with velvet on velvet that doesn't happen with my Pfaff with its integrated walking foot. This was much more noticeable when I was attaching the pink velvet trim, the velvets kept on 'walking and buckling, argh!

Attaching the hood

I pleated the cloak's neck, it could have been cartridge pleated or gathered, all three are appropriate for the period. I gathered the cloak's velvet hood and then pinned and hand stitched down. I should have gathered the hood of lining and fashion fabric first, d'oh, so I did that next while I had access.
Gathered end of hood, this could have been cartridge pleated as well

Adding the cover to hide the pleats, I created a kind-of Suffolk Puff

Repeated with silk lining

Covering the gathers
Hood silk lining covers the seams and was hand stitched down.

Ribbon ties
The cloak is very heavy so to ensure my ribbon ties stay attached I used 2 metres of ribbon and stitched it around the the outside neck of the cloak. I doubt this is period, but it will work.

The original water colour has what looks to be embroidery of roses and leaves all around the cape, this is way too complicated for my minimalist embroidery skills and the time available. So I bought pre-made pink roses on green leaves made of ribbon. These weren't cheap, $A5.99 for 6 pieces, ouch! Needs must however and I bought them and stitched to the pink trim. I bought 6 packets, not enough to replicate the Ackerman's profusion, but all that were available. Here's the results.

I will 'gather ye rosebuds' (sorry couldn't resist!) and attach them when they have been restocked to properly replicate the Ackerman watercolour embellishment, but I am very pleased with my reproduction of the cloak.

The #Historical Sew Fortnight Challenge 'just the facts mam'
The Challenge: Embellish. Reproduction of an 1813 Ackerman's water colour fashion drawing
Fabric: cotton velvet, cotton printed lining and silk for the hood lining
Jean Hunniset book has been fabulous an gave me the period cloak shape to use
Year: 1813
How historically accurate is it: as accurate as I could make it, hand stitched, fabrics are natural, pattern is of the time period.
Hours to complete: Two weeks
First worn: not worn yet, next week at the Jane Austen Festival Australia
Total cost: about $90 for blue velvet, pink velet from stash, plus ~$60'ish' for trimmings


  1. Lovely! That blue velvet looks magic!

    1. Thank you TIAT :) I was so lucky as Spotlight only had 3 colours and this was one of them and there was 6 metres left, just enough! Cloaks, as you well know, gobble fabric.


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