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RebeccaMI
09-22-2006, 11:28 PM
The next reenactment I'll be attending is in the middle of October. It can get pretty chilly by then here in Michigan so when I was buying yard upon yard of material for a ball gown I also bought a cloak pattern. Now I'm wondering what kind of fabric would have been used for ladies' capes or cloaks in that time.

ElizabethClark
09-23-2006, 10:00 AM
Rebecca, you'll probably get more response posting this in the Civilian Discussion areas--most men are innocent of knowledge regarding women's things.

But, short answer: wool is the most common outerwear fabric I've come across so far. A cloak or cape will not be nearly as warm as a coat with sleeves. The wool need not be thick and blanket-like; mid-weight wools in the 10-12oz range will be plenty heavy! Add more warmth by wadding and quilting the body and shoulder/sleeve area with thin layers of wool batting, and a lining of a slick, tight weave (glazed cotton, or even silk, as you seem to be undertaking an impression that could afford a silk dancing gown.)

If you do use a cloak or cape, be sure you put fasteners on it down to a tad below the waist level; this will keep you warmer in a garment that seems designed to take flight at the suggestion of a breeze. :)

RebeccaMI
09-24-2006, 06:15 PM
Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm still not super-familiar with where I should post things. Guess I need to get myself some wool!

celtfiddler
09-24-2006, 07:17 PM
But if you're close enough to hop over the border to Shipshewana Indiana you might want to try Yoder's. Their prices were always pretty decent (haven't made a trip there in a couple of years so I don't know if that's changed).

Vogue Fabrics in Evanston IL is another place you might want to try for decent wool at an affordable price.

RebeccaMI
09-24-2006, 08:41 PM
But if you're close enough to hop over the border to Shipshewana Indiana you might want to try Yoder's. Their prices were always pretty decent (haven't made a trip there in a couple of years so I don't know if that's changed).

Vogue Fabrics in Evanston IL is another place you might want to try for decent wool at an affordable price.

Thanks for the recommendation. Shipsy is about an hour away so that's doable I guess... Do you know if Vogue has a website?

celtfiddler
09-24-2006, 08:51 PM
http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/

RebeccaMI
09-25-2006, 09:18 AM
Ooh, this is on sale for $3.99 a yard! But it's probably not period-appropriate, is it?

http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/ProductImages/321fabrics/largeimages/32156/32156-02.jpg

I'm thinking perhaps it would be cheaper for me to just buy one from a sutler. Jas Townsend has one for $75. It's not full-length to the ground but that doesn't really bother me at this point.

Delia Godric
09-25-2006, 10:21 AM
That is very pretty fabric.
I would be very cautious though in using it for a coat. It is difficult to match plaids (or patterns or stripes) in the seams needed for a coat.

If you look at originals and CDVs, you will see the majority of outerwear is made of solid cloth. This isn't to say plaids weren't used at all. They were used more often for garments with simpler, larger pieces such as capes and sleeve-less cloaks. But, as Mrs. Clark said above, a coat will protect you better in the cold, especially if you plan on wearing an evening dress.

Anna Worden

RebeccaMI
09-25-2006, 11:36 AM
This is the pattern that I have from Simplicity. It doesn't look like it would be that hard to match the pattern up, or perhaps it wouldn't even matter.

http://simplicity.com/assets/5794/5794.jpg

So maybe "cloak" isn't the word I should be using to describe this garment. I guess it's more of a cape. So would the plaid work for that?

Delia Godric
09-25-2006, 12:06 PM
Take a look at these images on Anna Allen's site. The first page is full of original garments. The second page is full of CDVs with women wearing outerwear. There are a few capes there that are plaid.

http://www.thegracefullady.com/civilwargowns/originals_winterouterwear.htm
http://www.thegracefullady.com/civilwargowns/cdvs_winterwear.htm

These images may give you some ideas for altering your Simplicity pattern. If you are set on doing a cape like garment, you'll want to make some changes to keep yourself warmer. My first outerwear garment was a heavy wool cape. I love the cape but it doesn't keep me nearly as warm as I would like on a breezy day or evening. The cold wind easily finds it's way inside the front opening. I find I have to hold the front if there is anymore than a breeze. I do still use it in layering. For the local Yuletide program last year, I wore my paletot (mid-length coat) with my cape over it. It was around 20 degrees and breezy. I was cozy the whole time. Mind you, I hate the cold.

There are many other collections out there to look at. I just happened to be looking at these this morning.

I just started putting together a "what's what" article on outerwear. It's amazing how many options there were for different occasions.

Anna Worden

Quiverful
09-25-2006, 04:20 PM
I've been getting some good melton wool from Oxford Mill End Store up in Maine. Their website is: http://www.oxfordmillendstore.com/

I made a couple of cloaks for my daughters and I and was able to get some nice solid colored wool for $10 a yard. If you call their store they also have seconds, that may have a slight flaw, for only $5 a yard. Just make sure you ask for the melton wool and not the plush. They have some houndstooth and buffalo plaids on there,too. I just stick to the solid colors myself. I'm not too adventurous to try out some different kinds of prints.

M.J. Cahn and Co. in New York has some great wools as well. http://www.wovenfabrics.com/ They sent me some samples of their wool and it is really nice. They sell it for $10 a yard if you buy 10 yards or more, and $15 a yard if you buy less. They are a wholesale shop but sell to reenactors.

One other source I've found for wool is Braided rugs by Loretta http://www.rugbraidingfabric.com/index.html She deals mostly with wool for rugs as does Oxford but they both carry some really nice wool. With Loretta she sells by the pound at $7.50 a pound. If you call and tell her what you are looking for she can send you some swatches. She's not good if you need more than 5 yards at a time since she's never sure if she'll be able to get more once her bolt is gone. She's very helpful, though.

Have fun trying to figure out what you are going to do.

RebeccaMI
09-25-2006, 04:45 PM
I'm leaning more and more towards just buying one, at least for now. Depending on which one I do from the pattern, I need between 6.5 and 8 yards of fabric. At $10 a yard that's $65-80, not counting the additional fabric I'd have to get for the lining. Jas Townsend has a cape for $75 (plus s+h of course). That might be the better bet for now, unless I go with that plaid wool fabric that's $3.99 a yard. It's dry clean only, which I despise, but I don't think a person can get away from that with wool.

celtfiddler
09-25-2006, 04:49 PM
If you're absolutely intent on a cape/cloak type outerwear garment you might want to look into the folkwear kinsale cloak pattern

http://www.folkwear.com/207.html

It requires less fabric (6.75 yards max).

NJ Sekela
09-25-2006, 08:19 PM
How about Jeancloth?

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N. Jersey.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com
http://www.carterandjasper.com

Carolann Schmitt
09-25-2006, 08:43 PM
I will second Elizabeth's comments about an outer garment with sleeves being much warmer than a sleeveless cloak or cape. No matter what style you select, you don't want a fabric that is too heavy or stiff - it just lets in more cold air.

Neither the Simplicity cloak or the Folkwear Kinsale Cape are appropriate for the mid-19th century. And I've not found any primary source documentation for the use of jeancloth for women's outer garments.

The period method for staying warm was to layer - just like L.L. Bean says.
A wool dress or waist worn over appropriate undergarments including wool stockings and a wool or quilted petticoat, a wool sontag or hap shawl wrapped and tied around the upper body, a mantle or paletot (wool again with a tightly-woven and perhaps quilted lining as a windbreak), a double square shawl folded into a triangle (giving four layers) over top. Add a wool or quilted hood, a scarf, warm gloves or mittens, muffatees, even a muff.

If buget and time is a consideration, consider purchasing 3.3 yards (ten feet) of a medium weight wool, fringe the ends, and turn it into a shawl.

Respectfully,
Carolann Schmitt

RebeccaMI
09-25-2006, 10:17 PM
If you're absolutely intent on a cape/cloak type outerwear garment you might want to look into the folkwear kinsale cloak pattern

http://www.folkwear.com/207.html

It requires less fabric (6.75 yards max).

The reason I dig the whole cape thing is that #1 capes are just cool, IMO. The other reason, though, is that it looks easier to DIY than a jacket or coat.

NJ Sekela
09-26-2006, 04:16 AM
Mrs. Schmitt:

Enclosed are pictures of an original cape, that is in the Maryanne Zilley (proprietor of EJ Thomas) collection. As you can see it is of a green jeancloth on a white warp.

Another interesting feature is the same "off the shoulder" seam that one finds in clothing of the period, although much more difficult to set, it is in keeping with the style of the day.

Enjoy!

Thank you so much Maryanne!

http://www.njsekela.com/szabo/cape/fulllength.jpg
NOTE the horizontal pieced panels
http://www.njsekela.com/szabo/cape/piecing.jpg
Note the hand serging along the pieced panels and the hand pinked front facing
http://www.njsekela.com/szabo/cape/insidepiecing.jpg
Ubiquitous hand buttonhole
http://www.njsekela.com/szabo/cape/buttonhole.jpg

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r,
N.Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com
http://www.carterandjasper.com

NJ Sekela
09-26-2006, 04:17 AM
I believe that Maryanne also sells copies of this cape at her sutlery.
http://www.njsekela.com/szabo/cape/button.jpg

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r,
N.Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com
http://www.carterandjasper.com

Delia Godric
09-26-2006, 06:11 AM
Woow on the yardage.... 6.5 to 8 yards? That is far more than a period pattern would have used for a cape. Maybe a full-length cloak with full, draping sleeve and a large hood. If you can get your hands on a period pattern you will surely find a more economical way to make yourself a cape. I suspect either of those patterns will give you plenty of wasted wool.

This page has some outerwear patterns for you to look at from the late 1850s.
http://www.uvm.edu/~hag/godey/fashion/di.html

I know there is a source out there that discusses how to economically layout a pattern to make the best use of the fabric. I don't recall where. Can anyone help with pointing it out?

Anna Worden

Carolann Schmitt
09-26-2006, 07:46 AM
Thanks for posting the photos, Nick. By chance, do you have any photos of the back of the cape and the shoulder seams? Any provenance?

Carolann Schmitt
cschmitt@genteelarts.com
www.genteelarts.com
Ladies & Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference, March 1-4, 2007

ElizabethClark
09-26-2006, 10:36 AM
If one can make a dress bodice, one can make a coat. It's really not that difficult--and not much more work than a cape or cloak, either.

I agree--capes are very cool. I wore one for everyday in college, and found it very useful during travel (served as a blanket on the train, for one!)--but for trying to actually DO things in, it was less convenient than a good wool coat. Carolann gave an excellent run-down on the "warmth layers" for cool weather. I'll only add: if this event is more of a one-off for you, and you don't anticipate having multiple cold-weather event uses, consider just doing a nice big shawl. You'll stay cozy from coach to ballroom, and will end up with a versatile garment you'll use over and over, rather than something you'll use twice or three times, then retire to your modern wardrobe.

(When I did my cloak, I waited until a modern wool manufacturer had their Annex-Clearing-Up sale, and bought my wool at $1/yard. The lining cost three times as much. :) It was absolutely a modern pattern, though--not something that worked for period use.)

RebeccaMI
10-01-2006, 06:12 PM
Yes, I'm still backing and filling.

I was going to just buy the hooded wool cape from Jas Townsend for $75 but then I realized two things: One, that company sells items for reenacting the periods from 1750 to 1840 (especially the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and War of 1812, they say). So I don't know if that cape would even be appropriate. Here's a picture:

http://jas-townsend.com/images/large/sh-147.jpg

Two, if I were to line the cape with something inexpensive like muslin ($1.49-1.99 a yard), and use that wool fabric that Vogue has on sale for $3.99, I could make the cape for much less than $75+shipping. I'd use the Simplicity pattern that I bought but modify it so that the hood isn't so dangly in the back.

So this, again, is the wool fabric:
http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/ProductImages/321fabrics/thumbnails/32156/32156-02thm.jpg

And this is the pattern:
http://simplicity.com/assets/5794/5794.jpg

Two questions:
One, would muslin be an appropriate lining?
Two, would that wool fabric be OK? (In other words, if you saw me at a reenactment wearing a cape with that plaid pattern, would it be so glaringly wrong that you'd take me aside and tell me so?)

Then it's just up to me to decide if I want to save money by making the cape myself and thereby spend the time sewing that when I could/should be working on my gown for the ball at the end of the month.

Spinster
10-02-2006, 01:06 AM
Rebecca--with as much tact, sweetness and light as possible, these nice ladies who have preceeded me on this thread have offered you a number of fine period correct alternatives to the modern Simplicity costume pattern that you keep trotting out. Its simply a costume pattern, and no amount of correct material choice can really make a modern cloak pattern become a common 1860 outer garment. Capes simply weren't that common an outer garment during the period.

Muslin is not a good cloak lining--you're trying to wear this over a ball gown, and to do that, you want a lining that will 'slip' over the other fabric. In the period, that choice is silk. All muslin will do is catch and pull.

Capes are a lot of work to make, especially lined ones, because of the difficulty in getting the layers to hang properly and evenly. Your idea of using a Townsend cape would not be a bad one, but for few glaring problems:
(1) Its 100 years out of fashion for your 1860 ball gown
(2) It is a working garment--not a fashion garment. Its made of heavy material that will crush your dress.
(3) Because is it 100 years out of fashion, it is not cut in a manner to accomodate your fashionable 1860's ball gown---it will barely come to the sides of your hoop, and will not close in front.

Believe me, I love capes, and I do multiple time periods--there's even a Townsend cape in the pile somewhere, but I would not dream of wearing it over a nice 1860 ball gown. Not that it would fit over it anyway.

Its a ball. By definition, a ball is indoors. You won't be outside long enough for it to matter. Spend your time on your ballgown. Make yourself a nice woolen shawl if you feel you are not up to making a coat in the time available.

But don't ruin your look by putting a poorly chosen modern costume cloak exacerbated by inappropriate fabric choices, over your well-researched period correct ball gown.

RebeccaMI
10-02-2006, 12:31 PM
Yes, I'm a black hole of need and I know that. I'm sorry to be a pest. It's embarrassing really; I hate feeling like the moron beginner who doesn't know squat.

Someone told me that, with modifications, that cape pattern would work. Apparently that person was wrong. What I'm trying to do is find something to wear to keep warm two weekends from now at our next reenactment. (Worrying about what to wear over my ball gown at the end of the month isn't even in the picture yet. First I have to worry about the ball gown that I'm also too much of a beginner to sew.) I don't think I'm skilled enough to sew a jacket/coat, I have no idea where to get a pattern, and even if I did I would still need materials.

Perhaps this would be easier if I just asked for suggestions where I could buy something already made that would be correct and wouldn't set me back an arm and a leg pricewise. Otherwise maybe I'll go with CarolAnn's suggestion and get a few yards of wool and turn it into a shawl.

cookiemom
10-02-2006, 12:51 PM
Yes, I'm a black hole of need and I know that. I'm sorry to be a pest. It's embarrassing really; I hate feeling like the moron beginner who doesn't know squat.
Still, there are those of us who know even less...;)

Spinster
10-02-2006, 02:58 PM
Otherwise maybe I'll go with CarolAnn's suggestion and get a few yards of wool and turn it into a shawl.

Absolutely the most cost efficient alternative for the time and skill available. I'm abomidable at fitting--but a three yard length of fine printed wool came to me by post today. By tomorrow, it will have a nice hem along its sides and a nice tied fringe at its ends.

One of the hardest things I had to learn was to stay away from 'fixing' modern commerical patterns. There are real nice, knowledgeable folks making period patterns--one does have to take the time to learn where to find them and how to use them.

Elizabeth Stewart Clarke's site is an excellent starting point---and one that will take you a mighty long way in learning how to make period clothing.

In the meantime--think of what you do know, and go with it. Likely you already know how to make a petticoat. Then make a woolen one, to wear under your hoop. That layer will make a big difference in warmth. Switch to woolen stockings too. Don't forget that shawl---if you don't yet have a quilted winter bonnet, then have enough woolen shawl to also cover your head--it will make a great difference in warmth.

Do you have an older relative who has a fur muff in storage? Unless they had a very trendy dyed furr in the 1960's, the basic muff really has not changed, and you will find it a useful item.

You'll find your store of knowledge accumulates quickly,--but so will your store of questions. I wake up to a whole new load of them each day.

RebeccaMI
10-02-2006, 05:29 PM
Absolutely the most cost efficient alternative for the time and skill available. I'm abomidable at fitting--but a three yard length of fine printed wool came to me by post today. By tomorrow, it will have a nice hem along its sides and a nice tied fringe at its ends.

Mind sharing where you got it from? Was it one of the sites already mentioned in this thread, or somewhere else?


There are real nice, knowledgeable folks making period patterns--one does have to take the time to learn where to find them and how to use them.

I've looked at some websites but haven't yet seen any period patterns for coats. It gets frustrating because it seems like one can find a gazillion sutlers selling stuff for the guys doing military impressions, but try to find stuff for civilians and it gets much harder.


Elizabeth Stewart Clarke's site is an excellent starting point---and one that will take you a mighty long way in learning how to make period clothing.

I should probably send Ms. Clarke a PM. I looked at her site earlier today and it shows an error message that "This Account Has Been Suspended".


In the meantime--think of what you do know, and go with it. Likely you already know how to make a petticoat. Then make a woolen one, to wear under your hoop. That layer will make a big difference in warmth. Switch to woolen stockings too. Don't forget that shawl---if you don't yet have a quilted winter bonnet, then have enough woolen shawl to also cover your head--it will make a great difference in warmth.

Those are all good ideas that sound do-able at my skill level. I kinda wish I had thought of some of those things before I spent all this time waffling around.


You'll find your store of knowledge accumulates quickly,--but so will your store of questions. I wake up to a whole new load of them each day.

Sometimes I get confused. One person says "they had plaids back then, as you can see in these pictures" but that still doesn't tell me if the plaid I was looking at is appropriate, for example. I really envy my BF. Guys who do military impressions have so many resources, be it other people in the company or sutlers or books or whatever. But I feel like we ladies do things that are less "glamorous" and have fewer resources.

Eliza
10-02-2006, 06:33 PM
Galla Rock has some very good patterns...You might try this:

http://www.gallarock.com/ladiespatterns.html

cookiemom
10-02-2006, 06:44 PM
I should probably send Ms. Clarke a PM. I looked at her site earlier today and it shows an error message that "This Account Has Been Suspended".
They were planning to work on the site this week...

celtfiddler
10-02-2006, 08:09 PM
http://www.jamescountry.com/frame/main_frame.html

http://www.pastpatterns.com/

http://figleafpatterns.com/index.html

http://shop.originals-by-kay.com/categoryNavigationDocument.hg?categoryId=33

Spinster
10-03-2006, 12:48 AM
Alas, my particular 3 yards of printed wool was purchased from another reenactor cleaning out her stash--so that particular source is not available to you.

Contact Needle and Thread in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania--they had some lovely printed wool when I was there in the summer, and may be able to make a telephone recommendation. This should be a reasonable enough purchase that you can choose amoung the verbal descriptions and buy it sight unseen.

Or, in your area of the country, high-end fabric stores are more likely to carry tropical weight wools in lovely solids or modest patterns. These would also be appropriate.

Most to be desired would be a wool paisley shawl--but finding a correct one should not be attempted until you have more time to study period images and documented originals. Watch for other very gaudy fabric or knitted shawls in period images--some are quite shocking!

How you make your shawl will depend upon your fabric and needs--in my case, the 3 yard, 60 inch wide will be hemmed and used as is, due to a press of time, and a very affable lap baby(a recent acquisition of a friend) that will need lots of warmth this weekend. A more appropriate treatment would be to hem or fringe a square of the fabric, then fold it to a triangle for wearing.

I have also seen some descriptions that called for a doubled square that was then folded to a triangle--giving you 4 thicknesses. The drape and hand of your material will play a part in how you use it.

Realize too that shawls were not exclusively a female garment during the period, and watch for the occasional image of a man wearing a fabric shawl.

Pattern companies vary in the quality of their directions and fitting scales. Galla Rock's Pardessus looks very intimidating, but is easily assembled if one quits thinking and follows the directions--it helps greatly if one is NOT a modern seamstress, for one must discard certain modern assumptions in making that particular garment.

Past Patterns and Fig Leaf Patterns provide the best directions of any available. This does not mean you should buy your size and zip it together without a thought in the world. Period clothing almost always requires a fitting muslin to be made before the fashion fabric is cut.

Mrs. Clark's methods adhere even more closely to period methods, in that she teaches you to forego a pattern and make a true fitting muslin that you use from then on. Its a scary thing, and requires you to step out on faith and confidence. The results are worth it, if you commit the requisit time to the process.

Good Luck!

ElizabethClark
10-03-2006, 10:02 AM
Ah, but I'm always available for hand-holding. :)

The site is off-line for a bit--the message you got yesterday had to do with a little "parked" domain page we accidently left behind when moving the servers. We're going to re-name that one Steven, in honor of my fifth sibling who always got left at church on Sundays.

I'd ditto the shawl idea.

There's actually a very nice looking woman's coat for sale on eBay just now... I can't speak to the other offerrings from the seller, but this looks quite stylish and nice. You'd want to ask about fabric content, as she does use totally modern VELOUR on the collar and cuffs... but the cut is nice, if you're wanting images of a woman's coat:

http://tinyurl.com/jnje4

RebeccaMI
10-03-2006, 11:05 AM
There's actually a very nice looking woman's coat for sale on eBay just now... I can't speak to the other offerrings from the seller, but this looks quite stylish and nice. You'd want to ask about fabric content, as she does use totally modern VELOUR on the collar and cuffs... but the cut is nice, if you're wanting images of a woman's coat:

http://tinyurl.com/jnje4

Oooh, I might have to bid on that even though it does have velour. From the pictures, the color looks like it would go marvelously with my day dress. What do you think would be a reasonable maximum to bid up to? $100?

ElizabethClark
10-04-2006, 11:28 AM
It would depend entirely on the fabric content; as I said, the use of velour as a trim doesn't really inspire a heck of a lot of confidence that the rest of the garment is all natural fibers. :) You'd want to ask the seller about the construction methods used, finishing methods used, and fabric contents/weights before bidding.

$100 would be a screaming deal if it's a nice light to mid-weight 100% wool with a glazed cotton/linen or silk lining and period appropriate construction (not serged!)... The last coat I made was in the range of $250 for materials and labor.