I settled on a 3/4 circle cloak, meaning that instead of the cloak resembling a full circle when laid flat on the floor, it would resembled 3/4 of a circle. A 3/4 circle can be assembled with three 1/4 pieces, yet this would give me two seams to sew rather than one, and I was on a severe time constraint (at this point, Halloween was about a week away!). A circle can be divided in several ways. Into quarters, as shown:
For this cloak, I wanted a material that was lightweight, yet substantial; luxurious, but not busy or overwhelming, since this piece is intended to go with other costumes in the future. I looked to period art for inspiration, and found several trends.
Trend 1: Cloaks were often solid
Germany Frankfurt am Main
|14th century depiction of Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine|
|Eleanor of Aquitaine|
|Madonna and Child by Lorenzo Monaco, Florence, c.1410|
|Madonna and Child by Berlinghiero, Italy, 13th century|
|Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna|
|Illumination from the Jay Gould Hours, French, c. 1460|
My cloak is made from Kona Cotton (I believe the color is Pacific), which is heavy yet has a nice drape. It is lined with an old white cotton sheet, which needed some clever piecing to fully line the cloak. The lining and outer fabric are attached by hand with a slip stitch, which allowed me to work on the cloak at school or in the car; the hand sewing actually went by rather quickly! I felt that the finished cloak was too plain, so I handstitched gold gimp braid 1/2" away from the edge. Turns out 8 yards of braid was just 2 feet short of rounding the whole cloak, so I had to get clever with disguising my lack of trim, and so the trim ends in swirls at the back of the cloak.
The cloak fastens with two large bronze dome buttons, between which a plastic "gold" chain is looped and then secured with a safety pin behind the buttons. This allows for easy removing and adjusting. This chain-and-button closure also appeared in some examples of period artwork, like the illuminated manuscript above. However, the chain easily slipped inside my dress unattractively.
Thanks for reading!