Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spanish Traveling cloak (or the cloak of poor choices)

I decided in January that this was going to be the year when I finally entered SCA arts and sciences competitions, and to pursue that goal, I was FINALLY going to work on some more difficult fleece to garment projects. I've had a few of them lurking half researched in the corners of notebooks for a few years now. I tend to be so buried in Needs sewing, that i don't get around to doing projects that force me to work to my capacity, stretch my skills and grow as an artisan. I've been doing that in a small way, by learning new embroidery things for Athena's thimble, and it's been very satisfying, but I wanted to do it with more than embroidery, which kind of necessarily means larger scale projects. Competing gives me an excuse for that.

The first of these projects was my planned winter project for this year, a hand woven, hand embroidered hooded cloak for the husbeast to wear at chilly events like 100 minutes. My plan was to make as exact of a reproduction as possible of this "spanish style" cloak in the Germanisches National Museum.
This cloak is white twill wool, heavily fulled, embroidered with couched work in brown wool, and decorated with tassels and "bobbles" on the hood. Because white isn't a really PRACTICAL color for a cloak at events that may be say, muddy, I decided to do mine in natural brown wool with madder dyed accents.

Because I started it later than I wanted to and only had 6 weeks to work on it before the competition, I finished this with scaled back embroideries for entry into Keepers of the Central Flame, an East Kingdom arts and sciences competition that was hosted by my home barony, concordia of the snows. For that I did a VERY comprehensive write up of my research and the process. So if you want to read a 20 page research paper about it, Here's a linky! I'm hoping to finish the embroideries and enter it in the display at pennsic this summer, so keep your eyes open for "finished" pictures of the husbeast modeling it! Here's a bunch of the process photos and pictures of my display for your enjoyment. this was a real stretch project and I learned a lot. I can't WAIT to take what I've learned and start something new!

weaving in progress, you can see my measuring tool pinned to the left selvedge, just a strip of fabric a yard long that helps me keep track of larger projects.

Entire project may be hell, but that's a fine straight selvedge!

Cut from the loom, but not yet fulled.

Fulled down, I used an entire inch per foot of width in shrinkage and could've used more (or used more ends per inch in the sett to begin with.)

edge blanket stitched in weaving thread, and the 6 strand braid being applied
Starting the crossed blanket stitch hem. You can see the front facing flap that will be turned back along the line of crossed blanket stitch. This doesn't serve the usual purpose of a facing (to cover a raw edge) but rather firms up the front edge so it hangs nicely.

spacing all the "rays" which are self applique pieces, and basting them down.  I was confused. why applique something in a way in which you can't even tel lit's there? Well those pieces are all cut on the straight of the grain with the grain running vertically through the ray. sewn onto the partially bias semi circular cape, they act like a support scaffold and force it to hang evenly all the way round, and drape beautifully from the neck. 

Starting the hood marking. 

Rays all appliqued. 
This is cross stitch worked over 3 strand braid. some of the points are wonky. if I had it to do again I'd baste both sides of the rays down with the weaving thread (so it didn't have to be removed) and THEN do the cross stitch. That'd keep everything from getting funny. 

Hood totally marked and working on the couching.

Hood finished and lined with the bobbles mounted! Getting there! 

The home stretch, marking the fronts: first with prick and pounce, then with thinned whit gouache.

On the stand at competition! 

The finished hem. You can't see the stabelizing blanket stitch in the weaving thread under the crossed blanket.

Some of my display. The husbeast made me the wonderful wood display cards for my threads.


  1. Absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of using thinned white gouache for marking the embroidery.

    1. I especially like that as long as I use the zinc white, any that doesn't get covered by the stitching comes off with a damp sponge (although sometimes I had to dampen it, then come back a few minutes later to gently sponge it away).

  2. This is amazing!! Beautiful work!! Congratulations on getting it finished!

  3. Damn, I was impressed by the cloak itself and the embroidery on it. But you actually wove the fabric! You rock! Fantastic job all the way around.

  4. Which is why nobody can doubt why you were chosen as Keeper of the Central Flame. Congratulations! You blew us all away.

  5. You should consider applying to have this project included in the Pennsic A&S war point.

    1. I was actually thinking of finishing the rest of the embroidery to get it to match the original and cleaning up the documentation some, and then trying to see if I could make the EK war point team. Unfortunately it's tricky because we're unsure we can commit to pennsic this year, and it seems they usually schedule a heavy list war point at the same time, so I'd have to negotiate with my fighting unit.