Last Friday, UT artist Dani enthralled us all with her UT Lab Corvus Cloak creation. As promised, this week, she’s back to share the realities of making a project like this, with behind-the-scenes photos and some basic instructions on how she made it. While it’s fun to see the chic finished photos, it’s a good reminder of how much work goes into big projects like these!
In last week’s post, I shared the finished photos and talked a bit about my inspiration when creating the glamorous yet comfy Corvus Cloak. This week I’m here with the less-pretty (but certainly interesting) details of actually making it.
I started with a sketch of the cloak. This sketch is from when it was originally envisioned with only the Ghost Baroque designs. Like most projects, it was modified as the ideas developed. While sketching, I had to keep in mind how I would be physically modifying the pattern I found, and where and how to place embroidery designs on the cloak. First I started with my fabric choices. I wanted to give the cloak some texture within the vast void of all black fabric, so I decided on a heavy linen for the exterior. The cloak’s hood is lined with a faux grizzly fur fabric, and the lining of the rest of the cloak is made of a velvety polyester fabric.
This cloak is based mostly off this Burdastyle pattern, but with some heavy modifications, which I’ll explain as I go along. After purchasing the pattern, I started by bringing the pattern file into Adobe Illustrator to modify it before printing it off. I then cut out the pattern and tetris’d the pieces together on my folded fabric. I also had to consider where I was putting the embroidery during this step so I could leave enough room to hoop the fabric.
Here you can see how I modified the back pieces. (These are the pieces for the lining, without extra room for hooping.) The original pattern ends where those two very faint lines are, and the extra points are my addition. I extended the interior seams of each piece by about 18 inches and shaped the new line to meet up with the original cut line. I also extended the front cape and hood pieces to make the double-breasted closing I wanted.
I then had to pick the colors I was going to use for the embroidery. I originally wanted the cloak to be all black with charcoal or black embroidery, but the bird skull buttons I found were a shiny gold brass, so I ended up rethinking my original color scheme to include a gradual shift to metallic gold thread… except I wasn’t actually sure if I could get a good transition from black to metallic gold. I dug around in our less used thread and found…ta daa! A black thread wrapped in gold! (The second one in from left in the picture.) After a few test sew outs to see if it would even work, I finally decided on the threads I was going to use. (Since many of you have asked, I originally purchased those nifty bird skull buttons from this Etsy store, but at the time of posting the store was not currently open.)
After cutting out the pieces and embroidering the front Briar Rose Buttonholes and the back Ghost Baroque Bird Skull, I stitched the three modified back pieces together so I could start the long and arduous task of embroidering the toile pattern.
I started by printing off lots and lots of Toile Noir Raven templates and lining them up on the fabric using a yardstick and ruler. This tutorial explains how to line up designs in this manner. Instead of using a fabric marker, I just taped the templates on because I was using black fabric, and I wanted to be able to move my designs around to correct for errors in stitching it out so many times.
I used one large piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer with this. It was very large, and I got stuck to it when trying to adhere it to the fabric. These things happen.
It took me three days and 33 sewouts to do all of the toile pattern on the back. This machine apparently loves me because there were very few thread breaks and I didn’t sew any of the fabric together. It was a Halloween miracle.
After all the embroidery was done, I cut off the excess stabilizer and fabric. I had already sewn together the back lining pieces, so I pinned the finished embroidered back and the lining together at the bottom hem with the wrong sides facing out. I then sewed the bottom hem together, sewing right through the embroidery. I did the back hem in this manner so I could easily hide the edge of the embroidery pattern and so I could get the clean, sharp trails I wanted. I cut off the excess embroidery, flipped the hem right side out, and ironed the trails flat.
Then I started to piece the rest of the cloak together. While the BurdaStyle pattern I used was perfect for my modifications, the instructions were a little trickier to understand. I ended up pinning the entire hood about five times before I figured out how it was meant to go together.
Another problem I ran into was that the hood ended up being really square with the stiffer furry lining I was using. I took the top edges of the hood in by about an inch and rounded them off to make the hood shape smoother.
I hand-sewed the interior of the hood to the interior of the cloak. There was a neck piece from the original pattern that I ended up not using because it didn’t fit with my modifications.
I began finishing the edges of the cloak, but while I was working on it I realized that the bottom hem was billowing out because of how I sewed it together. (Also, you get a great peek here at the state of the studio while I was working on this. Don’t pretend your studio looks any different in the middle of a project…)
My solution to this billowing was to use a large piece of iron-on adhesive on the inside of the outer cloak and the lining. It was tricky to get the giant piece of adhesive in there once I had most of the edges done, but once I had it set and ironed in place, it fixed my billowing hem problem perfectly.
My last steps were to finish the edges and hand sew the snaps and buttons on to the closing. I used snaps on the inside of the double-breasted closing along with the bird skull buttons. And finally, I was done!
So that, ladies and gents, is how I made the Corvus Cloak. Be sure to check out the original post for more gorgeous photos of the finished project. It was just the thing to frolic in the woods on a crisp fall day!