Green Winter Cloak
The cloak started out as a McCall’s M6446. I wanted to make it out of Babyville Boutique PUL fabric (waterprrof and breatheable) to have a rain cape to wear on my bicycle. But, the laminated side being unlined meant that on humid drizzly days- it would touch my bare skin and feel quite unpleasant. I wore it once and set it aside incomplete.
Then winter started coming, and I realized that any ordinary jacket I owned was both restrictive to try and layer under at all and yet would still would feel cold, and at the same time didn’t breathe well enough to keep me from over-heating during a bike ride to work. Enter the idea to line the cape in fleece! BRILLIANT!
The fleece means it is warm and cozy, but the fact that it is an open-bottomed garment that can be unbuttoned means it is highly adaptable. The cloak is perfect for temperatures ranging down to 3 degrees Fahrenheit (ask me how I know) and up to 50 degrees when I can sometimes go bare-armed.
The large buttons are no problem for clumsy mittened hands to deal with. I ran into issues while trying to create button holes, and accidentally found the perfect solution in a technique called bound buttonholes. Not only did they solve the problem of how to deal with thick fluffy fabric and an obstinate machine, but the buttonholes themselves are extremely easy to work with when you’ve got your fingers trapped in fleece mittens staying warm.
The pattern calls for open arm slits, but that would just leave the perfect gaps to let cold snow or rain blow in when you didn’t want it to. I altered them by adding invisible zippers. Now the cloak can work like a poncho or rain cape when you want it to, or like a regular cape when you need it to. The open arm slits are great for airflow even if you don’t stick your forarms out to freeze in the wind during a bike ride.
Along with the arm slits, I didn’t like how the pockets were open with the semi-circular flap as a functionally useless design element. You were just ASKING to get pockets filled with snow! So, I simply flipped that pattern piece over, enlarged it a teensy bit to compensate for the angled pocket opening, and the strange bit became a functional pocket flap.
I’d never lined anything before, and the pattern design only had you line the hood. So, I winged it. I knew that having a separate lining and shell would be disaterous- with so much fabric attached only at the neck and maybe the hem- how would you ever keep everything from being constantly in the way? So, I started by disassembling everything. I lined the hood as instructed, this time with fleece, and topstitched it along the seam. I re-pleated the back panel, but with the fleece lining. Then I attached all that to the yoke, and folded the yoke and yoke lining up. Then I attached the side panels separately to each side back, lining to lining and shell to shell. Those got married to each other by the seam allowances. The arm slits went in and the lining faces them and was part of the construction. The hem is made by trimming away some of the fleece and folding the outer shell PUL fabric over the edge. Lastly came the button holes and buttons through all the layers.
Fabric: (from JoAnn Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics)
Babyville Boutique Spring Green polyurethane laminate (PUL) diaper fabric. Waterproof. Breatheable.
Lettuce Green blizzard fleece. Warm, insulating, wicking.
Black plastic buttons.
Original idea was to also accent the hem edges with reflective tape, which is black with a reflective stripe down the middle (hence the contrasting black buttons and thread). I decided it wasn’t needed that winter- I had plenty of flashing lights on my bike, plus a highly noticable color on the rare spectacle that is a bicyclist in the snow. I had no worries about being visible.
I wore this cloak nearly every day- it was my perfect choice when I needed anything heavier than a sweater, or if I wanted to wear short sleeves, but the mornings were still way too cold. A cloak is perfect, and I’m SO glad I made mine.
This photo is a self-portrait taken the minute I finished the cloak. It shows close-up front details such as topstitching, buttondown front, and large hood. You can see the fleece lining.
I was incredibly happy to finish this cloak.
The cloak displayed on my duct tape dressform. I love the center pleat and belt detail.
A front angled picture of the cloak displayed on my duct tape dressfrom. I thought this showed details better than a fully-frontal photo.
The pockets were meant to have no flap, with the semi-circlular piece attached to the slit. Since this cloak was meant to be worn in all weather- that just seemed like a great way to collect snow. I flipped over the half-circle and made it into a protective flap instead.
I also altered the arm slits to have invisible zippers. During snow or even rain, I want the arm slits closed so the cloak would function more like a poncho. This idea worked brilliantly, and looks great too.
Here my duct tape dressform is flashing you to show the interior of the cloak.
The entire thing is lined in matching blizzard fleece. I didn't like the idea of the outer PUL fabric and the lining being attached to each other only at the hem and neckline, so it is actually fully integrated into the design. The lining is attached across the yoke seam with the back panels pleated together. Then I folded the yoke up and sewed the side sections on- those are attached to the outer fabric by the seam allowance. The hood is not only lined but topstitched as well.
The cloak moves and behaves as if it were simply made out of one type of fabric- it doesn't swallow you whole in undecipherable folds.
My sewing machine very much disliked sewing through both layers, and so I had to learn a new technique to create button holes. Bound buttonholes. A quick google and youtube session- and I had the perfect solution!
Lastly, I thought I should show the cloak in action. It was used nearly every day last winter, and the days it wasn't worn were because the temperatures were good enough that it wasn't needed!
This has been the single best thing I have ever worn. Period.