The Making of Winter Belle: Part One, The Cloak

Before Christmas I had shared my plans to make Belle’s winter outfit for an upcoming photoshoot. I made it, got shot in it, and am very pleased with the results. In this post I will write about my process of making Belle’s red cloak, with pictures of course!

1976f3202fcb96008c3041bd62fd8db3Here is my inspiration picture that I pulled from Google. This is one of my favourite Belle outfits, along with her green library dress (Perhaps another cosplay down the road?). I am an avid reader and not the most socially graceful, so when Bell is described as “odd” and “with her nose in a book”, I can easily identify with her character. I’ve seen many beautiful interpretations of her yellow ballgown but it has never been something I thought I would like to wear. I also have this thing about cosplay where I like to make less well-known creations. Belle’s winter outfit certainly fits the bill. While she is a famous Disney princess, she is not often seen in her pink dress. I believe she only wears it for parts of one song, when she falls in love with the Beast. It also happens to be one of my favourite scenes in the movie. Plus, this outfit comes with a cloak. what cosplayer doesn’t have a weakness for any reason to wear an epic, swooshy cloak? I certainly couldn’t resist.

In the movie, the cloak sits behind Belle’s shoulders and doesn’t appear to close at the front. In my earlier post I mentioned that I had some red felt that I hoped would be enough to make it. Upon further measuring and research, I decided I wanted to make a much fuller cloak than the one portrayed in the movie. Realistically, one that just hung down the back might look pretty and show off the dress, but would do very little to actually keep me warm. I live in Winnipeg. I know cold.

5794
Pattern found here.

I wanted a full cape that would close in the front and actually do something to keep me warm, especially since the photoshoot was going to be outside in predicted -10 temperatures. This is surprisingly warm for Winnipeg, but terribly cold for tiny-no-insulation-in-a-3/4-sleeve-dress me. I already had Simplicity pattern 5794 in my stash and was very excited to have a reason to make it. I decided to make “View A” in the top left but only add one caplet layer instead of the two pictured.

The next step was a trip to Fabricland. I found a cheap fleece for the outside of the cloak and got very lucky searching the bargain aisle and found a gorgeous Chinese brocade on 70% off that was the perfect shade of red for the lining. The brocade was heavy enough to cut the wind and the fleece would provide a soft exterior and some insulation. I then went to Marshall Fabrics Winnipeg to pick up some lovely white faux fur to line the edges of the cape. I had decided not to line the hem of the cloak with fur as seen in the top picture, knowing that it would just get muddy and ruined the first time I wore it outside. I was only going to use the fur for the hood and caplet edges.
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Above is a picture of the mostly-finished caplet and hood. This was my first time sewing with faux fur, and it is a real beast to work with. It took much longer than I had anticipated to add the fur and by the end it looked like I owned a white cat. The vacuum is just barely visible at the far right of the picture, and was an essential tool in this part of the process. I was pretty proud of the end result, though. The fur added a lovely “floof” to the way the fabric settled, and kept the hood from collapsing and drooping around my face.

The gorgeous contrast of the fleece outside and the brocade lining can also be seen above. The pattern told me to sew the caplet into the collar of the cape, sandwiched by the hood. That made for a very thick seam, one I doubted my sewing machine would appreciate. I decided to keep the caplet separate from the rest of the cloak, giving me the option to wear the cloak with or without it, wear the caplet separately, and reverse the entire thing if I felt like showing off the brocade on the outside. I love the versatility and options this gives me for the future. I think the caplet on its own would look stunning and stylish over a fancy dress, and keep me warm too.

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This photo shows the final step of making my cloak. Hemming. A nicely finished edge is like the glaze on a pie crust. It will taste just fine without it, but the finishing touch makes it look so much more professional and appealing. I always have to cut a bunch off the bottom because I’m not as tall as the pattern thinks I am. Here I have pinned up about five inches to cut off, then I would roll it up another half-inch to enclose the raw edge of the hem. The pattern said to sew the bottom edge of the lining and the outside together, but I decided to sew them as separate hems to avoid any awkward bunches or bubbles that might form as the fabric stretches from wear.

*Protip* Always do separate hems for linings and outsides on long garments such as dresses, cloaks, and coats, to avoid weird bunches and stretching. The double-hems allows each type of fabric to flow freely and move independent of the other. It might be more work, but in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it.

Speaking of worth it, here’s the final product. I am absolutely in love with this cloak and it is so much fun to wear. This picture was taken at the winter photoshoot by the very talented Melissa. Check out her page MKT Photography for more of her great work. The location was The Forks and the weather was perfect, with light snow and a -6 temperature that was nearly balmy for this time of year. Everyone at the shoot was friendly and it was wonderful to be a part of a group of people so passionate for cosplay and photography. None of us were paid to come out to the photoshoot. We were there because we truly enjoyed it.

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