Silk Road garb (Part 7 – Chlamys)

11th Century Byzantine costume

11th Century Byzantine costume

Chlamys – a cloak

Originally I didn’t intend to make a cloak to go with the Byzantine costume I was making for Montengarde’s 12th Night, however while out shopping at Fabricland in December, I found the PERFECT fabric – a wool (blend) in bright blue, similar to the blue of the dress I’d be finishing.

My research indicated that plain rectangular cloaks and half-circle cloaks were both common, and from the illustrations I looked at, they mostly seemed to be either plain fabric with embellished trim, or fancy brocade fabrics. I thought a half-circle cloak would be more interesting than a rectangular one, and opted to do embellished trim.

The pattern

Cutting out the cloak

Cutting out the cloak

The shop only had 2.7 meters of fabric, so I bought all of it. I folded the fabric in half, and from the good side (of course, having been cut instead of ripped, one edge was not straight…) measured out and drawing a curve to the width of the fabric. The halved fabric was 55 inches, and the width 58 inches, so it’s not quite a half-circle, but very close. I wanted to get as much length as I could out of the fabric, because I read that longer cloaks were fashionable for higher-status individuals, while shorter cloaks would have been worn by the lower class. I would have liked the cloak to be longer than it is – but I only had so much fabric to work with!

I also cut a half-circle out for the neckline, going smaller to begin with, trying on the cloak, and then later enlarging it. I didn’t bother making an actual paper pattern for this, but rather just used chalk directly on the fabric.


From the remnants of fabric from the corners, I cut some strips on the bias to trim the neckline, but before sewing that on, I added the embellished trim.

Printing the bindings for the cloak

Printing the bindings for the cloak

I had such a wonderful time doing block printing for the other parts of the Byzantine costume, that I opted to use printed fabric again for the cloak trim.  The fabric is a shot black/green silk-like polyester (the same fabric I used for my sideless surcoat), and I used two different blocks to print it.  I used a copper paint (mixed with textile medium) with a bit of gold for the stripe block, and then gold paint (mixed with textile medium) with a bit of copper for the geometric design. Once dry and heat-set I sewed these on to the front opening of the cloak.

The straight block is the same one I used on the collar extension (5a) and the geometric design is the same one I used on the sleeves of the dress and the collar.

From there I finished the neckline, and then hand-stitched the hem. With the wool content of the fabric, the curve of the half-circle pressed up WONDERFULLY (gosh how I love working with wool!).


The cloak SHOULD pin closed (on the right shoulder I believe) with a pin – however right now I don’t have a pin… (fingers crossed I can find one in time for the event!) so in the meantime I’m closing it with a cord. Either way, I didn’t want to pin through the fabric over and over again, so opted to put four hand-stitched eyelets at the collar/shoulder for a pin (or cord) to pass through to wear the cloak.

Of course, since I don’t regularly do hand-stitched eyelets.. I only really felt like the fourth one looks GOOD…. the first three are functional, but not especially pretty. I opted to bind a small jump ring into the stitching for stability and to help shape the hole better.

In the photos below I removed the hat and veil to better show off the shoulders of the cloak… and yes, my super-messy hair is bright purple! 😉 I find it interesting how much more the gold shows up over the green in the trim, but I don’t mind it one bit! Along with red and green being “common” or popular colours for this culture, green was another frequently seen colour according to my research. (And I didn’t want to have MORE red and blue and gold for this garment, but wanted to shake it up JUST a bit.)

For the time being I’m using a gold-and-red lucet cord to close the cloak, but still have my eyes open for some sort of pin I can use instead!

One comment on “Silk Road garb (Part 7 – Chlamys)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.