Making a cravat is very simple, and can be done in a couple of hours. I have a pattern made up and in pdf format, so if you’re looking for one, drop me a line, and I’ll happily send it on.
Cravats traditionally have a silk front, with ornate detailing, and a plain backing. You can go this route, or, as I have done, take a beautiful fabric for the front, and back it with silk; the feel of the silk on the skin is luxurious, doesn’t cause unnecessary sweating, and can provide warmth on a cold winter’s day. As this garment is so quick and easy to make, you don’t have to resort to the hairspray trick for the silk, but you can if you just can’t face the silk without it, or a bottle of whiskey. If you are going to do as I’ve done, and use a contrast colour for the back, choose your thread colour consciously – it must fit in with your colour idea for the garment, as you will be topstitching the garment.
You will need a front and a back – two or four pieces, depending on whether you choose to cut on the fold, or cut two pieces for each, and sew them together. The fabric I use isn’t terribly wide, so I tend to go for the latter option.
The garment requires marking on the right side of either the front or back, as the folds are made once the garment has been turned right side out, and top stitched. I find silk impossible to mark, so I mark the front with ordinary drawing pencils; make sure it’s a contrast colour that you will see easily.
Once your centre seams are done and pressed for the front and back pieces, pin your two pieces together, right sides facing, leaving an opening big enough to put your hand through.
Sew your edge seams together. Once this is done, take the time to add a drop of fray hindering glue to the six corners of your garment – you will need to trim them quite close, and sometimes fabric frays through. I tend to wait until the glue is dry, otherwise it gets all over me and the scissors, and invariably the next precious fabric I’m working with. Then trim your edges, but leaving the opening untrimmed; trying to hem it with a trimmed edge isn’t what I’d call fun.
With regards to overlocking, I have decided against it for this garment for two reasons.
- all seams are securely sewn to the inside
- it may add bulk to the garment
Turn the garment right side out, making sure that your corners are pushed out as best you can. Lay the garment out on a long, flat surface, and start pinning around the edges. I pin regularly, as silk likes to move.
Top stitch around the entire edge of the garment. I like to put my needle on one click to the inside of the garment, and keep the standard line on the edge of the garment. I find this gives me a uniform width with minimal effort.
You now have a solid garment that is beginning to look like it could very well be a cravat. Next step is to make the folds from the neck down to the vertical seam; this is why the folds and vertical seam were marked on the right side of the fabric. Pin the folds in place up to just past the vertical seam, and then press. The pressing is important, as this is one of only two measures taken to keep the folds in place; the second is top stitching.
Once pressed, and before you take the pins out, top stitch the centre seam and the two vertical seams.
All this top stitching obviously pulls through to the back of the garment, which will look like the picture below – this is why it’s important to choose a thread colour that fits in with your overall colour idea for the garment; I like the fact that the stitching is visible from the back, but I want it to be a complimentary colour.
Finish off the garment by sewing the threads into the folds, where no one will see them. And voila, you have a finished garment. Easier than pie, and lasts much longer than a good pie would too.