Monday, March 12, 2012


I don't look very happy in this photo, and I'll tell you why.

I wanted to make a cravat to go with my Regency shirt. You wouldn't think that was such a difficult thing, right? It's only a simple piece of cloth. Well I wasn't sure exactly what went into it - how long it should be, and so forth. I looked online, and found one ubiquitous set of directions, which showed up on multiple sites:
  1. Cut 1.5 yards white linen. Keep the selvage edge smooth.
  2. Fold in half lengthwise.
  3. Measure 10 inches on the fold and cut. This will give you an isosceles triangle, 55" x 10".
  4. Hand sew a narrow hem on the slanted edges - the selvage [sic] edge is already finished.
  5. Spray starch and iron.
 These directions make no sense.

How wide should you cut your 1.5 yards of linen? If you fold it in half, measure 10 inches and cut, you get a rhombus, not a triangle. You can hem the slanted edges, and the selvedge edge is finished, but that then leaves a long edge to also cut.

I decided not to use these directions.

I have a Victorian shirt pattern (Laughing Moon #107) which gives patterns for various styles of neckwear, including one for a cravat. It's very simple: cut a 50" square of linen, and fold it up on the bias to form the cravat. I decided to take this approach.

My handkerchief-weight linen is 56" wide, so I decided to make a 56" square instead of a 50" one, so I'd only have to hand-roll two hems instead of three. That took me a couple of days to do. I folded it up and ironed it (saving the starch for later) and's really a lot of fabric. Even in handkerchief-weight, after folding it into six layers it's more like a scarf than a cravat:

When I wrapped it around my neck, and made it tight enough so that it didn't look too bulky, it sure helped my posture!

I think I'm going to have to drastically reduce the amount of fabric in this cravat. The ubiquitous instructions also come with an image of various ways to tie the cravat, including a picture at the bottom of an untied one:

I think that if I just cut about 10-12" of fabric from my 56" width, and make it into a rhombus like the picture shows, I'll have something about right. At 56" it might not be as long as when I fold my giant square along the bias (corner to corner), but I'll at least be able to get a small knot, if not a big poofy fold. It'll mean a lot more hand-sewn rolled hems. Ah well.


  1. I read your post right after reading the aforementioned directions. And I agree, they make no sense as stated. What I believe the person is trying to say is: take 1 1/2 yards of material 45" wide. Fold it in half lengthwise TWICE (fold once, then bring fold up to selvedge for the second fold). You now have a piece of material 11 1/4" x 54". Starting 10" in from the double folded side, cut to the corner on the opposite side of the short end (selvedge side). Measure in 10" in from the selvedge on the opposite short end and cut to the corner of the double fold for a 45 degree isosceles PARALLELOGRAM. Pin around three sides, press, and hem. Turn it inside out and hem the remaining side. That is still 4 layers of material which seems like a lot. I am going to try this starting with the material cut in half lengthwise (22 1/2" X 54") and only fold it once (11 1/4 x 54" finished).

  2. I've been trying to figure this out for awhile too.

    I think I figured out what they mean. The key was "isosceles triangle" :

  3. Alex, you're probably right on the money with the folding directions. I still don't see how following the directions as written end up with that triangle, but given that, I should be able to make a triangle of linen. I may very well have to do a second cravat post and try out this method.

  4. Hello,
    Her directions were actually good If it's who I think it is. The picture that explains it is pretty well. "teainateacup" is where I found it. This may be different from the one you used.

  5. I've never understood WHO or WHY thought this folding method of linen would work and come out attractive. It generally ends up very messy and unflattering looking when attempted. The best cravat is simple piece of linen, cotton, cotton lawn, or natural silk about 6-8" wide and whatever length you desire it to be that has been finished with a lovely hem on all edges. I've used all the above fabrics from Whaleys in England and they are just beautiful. Your stock collar came out wonderful - thank you for the photos!