(Neo-) Victorian/Steampunk-style Cravat/Ascot

Making that particular kind of neckwear I call a cravat, that some call an Ascot, which is perfect for Victorian, Neo-Victorian, Steampunk, etc. is actually quite simple.  You need a piece of fabric that is 60 inches long by 14 inches wide, a piece of fusible interfacing (preferably the knit/tricot kind not the non-woven fiber kind) that’s the same size, matching thread, scissors, something with which to turn the points, something with which you can mark on the fabric and interfacing, a space for cutting, and the pattern.  While you can sew it by hand, it’s demonstrated here on a sewing machine.

You probably want some sort of fabric that will press fairly easily and isn’t a pile that can get crushed by being pressed.  I used duppioni silk for this one, but I have used poly/nylon taffeta, and some slippery brocade.  A nifty cotton print will work nicely, too.  I think outright nothing really heavy and no velvet and nothing with a lot of stretch.

First, draft the pattern.  Don’t worry!  It’s easy!  It’s a rectangle with pointy ends.

Here is one end of the pattern. The other end looks the same. It's a bit skewed because of the angle of the camera. The end should be evenly pointed, not these weird angles.

On a piece of paper, make two parallel lines around 8″ apart and about 60″ long.  Use whatever you have, as long as it isn’t newspaper.  At the two ends, draw perpendicular lines connecting the two lines.  Then find the centers and extend out 3 or 4″ until you can make a nice point.  Make diagonal lines connecting so the shape looks like the one above.  Add 1/4″ all around for the seam allowance.  The sides of my pattern are 53 1/4″ long (incl. seam allowance), the center from point to point is 57 1/2″ long (incl. S.A.), and it’s 6″ wide (incl. S.A.).  See on the right end of the photo where there are notches and a sketch?  The sketch is how you fold the part of the cravat where it goes along the back of the neck.  The notches are for where the folding starts and stops.  On the long sides, I notched for folding 21″, 25″, and 29″ from one end.  When you cut out your fabric, don’t cut the notches.  They’re guides for when you’re ready to fold.  About the center of the photo above, it says Cravat (call it whatever you want), then the date I made the pattern, then cut 2 listed twice.  Black ink is for most patterns, the shell (outer) fabric.  The red ink is for interfacing.  Do it this way so you’ll remember you have to cut fabric and interfacing.

Once you have your pattern made, cut it out and lay out your fabric (folded in a double layer) and lay the pattern over it.  Weight the pattern with something so it doesn’t shift (don’t pin it), trace around it, and set it aside.  Cut out your fabric and move that and do the same for the interfacing (double layer, too).

Then fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.  (Usually wool setting with highest steam setting.)

A piece of fusible interfacing laid over the cravat fabric.

Fusible interfacing laid over the wrong side of the fabric and the pressing cloth laid over that.

Now the pieces are ready to sew together.  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  If you’re used to 5/8″, try 1/4″ and go as slowly as you need to go.  It turns out much nicer and you don’t have to trim as much excess off (plus it does save a bit of fabric).

Sew all around the shape of the cravat, leaving about 6" open so you can turn it right side out. The opening should be near the center of one of the long sides. See the opening at the top of the photo? That's about 6". The seam pivots and goes to the edge, which makes it easier for the seam allowance to turn to the inside once it's right side out.

The corners are sewn.

If your machine doesn’t press very hard to meld the fabric and thread, press this flat as it is.  Then clip the corners to reduce bulk.

Clip fairly close to the stitching but be careful to not cut into the stitching.

Now, turn the cravat right side out, press it flat, and stitch the opening closed.

Here the cravat is turned right side out and the corners have been pushed out as far as they'll go from the inside with a chopstick.

Here, it's nicely pressed. Sometimes you have to manipulate the fabric closely and carefully so as much of it will turn out and press flat and pretty.

Here the opening has been sewn shut with matching thread.

Press that.  Now it’s time to fold where it will sit on the back of the neck, pin it, and stitch it.  This placement is near the center but off by a bit so that one end of the cravat will be longer than the other.

The basic amount of folding is 1/3 of it is left flat and the other 2/3 are folded into thirds or whatever matches the first 1/3. This is all stitched along the short way three times as shown. See how it's near the opening you just stitched shut? It's folded so one long side is down in the photo and the other long side is up. It ends up being a hair over an inch wide.

You can press that, too.

The finished cravat.

Here is a photo of my husband wearing it.

Rob with the cravat just demonstrated (and the vest from an earlier post) with me next to him.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “(Neo-) Victorian/Steampunk-style Cravat/Ascot

  1. Carl Johnson

    Excellent tutorial. I needed this. I am playing the organ in front of the house on Halloween. My costume is based on a combination of the Christopher Walken “The Continental” Character, The Hatbox Ghost from Disney’s Haunted Mansion, & Lon Chaney’s “The Hypnotist” in London After Dark.

    I used some PJ bottoms from Goodwill for my source of material. One Leopard Print and the other Paisley. I don’t know what look I will like best so I am making both.

    Thanks Again.

    Carl

  2. Pingback: Another cravat | Look, I Sewed This!

  3. Pingback: Eighth Doctor costume – Part I – Couturlututu

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