Making a Wizard Coat
A lush luxurious important looking coat is an important part of my wizard costume. Such a coat could easily be used for a king costume or any important character. it's easy to wear and because it's loose on purpose can fit a large number of sizes.
I have several such coats in my dress-up trunks and they are ever popular at Halloween.
Choosing the right fabric is half the battle. Choose a rich, lush fabric. I've chosen a velvet finish but it could be patterned silk. Think about the mood of the costume and choose accordingly.
I have had great success using upholstery fabric. Find a store that sells remnants and you can get very good deals. This particular fabric had a rubbery finish on the wrong side. This made it harder to handle BUT gave it wonderful drape and weight. It also prevents fraying so lining the coat is not entirely necessary. It would be better but this coat came together in an afternoon with scraps from the tupperware containers, so it did not get lined. Plan better than I did!
The coat as I describe it is not a beginner's project. You should know your way around collars and sleeves, or have a more experienced person around to ask questions. If you have ever made a shirt, then you have the skills. If you are a bit nervous, a pattern for a man's large dressing gown will do very well. You need to make the piece wider and fuller and the sleeves longer so you can turn them back.
Materials and tools:
- A tape measure
- Tailor's chalk, or white crayon
- Suitable fabric
- Pins, needle and thread
- Sewing Machine is helpful but this could be made by hand if you are patient
- Clothe Iron
Measure your subject
I did not work from a pattern but took measurement. You will need a few critical ones. Length of arms, length of coat, chest, shoulders.
This is a very forgiving piece as long as it fits large it will work.
If you are not comfortable just cutting out get a pattern for a extra simple man's dressing gown. Make it longer and modify the front so that it does not overlap and you have a perfectly good coat.
Front and back view of Wizard coat
The coat is made with yoke front and back. The side and back panels are cut straight with large pleats sewn in.
Although I put a collar, I don't think I would if I was making it again. I would finish it as a kimono with a long strip running all around the neck and up and down the front. The neckline could be finished with a simple facing. I had intended to wear a very thick gold chain all around pinned to the collar but the hair got in the way so the collar was not necessary.
Sleeves are extra wide but cut straight. They are also cut extra long and sewn under so that they could be worn folded back.
The back yoke should be at least as wide as the shoulders. Mine is about 3 inches wider on each side. The shoulder slope should not be very pronounced since you will want to pad the shoulder a bit to make the fit more impressive. That's not necessary though.
The reason I'm using a yoke construction is to allow me to put a wider lower panel and get lots of pleats and fabric at the lower end of the coat. Look up at the back view of the coat and look at the large pleats on the back.
When sewing the panels do not pleat any further than about 2 inches from the sleeves. It fits better that way.
The pleats in the back are not gathered pleats. Rather I made the folds and pinned them. I think these are box pleats mostly. The front has less fabric and the pleats are just gathered.
Front panel is also pleated to within 2 inches of each side and the middle. The coat does not actually close. There is enough fabric to close it of course but the actual cut is straight down from the sides of the neck. You want it to be open to show off the nice fabric of the inner robe or any sash or medallions you have.
The open front also catches the air as you walk and actually makes the cloak billow which is a great effect.
Look at the front view of the coat. There is a gap. The actual gap is wider. I just did not set it correctly to photograph.
The sleeves are sewn in. The body of the coat is assembled WITHOUT making the side seam. The open sleeve then gets sewn to the open body. Then a long seam is done from the end of the sleeve all the way down the side of the coat in one go. it's best to pin or base if you have not done this before. Note that I've sketched the sleeve with a fairly pronounced cap, but if you intend it to be off the sleeve a couple of inches as I've done, then the cap is barely more than a small curve.
I have not pleated the sleeves except for one box pleat at the very top of the sleeve. I used the pleat to fit the sleeve on. I had cut the sleeve wider than my sleeve opening so the pleat adjusted the fit.
When I sew in sleeves I usually pin the center top to the shoulder seam of the yoke and also pin the very ends of the sleeves to the coat and ease the sleeve to the coat. Basting is often easier than pinning.
Cut your sleeves long enough to make a very wide hem so that you can fold it back to make the cuff. If you want you can trim the cuff with glittery stuff.
Detail of the front yoke and sleeve.
If I was making this coat I would simply cut a long strip about 4-5 inches wide and use this to finish the front in the same way as kimonos or men's dressing gowns are finished. (Without the overlap of course.) If you want to make a collar it is a very simple construction with no stand.
This is how I cut the collar. I cut 2 pieces. I used a less heavy material to give a contrast but also to have less bulk in the collar.
I carefully placed the assembled front and back on the floor and traced around the neck and front onto a piece of card. That's the inverted U shape. I then drew the collar with seam allowances added. This was my pattern.
I then sewed the outside seam. Put the 2 pieces of the collar good side to good side and sew. I included a aqua cushion trim in my seam. That's not necessary. Once the outside seam is done turn and iron the collar flat. Be careful not to damage the fabric.
Place the collar on the coat and pin the outside to the coat all around the neck opening to one thickness of the collar. It will be good side of collar to good side of fabric of the coat. The interior is finished in the usual way. The seam gets pushed towards the center of the coat and the back gets pinned and stitched. IF you are planning to put trim, then you can just machine sew right over because it doesn't matter if the seam shows on the front.
The collar is very difficult to describe and very simple to make. The inside seam of the collar (that is the side that forms the inverted u in the pattern) just goes onto the inside opening of the coat. Once it's sewn in place the collar just flops down and looks ok.
Once the collar OR the kimono style binding is done. All that is left is to make the hem at the bottom of the coat. Press it and you are done.
I took photos of a small collar to show the process. The "coat" is not full size so I did not make yokes or pleats, just cut it flat to show the process more easily.
2 Collar pieces flat and pinned together, then sewed on the outside.
The seam is trimmed to remove bulk, then turned, then pressed with an iron. I did not have an iron so it's not really pressed.
The inner seam is then pinned and sewed to the inside of the coat.
The top piece of the collar is then turned over and sewed to the underside of the coat to finish the seam.
Here is a larger picture showing the inside of the coat and the collar piece pinned on. It makes a tidy seam finish to the seam. This seam is often easier to do by hand. Each time you make a seam you should carefully press it so it lies flat and make little snips in the seam anywhere it curves such as around the neck opening so that it lies without pulling. Don't snip all the way to the actual seam. Stay an eight of an inch away.
Here is the "finished collar" on my miniature it is a bit stiff and uneven but on the coat it is smooth. Press everything carefully and go on to attach your sleeves. If your fabric is not stiff, you will want to put an inner layer in the collar to give it more body and stiffen it. Pellon or iron on interfacing work well.
My trim was not great, it's what I had in the remnant box. IF I had bought the material I would have put a rich gold or silver trim.Once you have a coat, you need a Wizard's HAT
email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine