How to Make an Awesome Hooded Cloak

hooded cloak diy tutorial example photos

–UPDATE 3/6/16: I have revised this tutorial to add suggestions for longer and adult-sized cloaks!–

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with capes, and I often raided my mom’s linen closet for pillow cases which I safety pinned around my neck with one of those enormous safety pins my mom used with my baby brother’s cloth diapers (I was a child of the eighties, before you had to put labels on everything warning you not to steam iron clothes you are WEARING) so I could transform myself into wonder woman or a princess or a nurse… nurses wear capes, right? So I may be partial, but I personally think that a cloak is the perfect, most versatile costume piece, if you must have ONE thing. It can be gender neutral, making a girl into a princess, Red Riding Hood, or an elf. Or nurse. A boy can become a knight, Robin Hood, Harry Potter, or a hobbit. Plus, a great quality cloak meets the needs of every dress up situation, from the kids’ dress up bin to Cosplay or ComicCon, or even LARP. Plus, capes aren’t like a dress, which will be outgrown in a year, at best. If you make it a long one, it can last a child for a few years (if I’m lucky, this may even last for a few children).

I can personally crank one out start to finish in under two hours, but– full disclosure– I’ve never actually done that, because I always get interrupted by lunch time, laundry, and someone spilling the straight pins on the floor….

So, here is how to make a simple hooded cloak without a pattern. Keep in mind that the below tutorial is for small children, but I have updated it with suggestions for taller children up to grown ups.

1. You will need a couple of measurements.

A). First, measure from the nape of the neck to the floor (or approximately where you want the cloak to fall). This is an approximate length measurement (length will vary slightly based on seam size, how snugly the cape fits to your child’s neck, etc.). You will need this measurement before you buy fabric.

B). Next, do a very loose measurement around the collar. We absolutely don’t want this to be snug around the neck, so keep it at a VERY loose drape about halfway between the neck and shoulder, and then add a minimum of three but as many as 6-8 inches (if you wish to pleat or gather the top of the cloak). This measurement will also be a guide for the width of your hood.

C). Finally, drape your measuring tape around the face to approximate the way you want the hood to fall (from the collar bone, over the head, to the collar bone on the other side), whether this be close against the face, or wider and roomier. Divide this figure in half and add an inch (for example, if your measurement is sixteen inches, divide by two to get eight and add one. Your length of hood– cut on the fold– will be nine). Clear as mud?

2. Acquire fabric for the cloak and its lining. 

For a finished cloak length of around 30″ or less: I recommend that you take the length of your finished cloak (from the neck as discussed above), double it, and add 12″ extra (for a 24″ cape length, I will buy 60″ EACH of the cape fabric and cape lining fabric).

For a cloak with a length over 36 inches: Triple that length.

Keep in mind that you can use either 45″ or 60″ width fabric, but make sure both your lining and fabric are the same width to avoid difficulties (if you do use mixed width fabrics, cut out the shorter width fabric first). I used velvet and satin because I try to go for awesome with stuff like that, but… it was a terror to sew. If you repeat those fabric choices, plan on pinning EVERY INCH, because it crawls and slips like mad when you sew those two together. A good source of fabric at pretty decent prices is Fabric.com.

3. Here are the pieces you will be cutting, followed by a layout as I set them on the lining fabric.

A). ONE LARGE BACK PIECE. (Take note: if your cloak will have a length greater than 30 inches, you want TWO of these). On the fold and from one corner, cut your large(st) piece. You will cut a nice rounded corner out of it (Four or five inch radius. I usually eyeball this one, but you can measure, chalk, and then cut it). This will be the back neck. Now, using your measuring tape as a compass to keep the length uniform throughout the curve, you can either begin to cut (or draw it out in fabric chalk first) the hem of the cloak. In the photo, this is the piece on the far left.

B). TWO SMALLER FRONT PANELS. On the selvage (the finished edges opposite the fold), you will cut two front panels (the fabric is doubled, so it looks like you are just cutting one. Follow me?). If you are OCD about things like this, I really do apologize for saying that you pretty much just do what you did with the big piece, but on a smaller scale. I kinda just cut it as you see with the middle piece(s) in the picture.

C). THE HOOD. You’ll go back up to your fold and measure down the hood length (Remember how we divided that in half, so you’re actually cutting HALF your measured length plus an inch?). For the width, I recommend that you keep it pretty close to the neckline measurement from point 2B above to avoid too many gathers or pleats at the end. I give it a slight curve, toward the neck.

OKAY. Good job. Now using your cut pieces as a pattern, do exactly the same thing with your lining.

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

I usually go ahead and lay my pieces out as you see here so I can make sure I’m sewing the front panels to the right side, etc. Remember that if you are making this for a taller person, you will lay two large panels next to one another in the back and sandwich them on either end with the smaller, front panels.

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

4. Pin and sew your sides together. Right side, left side. Do this for both fabrics. Press your seams.

5. Lay your big, nice cape out on the floor and lay the lining out on top, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. Beginning at the front panels, going all the way around the hem and back up the other side, you are going to pin and then sew that bad boy up (leave the neck open). Press your seams and turn inside out. It should look like this:
How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

6. That was easy right? It’s time to sew the hood. Sew the back of your hood (and lining) up, like so. Press the seams open.

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

7. Now put them together, right sides inside and sew all around the front edge.

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

8). It’s time to attach your hood to the cloak. Beginning at your outer edges, pin inward, and pleat or gather as needed if your hood and the neck of your cloak are different sizes. NOTE: You are only pinning and sewing the OUTER fabric. Two photos here: one with the pins, one with the seam sewn.

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak9). And now it’s time to FINISH! I go ahead and hand sew my last neck lining seam. If you pleated your cape or hood in the last step, you’ll need to repeat that here. Wow, see how easy?How to put together an Awesome Hooded Cloak

10). And now, just put on a hook and eye closure, one of those nice frog closures, or… I actually found some nice hook and eyes in the jewelry section of Hobby Lobby.

11). Happy play time to you and your little ones!

 

Here is a video tutorial I made on how to sew a hooded cape that might clarify a few of the details.

Here is another cape I used in our Frozen themed photo shoot.

Finding Storybookland Anna and Kristof Frozen Themed Children's photo shoot

 

If sewing isn’t really your thing, you can just purchase one from my Etsy Shop.

57 thoughts on “How to Make an Awesome Hooded Cloak

  • Could u please make a video step by step please 🙂

  • Have been following the “Outlander” mini-series. Would love to own an exact replica of Claire’s hooded cloak, with Clan Fraser lining. Can you do that, Or do I need to search further? Any and all assistance will be greatly appreciated.

    • I just sent you an email. I am going to price materials and get in touch with you in the next couple of days. Thanks for asking!

      • Dear Hannah, did you do an ‘Outlander’ cloak? If so, did you use the same pattern as for the kiddie costumes? I would love to make myself a cloak like this, but so far I am still looking for the perfect pattern. Any help will be highly appreciated!

        • TO answer the first question, not yet. Our hangup has been that the official Fraser tartan pattern from the TV series hasn’t been released to the public because of licensing issues, and she would like to try and get that particular one. We’re still hoping that will work out in the future.

          I have made several adult cloaks now, and my best advice is to make a second large panel in the back (just like the double-wide one that you cut on the fold). So two thinner front panels, two large back panels. You need the extra fabric to make a cloak fit over adult-sized shoulders, and since the angles are a little different the longer you make the cloak (I hope that makes sense). Other than that, you will sew everything up the same way.

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial. My 11-year-old wants to be an elf for Halloween, and a cloak is a vital piece of the costume. It’s been hard to find instructions that are straightforward enough for someone who can “kind-of” sew. But I’ve had this page open for three days and have finally cut out all the pieces. Hope to have it sewn up in the next couple of days!

  • I don’t see a guideline for how wide to make the hood — only the length. I ended up with a lot of gathering. Too gathered to easily flip over and hand sew the hood lining down. Since the child I’m sewing for isn’t here there is a bit of guesswork on how big the neckline should be (it looks really small), so a lot of eye-balling with this project.

    • Great suggestion, Michele. I hope to update the tutorial in the next few weeks and I’ll try to give more specific directions. With mine, I tried to match the width of the bottom of the hood to the top of the cloak to minimize gathering, but of course I had my kids handy to take measurements on. I’m sorry this was frustrating for you.

  • Hi I was wondering if you knew where to get decent length fabric. I was wanting to make some cloaks for holiday gifts. I’ve tried looking online and have found only small pieces of fabric, not ideal. I also was wondering if wool could be used as fabric for the cloak style in your tutorial.

    • Usually, any online fabric store will sell fabric by the yard, so you just enter the number of yards you want in the quantity section for a nice, long cut. The width should be listed in the description, but I have used fabric of both 45″ and 60″ successfully. Personally, I often buy fabric online from Hobby Lobby (plus, they have fasteners I like) and fabric.com. Another website that looks good (but I cannot have shipped to me overseas, so I have not personally purchased from) is fabricguru.com. Many of these places ship free with a minimum purchase, and some have regular coupons, so you can get some fantastic deals.

    • Also, I believe wool would work very well. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to in the future.

  • Hi Hannah,

    I’m making these cloaks for my nieces (3 of them and my daughter for Christmas). I’ve got 1 done and am working my way through the second. I’m finding the satin and velvet really tricky to work with.

    I tried really hard for the 2nd one to make sure I cut and pinned the pieces well. However, it still seems like things aren’t lining up, particularly with the satin. I’m wondering if I’m not using the right size of needle or right stitch. Or if even I could be doing something different to feed the material through my sewing machine.

    Any tips are appreciated.

    Thank you!
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, I am so sorry I didn’t get this comment sooner. I hope that the cloaks came out well.

      Satin is really, really difficult for me as well. The best tricks I know are to pull and tug and try to line up and then pin every inch or two once you have it as close as you can get it. If you still end up with some small tucks in the satin, press it really well and you usually won’t notice. If things absolutely won’t line up, I sometimes trim a little as needed.

      Again, I hope things came out okay and everyone had a very merry Christmas.

  • Hello! I LOVE your instructions! but I would like to know the width of your fabric? I plan on making one for my 3yr old daughter.

    • I’m so glad you like the site! I have used both 45 and 60 inch fabric. The width of the fabric will only affect the fullness of the bottom of the cloak.

  • Thanks for this. I have a very happy red riding hood, thanks to your video.She’s been swishing around in her red cloak since i finished it. its the first thing i’ve sewn in a long time and it went really well. i ended up with a hood wider than the cloak but just gathered and tucked it at the back. it worked out fine. thanks to you and my new found sewing confidence, my son now has a ‘super hero’ cloak and i also made a skirt for my red riding hood from the left over fabric. i’m now eyeing up pretty fabrics for my daughter’s summer wardrobe and planning cloak gifts for my godchildren. it’s addictive!

  • Hi! My son just asked me to make him a hooded cloak and I am super excited to have found yours!!! It is super easy to make!!! I do have a question though: He wants a “rain proof” but “wintry-kinda cloak”. Is there such material and what do you recommend? I know nothing when it comes to different types of material 🙂
    Thank you in advance for all your help!!!

    Linda

    • I would check with a local fabric store and see if they have any ideas. Off the top of my head, you might try a microfiber fabric. You can often find them with home decorating fabrics, and they will often have a nice suede-type texture that will be a little more water resistant than a standard woven fabric.

      • Thank you for the suggestions!! I hope it works; he’s so excited about this cloak and I don’t want to mess it up!! 🙂 Again, I love your videos and ideas!!

        Linda

  • I have two girls under the age of 10 and they both wanted hooded capes for their Halloween costume. All the stores had cheep capes that they hated so I decided to make them. I thought why not I have a sewing machine just collecting dust might as well give it a try. at first I was scared, I didn’t know what I just got myself into. I’ve never made anything and I was freaking out! it took a lot of searching on the web and I finally found your tutorial Thank goodness!! you made it so easy! I love the step by step written instructions and the video! I made both their capes in just a few hours and they turned out so amazing I was astonished that I actually made them! Thank you so much for making their Halloween costume dream come true.

  • Hi Hannah, I’m so happy to find your pattern for a cloak. I’m making all my grandchildren cloaks for Christmas. 8 that is. I’m so excited. Cant wait to get started.

  • Thank you so much for the tutorial! I made a Harry Potter cloak for my son for Halloween and now I’m working on an Elsa cloak for my daughter. Your instructions were spot-on!

  • I will finish up my daughters cloak today for her daddy daughter dance it is red with a black lining have not decided yet if I am going to do fur trim:) I know you used ~2 yards of fabric but was it 45 or 60 inches wide? I only ask because I did not get nearly as much wiggle room as you and I only made mine 28 instead of 30 because of the height of my daughter. TIA

    • In the video I used 60,” but in the blog post, I used 45.” Both work, but I definitely prefer 60″ when I can find it, because it gives you a lot more fullness. I hope everything still works out!

  • BTW I just wanted to say this tutorial is stupid awesome:) I would definitely consider myself a novice and I was able to draw this up pretty quickly. Thank you and your family for your time and graciousness in providing this for free:)

  • I’m confused about why you would need two large back pieces for a longer, adult cloak. Do you end up with two full semi-circles stitched together? Thank you!

    • Hi Theresa,

      Let me try to explain a little better: a child-size cloak has one large panel in the middle and two smaller ones stitched to either side of it (when worn, this makes the large panel the “back” of the cloak and the two side panels the “front”). Unfortunately, while this three-piece pattern works perfectly for a toddler or small child, this is usually not large enough to fit over a set of adult shoulders without pulling tightly over the shoulders or gaping across the chest, plus, it is quite narrow around the hem because the length makes the whole cloak proportionally smaller on an adult. For that reason, I put two large panels in the back of an adult cloak- right next to one another- and sandwich them with the smaller panels (just like on the toddler size). This gives you (almost or entirely) a full circle cloak, which will fit over the broadest of shoulders.

      Recap: I cut two large panels, sew them together, and then add the two small panels on either side- small panel, large panel, large panel, small panel.

      I hope that makes sense and helps!

  • I have the same questions as Theresa…I understand cutting the two late panels, but do you cut the neck the same way for each piece?

    • Usually, yes, because an adult has a wider neck, and if there is excess, I can gather it easily before connecting it to the hood with great results.

  • That should say “two LARGE panels”. Sorry

  • Thank you for the pattern and instructions. Yesterday I made my son a Robin Hood cloak. I have very limited sewing experience but am quite pleased with the results. Considering I used an old sheet and a curtain for material and safety sissors and kitchen shears to cut the pieces out. It didnt even take too much longer than the two hours you quoted. Thanks again!

  • Help! I made me of these successfully for my daughter a few days ago. It had one back panel (30 inches) and came together just like the tutorial. Now I am making one for me and it seems really off as I lay it out. There are long flat edges off the next circle and long flat edges along the length – no way to match all the pieces together. Can you send a picture of the adult pieces laird out?!

    • I just sent an email to the address you put with your comment. I’ll try to help as best I can.

      • Can you send me help with an adult cloak as well? I have made a few kid sized cloaks with success and am a little nervous about an adult size.
        It needs to be 50″ in length. I noticed the photo tutorial seems to make a larger circumference cape than the video. Is that the difference between 45″ and 60″?
        Thank you!

        • Hi Liz! Thanks so much for contacting me. First, regarding the cloaks, the green one in the photo tutorial was tiny, because I made it for a two year old–probably only about 20″ in length– so even though I cut it out on 45″ fabric, I was able to get nearly a full half-circle out of the back piece alone! This is not possible with a longer cloak; the longer the cloak, the narrower the angle of the pieces will be. I’m not remembering off the top of my head, but I want to say the video tutorial worked with a cloak that was over 30″ in length. I was still able to get a wide angle because I used 60″ fabric, but it was not comparable to a really tiny one.

          Which leads into making an adult cloak. Because the angle of your pieces narrows with a longer cloak, and because an adult’s shoulders are wider to begin with, you need more pieces to achieve the same fullness. I do this by putting in an additional large back piece. SO: whereas with the kids’ cloak, you would cut out 1 large panel and 2 small panels (plus their linings) to make the cape portion, for an adult cloak, you would cut 2 large panels and 2 small panels. When arranging them to sew, you put them small-large-large-small (your two large panels are in the back, and your two small panels are in front). This should give you a great circumference and fit nicely over your shoulders. Let me know if that is helpful, and feel free to shoot any more questions my way.

  • I have just finished making a cloak for myself to use as Mrs Santa Claus. I really found your tutorial helpful. Thank you from the Isle of Wight!

  • Thank you so much for the tutorial and video. This by far the best circular cloak tutorial I have found. Most of the others are a half circle of fabric and a small cutout for the neckline with no gathering, and in the photos it’s obviously pulling on the poor kid’s neck because it’s not full enough across the shoulders

    If you have a minute I had a couple of questions. What were the finished neck measurements of the toddler cloak and the larger one in the video tutorial? I’m making a “princess cape” for my friend’s daughter who is turning 3, and I am second guessing that particular measurement because she was in hungry squirmy mode at the time.

    Also, have you ever made a cloak with a less drapey fabric? She wanted yellow with blue, and the only suitably princessy yellow stuff the store had other than satin and stretch velvet (which I really really hate sewing) is what I think is a lightweight synthetic dupioni. It barely softened up in the wash, but it does look like a million bucks and will sew nicely. I have enough fabric to make a 3/4 circle cloak like the green one in your pictures, but I’m worried that since it isn’t flowy there will be way too much fabric at the bottom and it won’t hang nicely. I’m thinking that a half circle cloak with more pleating at the neckline to get the fullness over the shoulders might work better with the stiffer fabric.

    • Hi AJ,

      I just measured around my own 3 year old’s neck, and I would probably make sure the neckline was a minimum of 16″ around when finished. You can add a couple of inches to that if it makes you more comfortable… as long as it isn’t falling off the shoulders, you should be good.

      You can use any fabric whatsoever. Dupioni sounds like a wonderful option. I honestly thought the flocked taffeta I used in the video was a little stiff, but it drapes nicely over the shoulders. The green cloak was made with a green (non-stretch) velvet which draped well because of the weight. I have made quite a number of cloaks at this point in a number of different fabrics, and so far, no duds. 🙂

      In my opinion, I would probably still go with a 2/3-3/4 circle, but I trust your judgement!

  • Thank you so much for the video and tutorial! Making wizards cloaks for the niece and nephews for Christmas and this was a huge help 🙂

  • Thank you so much for checking the neck measurement. I had measured 45cm (I was using cm to make life easier in case I needed to do math), so it was good to have that confirmed as reasonable. I ended up making it just under 2/3 of a circle. The only bad part was that the random blue remnant I grabbed for the lining turned out to be stubbornly resistant to pressing so almost every seam needed topstitching to keep things flat. But it turned out very nice and she will love it.
    tinypic.com/r/2drcc44/9

  • Hey Hannah,

    First, amazing tutorial i found it last year when trying to attempt my first cloak (very new to sewing with a machine) it went great! So great my brother asked me tomake him one!

    I am returning this year to ask if there is any way to add sleves to this cloak as ive been wanting to make a heavy winter one with sleves but cannot find any tutorials. (Store bought patterns confuse me)

    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Ashlyn

    • Ashlyn, I am so sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

      Sleeves, sleeves. Honestly, I haven’t tried it yet. That and armholes. I need to do some pondering, but I would like to try it at some point.

  • Thank you for this – lovely pix and helpful tutorial! Am hoping to make it from baby pink velour. Is it possible to make a curved hood without a pointy tip? Maybe just sew along a curve all the way to the front? This may well be my first attempt at finally using my sewing machine! 😉
    – Emy

    • That’s what I have done, Emy. If you want a really, really full and curved hood, you can cut an enormous semi-circle. The diameter will go from the collar, up and over the forehead, and then back down to the collar. Then you gather the curve of the circle to go around the neck. I will do a tutorial for this at some point, but if you need any more direction, shoot me another message!

      Hannah

  • Thanks, Hannah – the half circle sounds wonderfully full! Though I actually ended up making simpler cloaks due to lack of time (for a Medieval themed birthday play date – we are learning all about the Middle Ages this year), nevertheless, it was your lovely website and video tutorial that encouraged me to finally tackle my sewing machine. (If you could do it with toddler and all – and still smile – so could I!). And what fun I had! Thank you. I almost tackled sewing felt hand puppets too but ran out of time – oh well, some other birthday!
    – Emy

  • Made one for my daughter’s book day costume…she loved it…thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: