Essential accessory for the well-dressed steampunk or Victorian gentleman -- or the lady who dresses like a gentleman!
I need to make quite a few cravats for my upcoming Victorian-era steampunk-themed opera production, and came up with this very simple method of making a pre-tied cravat.
A cravat is an early form of necktie, and is suitable for most of the nineteenth century. In fact, it's still worn today for very formal occasions. Don't confuse a cravat (which goes over of the collar band of a shirt) with an ascot (which ties right around the neck itself and poufs out at the opening of the shirt).
If you're going to wear this cravat with a shirt with a wing collar, (where the neck band of the cravat will be more noticeable), make the thicker version of the neck band.
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You'll need at least a quarter of a metre or yard of fabric, ideally at least 115 cm (45 inches) wide. You can use almost any fabric you like -- if it's very thin you may want to interline it to make it more robust looking.
I picked up this .35 metre piece of black cotton in the remnant bin at my local fabric store for $1.40 :) The printed pattern is actually little gold ladybugs, but from any distance it just looks like an attractive gold motif. Anyway, aren't bugs rather steampunky? :)
Cut out the three pieces you'll need. (because the fabric I'm using rips well, I just started the cut with my scissors and then ripped with the grain -- makes sure that the pieces are even and square to grain).
1. Main cravat piece. 7 inches by 45 inches or so (10 cm x 115 cm). If you want a longer cravat (say, if you have a very low neckline on a vest) make it as long as you need.
2. Neckband. Narrow neckband = 3 inches (5 cm) x neck measurement over shirt plus 2 inches (5 cm) for fastening. (Because I'm cranking these cravats out to be fitted later, I"m making the neckbands very long at 22 inches (55 cm)).
Wider neckband = 4 inches (5 cm) x neck measurement plus 2 inches (5 cm). (I'm using a wider neckband in this example).
3. Knot. 6 inches by 5 inches (8 cm x 13 cm)
If you're going to interface the neckband, cut a piece of interfacing to match. If your fabric is very thin and floppy (a fine silk, for example), consider interlining it with a scrap of another more robust fabric -- you'll want to interline both the main cravat piece and the knot. I'm not going to bother with either of these steps for this cravat.
Sew. Unless stated, use a half inch seam allowance.
Fold the main cravat piece in half lengthwise, right sides together and sew up the long side, leaving the ends open.
Fold the neckband in half lengthwise, right sides together and sew up the long side, leaving the ends open.
Fold the knot in half lengthwise, right sides together and sew up the longer side, leaving the ends open.
Find the middle of the neckband. Place it unseamed side up. Place the main cravat piece, centred over the neckband, unseamed side up. Pin together at centre.
Sew the main cravat piece and the neckband together, at either side of the stitch line that holds the pleats in place from the previous step. (Photo shows the reverse side after step 7 has been completed).
And here it is, on my own rather shifty-looking steampunk gambler :) I love the look of the wider neckband with the wing tip collar.
When you put the cravat on, you have to arrange it a bit, so it puffs out in front. A cravat pin is a nice thing to have -- look for a vintage stick pin -- to keep everything arranged.