I was asked by some friends to help with some kit preparations for a larp event that I crew for twice a year. The brief was simple enough – make a selkie skin – and I was handed an amount of cloth at the summer gathering to help with the task. However this was the first proper project I had made without a pattern, but the end result worked out quite well.
I have included a few photos taken at the event to show the “skins” in action, and will talk through how I tackled the project of the “selkie skin” cloaks.
I settled on making a number of cloaks as these normally require less cloth than trying to make a coat or hooded tabard. I decided to make four given the number of crew expected to be at the event, which would allow one to be “buried” in a box on the site and three to be used throughout the weekend. This then led to a long puzzle on how much cloth to cut, and how to use the 5m length I’d been given with minimal waste – which led to long periods of procrastination and avoidance of the project …
Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and crack on with the project – cutting the cloth into five sections to give me four panels to use for the cloak to make the most of the 1.5m length, and the remainder for the hoods. I turned the cloth onto its front and marked the back with an approximate grain line (so the suede effect would look like fur) and began marking up the panels for the hood in pencil. It took me about an evening to cut and mark up the pieces of cloth before piecing together the hoods, but I was distracted watching Braveheart.
I didn’t have enough “scrap” cloth to make a mock up, though looking back I wish I had, so I made the first one by itself and worked out how to piece it all together as I went along. I tried to shape the cape a little like a superhero cloak, but it didn’t quite work. The fit was awful as I’d sewn the hood to the straight edge along one side and whilst it could be worn I was concerned it would choke the wearer and look decidedly odd. However, it would probably do for the skin in the box, so I put it to aside and worked on plan B.
Plan B involved folding the “skin” in half and marking a quarter-circle using a dinner plate as a rough guide. The first one was done as a “guess”, my argument being that if it was too small I could always enlarge the hole. The hood is taken from a duffle coat pattern as it is closer fitting than the usual pattern I use for hoods, and is made of two side panels and a rectangular section in the middle. Sewing up the two sides of the rectangle shapes the hood, which I then pinned to the cloak at the collar and sewed together, pressing the seams as I worked. I then rolled the hem around the outer edges and sewed wide ribbon ties at the collar so that the cloak could be tied on at the neck, or loosened for people who were a larger frame than I.
The cloak got a good response from my OH after he got home, so I decided to make the other two the same way and only changed the order of when I sewed the rolled hem so that I could work more economically whilst watching Outlander and other things. I also crocheted three pairs of gloves out of oddments of wool using , adjusting one pair slightly to fit a larger hand so that there were gloves for men and women given the crew complement.
Then I bundled all the bits into a bag and took them off to the event.
At the event the cloak and gloves joined domino masks and seaweed aprons that had been prepared by others and the crew got to swoop in and out (the cloaks were good for swooping) as they raided the site on the first evening, as well as looking unusual and seal-like during the rest of the event. The Princess Meara Niamh’s skin was found buried in a box and returned to her at which she transformed back into her selkie self and helped them defeat the Nucklavee that had been hunting them all weekend. For her highness we wove together some strands of a seaweed apron on a canvas strap to make an impromptu hair band/diadem/crown and the players were able to return the princess to her people, with all living happily ever after.