Do you watch Game of Thrones and swoon over their garb? Want to replicate it? We’re happy to bring you a guest how-to for making a Northerner’s cloak and an interview with the creator, Harris Hoffman:
What do you do when you’re not larping? Do you work with costumes?
In real life I work in online retail, it’s not very related to larp or cosplay. As an amateur though, I’ve made cloaks, capes, assorted garb, a gambeson, lots of armor, and a pile of boffer weapons. My local larp (Dargarth) has been a huge outlet for my creative energies.
Why a Northerner’s cloak? Did you make it for something specific, of just to own one?
I made my first and second Northerner’s cloaks for myself to wear whilst larping. I had watched Game of Thrones and found those straps very interesting. I recalled my previous experiences with a simple un-strapped cape, and how it would invariably end up around my neck. As a larper who runs around fighting, a cloak that stays in place is miraculous. In addition, it looks dramatic and keeps me warm and dry. I couldn’t resist making one.
Tell us about the creation process. How long did it take to make and refine your cloak?
My first cloak lasted a few months before I lost it/someone stole it. Still don’t know which. The second was made right after that, and is almost two years old now. They were made with lots of trial and error. “This doesn’t fit right? Cut a little more until it does. Strap out of place? Tear the stitches and redo it.”
That method is terrible for consistency and a lot of wasted effort, so I wanted to streamline my process into simpler steps. I drafted a guide as much to organize my thoughts as to help other costumers. I needed pictures for it, so I decided to make a 3rd cloak and document the process. It was also a chance to follow my own guide and make sure it would work for other people. Turns out it wouldn’t have, my system for determining the length created too short of a cloak, so I had to make some changes before publishing my guide. The process is still a little fiddly (the neck hole and strap placement in particular) but I think people can follow it.
The first cloak probably took me a whole day, but the 3rd I finished in about an hour’s worth of sewing. Each cloak has been better than the one before it, and now people are giving me lots of feedback after seeing this guide. The fourth will be even greater.
What advice would you give to would-be costumers?
I am by no means some sage of costuming, but what I’ve noticed is this: Turning my “best” ideas into a physical item often reveals some major flaw in the idea. Sometimes there’s a workaround, sometimes not, but I can’t learn that until I actually make the thing. To compliment that, some of my actual best ideas are generated while constructing something. Seeing, wearing, and handling a physical item can result in epiphanies about how to do it better next time. Your second attempt will be better than your first because of this. If the materials are too expensive to do two attempts, try a prototype out of junk material.
TL;DR: XP is a real life thing, but you have to make it yourself.