Little Red Riding Hood Cloak
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A Little Red Riding Hood cloak

What would be cuter than a real-life Little Red Riding Hood cloak? It just happened that I had a perfect fabric and after our Christmas trip got suddenly canceled (my son got ill), I had extra time on my hands. I ended up drafting a pattern for this cloak as well, so you can also make a cloak like this for yourself!

This project started when I took out a red wool fabric that I had stored for some years for the Victorian mantle project. I remember buying the fabric at a sale without having any plans for it. However, after I ended up not using it, I still couldn’t put it back to storage. I mean, it was so soft and warm and I wanted to wrap myself in it. The colour reminded me of Little Red Riding Hood and I started wondering what kind of garments she would have worn. What’s a riding hood anyway? The story is old and there are several different illustrations but I liked the pictures of Little Red Riding Hood dressed in 18th-century garb with a red hooded cloak.

Cardinal cloaks – a history

I started then doing some research into 18th-century cloaks and learned that a red cloak that was called “a cardinal cloak” was very popular in Britain and America during the last part of the 18th century and early 19th century. I especially liked the cloak in MET:

The basic characteristics

My wool was just perfect for the cloak as the 18th-century cloaks were made out of dense, naturally water-repellent wool that didn’t fray. Therefore the edges could be left raw. Although the picture above shows a full-length cloak, women’s cloaks tended to be somewhere between hip and calf-length as the petticoats and skirts were enough to keep the lower body warm.

The basic cloak was a part of a circle. Gathers at the neckline added volume and made the cloak sit nicely over the shoulders. The hoods were big to accommodate big coiffures of the period and they were usually gathered at the back so that the gathers formed a fan shape. The hoods could also be detachable. Some cloaks had vertical slits for the arms.

Many of the extant cloaks were pieced together as cutting the big cloak from one piece of fabric wasted fabric. There might have been a seam at the centre back or (what seemed to be most common) there was a back piece and two side pieces that completed a half circle. Even more piecing was done if the fabric wasn’t wide enough.

I couldn’t find any mention of these cloaks ever being worn in Finland or Sweden. Peter Kalm, a Swedish botanist, who visited England wrote:

When English women in the country are going to pay their compliments to each other, they commonly wear a red cloak.

This seems to indicate that the red cloaks were something that Peter Kalm wasn’t used to. I checked the Digitalt Museet for any wool cloaks and all the 18th-century wool cloaks were blue. As far as I know, cloaks weren’t really worn by common folk here in the North. Instead, women wrapped themselves in thick shawls.

Some links to more info

If you are interested in learning about 18th-century cloaks, here is a list of some good sites:

A cloak with a detachable hood at Historic New England.

Cloaks and mantles at the 18th-century notebook.

Cloaks and Overcoats of the 18th century – La Couturière Parisienne

Diary of a Mantua Maker – Cloaks

Cloaks, mantles, and mitts by Rhonda McConnon

There is also a description of a cardinal cloak in the book Costume Close Up by Linda Baumgarten but unfortunately, I don’t have that book.

Making it

Once again I find it easier to explain the making process in a video:

The pattern for the Cardinal Cloak

My Little Red Riding Hood.

I drafted a pattern that best fit my fabric. The hood is pretty similar to that in the book Costume Close Up. Although I haven’t been able to check in the actual book, there are several people (here and here) that have made the cloak from the book. However, I couldn’t find anyone that had made a cloak with a detachable hood or with that pretty yoke collar that features in the MET cloak. So, I thought people would probably like a pattern.

Click here to the pattern in my blog shop.

The pattern is a pdf pattern that you can print at home. It should fit practically everyone as the garment is loose and even the neckline has plenty of room.

The finished Cardinal Cloak

Here are some more images of the cloak I made. I thank my daughter for modelling the cloak for me:

Side view of the Red Riding Hood cloak.
The cardinal cloak – side view.
Cardinal cloak from the back.
The cardinal cloak at the back.
With the hood down.
A side view with the hood down.
Red Riding Hood Cloak.
And one more picture.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope liked the video as well! If you are interested in making the cloak, you can support my blog and YouTube channel by purchasing the pattern! See you soon and Happy Sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

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