Viking Cloaks are Easy!

Viking cloaks are the simplest of cloaks to make for early period costume. These are dated between the 6th and 11th Centuries, and were worn by both men and women until later in the Viking age, when, as Christianity became more prevalent, women began to wear long coats, fastened with a brooch at the front.

Viking cloaks with raw edges and tablet-woven trim.

All you need to make a viking cloak, is a rectangle of wool cloth in a plain weave, or herringbone twill. The size should be “two thumb ells by four thumb ells” (thanks to Europa for their rather useful PDF!), or around 2m x 1m. I have seen references to cloaks of 185cm x 150cm measurement as well.

If you’d like to see what Viking clothing looks like, and how these cloaks were worn, there are some lovely pics at Hurstwic.org

No Sew Viking Cloak

If sewing isn’t for you, the simplest finish for a Viking cloak is to fringe the ends. Leave the selvedge (uncut sides) of your length of wool alone, and pull threads, one-by-one, from the cut edges until you have a fringe around 2-2.5cm (1”) long. This is time-consuming but shouldn’t require any further finishing, and is easily washable.


Another alternative is to use a very heavyweight wool cloth, and felt it in the washing machine, using hot water and a clothes dryer until it won't fray. This isn't always successful, however, and requires a very close-weave fabric to work.

Sewing the Edge

Another simple finish for your cloak is to roll the raw edges under twice at each end (about 0.5cm deep), and stitch them down with a decorative stitch from the period. Examples might include whip stitch, herringbone stitch, or feather stitch.

If you use a contrasting colour, and a heavier (e.g. perle-weight 1mm thread in linen or wool), it can be very attractive.

Trimmed Viking Cloak

Those who could afford it would trim the edge of their cloaks with tablet-woven braid. You can make your own in a period design and materials (wool, linen, or silk), or sometimes, you can find someone online or at events who makes lengths of braid by hand, for a fee.

You’ll need at least 2-3m of braid, depending on the length of your cloak’s raw edges. These two ends were the only ones trimmed with braid in period.

  • First, fold the raw edges of your cloak under 5mm (1/5”).
Tacking down the edge of a viking cloak before covering it with tablet-woven braid.
  • Leaving about 1cm overhang at each end, pin your trim down over the raw edge, matching one edge of your braid to the fold.
  • Fold the overhanging raw ends of your braid under (between the braid and the cloth edge), and whip stitch in place.
Turn the ends of the braid under and stitch down firmly before you cover the raw edge of the fabric with braid.
  • Whip-stitch the edge of your braid to the folded end of your cloak fabric.
  • Whip-stitch the other side of your braid in place to cover the raw ends of the fabric.
  • Repeat 2-5 with the other length of braid, at the other end of the cloak.
Catch the edge of the braid to the fold of the fabric, and then catch down the other side so no raw edges are exposed.

Other Embellishments

You may choose to embellish your cloak with an animorphic viking knotwork design. This was usually done by outlining the image in fine coloured wools, using split-stitch. Sometimes, parts of the design were in-filled with coloured long and short stitches. These designs were generally only seen on two corners of the cloak, to provide interest around the front of the shoulders.

Wearing your cloak

These cloaks are usually worn with the top 20-30cm folded to the outside (with embroidery on the outside folded flap. (See picture). Men didn’t always fold their cloaks down - especially if they were tall. Fasten the cloak near one shoulder with a circular “penannular” brooch.

There’s a great article on making simple cloak pins in this style, on Instructables.com here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-Viking-Cloak-Pin/

Particularly with women, the shoulder fold of the cloak may also be turned up and used as a hood.


Show us your Viking Cloaks!

 There are so many different designs you could come up with, we’d like to see yours! Please post your story and your pics here.

Do you have a question about this Topic?

If you have a question, or you're stuck, we welcome questions, so feel free to ask!

You can even add a photo to illustrate your problem if you like.


Return from Viking Cloaks to No Sew Projects


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.