Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Make a Victorian Cravat or Ascot Tie (UPDATED AND IMPROVED) Tutorial

My very first tutorial for this site has proved to be my most popular in the three years since I posted it.  (Three years! Time flies.)  It's my Victorian Cravat tutorial.  But I know more about sewing now than I did then, so I've updated the technique to be a little more attractive and taken all new photos that are hopefully a bit better.

(This updated tutorial also appears in the book Steampunk For Simpletons.)

How to Make a Victorian Cravat

A period necktie is an essential piece of any steampunk gentleman's wardrobe. Many different styles of tie were worn during the Victorian period and the terminology can be confusing because words like "cravat" were used to refer to different objects in different periods. But the good news is that it's not difficult to make a simple cravat that can be tied several ways for different looks. Plus, mine are reversible!

Materials Required:
-About 1/2 yard of fabric or 1/4 yard of two different complimentary fabrics for a reversible cravat (I usually use satins and home decor fabrics from the remnant bin!)
-Matching thread.
-a large piece of paper for making the pattern

Tools Required:
-Sewing machine with a straight stitch
-Ruler and pencil
-Measuring tape


1. Measure your neck circumference, or the neck of the intended wearer. Subtract 1/2 inch from this measurement and then divide by two (I will give you the generic measurements I use in a bit if you want to make something that should fit most men.)

2. Fold your piece of paper in half horizontally to mark the center of the cravat. Measure 1 1/4 inch above this fold and draw a line. The length of this line will be the number you got in part 1. For a One Size Fits Most cravat, I use 9 inches. Now measure 1 1/4 inch below the fold, or 2 1/2 inches below your top line and draw your second line. Connect these two lines with a straight vertical line at the left. You've drawn the neck of your cravat.

3. Now, where the lines of your neck end, measure 3 1/2 inches above and below your center fold. Draw lines in here, making sure to keep them parallel to your center fold. These two lines should be 7 inches apart.

4. Now connect the neck lines to the wider lines by drawing in angled diagonal lines three inches long. Make sure these diagonal lines are the same length and meet the sides of the wider part of the cravat at the same point. (You can see I drew a line between the points to make sure they lined up. Otherwise your cravats will be crooked.)

5. Now measure the length of the wide part of the cravat. You want to make sure this is long enough to tie and be able to tuck into your vest. You can either make the ends of your cravat straight accross or pointed like a modern tie. It doesn't matter because they will not be seen. If you want to make it straight to make the sewing easier, measure about 14 inches from the angled corner of the wide part and draw a vertical line. For a pointed end, I measure 11 inches from the angled corner I just drew. Make a mark here. Then measure 2 3/4 inches from this line and mark a point at your fold line. Connect these three points to make a pointed end to your pattern. And your pattern is finally done! Cut it out. The hard part is over.

6. Now lay out your fabric. The best way to cut the cravat is to place the small end of the neck on the fold of fabric and cut the whole cravat in one long piece with the fold in the middle. But if your fabric isn't wide enough, or your are using scraps from another project, you can cut each half of the cravat separately and then seam them together at the back of the neck.

Note that adding a seam will reduce the length of the neck by the amount you use for seam allowance, so you may want to add a little bit to your pattern for this. Whichever way you choose, pin your pattern to your fabric and cut out your pieces. If you are using two different fabrics for a reversible cravat, you want to cut either one long folded piece from each fabric or two halves in each fabric.

7(a). If you need to attach your cravat pieces at the back of the neck because your fabric wasn't wide enough, sew that seam now.

7. Pin your two cravat sides right sides together. You will be stitching the cravat and leaving one of the ends unstitched so you can turn it right side out.

8. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch along the entire cravat, leaving only one end open. I find it's easy to do a 1/4 seam allowance because most basic sewing feet do a 1/4 seam if you line up the edge of the presser foot with the edge of the fabric. Just keep the edge of the foot against the edge of the fabric and follow all the angles as you sew around the entire cravat.

9. Clip the corners by cutting diagonally across the excess fabric at convex corners and clipping a triangle of fabric at the inner corner where the neck meets the wider part. Don't clip too close to your stitching, however, or you will get a hole!

Now turn the cravat right side out and press it.

10. Fold the unsewn end in by about 1/4"-1/2" and press. Pin the end together. Top-stitch across this end, making sure all the edges are tucking inside. Again, these ends will be tucked into the vest, so a little top-stitching doesn't matter.

And your cravat is DONE!

The easy way to tie a cravat is to tie it like a normal tie, but instead of inserting the top flap through the knot at the end, just let it lay down in front. Instructions for this method can be found here:

For alternate ways to tie the cravat, check out this site:


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! This helped so much.

  2. do you find they drape better if cut on a bias?

  3. For those of us who sew, what would be super helpful is to just see your pattern as you've laid it out and the associated measurements on each cut. :)