Banyan for an English Magician



Molly Katherine Cornett


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Model is @alancornett on Instagram

Outline the story …

My entry was inspired by Mr. Norrell from the novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke. My dad has always loved books and reading, which created a connection between him and the infamous English Magician. In the book, Mr. Norrell has become a "practical" magician of his own volition, having studied for years using books. His library of magical books is the center of his entire life. In quarantine, I fell into a Norrellite way of life. I read books, never left the house, and avoided socialization like the plague. My favorite thing to do was to curl up in a bathrobe on the couch to read, do schoolwork, or watch TV. That got me thinking: what would Mr Norrell wear when at home? Thus, my Regency banyan project was begun. The floral and leafy patterns in the bedspread felt magical and mysterious, just the thing for an English Magician, and just the thing to keep warm in quarantine.

Outline the construction…

I made this banyan out of secondhand materials for affordability and sustainability. A matelasse cotton bedspread is the top layer, and it's lined with 100% silk salvaged from curtains. I started this project using the Reconstructing History banyan pattern, but soon figured out that didn't fit my fabric well, and switched over to a free pattern from LACMA made from an extant original ( I had to resize this pattern to fit my model, and had to make a few changes (adding exterior pockets, a different-shaped collar, and button tabs) to make it fit more to the Napoleanic style. This resulted in four complete mockups, along with an additional two sleeve mockup (six total). This was the first garment I'd ever made with sleeves, and the sleeves were definitely the most challenging part. I ended up using American Duchess' "Drafting Sleeves" and button videos to help. The garment is entirely handstitched for historical accuracy and dorm-friendly sewing. The only part not hand stitched was the edge of the cuffs and pocket, which was made from the already-finished edge of the bedspread. The hat was self-drafted.




  1. Avatar Avery on March 11, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    This is wonderful! I love the vine motif of the quilting and the button tab closures, so cool. It almost reminds me of 60’s mod, but also feels at home in the early 19th century. It’s so fun, great work!

  2. Avatar Lorraine Lysen on March 11, 2021 at 10:27 pm

    Oh how lovely! I almost made a wizard (well, wizzard to be precise) themed banyan myself, and having seen yours I feel extra inspired to make it in the future. The matching cap is so good!

  3. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 11, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    I love how the product balances practicality with the fantastical! Great concept and well executed!

  4. Avatar Heather McGreal on March 12, 2021 at 12:09 am

    I love your matching cap!!! Great work on the jacket.

  5. Avatar Missy on March 12, 2021 at 12:13 am

    I saw this from the main page and thought, “That has to be Mr. Norrell!” so you’ve definitely nailed that! Your dad makes a very good English Magician and you make a very cosy and northern-looking banyan 🙂

  6. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 12, 2021 at 1:33 am

    Wow, it looks as good from the inside as the out! Love the fabric, very good job!

  7. Avatar Natalie Chim on March 12, 2021 at 5:41 am

    Great work. Love the story that goes with the banyan.

  8. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 8:00 am

    So cool, love your entry- the colour is brilliant!

  9. Avatar Nicola Taylor on March 12, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    Lovely! I love the closure on the front.

  10. Avatar Anasazi on March 12, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    This looks well made and oh so comfy! These fabrics are a PERFECT choice and I love that you used upcycled materials! Well done, and Horaay for your button holes especially. (I am still afraid of those!)

  11. Avatar Amy Sakovich on March 13, 2021 at 12:04 am

    I could definitely see Mr Norrel wearing this while bent over a book. And hand stitched as well? Impressive work!

  12. Avatar Sammyra on March 13, 2021 at 7:20 am

    well done, this looks amazing! so much love went into this, it really shows ♡

  13. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 12:51 am

    Beautiful garment, and top-notch problem solving! That challenge with the pattern would have stopped so many people cold. And I can absolutely see Mr. Norrell wearing this, and grumbling about visitors at the door, and Childermass rolling his eyes. 😀

  14. Avatar Mónica on March 15, 2021 at 3:16 am

    Your take on Mr Norrell’s banyan is wonderful! It’s surprised me to learn this is your first historical garment. Well done!!

  15. Avatar Joshua Graham on March 18, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    a banyan is on my todo list – this is great inspiration

  16. Avatar Rebecca on March 18, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    those closures are fab!

  17. Avatar Lisa Olsen on March 19, 2021 at 2:59 am

    Fantastic work and I love that there’s a matching hat!

  18. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 3:44 am

    Okay, well this has to be my favorite. This is such a nice piece. I need that hat! I love that color as well! Thank you!

  19. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Oh, what a splendid banyan. The cap is delightful. Bravo!

  20. Avatar Benigna on March 23, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    This looks exactly like what a wizard would wear at home.
    I wouldn’t have noticed that those were your first sleeves.
    It looks fantastic and so cozy!

  21. Avatar Carol Phillips on March 25, 2021 at 2:12 am

    Very good!!

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