14 June 2022

LEGO® Cloth Fest: Eero Okkonen

Posted by Eero

Some products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.

In the first part of New Elementary's Cloth Fest, Áron Gerencsér - now a set designer, congrats Áron! - dived deep into the history of cloth parts in LEGO® sets. In this final part, I'll have a look at the connections of these parts, also presenting three new MOCs that use them as, well, clothing.

The connection points on cloth parts

The most common connection point on cloth pieces is a stud-sized hole. This is convenient, as a stud-sized hole also fits a pin, LEGO® TECHNIC® axle and a 3.18 mm bar - the latter, very loosely. This is also on minifig capes that connect to the tall neck stud of a minifigure torso. Sometimes the hole has a smaller connected hole next to it, enabling easy connection with small ball joints; this technique is common in dragon sets with cloth wings, and was also used by Áron in his gorgeous butterfly MOC.  

Smaller pieces, like LEGO Elves capes and Volkswagen van curtains, have holes fitting a 3.18 mm bar. Naturally, the textile pieces can have several types of connection points and some even have only uniquely-sized ones dictated by the adjacent structures in the set design.

  • Cloth Vehicle Roof Tattered with Holes (55342) - stud and bar -sized holes, in 21316 The Flintstones
  • Cloth Sail Triangular with Top and Bottom Hole (14119) - Unusual connection holes, in 10235 Winter Village Market
  • Mini Doll, Cape Cloth, Friends, 2 Bottom Curves, Short with 3 Small Top Holes and Heart Shaped Hole (21490) - three bar-sized holes, in 41077 Aira's Pegasus Sled
The hole sizes are not exact, which is natural, especially for softer materials. The papery, "starched" cloth pieces are more clear-cut. Another dimension that is off-System is the thickness, which is dictated by the material properties. It's safe to say that all cloth pieces used in normal sets are thinner than ¼ plate, which is usually the smallest "in-System" dimension relevant to a MOC builder. As a consequence, a builder using cloth parts has to jump blindly into the wild world of off-System building - especially if the cloth part is deeply integrated into the MOC. What does it take to make a stable cloth part connection?

Connecting cloth parts

The easiest way is to sandwich the cloth between a stud and an antistud, but this connection isn't usually very strong. However, there are stud connections that are very strong. Tile, Round 2 x 2 with Hole (15535) has a very strong friction on its centre hole, easily strong enough to keep a cloth part securely sandwiched. The resulting structure is very thin (2 plates + cloth thickness) - and the technique enables neat 180 degree SNOT.

The more obvious strong connections use pieces with free sliding connections, usually Technic axles or 3.18 mm bars. As mentioned above, the bar connections tend to have wiggle room, which isn't always a problem, and the adjacent sandwiching pieces can be used to make the connection more secure - as with the stickered viking shield at the top.

Tile, Round 1 x 1 with Bar and Pin Holder (20482) is a neat little piece for cloth connections. The bar on top is longer than a stud, enabling stronger connection. Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Open Stud (85861) makes a stable counterpart, but is not always very beautiful. Minifigure, Weapon Throwing Star (Shuriken) with Smooth Grips (93058) makes a pretty, ornamental fastening. According to my experience, the earlier version with textures grips (19807a) does not have enough friction. Chain pieces with their open studs are another option worth experimenting with.

Bar 1L with Tow Ball (22484) is another nice bar option as the ball neatly fastens a stud-sized hole on the cloth. The colour options of this piece are sadly rather limited.

Of course, the cloth parts are free-flowing, and there's no limits on integrating them into builds. They can be tied, fastened, wrapped and stuffed and wedged between parts and chained with the unseen force of magnetism. Let's take a look at the freshest fashion of my character building department to see some  results!

 Suon Suncaller


For the winter collection, we have a warm coat with its hem made of Cloth Tepee Cover with Black Edge and Horses Pattern (x172px1), from sets 6766 Rapid River Village and 6746 Chief's Teepee. Rapid River Village was also re-released in 2002 with set number 6763. I'm not sure if my teepee is the original or 2002 version (I got it from a friend) but I guess it's the original. The LEGO Group's venture into Native American themes in the 1990s was questionable at best and shockingly racist at worst with face prints that included unusual noses and eyes. I can't speak to the historical accuracy of the teepee part but the material quality is top-notch. It feels almost like a gessoed canvas; a strong fabric with painted white, black and red pattern. There is a round entry hole, but it wasn't a problem on this re-use as the fabric is sturdy and the hole keeps shut.

The sides and the middle part of the teepee have three stud-sized holes in a row. They're in System, as the distance between them is three modules (hole, three modules, hole, three modules, hole). I used only the side holes, connecting them to 1x12 plates. The connection is a simple stud-to-antistud. It was strong enough, as the fabric is sturdy, uniformly thick and there are a total six fastenings. The fastening are minifigure skates (93555).

With the teepee as the seed part, I wanted to make a believable yet beautiful attire for a northern setting. Long hems are ideal for keeping the warmth as warm air rises upwards and is captured under them. The colours of the teepee defined the colour of this attire, though I reserved the regular Red to ornament and used more down-to-earth Dark Red on larger areas. I'm particularly happy with the collar, made using two white Windscreen 3 x 6 x 1 Curved (62360), and the fur trims of the boots, using Wheel Hard Plastic Small (22mm D. x 24mm) (6118).

Rinka Padmavati

I got 10279 Volkswagen T2 Camper Van to use for this Cloth Festival, but the set itself was so interesting I decided to write a review too, which was published in January. It includes 8 curtain pieces, 4 of each left and right, which have a bar-sized hole for connection. Additionally, there is the large, soft Orange cloth part which fills the gap of the pop-up roof. This wild, wing-shaped part was truly an interesting challenge to fit into a character build!

  • 4x Cloth Curtain Right with Light Bluish Gray and Yellow Plaid Pattern in White (6352742 | 79417)
  • 4x Cloth Curtain Left with Light Bluish Gray and Yellow Plaid Pattern in White (6352744 | 79418)
  • 1x Cloth Awning Long with Tapered Ends in Bright Orange/Orange (6352682 | 79385) 

I began the process with the curtain parts. My first idea was a front panel of a skirt, but it didn't fly. The wing-like overlap arrangement was there from the beginning. In the end they ended up in some sort of shoulder epaulette and the uniform-like attire evolved around them. I went for a warm colour scheme of White, Pearl Gold, Reddish Brown and Orange. I'm particularly happy with the tall boots topped with Belville saddles (6185).

The awning was even harder to use. It's very soft and flexible, which makes using it structurally hard, but enables heavy wrapping, folding and stuffing. So I wrapped it around the head, making a turban. I didn't mind the connection holes - there were plenty of them - but they didn't really line in the turban shape; so I used a magnet (73092) to sandwich the turban above the forehead. There are four layers of cloth between the magnets, but the grasp is firm. On the back, the tails go between some plates and curved slopes, fastening the headgear. I adorned the turban with a big gold globe, a Zamor sphere (54821) from Bionicle. 

Tim Goddard's wonderful article on LEGO magnets noted that the pulley wheel hub (3464) axle has the same dimensions with the old magnet's pegs. I knew that a pulley wheel hub can be connected into a Zamor, and thus this was true also with the magnet. Life is learning.

Bea on the Beach

There is a cloth piece in this MOC, Cloth Rectangle 6 x 12 with 2 x 2 Cutout, Holes at Corners, Green and Yellow Stripes with Red Wavy Lines and Blue Diamonds Elephant Saddle Pattern (45644px1) from 2003 set 7414 Elephant Caravan, but it just lies on the ground as a blanket for some picnic provisions. Not a very interesting connection, huh. 

What is really being presented here on Bea's attire are two pieces that are akin to cloth parts in their usage, while being made of plastic (and classified to the "plastic" category on BrickLink). These are Plastic Triangle 23 x 26 Sail with Magenta Border, White and Medium Azure Wavy Stripes and Yellow Flowers and Dots Pattern (32845) from 2017 set 41317 Sunshine Catamaran. They're big pieces with elegant, wavy lines and cheerful LEGO Friends colours.

I wanted to include a MOC that uses these plastic pieces in this article. I think the plastic pieces are a bit overlooked; they're not as pleasant to touch as fabric parts, and they don't have the sense of exclusivity that, for example, Pirate ship sails have. But there are plenty of striking, pretty and interesting plastic parts ready to be explored by MOC builders. They're more rigid than most cloth parts, but this also means they keep their shape pretty well and form nice, geometric curves when bent.

The process on this character was straightforward. I had several alternatives on the skirt arrangement, and I chose an asymmetrical version with a swirling "star" in the middle. The plastic pieces in their rigidness needed a relatively strong connection, so I used 2x2 round tiles with holes described above. The lower one of the sails is not connected to the model, it is just wrapped on the upper one; and the upper one is connected to the torso between the legs.

Again, the print on these plastic sails defined the colours: Magenta and Medium Azure, a classic LEGO Friends mix. Yellow appeared on the trans-yellow hair, as well as on the hat ribbon (I like cool hats). Aside from the cloth content, a technique worth pointing out is used in the ankles; a Slope 75 2 x 1 x 3 - Open Stud (4460a) is combined with Bar 1L with Tow Ball (22484) to make the ankle joint - something that is impossible with the modern blocked hollow stud version.

That's all for the Cloth Festival on New Elementary. Thanks to Áron Gerencsér for the idea and for authoring part 1 - and let's hope he'll endow us with some sweet interesting cloth and plastic pieces in future sets!

Editor: Chris Baginski 

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  1. Wonderful guide and wonderful MOCs! I always look forward to your articles!

  2. Interesting MOC's. I really like to know th number of te littl blue crown piece on the hat of the last MOC character. Would be nice, if you can tell me the ite number. Thanks in advance.

  3. 15469, I guess, although I'm not entirely sure on how it's attached.


    1. Thank you very much for the info. I honestly expected a smaller component, but I also misjudged the size of the figure all in all.