Spending time on the Cape.

Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful vacation?  Picture billowy clouds reminiscent of  silk organza, gently undulating waves of turquoise hue, windswept flowers lining the landscape. . .   So where would one find this perfect setting?  I hope you’re not disappointed to learn that it all happened in my sewing room.  Yes, that’s correct – it has been wonderful, but this cape is the wearable kind, and I have definitely spent time on it!

The fabric in which I made my Couture dress was a length of linen I picked up last April.  When I found it, I did not yet have a pattern in mind for it so I thought I’d purchase enough (3 yards) to cover just about anything, and at 58” wide, I had a nice amount left over from my dress.  It just so happens that earlier in the Summer, I had found this pattern and added it to my collection:

Capes were in fashion in the 1970s and are again today!

I remembered this pattern from the 1970s and always liked the short cape, with its asymmetrical opening and clever folds of fabric resulting from that detail.

As I was working on my dress, I started to think about what else I could make from this lovely linen.  I didn’t particularly want to make a jacket, as I envisioned the dress as the focal point, but I did think it would be nice to have some kind of matching “wrap” for cool evenings. Well, the rest is quite obvious – I decided to make a short cape to go with my dress.

First I needed to find a silk lining fabric, which would compliment the linen.  I wanted a print of some sort to add some interest to the finished look.  I think I looked at every printed silk available on the internet!  I found lots of gorgeous designs, but only one which presented the possibility of both coordinating with the teal blue linen and introducing some other colors as well.  My old friend Britex Fabrics not only had this fabric, but  also had a vintage button among their extensive offerings, which looked like a good candidate for my needs.  I sent off for the button and swatch, and did indeed then order the silk charmeuse.

I like the abstract quality to this print.

Armed with my new-found couture techniques, I made a muslin pattern which helped me get the perfect fit over the shoulders (which is pretty much what a cape is all about).  I underlined the cape in that oh-so-wonderful silk organza, and added  interfacing, where required, of the same.  Some of this was a judgment call, as I determined were I could use couture features and where I had to follow the tailored construction of the cape.

This shows the silk organza underlining, and the side seam, catch-stitched to it.

One of the hem techniques I learned in The Couture Dress class was helpful with this hem.

Call me crazy, but I just love to make bound buttonholes.  Although the pattern called for a 2-inch button, the one I found was 1½ inches (and I thought it a more refined size anyway).  That still calls for a large buttonhole!  I practiced first, then got to work on the real thing.

The finished bound buttonhole

And the finished underside of the buttonhole.

And the button…

I understitched the facings by hand with that beautiful prick stitch, and attached the lining with the fell stitch.

A peak inside the cape.

Here is the finished look (unfortunately on a hanger and not on me…).

Here is the cape shown over my Couture dress

With one corner pinned up to show the lining.

This view shows the lovely draping formed by the asymmetrical opening.

And one more view.

Well, my time on the Cape officially draws my summer sewing to a close.  Now it’s going to be all wools or wool blends and maybe some silks – and I can’t wait!  Let’s throw an extra blanket on the bed and dream of cool nights and crisp days filled with creative hours of sewing. . .


Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Capes, couture construction, Linen, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

10 responses to “Spending time on the Cape.

  1. I love capes too! I got to keep one from a tv movie/web series that I worked on about 6 or so years ago – it’s just a cheapy Forever 21 short cape in a very “inspector” plaid, but it’s so much fun!

    The button and print-lining look wonderful with your fabric! Your couture stitching is beautiful – makes me wish the 20 costume pieces I have to build tomorrow weren’t such a “crash them out” job.

    • That would be frustrating, I’m sure, to be dictated by speed rather than precision in some aspects of your costuming work. I suspect it makes you really appreciate detail work on other things!

  2. Cissie

    Your cape is stunning — and beautifully constructed. I adore everything about it — button, beautifully executed bound buttonhole, style, lining!!! Great job. And now for a picture of your modeling it!

  3. Thanks, Cissie! Ah, me modeling in front of the tripod just wasn’t going to happen yesterday, but whenever I do wear this dress and cape, I’ll be sure to get a photo (might be next Spring at this point!)

  4. Carol

    Love following your blog about using vintage patterns to make au courant garments. You very nicely capped off your couture dress project with the lovely cape. Also love the inseam pockets on the Sybil Connolly dress pattern. As I transition from quilting to dressmaking I thought It would be fun to make sample details that I need to practice on into quilt blocks. Thanks again for sharing your photos and positive outlook on sewing. You make it look easy!

    • I love that Sybil Connelly dress as well – the inseam pockets and the “martingale” belt (which shows up in the back view, missing here). Thanks so much for your lovely comment!

  5. Carol

    Kudos to Karen, the courageous couturiere, who cleverly coordinated her custom-made costume with a completely captivating cape. Congratulations!

  6. Oh, Carol, I have now met my match in alliteration!!

  7. Liana

    Ooh I have this exact pattern and want to get started but was hoping to find someone who had gone there before when I stumbled across your post… I would love to hear more about this make and see the final work on you. The turquoise is just lovely – I dream of finding wool in a similar shade!
    I am delighted to have found your blog and am so inspired to get to some vintage couture sewing!

    • So lovely to hear from you, Liana. As I remember, the pattern was quite straightforward to make, and the cape drapes nicely. The only real reason I made it was that I had so much fabric left over from my dress, it seemed the right thing to do. And I had been wanting to try my hand on a cape. I find these vintage vogue patterns to be worth their weight in gold – they are precise, with usually great design and engineering. I have several cape patterns, and I hope to make another one day. I think they are very classy!

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