This past Sunday when we took our morning walk to the monastery I wore my recently completed Simplicity 8131 bow-necked blouse, one of my long cotton-polyester broadcloth Simplicity 7880 skirts, my black wool vest, and since it was very cold and windy I wore my grey wool cape, too.
Mr Rat and Gia and I were charmed by the many squirrels taking advantage of the recently wilted clover to find all their hidden stashes of nuts. The wind scudded big white clouds across the sky behind the pink church with its beautiful bell-tower, and the heavy, sleepy flowers nodded in every rush of wind that sounded so much like the waters of the ocean distantly roaring.
After the briefest day or two of sunshine, rain and cold have returned for the rest of February, and I have been grateful to wear my new warm, grey woolen cape. Unfortunately the wind and the rain have made photographing it difficult, and I was happy to get even a few photos despite the dim light and the hard wind that was pulling my hair every direction during our walk.
This is my second version of Vogue 8959. This time I made view B, but added more buttons down the front using the button guide from view A to determine the distances between them. I wanted a warmer cape, so it needed to close down the front instead of flapping open. I used the same black leather buttons that I used on my previous version of the cape, reviewed here. I also topstitched the seams by hand like I did on my short cape, since I was pleased with how it looked.
The fabric is a charcoal grey wool-blend coating, found at the thrift store, but since I wanted it to be very warm, I underlined all the pieces in large scraps of cotton flannel left over from making my nightgown and robe, reviewed here. The fabric I used for the lining is also from the thrift store. It is a shiny black acetate, I believe, judging from the feel of the fabric. It wasn’t very easy to work with, because it was very slippery and frayed a great deal. It behaved the worst at the buttonholes, where it started fraying around my hand stitching. Luckily I had some fray-check which I used on the buttonholes and haven’t had any problems with them since.
Our weekend was more cloudy than sunny, which is why these photos are rather dimly lit, but it wasn’t raining so at least we could take Gia to the monastery to look at flowers before church. The rain made everything vividly green and mossy, and the break in the showers brought some of the flowers out hopeful for sun.
I wore my two-year old little black cape made from Vogue 8959 in a size XS in a textured wool that I bought on clearance. It is fully lined in plain black polyester lining fabric and the leather buttons are from a JoAnns button clearance several years ago. They had a whole basket full of buttons for 25-50 cents each, and I bought so many that I am still using them on projects now.
Vogue 8959 is a good introductory pattern to start making outerwear, since the construction is simple and the fit of capes in general is very forgiving. The pattern is drafted to have very rounded shoulders, though, so if you have narrow shoulders, like me, even the XS will have a somewhat exaggerated shape. It gives it a 60s look---they also preferred bell-shaped capes---or a modern, avante-garde look, depending on fabric and button choice---but if you don’t like the shape of the shoulders, then you should probably chose a different cape pattern. I made the shortest view, and like the length, although I hemmed it more narrowly than the pattern called for.
The only vintage cape I own is made of double-faced wool and is reversible, so all the seams are top-stitched, and I noticed how nice and flat they are. Inspired by that detail, I top-stitched all the seams of my cape by hand. I think hand-stitching is more subtle and sinks into the wool fabric more nicely than machine stitching. The hem is also sewn by hand, and the button-holes.
I am fond of capes for several reasons: you can wear them over any shaped sleeve or any fullness or length of skirt, they are easily layered over jackets, suits or sweaters for extra warmth, they are easy to walk in, and they have a clean, elegant line.
I had some romantic impulse last month that made me think that a blue hooded cape was just what I needed for early fall, when the weather is changeable and it is nice to wrap yourself in something light in the cool shade that is easy to take off in the warm sun. So I pulled out some beautiful fabric the color of water that I found at the thrift store a few years ago and made myself one. I am not sure what the fabric content is---it is loosely woven, drapes beautifully, but is relatively thick, like linen. Perhaps it is ‘homespun?’ It was easy to sew with, but did stretch out a great deal in the areas of the cape that were cut on the bias.
The pattern is Simplicity 1771, cut in a size XS, which looks like it is intended to be a costume pattern to make hobbit outfits. With some imagination, though, many costume patterns can be used for more ordinary, daily clothing, especially those costume patterns designed to make simple old-fashioned dresses, cloaks, and aprons. This cape pattern is easy to sew for anyone with a little bit of garment sewing experience, and the most complicated part of the process was evening the hem after it hung several days for the portions cut on the bias to stretch out, which they did considerably. I finished the seams by hand to make them as invisible and unobtrusive as possible while making sure they couldn’t fray. The neckline is held together by an old frog closure that my mom had stored away in her sewing cupboard, which matched the fabric perfectly.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew