The Cape

I know Edna Mode said no capes…

But counterargument…

Maybe capes?

I know the timing of this post is suspect but this really wasn’t intended as a Halloween garment. I somehow convinced myself that I would casually pop on a cape. As one does. The pattern is question is Vogue 9288 and the utility is…doubtful.

Here’s a list of V9288 ‘can’ts’:

Can’t carry a bag.

Can’t wear a backpack.

Can’t hold hands with a companion.

Can’t move my arms above the elbow.

On the ‘can’ side, there’s items like swish, twirl, menace, flap like a crow, etc. So I guess you do the math?

This is view B (because view C would just be impractical, amirite?) and truthfully its only real purpose is that it’s fun to wear. I’m really torn – this satisfies, at best, half of my ‘quality and sense’ goal, but if you had told the me in high school who was obsessed with LotR that I learned to sew and DIDN’T sew myself a cape I would have kicked your butt from the Iron Hills to Far Harad.

It’s not even particularly warm, though! And because it’s wool (the price said ‘probably not’, the sheepy aroma says ‘but it is’) it gets stinkier in the rain. So I can wear this on dry, not-too-cool days when I’m overcome with sartorial daring. So yeah, that’s been twice in the past 6 weeks. Not my best ROI.  

But rather than litigate its very existence – it’s here now! – let’s talk about construction. As I said, I used wool, a subtly gridded wool suiting that moves really nicely and smells a bit. Unlike other sewists who have blogged this cape, I elected not to line it, due to an admixture of cheapskatery and urgency (if I waited to find the perfect lining, I would possibly lose my momentum to make a cape at all). I used my regular lightweight cotton interfacing for the facings and collar, but it can’t quite stand up to the weight of the large buttons.

They’re from a Ziploc of leather buttons I bought at a flea market many years ago. It cost $5 and it turned out to be one of my greatest sewing investments. I only need to undo one collar button to get in and out of this cape. It goes over my head though, which you might find disarranging if there’s more to your hairstyling than mine (shampoo and a declaration of “Let the wind take it”). All of the buttonholes are functional. If I undo the bottom buttons, my range of motion VASTLY increases; if I was redoing this from the beginning, I’d shorten the placket to the top four buttons only.

I considered swapping the patch pockets for welts, but my fabric was springy/bouncy and it didn’t press neatly or stay pressed well. I suspect a high polyester content, but it didn’t mind high iron heat, so it’s a bit of a mystery. I didn’t want to fight it, so in the end I chose patches, but rectangles instead of the curved pockets called for. My trusty random piece of scrap wood (a.k.a. my clapper) was handy here.

I didn’t make any other changes to this pattern. It’s a straight size M, the largest size in my envelope. I actually cut the tissue paper!! It’s the right size for my shoulders and bust, and obviously my hips fit inside. However, I failed to account for the center panel – it’s its own piece, and in a perfect world I would have graded it wider at the hips, because my flank coverage is a little dicey.

I used my serger sparingly – just on the long edges of the main cape facings, which I serged, turned once, and stitched.

The center back seam and edges of the front panel facings are all on the selvedge.

The back of the cape could probably be cut as a single piece, view and fabric width permitting. I French seamed the side seams. The finished cape is tidy and will probably age well, especially if I wear it as infrequently as I have so far.

Depending on that someone’s style, this pattern could be someone’s entry-level project into outerwear. It’s mostly straight lines, there’s no complicated fitting, no sleeves – just buttonholes and hemming a curve. The directions were great and the diagrams were clear. Way to be, Vogue!

But I don’t know yet if this will be a permanent fixture in my closet. It did wake up my cape appetite – I’d like to try a more modern one next, like the Seamwork Camden. Two capes, though, when this one gets limited wear? I try to only sew clothes I intend to wear but I love the idea of being a swishy confident cape witch. It’s a conundrum.

In the meantime, though it wasn’t intended as such, there’s one approaching occasion where it’s sure to come in handy…

Happy Halloween!

Pattern: Vogue 9288

Pattern cost: $15.98

Size: M

Supplies: 4.5 yards of gray wool suiting, Sewfisticated, $31.46; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $47.44

19 thoughts on “The Cape

    1. Aw thank you! 😊 I might wear it to work this week, see if I get any comments from the kids. My students are usually pretty unfiltered. 😀

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  1. I’ve found that while my wardrobe is around 97% things that are functional and I wear all the time, having space for a few items that I keep that I wear only occasionally but bring me great joy is good for soul. Perhaps another version with the shortened placket might be the best middle ground? More function and still all the swish

    Based on what I’ve seen people write about the seamwork pattern you might actually find it more restrictive

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  2. Also it looks stunning on you!

    I borrowed a jacket like this from a friend once. Except it did up like a normal coat down the middle, it was a shorter jacket length, and the cape aspect was sewn only as far as the fourth button row. It had the belt though. It was actually pretty practical to wear

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    1. Ooh that sounds like an ideal compromise! Plus that way your sides would stay warm. Swishy + functional, the best of both worlds. And thanks for the tip about the Seamwork cape – I wouldn’t want to invest in something totally unwearable. Maybe I’ll zoop up a muslin!

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  3. Looks like good fun to me! You will have something to break out on those days when it’s not quite coat weather, but definitely not cardi weather. I made a similar coat for myself that I can only wear when it’s not windy because it flies open at the barest breeze.

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    1. Thanks! You’re all giving me the confidence to try this for real – i.e., in front of my highly judgmental students! Billowing coats/capes are one of those things where I’d rather not be chilly, but I’d be disappointed if they DIDN’T billow.

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  4. I was never into capes, but I think you just converted me. This is so chic, different, and cool! The mystery fabric and buttons work so well together. Forget the limitations of movement – I vote for keeping it forever!

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    1. Aw, thank you! 😀 Of course the sky just dumped 6 inches of wet snow…so it will definitely be ‘keeping’ and not ‘wearing’ for a while. 😬

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