Firstly I must say that February was a bit of a shit bag wasn’t it? It was cold, with nothing much to look forward to and we were all well past all our good January intentions, of being healthy and mastering a new language with the app we downloaded, during the commute.
February was a month of disappointment and hibernation, which for me was a combination that led only to grumpiness and increased booze intake- (check my instagram and you’ll see @fuckoffbunting!)
So I for one am glad to be rid of it. Bring on March, and get me some daffodils and a bloody easter egg.
The other day, I made the slightly premature leap from my winter coat (a rather poofy, bobbly, green, fluff fest from Topshop) to my standard spring coat (a pleather biker jacket from H&M). As I wandered down the road I thought “ooh this change of coat is slightly premature” and then I thought “look at those lovely crocuses, peeping out, yeah! it’s fucking spring! where are the easter eggs?!”.
Now at this time of the year, moving onto summer sewing projects would still be a little too torturous for me, so I racked my brains for something perfect and spring ready.
I decided on the Milano cape from Papercut patterns.
Now a cape is both a wonderful and ridiculous thing, worn by superheroes and princess’ alike, but in real life they can be a bit of a non starter. I have been dabbling on and off in capes, for the last couple of years and never has one worked it’s way into my everyday wardrobe.
Highlights of personal my cape adventure include:
– the WAG edition
A cape, come cardigan from River Island- it was circa Euro 2004 when Victoria Beckham wore something similar with Denim hot pants and clogs. I wore mine with bootleg jeans and converse, so looked more like I was trying to hide a pregnancy then supporting my footballer husband in Portugal.
– the Eliza Doolittle A vintage shorter black cape-lette that just covered the shoulders, with black frogging detail round the trim. It was 2011, so I wore with tea dresses and brogues and looked like I had got lost from ‘My Fair Lady’ on the West-End or a steampunk convention.
– Gap YAH
my brother and sister in law bought me a beautiful alpaca wool poncho back from Peru. it is so snuggly, but only really appropriate for sofa days or speedy trips to Tesco.
The Papercut patterns wing their way from New Zealand, in lovely brown paper packets with reference postcards slotted in the front. The packets can then be converted into a hanger to suspend your cut pattern from once you are done, just like in a real fashion studio.
Now the picture of the model swishing about on the front, was what was mostly responsible for me choosing this pattern- girl needs a swish.
I decided to make my cape in black watch tartan, that I got from eBay some time ago. When I bought the fabric I had intended to make a tartan flora dress from By Hand London– I went off this idea as it felt a little too ‘St Trinians’, meaning I would instead choose to make something more ‘Sherlock Holmes’.
I had 3m and managed to squeeze all the pattern pieces in, but knew right away I’d have to abandon the luxury of pattern matching.
Although the tartan I had was wool based, it still felt a little light as just one layer. At first I thought about a nylon lining, but then though this wouldn’t do against the sneaky spring time wind chill factor, so in the end I added a ponte roma lining, in teal.
Although this lining is very snuggly, it also makes the cape pretty heavy and working on the stitching on the hem gave me wrist ache. To add the lining I just cut more of the body pieces from my ponte and sandwiched them in- by reading ahead I knew the facing pieces would scoop the lining up and not leave any unfinished seams.
The main parts of the pattern are very simple, the bodice pieces are large and not too fitted, making for speedy sewing. The skills for this make came in the buttons, collar and welt pockets.
I found the instructions in the pattern were clear but only minimal. When it came to the welt pocket, I need a little more info and I used this fantastic Youtube video to guide me through (can’t watch with out a mention to the snazzy hat- hope he has a tutorial on how to sew up one of those bad boys) http://youtu.be/6MOuOLkLqQM
I was pretty darn pleased with my welt pockets, especially as I had so few problems on my first attempt- see you later unpicker… I mean what’s a cape with out pockets, I’d have no where to put my pipe and magnifying glass otherwise!
This is certainly a technique I’d use again, on the front of a Delphine skirt maybe?
The collar was easy to attach, as a flat peter pan style. Because my fabric was so heavy I decided to you heavy interfacing to make sure everything had enough support, but this does mean that my collar is still misbehaving and standing up every now and again. This is rather inconsequential and is remedied with a speedy pat down and whilst I wait for my interfacing to loosen up, I just look all the more enigmatic, collar popped.
The buttons were easy to place (as you know I recently mastered buttons) and I chose to use large ‘football’ stalk back buttons and sewed them in place by hand.
And here she is! As you will see the heavy interfacing round the hem has made it wiggle out a little, I am hoping this will also settle down with wear and make it feel less theatrical.
Overall I am pleased, though the cape is pretty voluminous and I could have probably cut an XS instead of an S. I did sew the buttons and button holes on the opposite side then traditionally reversed for ladies- this was only as doing it this way, helped me conceal a slightly messy seam.
I liked that the construction was easy, but there are some elements I feel could have been designed with a little more finesse. For example the pocket bags are top stitched on through the outer layer, leaving a stitch line, my fabric has a pattern which hides the stitching, but this would bother me on a finer fabric.
The innards of my cape are pretty neat, with only a few puckers at the back neck from topstitching the neckline facing down and i think was just caused by the increased number of layers I was stitching through.
This is another garment that’ll be subject to the test of time and wearability. When I set out I knew that a cape, and a tartan one at that would be a statement piece and currently I’m happy that this item might only have a few, but very striking wears. I wanted to make something with tones of Anglomania or Alexander McQueen, but it also feels a little like I could wear it over both me and my wheel chair on the next coach trip.
These are niggles but all in all I’m pleased with this make- it is a definite statement of style and that’s what I wanted out of my makes this year. However, will I wear my cape to work? Maybe I should think of a career switch instead, detective maybe? or whatever job it is you have when you wander the Alps picking blackberries and wild flowers?
I liked Papercut’s pattern and definitely have a Rigel bomber on my to-sew list, another tartan number perhaps?