Oh Cape. You challenged me at every turn. Like with a difficult child, I had to be patient, firm but loving, and spend many hours watching Buffy while hand-sewing almost everything (that is how you handle a difficult child, right? Future Mother of the Year, right here).
It started innocently enough. I had a random "Must make animal print cape" moment which gnawed at my soul for weeks. I searched the internets high and low for a reasonable leopard facsimile but most of the offerings looked like hive-inducing stuffed animal carcasses. While hunting the fabric district of Montreal, I discovered this sinfully soft upholstery with a tiny abstract black print for only $8 a yard (I sensed a theme when I got home and realized it was a very similar print to this dress and this dress). It seemed drapey enough to use for a garment so I snatched it up along with a fabulous aqua coat lining, some big round buttons and a yard of wool interfacing I never ended up using.
Behold. Cape Cozy Fantastico.
I really have no words for how much I love this dude. Except for all the words I am about to use: it's hella warm (even without a wool lining), it goes with EVERYTHING (in my world animal print is a neutral), it is made with an almost couture obsessed hand (well, my hand stitching is kind of all over the place bit you know, the intent was there), it's softer than a baby cheetah, and unlike most capes, due to the placement of the armholes you can still wear it with a purse over your shoulder (CRUCIAL).
I made it using Vogue 8776 after seeing this beautiful version by the lovely Erica B with some overly ambitious modifications. Like many of us, I pre-ordered Gertie's book (which is amazing by the way and a must have for any sewist's library) and really wanted to try her method for bound buttonholes. I figured the low pile on the upholstery would look weird with machine bound holes. I've also been wanting to do welt pockets so I thought, oh hell, let's get knee deep in this madness and go ALL THE WAY. Yep. I lost my couture sewing technique virginity to a cape. It was so romantic.
I practiced on a scrap before braving the bound buttonholes and realized all my anxiety leading up to it was unfounded. They are quite easy to do, even on such a thick fabric, but may I make a suggestion? Don't mark your openings with ballpoint pen. I naively assumed that you would not see anything on the right side of the fabric but some of the ink leaked and you can see a little blue on some of the buttonhole corners. I would have had an emotional breakdown but I realized that with the busyness of the print you don't really notice. The wrong side of the fabric was too rough for chalk and invisible markers aren't as accurate. If someone could suggest a fine-tip marking solution I would be most grateful.
As for the welt pockets, I had to McGyver a solution since all the tutorials I found online were for cutting a hole in a single piece of fabric, and the openings on this cape all happened on a seam. I took a bunch of photos of my process which I will be sharing later in the week if anyone else wants to try to do the same on this or another pattern.
The pattern did not originally call for a lining but the wrong side of my fabric would have been too scratchy and I love that dramatic moment when you open a jacket to reveal a beautifully coloured lining. This one in particular has a warm fuzzy side which gives additional warmth. It was a little tricky assembling it since the exterior fabric is SO heavy but I managed.
And did I mention the epic amounts of hand-sewing? I'm glad I stopped keeping track of how much time I spend on projects because when you get really into the details, you can easily get halfway through season 3 of Buffy before knowing where the time went. All the buttonholes, inside and out, all the welt pockets, the hem... let's just say me and my thimble got real intimate. The only problem is that I'm not sure I lined up the button openings perfectly on the front and facing so there is a little distortion here and there. Nothing earth shattering, but still.
I think it's the perfect mix of modern shape + vintage vibe which kind of sums up my style in a nutshell. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go stroke and fondle my cape. Nothing weird about that at all.