In case you didn’t notice, I love costumes. I guess I never outgrew playing dress up. But I did outgrow the plastic-y princess dresses. Now I want my costumes to look like I stepped out of a painting, not a Halloween store
But nice costumes cost money. So every once in a while I get it in my head to make it myself.
I’ve “needed” a cloak for a long time. Of course, I own costume capes in black and red, but this is something different. Versatile, practical, a nice wool cloak was a wardrobe staple for centuries for a reason. Now that I am attending a conference in March it seemed a no-brainer to finally purchase a nice winter cloak.
I looked on Etsy and the prices for a historically correct cloak shocked me. Over a hundred bucks! Then I realized they were so pricey because it takes many, many yards of pricey wool fabric.
Well, I thought smugly, I will just make my own out of an old blanket.
There are lots of tutorials on how to make a cape or cloak. This is how to NOT make a cloak.
I found this fun dark purple fabric at the thrift store for $3. I folded it in quarters and held it up to my neck. It seemed to be just the right length for a half cape. I brought it home dreaming of a cute little capelet.
I found a tutorial. I was lulled in by the “no-sew” advertising. Sewing to me is a bit like churning butter, only worth the effort for the end result. So I take shortcuts. And don’t always end up at the destination.
I could not find my dressmaker’s pencil or chalk so I grabbed a marker and a piece of Christmas ribbon. I was most of the way through making my outer circle when I noticed that I wasn’t on both seams. Drat!
So I drew the quarter-circle again in the right place. My son woke up from his nap and “helped” by drawing on the fabric with a purple marker. Good thing this is the back.
I felt so proud of myself for following “the measure twice cut once” motto. Once the pipsqueak was in bed I cut along the guideline. Then I folded the cut part over and traced the circle out on the other side of the cloth. (This is not a recommended method, but it is fast.)
The bottom hem came out just fine.
The bad, irreparable, can’t-believe-I-did-that part comes later.
I was following a tutorial for a half-circle half-cape. But the half circle cape doesn’t close, which doesn’t seem that useful to me. I wanted a full circle half-cape, so I was just not going to fold it over. She suggests using a 5-inch radius circle for the neck. I thought about getting fancy and using an oval shape (which is more neck-like). That sounded complicated. It was late. I was lazy. I traced the quarter circle, cut it out, folded over and got this.
Now her directions work fine for her half circle cape, and I didn’t even cut correctly (my circle is 11 inches across, instead of 10). I don’t blame her. But I freak a little.
Now I try it on this way and that and notice something else. The fabric is rough, really rough. I’m not going to want that anywhere near my skin. So now I need: a lining, a different collar AND a major fix for this huge hole I have in the neck.
I find a hideous faux fur vest at the thrift store. Seriously, cutting ugly clothes into pieces is practically a public service. In theory, I could use the collar. But everything I have seen shows full fur linings on historic cloaks, not just a fur collar.
So, will the fur-lined capelet ever happen? Probably not.
Did I learn a rule about cutting without measuring, going off pattern and generally flying by the seat of my pants? Yes, Teacher.
But hey, it cost me less than $10, and I’m sure you are having fun laughing.
Now who wants to make me a real cape out of this blanket I found in the linen closet?