Here I am in my sewing room. I can hear the rain and wind outside my window. I have The Bodyguard playing on the TV with Whitney Houston belting out those epic ballads. What better day to be sewing a warm, cosy cape?
I’ve chosen the BurdaStyle Toggle Cape and a polyester/rayon Soft Molten fabric in grey from Spotlight. I was lucky enough to nab this when it was on sale!
So, after constructing my ‘aeroplane blueprints’ as my husband calls these PDF patterns, I ALWAYS trace over them using McCall’s Trace and Toile. I do this with all my patterns to ensure the originals stay intact. It also makes modifying patterns that much easier. Remember that BurdaStyle patterns DO NOT include seam allowance so you will need to add this either to your pattern or when you cut your fabric. This pattern also requires you to draw up a front band. The measurements vary for each size and you will need to alter the length depending on the length of your cape.
I modified the length of this pattern slightly. I made the centre front and centre back 13cm longer than the line indicated for the cropped version. I have made the cropped version previously and loved it with the lighter knit I used, but for this heavy fabric, I felt it needed to be a little longer. I also eliminated the centre back seam as it felt unnecessary. The last modification I made was to line the hood. This requires you to cut an extra set of the hood pattern pieces from a lining fabric of your choice. I then pinned the main pattern pieces together and onto my dress form to check the sizing.
After cutting out and marking the lines on my pattern pieces, I began prepping the front yoke and pockets by turning in and pressing the seam allowances on the specified sides. These had some curved edges which needed to be clipped before turning in. This eliminates the bulk in those areas and creates a neat curve.
The pattern instructions call for the pocket opening to be hemmed first. I decided that I didn’t want a raw hem on the inside of the pocket opening, so I used bias binding (follow the link for an instructional video on attaching bias binding) to neaten up and protect the edge of the fabric before hemming it. Once this was complete, I used my twin needle to stitch along the front of the pocket opening. It’s not necessary to use a twin needle, I just liked the detail it would add.
Once the pocket opening is hemmed, it’s time to pin the yoke and the pockets in place. It’s important to ensure these are properly aligned before you begin stitching, otherwise they will be askew on the finished garment and will spoil the overall look. I again used my twin needle to stitch these to the front of the cape as I really liked the added detail. Be sure to stitch close to the edge of the yoke and pockets so that you catch the seam allowance and the edges sit flat.
This next step is completely optional, it takes extra time and effort and I simply used it to create a clean finish on the inside of my garment. I decided to bind my seam allowances using bias binding before stitching my seams together.
Next, pin the front and back pieces of the cape together along the outer sides, front sides of fabric facing, and stitch the seams. Press the seam allowances open so they lay flat.
Now it’s time to hem the bottom of the cape. I decided to use bias binding along the hem to give it a nicer finish. This is once again completely optional. The pattern calls for a simple hem, but I know that parts of this hem are exposed when wearing and moving around in this cape and I wanted it to look nicely finished on the inside.
You now need to begin attaching the front band. Pin it along the edges of the front of the cape, leaving a seam allowance at the top and the bottom of the band. Sew in place and the press the seams with the seam allowance facing the centre front of the cape. Leave the band at this point and begin constructing the hood.
I decided to line my hood as I like the clean finish it creates. The pattern provides instructions for facing the edges instead, so if you choose not to line your hood, then you need to follow the pattern instructions. To construct the hood, pin and sew the darts in all 4 pattern pieces (2 of the main fabric and 2 of the lining pieces). Press the darts towards the front of the hood. Then pin and sew the centre piece of the hood to the sides. This was a little tricky because of the curve, so you may need to fiddle with it as your pinning to get it just right. Clipping the curves may also help. Then pin the fabric and the lining hoods together, right sides facing, along the front edges. Sew these together and then press the seam allowance towards the lining of the hood. Sewing close to the edge of the seam, understitch on the lining, fold the lining under the main fabric and press.
Next, attach the hood to the neck of the cape. You may want to baste the lining to the main fabric along the neck edge first to keep it in place. Pin the curved bottom edge of the hood to the neck of the cape. The outer edges of the hood need to line up with the halfway point of your front band. Baste in place – trust me, you’re really going to want to baste first. Now fold back your front band, right sides facing so that your hood edge is enclosed inside. Ensure that the edge of your hood is sitting at the fold line of your front band. Sew along the neck edge. Now, if you’re using thick fabric like I did and you have a very basic sewing machine, like I have, you’re probably going to break a few needles and get extremely frustrated, like I did! I broke four in fact. But persist, it’s worth it. Of course, if you have a decent sewing machine, you’ll probably breeze through it.
To neaten up the seam around the neck, I used bias binding again. I’m really glad I did as when you wear the cape, this seam is exposed at the front. It also feels more comfortable on the back of your neck than an unfinished seam would. As my machine was really struggling with the thickness of the fabric at this point, I decided to hand stitch my binding on. When you turn your front band in the right way, the edge of the hood should be aligned with the centre of the band and the seam should be nicely concealed.
To finish off the front band, fold the bottom of the band back on itself, right sides facing and sew along the bottom edge in line with the bottom of your cape. Turn it in the right way to conceal the seam. Press the fold of the centre band and baste it in place so that when you sew along the seam edge on the front of the band, it will catch the seam allowance on the back of the band. Sew along the seam edge of the band and press.
The pattern calls for toggles to be attached to the front of the cape and metal snaps along the inside of the front band. I decided to leave this step as I like the clean look of the front band with this particular fabric. (I know my toggles are on upside down, they were the wrong colour on the front).
Finally, pin together the front and back of the cape along the stitching line to create a sleeve. Stitch in place. I moved my stitching line in towards the centre about 5cm. This is a personal choice. I suggest you pin it first, try it on and see how you feel about the original stitching line.
And you’re finished! This cape does take some time to construct, especially if you include the added details I did, but really it’s just a lot of small processes come together to make a really beautiful and warm cape! If you wanted to add some extra warmth and detail, you could always line your cape.
It’s your project, have fun and MAKE IT YOUR WAY!