Every dress-ups box needs at least one cape, preferably several, for any fancy dress situation. A cape can outlast those fairy dresses, cowboy vests and Buzz Lightyear suits and still be going strong at fancy dress parties a decade or two later.
This adult or child-sized cape is a semi circle of fabric with a hood pleated on. The front edges meet edge-to-edge with a single hook at the throat.
The best fabrics are drapey and lightweight. If you choose a thick fabric, your cape may be uncomfortably heavy to wear. Old, full-length curtains can be good (and cheap!). Check that the fabric is wide enough; in fact, your cape length may be determined by your fabric width.
Here’s the step-by-step guide; scroll down to the end for the summary if you want the overview first.
We’ll make a paper pattern for the hood, but the actual cape can be drawn straight onto the fabric. You can make a pattern for it if you wish, but it takes a lot of paper. Note that seam allowances are already included in this draft: 1cm (3/8″) for the hood seam and 6mm (1/4″) for the neck seam.
Sewing the cape:
Step 1. Before you handle the cape too much (ideally before you shift the cape off the cutting table), stabilize the neck edge with tape. You can use 6mm cotton tape, but I used a narrow strip cut off the selvedge (you can do this too if the selvedge is good enough). Cut the tape the length of the neck + the hems at each end. Mark the centre so you can match it up. Pin and stitch the tape next to the edge, on the wrong side.
Step 2. Sew the head seam in the hood to create, well, a hood. There’s a 1cm seam allowance. A French seam is best to use for a neat appearance when the hood is back.
Step 3. Hem the front edges of the cape and hood.
Step 4. Pleat the hood onto the cape, with right sides together. Pin the right side of the bias strip onto the wrong side of the hood. At the ends, wrap the bias strip around the layers for about an inch, and sew together. Sew all three layers together with a 6mm seam, sewing with the cape side uppermost. Finish off the binding by folding it over the raw edges and hand sewing it down.
Step 5. Hem the cape. The hem needs to be narrow because the edge is curved. If the fabric doesn’t fray you can leave it unhemmed -I did this with the green crushed velour. For the gold cape, I overlocked the edge, turned it up 1cm and machine stitched. You could also babylock the edge.
Step 6. Sew a hook at the throat of the cape to do it up. You could also use a button and loop. If you prefer ties, cut the bias strip for the neck longer to form the ties as well.
Summary of sewing order:
- Tape the neck of the cape to stabilize it.
- Sew the head seam of the hood (1cm seam).
- Hem the front edges of the cape and hood.
- Attach hood to cape and bind seam (6mm seam).
- Hem cape.
- Sew hood at throat.
Have fun twirling!