Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dress-up capes for a little girl!

I told myself I was going to stop numbering my projects because I tend to skip around so much, and also because some projects, like Project 6: Summer Dresses, are sort of umbrella projects for trying out lots of different dress patterns. I've made two more dresses for Project 6 but haven't photographed them yet, so today I'm going to talk about CAPES!!

My sister asked if I could make a cape for my 3-year-old niece, who apparently has been tying blankets around her neck and wearing them as cloaks. She's a girl after my own heart. I fondly remember tying colorful scarves to my arms to pretend I was a parrot, having my dad make me a halo with his solder gun, and many many old paint-splattered sheets that I cut holes in to make billowy "skirts" that made me feel like Scarlett O'hara.

So naturally I jumped on the cape bandwagon. I happened to have Simplicity 2571, a toddler costume pattern that included a cape--a hooded version for girls, and a collared version for boys.

I made two capes from this pattern, minus the hood. Cape 1 was a purple Chinese brocade patterned with colorful butterflies.

It's actually a dark purple in real life, not this magenta pinky purple.

The pattern has an extended front edge for a facing. I found the pattern instructions to be pretty confusing for sewing the facing, but I managed to get mostly through it. When I was done, I felt like the facing made the pattern unnecessarily complicated and bulky. It also made it so the cape draped forward over the shoulders to cover the front of the body. I tried the cape on (how could I not) and tried to flip the front of the cape over the shoulders but it kept falling forward and I imagined how I as a 3-year-old child might get frustrated in having my arm movements hindered like that.

I ended up having to reverse-engineer the butterfly cape after I made the second cape with changes based on my experience with this one.

The second cape was of an aqua confetti dot fabric I bought at Joann's. It came in so many fun colors and it was really hard for me to pick one, but my sister said my niece likes aqua.

 I seriously want a confetti dot cape now. I think it's my niece's favorite of the two, and for good reason. The fabric is lightweight, has a wonderful drape, and is sparkly as all get-out.

This time I left the front facing off and folded the front edge of the fabric back to meet the side-back seam. This helped it hang nicely off of her shoulders and left her arms unencumbered by all that fabric. I also didn't bother to turn the edges of the neckline down to hem, because the material was a bit scratchy and I thought she might not like that. And also, I hate turning down the hem at necklines. It's a pain in the ass. So I bound the neckline with the ribbon so it's nice and soft. And honestly, I think that gives the cape a very nice finish. I was afraid the ribbons would be too wide, but now that I see the cape on my niece, I think they're perfect--any thinner might not have supported the weight of the cape as well and might dig into the wearer's neck.

About the fabrics. I'd never sewn with anything slippery or stretchy before, so I was nervous and did some research before even cutting them.

The brocade was pretty easy to sew--the main issue I had with that was fraying along the cut edges. I finished all the cut pieces with a zig-zag stitch to minimize fraying, which was really time consuming and ate a LOT of thread. I used almost my whole spool of thread on the purple cape.

The confetti dot fabric was easy to sew. I didn't find that it gummed up my needle like a lot of people had issues with. My problem was that the sewing machine foot stretched the top piece of fabric out, but not the bottom piece. The solution was one I found online for preventing gummed up needles, but worked perfectly for this too: wax paper. A piece of wax paper laid on top of the fabric made it go through the foot & feed dogs smoothly and evenly, and tore off easily when I was done sewing a seam. I didn't hem it or finish the seams because that fabric doesn't fray. It could not have been easier to sew.

I'm totally addicted to making capes now.

Which is good because my sister bought some FABULOUS fabric for me to make my niece a toddler Renaissance fest outfit--dress and cape. I'm drafting the dress pattern right now by modifying an existing pattern, and I hope to be able to sew a mockup of it tonight. If all goes well, it will be a cinch to make her dress.

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