Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making a Girls' Cape

I  called this a cloak at first, but I think it's probably more accurate to call it a cape, since I decided to make it a bit shorter than full length to cut down on tripping incidents.  I used a few basic pattern pieces and some simple geometry to make a pattern.  I could, of course, buy a pattern, but this way is more fun  :-)

You'll need a hood pattern (and it's accompanying neckline) for this to work -- I used the hood pattern from Kwik Sew's Sewing for Children book and the neckline from their hooded jacket pattern.  It is intended for knits, but since this is a loose fitting design, I estimated what I thought would be a good fit and ended up using their smallest size.

If you do alot of sewing for kids, I cannot recommend this book enough.  It has all the master patterns you could ever need for all the basics for kids and includes instructions on how to alter those patterns for different options.  It's true that the styles are dated, but I believe this is a must-have for kids' sewing.

Okay, back to the instructions.

First I determined the length of the cape by measuring from the neckline to the wrist with the arm extended to the side.  This measurement was 17 inches.

This is just a representation.
 It is NOT Kwik Sew's neckline draft
1. I traced the neckline for the front on one corner of my tracing paper. The black line is the original, the red line is the neckline after alterations.

If you're using the Kwik Sew hood:
The seam allowances on this pattern are 1/4" -- a little too small for outerwear fabrics.  I added another 1/4" so I  have a 1/2" seam allowance.  Since the neckline is intended to be cut on a fold, I also made sure I traced far enough from the edge (1 inch) to allow for the hems at center front. I also added 1/4" to the shoulder seam allowance.

If you're using another pattern:
You'll have to check the seam allowances. If they're the regular 5/8" you'll be fine -- you don't need to add anything to the seam allowances.  Otherwise, you might have to tweak things around a bit. Also, if your center front is on a fold, you'll still have to add that extra 1 inch.

2.  I measured 19 inches (17" for length, 1/2" X 2 for seam allowances, 1" for hem) from the neckline at center front to the hem.

3.  I measured the same 19 inch measure from the neckline at the shoulder seam to the hem, at a right angle to the first edge.  I used the edge of my clear ruler to draw a clean, straight line.

Here's the geometry part:
Extend the side seam line and the center front line toward the upper right corner and mark the point where they cross.  Draw several guidelines radiating out from that point.  This will help make the curved hem even all the way around.

4. I measured 19 inches all along the arc of the neckline to the hem and connected all the markings.  Note that I measured 19 inches from the neckline arc, not 19 inches from the point at which all the black guidelines converge at the upper right corner.

I smoothed out the lines using a dressmakers' ruler.

5. I repeated steps 1-4 for the back leaving out the extra 1 inch at center back, since this will get cut on a fold.  Mark your pattern clearly so that you remember that.

Now I have my pattern pieces for the hood, the front, and the back.
When cutting out your fabric, be sure to cut two fronts, two hood pieces, and one back on the fold.  Clip the neckline at center back to mark where your hood seam should match up.

The sewing part is pretty easy.
1. Sew the hood seam.
2. Sew the shoulder seams.
3. Sew the hood to the neckline, matching up the front edges and the center back notch.
4. Hem the whole thing in one long hem for an unlined cape
Make two capes, sew the front and hood edges right sides together using a 1 inch seam allowance and hem the bottom edges of both for a lined and/or reversible cape.

All done!

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