Sunday, April 21

The Tale of Two Capes

I have a lot of options for projects to finish.  Tiramisu, the Vogue in silk noil, the Burda dress, the Almas my wardrobe would benefit from...

And what did I sew?

A cape.

Not just any cape, a purple cape for a Skelator costume.

Oh, you didn't have brothers/sons/a heart beat in the 80's to make you watch He-Man?  Here's the refresher.
A loooong time ago, I made a black cape.  My boyfriend at the time wanted to be Darth Maul for Halloween, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace had released that year.  To be a Sith he really needed a big flowy cape but being Halloween, it's just made of cheap broadcloth and unlined.  I seem to remember draping it over him and pinning until it looked right and had a hood.  There is no pattern to refer to, no notes from 1999 kicking around, not even pictures of the event.  Just the cape itself which is much too long because Mr. Lina and I are much shorter than my 6' 1" ex-boyfriend.  On the plus side, the actor who will wear the purple cape is 6' so no need to hem it.

My sewing skills were a mixed bag at the time (not that it's all that much different now).  I knew how a sewing machine worked very well.  I understood the concepts of grain lines, was well versed in turning things inside out thanks to Mom's bibs.  I watched her sew many things and Fabricland felt like a second home.  Things  I did not get? 
  • Patterns, the language eluded me.
  • Finishing seams for wovens.  Mom does not sew clothing, everything she made was turned inside out and usually had top stitching.
  • Full bust adjustments (not that it's a factor in this cape)
  • I don't think I understood bias tape at that point.
So looking at this cape, I am pleasantly surprised with some things I did and shake my head at others.
  • I draped the three panels so there was an arm hole, very wise move
  • All selvages were left alone, I knew I didn't have to do anything with them and that's true for the purple cape, it's a costume, not couture.
  • All cut (well, ripped along the grain line) edges were just folded back and sewn, so you can see the raggedy edges
  • I used such narrow seam allowances and crappy finishings that some of the side panel stitching have come apart.
  • The hood falls perfectly, just like the character I was aiming for.  This is something I didn't improve in the purple version, I should have pulled more fabric into the hood.
  • The weight is mostly carried by the shoulders, not pulling back at the neck.
  • It moves so well when he walked.  Pictures do not do that justice.
As many others have found, it's interesting to look back at your early days of sewing.

It's a very good thing I didn't hem that black cloak shorter.  It worked really well yesterday on the film shoot.

First time I've answered to the call "WARDROBE!"

The film shoot went well.  It's going to be a video, rock song about a guy doing a series of stupid things and pissing people off.  Like going to the movies and being obnoxious, being Skelator on the subway (you know not one person stopped us, a few looked, a few took pictures, but not many really stared or got pissed off).  It's a series of small events, we'll see how it all comes together in editing but they have some great footage.  I believe it will end up on YouTube so when it does, I'll add in a link.


  1. Looking at your really old projects is always an adventure, isn't it? I do love the hood style on those capes, but I am not allowed to make any more capes until I make the actual costumes to go with the ones I have. :p

    1. Capes are so quick to make (particularly the costume variety) I can see how the costume to cape ratio can get a little out of whack.


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