Hot! The “Jumping into the Deep End” Cape

The Cape of Rage

The Facts

Fabric: 2.5 yds plaid wool suiting (on sale $8/yd); 2.5 yds black lining (on sale $4/yd) – both from Joann’s
Pattern: New Look 6073
Year: contemporary
Notions: 4 peacoat buttons ($1.29 for two)
Time to complete: dear heavens, a million hours? No, probably more like 8.
First worn: Sunday night for the photo shoot (thank you, lovee!) and for prancing about showing my neighbors.
Wear again? Oh you bet.
Total price: $34 for what I’ve mentioned. More like $50 when you count the muslin, the thread, and the sewing studio rental time. Oof.

About a year and a half ago, I gave away all my collected sewing stuff (aside from machine, shears, and basic needle & thread) in order to focus my energy/attention/money on my knitting. That turned out splendidly (come say hi on Ravelry!) but it meant that when I decided to take up sewing again I was without a stash from which to cull and mighty rusty besides.

So what do I decide? To slowly wade in, perhaps? Oh no, not for me. I’ll make a cape. With all sort of curves. And I’ll make it plaid. And I’ll line it…even though I’ve never-not-ever done that before, or even used slinky fabric before. Suuuuure.

Giddy with sewing exhaustion

Well, as you can see, it turned out pretty lovely, even for all of my crazy ideas about what is an appropriate starting point. There were some troubles, as can be expected after a sixteen month hiatus (and not much skill prior to that). I was planning on skipping the lining but then realized how much hemming would have to be done and immediately went out to Joann’s to part with more of my meager craft allowance. Of course the hemming might have been a breeze compared to the lining. It cost me about four hours of sewing, pinning, cursing at the sky, unpinning, picking out seams, resewing, pinning, and more cursing. I’ll try not to say too many uncharitable things about a seemingly innocent swath of fabric, so we’ll leave it at: that’s the last thing I’m lining for a very long time.

This pattern was easy to work up, although I realized about three-quarters of the way through that I could’ve just made a circle skirt to wear on my shoulders and then wouldn’t have had to worry about matching plaids (which I abandoned almost immediately for the stress of it). Ah well. The pattern called for toggles, but that seemed a bit like cheating the button challenge, so I made up little button tabs instead. I’m planning on actually shortening the tabs to close the cape closer; with the gap it pulls the shoulder seams off my shoulders about an inch, making it a bit more baggy than I’d like. (My brain tells me that it’s a cape and therefore supposed to be baggy, but I’m choosing to ignore her.)

Little Red's Sassy Sister

But in the end, it’s an amazing thing. The lining makes it feel like a real garment, the plaid is loud and bold and all the things I love, and just like that, I’m back in the water (that is, the water of sewing).

(Tip for those predisposed to sewing rage: if planning on utilizing the magical buttonhole foot, check to make sure your buttons fit in said foot. Do this before sitting down to create buttonholes.)




Crysta Swarts is a teacher in Tacoma, WA whose primary focus on knitting has left little room for sewing. She believes 2012 is the year to change all that.


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  1. What a way to get back into sewing, go you!

  2. Very cool cape – and your advice re: size of buttons v what your buttonhole foot is capable of is duly noted. lol – great way to restart the sewing but.

    • Hahah, thanks – it was perhaps the lowest moment of the thing… thinking I was just moments from being done and then realizing that I had way more work ahead of me than I realized.

  3. Well done Crista! I like the button tabs that you made and I agree that closing that gap is going to make the cape even better and probably you’ll wear it more too.

    • Thank you! I’m also hoping it stops it from constantly slipping down my back – the hood is enormous and pulls the whole thing down, but I think if it fits closer, it’ll stay put better too.

  4. Oh wow Crista this is fab, those colours?! I love it! I would totally wear this, well done.

  5. I am in love with that hood! Super cute

    • Aw, thanks, Clarissa! I made a size Large (which is totally right for me in other patterns) but for some reason the hood is massive, which is cute for modeling, but difficult for staying on my head. :) If I made it again, I think I’d make a size Medium and even make the hood a Small.

    • Thanks, Clarissa! The hood is massive, which although fantastic for modeling is a little challenging for staying on my head when I move at all. If I made it again, I’d make the size M or S hood to fit the L cape. It wouldn’t drape as well, but perhaps it would function slightly better!

  6. Love the colors, love the hood, love the tabs. Welcome back to sewing!

  7. Dude- I love this, I love your approach to it all and I love the plaid. A total win!
    I recently tried plaid for the first time and also gave matching the seams a flick after a ways. It was horrid!

    • Yeah, it gave my brain a headache almost immediately. But a friend later suggested putting pattern pieces together – so instead of cutting two side pieces to sew together, put the pattern pieces together and cut one piece. Fewer seams mean fewer times plaid should match! Genius.

  8. It looks fantastic and I adore the plaid (yay Steelers colors!) – and you look very warm! Well done!

  9. What a fabulous plaid!! Well done on jumping back in – it’s such a fantastic piece!

  10. Awesome! I want to curl up in that! Well done, you.