Hot! The ‘Capelet of Yay’

I’m slowly catching up on all the challenges I missed blogging about between March and May, and here is my VIP fabric challenge, made with the very specialist of special fabrics: one of the few fabrics in my stash that I didn’t inherit, didn’t buy for a specific project, but bought out of pure, unadulterated love.

Because, really, how could you not love this fabric?

It was quite naughty of me to buy it.  Even at 50% off, it was very pricey fabric, and yellow is not the best colour on me, as much as I adore it.  And I didn’t have a project in mind, and velvet is evil to sew.  But, oh, that fabric!

So it sat in my stash for a year, adored, but unused.  Then I decided to replicate a 1930s capelet, and give it a modern twist. The perfect use!  Of course such delicious fabric required an equally delicious lining, and the only thing in my stash that vaguely matched was black silk habotai.  Boring.

So off to the fabric store, and (after an hour of deliberation, wicked suggestions from the shop attendants that the velvet was un-matcheable and I should give it to them, and lots of money later) I found this silk twill.  I loved how modern the gold and teal are together, and liked the print.  Only once I had bought it did I notice the bird print.  I love bird prints.

The capelet went together with lots and lots of hand-stitching (velvet is evil).

And I love it!  It’s so fabulous and versatile and cozy and fun and elegant all at the same time.  I can wear it so many different ways.

The photoshoot was a happy accident.  I popped into my favourite craft store for the beads to finish it, sewed them on sitting on the comfy couches, and then the proprietors took photos of me in the cape in front of all the crafty pogey bait and the class displays.

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 2m of silk-rayon velvet in golden yellow for the outer, 1.5 m of silk twill for the lining (wider width = less fabric).

Pattern: Self-drafted based on the late 1930s cape-stole

Year: Late 1930s

Notions: Thread, glass beads for wrapping.

Hours: 6.  Silk velvet takes a lot of basting!

First Worn: On a chilly autumn day to visit all my favourite craft stores.  I realised on the way I should photograph it – lucky I had my camera.  Unluckily I didn’t have any makeup on, and didn’t even have a lip balm in my purse!

Will you make this again? Yes! This cape only gets better – it can be worn in so many ways, goes from formal evening to super casual (I’m going to make it up in jersey!) and I love it.

Any changes? Nope.  It’s just perfect.  Though I am working on alternative versions, because I can.

Total cost: Somewhere around NZ$65 (US$50ish). The silk velvet was very pricey, so was the silk twill lining.

And the inside?: Well, it’s completely bag lined and technically reversible – so you can’t get any more perfect!


Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


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  1. It looks awesome!! And that yellow totally looks great on you! :)

    • Thank you! And doubly thank you – I’m pretty surprised the yellow looks so well, as I usually depend on bright lipstick to bring a bit of colour to my face to keep the yellow from washing me out, and I’m totally makeup free in this shoot.

  2. Can you post the pattern pieces for the capelet? That’s gorgeous!

  3. Love it! Shape, color, Everything! I’m also a sucker for velvets and I must tell you that I have a velvet pillow in this same shade bordered by the same teal color! The pair were a thrift find and I was mesmerized by the fabric and color combinations when I spotted it.

  4. I honestly wasn’t aware one can submit project to previous challenges so much later…hmmmm……this gets me thinking…. The funny thing is that whhen the VIP challenge was on I was thinking about exactly the same type of fabric, i.e. rayon-silk fabric. I just didn’t want to rush it because it really is very special to me. I bought it years ago. It’s silver-grey with a wonderful black pattern. But the pattern isn’t print on the velvet pile but on the actual backing of the velvet and the pile is silver-grey so that the black pattern shines through but only when you look at it from a certain angle, otherwise the fabric looks solid grey (not sure if I managed to get that across in an intelligible way…). I think it’s the most beautiful velvet I have ever laid my hands on so I can totally understand that your fell for that yellow velvet. I have been thinking for a long time what I should make out of it. I think your cape is totally cute and I love it how you can tie it in so many different ways. For a while i even wondered whether I should do the same with my velvet…but I am not much of a cape person and I really want to wear that velvet a lot…but who knows I might still get a good idea this year and then I’ll submit my velvet project for the VIP challenge. :)
    PS: That silk twill looked like lace to me – I only found out it’s not lace when I started reading your post. Very interesting fabric! And I love the contrasting colors.

    • I’ve only recently realised that you could submit posts for old challenges after the midnight on the Sunday of the challenge deadline. I feel so stupid, because I have all these challenges that I finished just a day late, and didn’t submit because I thought it was too late! I’ve actually done all but two of the challenges (Mad Men and Childhood) but didn’t post about them because I was the tiniest bit late. I’m filling in the most recent ones, but I wonder how far back Mena will let me go?

      I know exactly the type fabric you are talking about, and it sounds gorgeous. I do think that with a VIP fabric you either need to make something that you will wear all the time, and that will make you feel special, or make something that is the most stupendous, fabulous special occasion garment.

      • I actually knew that one can submit the projects late – I just didn’t know one can submit them THIS late. I am so busy with my actual job that most of my challenges end up as UFOs (the pink challenge is still on my sewing table…).
        I will try to think of something for that grey velvet – maybe some other challenge will come up where it will fit or I’ll just boldly submit it for the VIP challenge and compete with you for the latest submission ever. ;)

  5. Haha…well, if you wanted to do that, I’d win, because I actually have a draft for the first challenge of the year! It took me until March to realise that I’d been accepted as a front-pager. D’oh! And then until May to realise that you could still submit posts at 10 min past the deadline. Double D’oh!

  6. I can’t believe the fabric store tried to take the fabric from you O____O they can do that!?!

    • LOL! They weren’t going to take it from me – they were just joking about how much they loved it and how none of the fabrics matched it for a lining “so shouldn’t I just give up and give it to them” since I couldn’t match it. It’s the very straight-faced, tongue in cheek Kiwi humour. :-P