Hot! The ‘Little Bit of Magic’ cape

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.5m vintage jacquard satin from my Grandmother’s stash, 1m black velvet plush from…I honestly can’t remember.

Pattern: My own, based on a 1930s original (the same pattern as the Capelet of Yay, but without the long stole pieces)

Year: late 1930s meets 2012

Notions: thread, and someday a frog (if I ever find the blasted thing)

Hours: 5, thanks to the unfortunate directional issues

First worn?: Saturday 26 May for yum char with friends (and then pretty much constantly since then).

Wear again?: Yes, but only indoors or on still days

Make again?: Not in the near future.  Between this and the Capelet of Yay (VIP challenge), I think I have enough capes for a little while.

Total cost: $0


I love capes.  And Vegas is pretty much the promised land of capes.  Elvis, Liberace, Evil Knievel, magicians – in Vegas, it’s all about the cape.

Really though, as awesome as an Elvis or Liberace-style embroidered and bedazzled to the gills cape would be, I don’t think my life and wardrobe can support that much awesome.

So I went for a toned down version in classic black and white – something to evoke the traditional magician’s cape, with just a little hint of Vegas bling in a shiny, plush velvet, and a patterned jacquard satin lining.

I’m super excited about the lining actually.  The fabric was my Grandmother’s, so it’s wonderful to finally get to use it, 15+ years after I inherited it.  And the pattern reminds me of fountains and stories of glass pools with showgirls swimming in them.  Naughty!

Unfortunately the white fabric was damaged, and I had to cut very carefully to get the full lining out of it, which meant cutting along different grains to the outer fabric, which is a HUGE issue with this pattern.  The disagreeing grain-lines means that in some places the lining tugs just a little, and in others it wants to bag and hang out from below the outer fabric.  I did my best to mitigate the issue, but it isn’t perfect.

I bought the most gorgeous, elaborate, fabulous frog to fasten the front of my cape, and I couldn’t find it anywhere once the cape was finished.  So instead I’m wearing it with a vintage pearl bow brooch from Nana.  I’m almost glad the frog didn’t show up, as I the bow perfectly references a magician bow tie (and besides, we all know bow ties are cool), and my brooches don’t get to make an appearance often enough.

To get into the spirit of the challenge I added a little Vegas sparkle with one of my Grandmother’s 1950s hats with a sequin band across the front.  I paired the cape with my Little Black Dress Clip Dress (done for the accesorise challenge), some seriously awesome tights, and, for maximum drama, elbow length white gloves.  Totally over the top, but that’s Vegas!

Unfortunately, unlike Vegas, Wellington is not the promised land of capes.  Wellington is the land of “Oh blast, I’m trying to cross the street and the wind has blown the cape up into my face and completely blinded me” and “This cape looked so cute over my coat, but it really isn’t cute the way it has been slapping me in the ear for the last 5 minutes”.  So now this is a still-days and indoors only cape.  But it does a great job of keeping me warm.

I first wore the cape for Yum Cha with friends on Sat, but the pictures from that day were terrible, so I re-did a photoshoot at the Roxy Cinema – a 1930s themed cinema with lots of decoration by Weta Workshop.  And it’s in my neighborhood, and just down the street from my favourite restaurant, and a bit glitzy and over the top.  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. Love a bit of a cape Leimomi and yours is a treat, the bow brooch is perfect. I grew up in that neihbourhood – I used to look at that old movie theatre, with its drepressing chemist, petshop and tragic hairdressers in the mall underneath and wish someone would turn it back into a Cinema – thank you Jesus for Peter Jackson and capes.

    • Well, Miramar has certainly improved since the cinema was refurbished, but I just hope Weta knows when to leave well enough alone. They tend to get a little too enthusiastic about re-doing things, and improve all the history and originality out of them. The cinema is at the balancing point at the moment.

  2. I think you did a great job working through the trouble-spots of your nan’s lovely fabric. The outer part looks lovely, and you can’t tell (at least in photos) that you had any issues with grain on the inside. Nice job!

  3. The satin has such a great look when the light hits it! The cape looks great (you did a nice job hiding the problems notes) and the brooch is a very nice touch.

  4. I’m a huge cape fan, and in velvet?! Looove it! I laughed out loud at your post. The wind is definitely not cape-friendly. Kudos!

  5. Very pretty look. Great job working with a difficult fabric issue. I’ve had to do it a few times, and it *is* a challenge, but I’m always proud that I’ve gotten through it – with a nice garment to boot. I’m sure you’ll appreciate it not only because of your nan’s fabric, but also because you overcame the challenge.

  6. Beautiful cape! I love that you got to use your grandmother’s fabric. And the bow brooch is perfect!

    • Thank you! I’m lucky enough to have a stash of my Grandmother’s fabric, my Nana’s fabric, and my honourary Grandmother’s fabric, which means everything I sew has meaning, and that I have to really watch it or I run the risk of becoming a hoarder :-P

  7. Adorable! I like how you went vintage Vegas for this challenge. The cape is really sweet and the accessories are so beautiful. I love your stockings and I want some just like them.

    • Thank you! I think vintage is the only sort of Vegas I could do!

      I got the stockings in Melbourne Australia, and I want more too, though when I bought them I wondered if they were too outrageous for me. They are so soft and comfortable too.

  8. Just lovely! I love the styling as well.

  9. Love it – hope you find the frog! (I once left some ‘eyes’ on the bus home from a shopping trip – I was making a teddy bear at the time for a present and he had to remain eyeless until my next journey into town…).

  10. Just beautiful. An innovate interpretation of the challenge. I like it very much.

  11. Of course *slaps forehead* Vegas is all about capes. Fantastic interpretation. Awesome stuff.