I was going to post all my recent makes in order, but I just can't wait to share this make with you.
As the weather got colder I knew I'd need a warmer coat than the lightweight mac I'd worn through spring. I have a winter coat but it's not a great fit (my back is too broad - ha!) and it's black, which I've tried to limit from my wardrobe as much as I can.
I needed a coat and I wasn't willing to buy one. I've had this cape idea for a while, buying the wool back in London in July especially for it.
This project has done me the world of good. I took my time throughout, made the effort to practice unfamiliar techniques and fabrics and ended up with an item that I love and should I make it again I wouldn't do a single thing differently.
I have literally waited a month for the right day to take these photos as anyone in the UK will tell you we pretty much skipped Autumn. The weather has been constantly "mild" (read cloudy and boring) and all those sunny Autumn mornings I love so much just never came and now it's practically winter. This morning the sun shone through the window so I grabbed the tripod and dashed to the park just hoping there were still some Autumnal colours around. There were, but they were all on the floor. Good enough.
Guys, you all need to go and make a cape right now, and I'll tell you why:
- It's so damn comfortable. You know how you feel a little restricted in your coat with the arms? Imagine a circle skirt for your upper body. The freedom is beautiful! I thought it would be restrictive but I took care to place the armholes so that I comfortably carry a handbag on my elbow or let the arms hang loose. I have total movement and don't feel suffocated the way I have in a coat.
- Because of the room, you can wear your comfiest, thickest jumpers underneath it. In fact this is sometimes essential as your arms don't have any, well, sleeves.
- It's easier than sewing a coat. Seriously, the pattern is a half circle with darts to form the shoulders. That's it. From there you can customise as you like, add a hood, add a collar, add buttonholes or a ribbon tie, add arm slits, pockets, whatever the hell you want.
- It looks good with a snood. See? - (I did make the snood, but for some reason I've never thought to blog about knitted makes. Perhaps I should?)
- ...And these awesome vintage (1950s I believe) green gloves I found in The Real McCoys in Exeter (which also match my boots, happy days!) -
In fact, I do love the amount of "vintagy" of this cape - enough to feel a little special, not enough to feel fancy dress. I went into a vintage shop in Birmingham yesterday and the woman in the shop was so excited about my cape she put the phone down on her daughter to ask me about it! Obviously this woman has spectacular taste!
The only downside to the cape is that you can't wear a handbag on your shoulder. You can, technically, but it looks strange. But you can wear it on your arm, like a lady :)
So onto the details. The pattern is the Fairy Tale Cape, a "you choose the price" pdf pattern by Charlie at This Blog Is Not for You. She's also recently released lovely dress and skirt patterns that are definitely worth checking out! The instructions that you download for the cape are quite brief but she's done full tutorials on the blog for lining the cape and adding armholes, as well as drafting a collar. I did find I had to write out lists of what order I'd do things in as there's no set order given but it's pretty simple to figure out.
I'd originally planned to do a hood rather than a collar, but when I sewed it on it looked absolutely ridiculous. Firstly, the hood on the pattern is a very exaggerated floppy hood, which I should have known wouldn't work with a heavy wool. Secondly, in this heavy, beige, almost hessian-looking fabric it looked horrifically like some kind of medieval costume which was NOT the look I was going for. I swiftly unpicked the hood and drafted a collar which I really just should have done in the first place!
I bought 2.5m of this heavy wool from Simply Fabrics in Brixton as I wasn't sure how much I needed and couldn't get signal in the shop to check. I only used about a meter and a half of it, so there might be enough to squeeze out a matching skirt at some point! For the mere price of £6 a meter I expected a wool blend but a burn test suggested it's 100% wool. Win! The fibre really makes this cape work - it's lovely and warm even at my 6am commute on the bitter days we've recently had.
The lining actually cost more than the wool, but was worth it for the right colour which proved very hard to find. I bought this lovely gold satin in Barry's in Birmingham for £7 a meter. The buttons are coconut wood, from Wool Warehouse, which anyone who knits should check out immediately as it is simply the best wool shop I've ever come across. I also found this gorgeous dress clip in a charity shop which I think looks lovely clipped onto the collar. :)
A lot of friends have been asking recently if if costs more or less to make your own clothes than buy them and I always tell them it depends what you compare it to. If you normally shop in Primark, H&M, and New Look then probably not. If you normally shop in Topshop, Oasis, and Warehouse, then there's definite savings to be made, but it really depends on the quality of fabric you buy, and to a large extent where you shop for it. The total cost for this cape came to about £35, which is pretty much on the budget I'd planned for this item, and certainly less than I'd pay for a wool cape on the high street.