Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cape Mod and the Self-Drafted Skirt

I finished up the Cape Mod from the Sew Everything Workshop book by Diana Rupp. I wanted my friend Pat to see the finished garment so here it is. I'm teaching her how to sew and this is the project she is working on.

I tried to simulate the look in the book and made a matching, self-drafted skirt and added the boots. Diana explains in her book that there is plenty of ease in the sizes. She is so correct! I truly feel I could have gone down a size both with the tunic and cape. However, the sizing is likely good for a beginner because sewing something that is too small, and thus unwearable, is terribly frustrating.

The construction method was a little frustrating to me, only because the instructions are very simplistic--GREAT for a beginner, but tedious and time consuming for an experienced sewer. For example, the bottom hem of the fashion fabric and lining is simply turned up and pressed. A wide ribbon is handstitched to cover the raw edge. This is a long hem! I hate hand stitching and would much rather bag linings whever possible. However, for a beginner it's a really good way to practice handstitching. The ribbon is also a great opportunity for embellishing the interior too. Gives a beginner sewer design opportunities if they find a really pretty ribbon. Problem is, I couldn't find any fancy nice ribbons and just used a Walmart-purchased brown one. The lining I used is just "any old lining fabric" purchased locally. It's brown. It's matches. It works.

In addition, I didn't see any info on stabilizing the buttonholes with interfacing. There again, there's not going to be too much stress on the buttonholes because of the nature of the cape. It's not form fitting. So not stabilizing would be okay. I think Diana's perspective was not to have the beginning sewer experience what I call "information overload". However, experienced sewers know to stabilize those buttonholes.

One thing I found annoying about this pattern. The shoulders are incredibly wide! Even for a broad-shouldered person. Pat is broad shouldered. I'm narrow shouldered. She made a Large and I made a medium. The shoulders on both sizes were so broad and angular (think square shoulders!), and the shoulder area collapsed. We had to redraw the shoulder seamline on both of our capes so the fabric would curve to our body.

Other than that, it's a nifty pattern for a beginner. It produces a nice, trendy cape great with jeans or to be dressed up as I have done with a matching skirt. I wasn't going to make a matching skirt at first, but thought, "What the heck!" I'm glad I did.

Here's another view showing more of the interior. Note the cape has convenient slits for the arms.

I had a terrible time matching buttons for the fabric I used: a mostly blue 100% thick (and itchy!) Irish wool purchased at Ursula's store. I finally found some at Pocono Sew and Vac with the help of one of their employees. Would have preferred dark brown buttons, but I have no other dark brown accessories and am not a person who wears dark brown well. Another thing I'm having a terrible time with...finding a matching caramel/brown/taupe colored turtleneck to match my boots and pumps. It HAS to be a turtleneck. In the pics, I'm not wearing a top underneath, and as mentioned before, this is itchy wool. I can't have that touching my arms or possibly my neck all day. It will drive me insane.

In order to balance my proportions, since the cape is so flowy, I created a slim, short skirt. My philosophy on dressing is to follow the narrow top/wide bottom, wide top/narrow bottom, or narrow top/narrow bottom rule. Too wide on both will make me look 20 lbs. heavier in an instant.

Here's a pic of the back at left. Nice and flowing. Still working hard to get those creases out with my steam iron. Just when I think they're gone, I find they're still there! Darn. Just by luck the boots were a good match. Do you know why I have them? About three years ago, DS#1 wanted to be Obi Wan Kenobi for Halloween. I made his outfit and we went to Payless to buy the boots. There was no way I was going to pay $20 or $30 for boots he'd wear once, so I bought them knowing full well they'd be mine once Halloween was over ;) . My exact words to him: "NO ONE will know they're girly boots! No boys focus on feet. And the girls will be so consumed with their frilly, girly costumes that they're not going to notice either." That convinced him, and we purchased the boots.

As for the skirt, I used my self-drafted slim skirt pattern and put a small slit in the back. The skirt has enough blue to be able to wear it with black. Here's another pic of the skirt with a black, stretch velvet top I made from a Kwik Sew pattern about 5 or 6 years ago.

Here's the skirt with top and flats:

I really like this look. It's polished, comfortable and would be good for work and church. Proportionately, I think it works for my figure too.

For some reason, I was struck with the idea of a fancier interior finish for my skirt. One that I don't usually do. Instead of traditional lining, I underlined the skirt with lining fabric and did a Hong Kong Finish of the seams. I used purchased brown bias tape to cover the edges. Probably should have just created my own from the lining fabric and it would have been a lot thinner, but that would take much more time which isn't it my schedule. I bound the hem edge with bias tape as well. On the waist edge, I bound it with bias tape and turned/topstitched. I made sure to do it in a way so the wool would not touch my skin because I will not tuck in my shirts unless wearing a blazer (the rule of short-waisted chicks like me).

I'm happy with the result. The skirt fits like a dream and looks nice inside and out. Yeah, I should have interfaced the hemline. Oh well, next time. My sewing jumps around so much from garment to garment that I don't always remember to do these things. The zip in the back is a centered zip, forget about wrestling with an invisible zip in the somewhat thick wool. And anyway, I actually like centered zips. Although a side, lapped one would have looked nice too.

I'll leave you with a view of my Hong Kong finished skirt seams and portion of the hem. The inside skirt finish makes me Fancy. You I went shopping in an upscale boutique :) . I hope this feeling doesn't last too long LOL. You know what that will mean! A one-garment-a-month sewer :( . I sew slow and can't bear the thought of anything slowing me down even more.

Below: "Anti-Itch" Waistline binding at left shown from right side of skirt and Hong Kong finished seam and bound hem.

Till next time, Happy Sewing! Happy Easter to my Christian friends and Happy Passover to my Jewish Friends.


Lindsay T said...

Very nice outfit! I love your cape and waistband finish.

Cennetta said...

Hi there, pretty lady. It's been a while since I read your blog. :-( You are making great things in your sewing room. The outfit is lovely. And you are a gem for teaching your friend Pat how to sew.

Cute story about the boots. They look great with the outfit. ;-)

Sigrid said...

Lovey it, looking good.

Rhoto said...

Hi Kat!! Really nice '60s looking cape and skirt. Where do you picture yourself wearing it?? Church? ? ? Really interested!!
Very Jackie Kennedy!!
Soft hug,
Rhonda in Montreal (PR)

Michelle L. said...

Great outfit! I love the finish inside the skirt, that is a really great touch.

Kat said...

Thanks for posting so many details! I just made the cape and the shoulder are crazy broad on me, too.

Anonymous said...


I am a novice at sewing at bought Sew Everything by Diana Rupp and found Cape Mod to be fairly clear, except when it came to finishing/hemming the neckline and the front of the cape. Do you do that after you do the understitching of the lining? Also how exactly are you supposed to finish it.....Please help...So frustrated! Monica

Monica David said...

Hi, that was me who just left the previous (but anonymous) comment. Just created a google account so now you can see a pic of me! I wanted to know how to finish the raw edge around the neckline and front of the Cape. Help!!!