Look! It’s Little Red Riding Hood! Oh, no, wait. That’s me in my new cape for The Monthly Stitch’s January challenge: New Year, New Skill.
I finally made the cape that I bought fabric for at the Sewing Expo in October. As you can see, I used that fabulous red coating for the exterior and the black frogs I bought just for the purpose but I went a different route on the lining. I decided that using the same fabric in black for the lining to make it reversible would have resulted in a cape that was so heavy I couldn’t stand up. Instead I went with a red and black plaid flannel from JoAnn’s.
A while back I bought a big lot of vintage patterns for my Etsy shop just because I could see two incredible cape patterns in the photos that I wanted for myself! I was terribly undecided between the two: McCall’s 9550 from 1968 and Simplicity 8097 from 1969.
The McCall’s pattern has great side panels for shaping but I loved the curved bottom front corners of the Simplicity pattern which echo curve of the Peter Pan collar. Another dilemma was that the McCall’s pattern was only a size 12 whereas the Simplicity was a 14, closer to my size.
After waffling between the two, I started on the Simplicity cape and as I had the pieces half out of the envelope, I realized that that beautiful Peter Pan collar was actually on the DRESS not the cape! Damn you and your coordinated outfits, Simplicity!
Stymied, I decided to make ye olde Frankenpattern. I traced the curve of Simplicity onto the front piece of McCall’s and then used the Simplicity dress collar as a guide to curve the front edge of the upper and under collars of the McCall’s cape.
Speaking of collars, this is my New Skill for the challenge:
Pad stitching! Yep. I finally tackled the big bad scary world of tailoring. It wasn’t too bad. However, my pad stitching skills are bad. I used some real hair canvas that I picked up at a shop in North Carolina when I went to visit my Grandmama. I didn’t realize that it was actually fusible hair canvas until I started to cut it. Who knew? I had no idea they even made fusible hair canvas. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of it being hair canvas for tailoring? Doesn’t that seem like a cheat? Tempted as I was by this cheat, I dutifully pad stitched the hell out of this little collar following the directions in Gertie’s book combined with random bits of tailoring info I’ve gleaned from the web over the years.
It came out pretty decently if I do say so, but the construction view is nothing to envy.
In the end, I’m glad I went with the McCall’s pattern because I love the shape of the side panels around the shoulders. It almost looks like fake-out sleeves. It also keeps it from looking like I’m wearing a blanket.
I’m so glad I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone on this one. I love all the couture details I put into it – not only the pad stitching but under-stitching and tons of hand stitching to close the lining, attach the collar, around the hand slits as well as sewing on the frogs.
I do, however, have a few complaints about it. I should have immediately stay stitched the neckline of the lining because that stuff sagged and distorted sooooo badly. It got so misshapen that I actually had to tack the lining up on the inside because it was hanging so low that you could see it below the bottom hem. It’s cozy but lumpy on the inside.
I also had a major mishap the very first time I modeled it for my husband (who said I look so ridiculous in it that he refuses to be seen in public with me wearing this). It hadn’t even been finished for five minutes and as I reached for something that I couldn’t quite reach thanks to the low hand slits, I ripped one of the frogs apart! It completely came unwound from whatever mysterious twisty manner they made them. The ball part of it pulled out of the part that was stitched on and one of the inner loops of that part that looks like a clover pulled out with the ball. I nearly cried as I painstakingly hand stitched it back together in the worst looking hack job fix ever. It was pulled apart and subsequently repaired in all these photos but thanks to the black it’s not too noticeable. In person, though, it’s a different story so I’m on the lookout for similar frogs so I can replace all three of them. I’m also looking for some large-ish clear snaps to stitch on the underlap just below each of the frogs so that the real strain transfers to the snaps rather than the frogs. In the mean time, I’ve been proudly (and carefully) wearing this cape out and about while my husband hides his face in shame and calls me Little Red Riding Hood.
By the way, the white fluff on the cape is actually the snow that I kept kicking up on myself as I ran back and forth from the camera before the timer went off and I’m clutching my stomach in all the pics to keep the front of it closed against the sub-zero winds! This is really more of a milder weather cape but I thought that the snow set it off quite nicely for the photo shoot.
Thanks for the challenge, Monthly Stitchers!