Pattern: McCall 7477 (and bonus self-drafted baby cape)
Materials: 100% wool coating outer, silk habotai lining, cotton canvas interfacing, cotton thread, metal buttons
Pattern Review: This came about because my sister asked me to make her a green cape. Her requirements were that it had to have a hood and it couldn’t be too long. Oh, and it had to be green, her favourite colour. That part was non-negotiable. I enthusiastically agreed, bought a pattern and some fabric, and then didn’t do anything for more than two years. Oops. What can I say? Sewing is a beloved hobby, but when my life gets busy it’s the first thing to go.
Anyway, flash forward two years and I finally got around to sewing up the cape. I sewed view D, and my version basically looks exactly like the drawing on the pattern envelope, which is also green. There’s actually something very satisfying about that. Overall this is a great pattern. It sews up easily and quickly and is really flattering. I especially like the subtle shaping around the shoulders.
I did have a bit of confusion regarding the facing strip that runs along opening. The tissue pattern piece clearly instructs the sewer to cut two of them. However, the directions only tell you to insert the left one. Very curious. I read the instructions over and over, trying to figure out what I was missing. In the end I decided two faced edges would be bulky, so I went with the directions and only inserted one. Was I right to do that, people who know about making coats? I have no idea.
This view of the pattern also calls for a short line of topstitching on each side, going all the way through both the font and back of the garment. The idea is to create two sort-of sleeves. I skipped this step because I liked the look of the free hanging cape better.
The best part of this project is that I was able to sew a mini-cape for my 1 year old niece from the scraps! See, if I’d made the cape back when I said I would, there would be no adorable little person to dress like a tiny hobbit! The Mermaid Seamstress is actually a genius, see? SEE?
The baby cape pattern is just a circle with a radius roughly the length of her neck-to-elbow measurement. I cut it out of the scraps in six wedges (or actually five, because the centre back was cut on the fold). The hood piece was hand drawn based on the shape of the adult hood, but scaled down to fit the neck of the baby cape. It sort of worked, except that I had to divide each hood pattern piece into two parts in order to fit them on my scrap pieces. The resulting hood is a bit more peaked than the adult hood, but it fits okay. The pattern pieces were also cut off grain because I was trying to squeeze them onto scraps, so the whole thing has a tendency to hang in a wonky way, but it’s still very cute!
This is the first project I’ve tried to sew with no plastic microfibres and it went pretty well! The thick 100 percent wool coating was a dream to sew. Stitches just sink into this stuff and disappear! I worried that the silk habotai would be a nightmare, but in the end I didn’t mind it. Although it’s slipper and floaty I actually found it easier to handle than synthetic linings that I’ve worked with in the past. It also adds a decent amount of warmth to the capes, despite its thinness. Silk! Who knew?
I’ve read that cotton thread can be a beast, especially if you’re using older thread. Turns out that biodegradability that’s good for oceans also means that organic threads have a shelf life. This thread was brand new Gutermann 100% cotton, however, and worked fine. I really didn’t notice a difference from sewing with polyester. For interfacing I used a heavy cotton canvas fabric that was in my stash. I treated it just like sew-in interfacing and it worked fine. It was actually kind of nice not to have to whip out the iron and try to remember which side of the interfacing faces down and then accidentally melting it onto my ironing board. Not that I’ve done that multiple times or anything…
I bought these metal buttons at Trillium Buttons Inc., which has a huge range of all-metal buttons. I was especially delighted to
discover that they also had this design at a smaller size, which meant the adult and baby capes could have perfectly matched buttons. YES!
The total cost for all materials came to about $150 CDN. This is certainly more than I’d pay if I’d used, say, a synthetic fleece blend and poly lining. But it’s a LOT less than I’d pay if I bought a 100% wool cape in a store, let alone two. And I’m not sure I’d be able to find a silk lining in any commercial garment. So I guess sewing with biodegradable materials is both more expensive and cheaper, depending on how you look at it.
Off to a good start! First ocean-friendly garment and first blog post are done. Yay!