In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade. . .
With the awakening of Lady Spring, a floral covered bonnet will surely not be amiss in your seasonal wardrobe. A natural coloured straw lampshade hat, completely covered in multi-coloured blooms of all varieties is the perfect statement piece for the early days of this season leading up to Eastertide. The white outfit and pale pink earrings recede, allowing the playful blossoms to take centre stage. A flourish of bright and bold lipstick is the perfect final touch for an ensemble that so clearly heralds “Spring”.
Inspiration for this fashion look from the magazine cover of Vogue April 1, 1956.
Capes are amazing, don’t you agree? Superheroes wear them. Medieval warriors wear them. Little Red Riding Hood wears one. Movie starlets wear them. In short- you should wear one too. (Except if you are talking to Edna Mode in which case she will advise you “No capes!”) I had a black cape once, a few years ago, but unfortunately it hit me right at the widest part of my hip and I discovered that was a rather unflattering length. So after many years of admiring capes, I decided that it was high time I finally made a cape for myself. After all, how hard could it be to make a cape?
Well, considering that it is now March 17, and this is the first project I have completed this year… apparently it was a little more work than I first thought it would be. . .
The first step to making my cape was choosing the fabric. My first thought was a length of plaid wool I picked up a few years ago. However, the mistake I made when I bought it was that I only purchased 1.5 metres, which is not enough to do much of anything with. I thought that I might be able to squeeze a cape out of it, but, alas, a cape takes a surprisingly large amount of yardage, and it was not to be. I was on the lookout for a nice wool, but the fabric stores didn’t have anything I wanted. Then, in January, when I was at the local thrift store, my sister noticed a length of green wool for sale for $10.00, for 2.8 metres. Thrift score!
I decided to line the cape in a gold/tan, because there was no green lining available. The other choices they had at the fabric store were brown or black, but I like how the gold picks up the warm tones of the wool. If you look closely at the wool, you will see that it is woven with gold, green, brown, cinnamon and russet coloured threads. If you can’t match your lining, it’s fun to contrast it so it becomes a feature.
Now that I had the fabric picked out, the next step was the pattern. For a pattern I chose Butterick 3642. This was for no special reason, other than that I was at my local fabric store and this was the only cape pattern they had. I could have bought an indie pattern, but I never really thought about it, and this one seemed fine. I think that this pattern is actually out of print, and there was just one lone pattern left at my local shop! I was planning for a WWII nurses cape style, and the drawing on the back of this pattern looked quite similar in style to that. I decided that I wanted to make the cape knee length, which would put it at the hem length of most of my dresses and skirts. The pattern had two choices- mid calf and mid thigh- but it was simple enough to adjust the pattern to the length that I wanted it to be at.
At this point, I was a bad blogger and dove right into the project without taking any pictures! All, I got was a picture of the stack of fabric before I started cutting it. Oops. The cape went together fairly well, although it took forever to cut out the pieces as there was just enough fabric to fit all the pieces on, and it was like a puzzle to lay them all out exactly! It took me about two days to sew together the pieces, the lining, the collar and the buttonholes. . . and at this point you might wonder why I am writing this in March, not January.
Well, once I got the cape pretty much together, I realized that whoever designed this pattern must have planned to dress football players. The shoulders in the cape were much too wide and the shoulder point hung way off the edge of my shoulder. This resulted both in throwing the direction of the fabric off, as well as looking way too big. I was swimming in fabric. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a cape being too large- but this one was. At this point I was in the depths of despair at the thought of all the work I had done so far, and now had to undo, so I threw it away in disgust and didn’t pick the project up again for a month. (In defence, I was also busy during February preparing for my art show, so I didn’t have a lot of free time to devote to working on a fussy project that was turning out to be more complicated than I originally thought.) So, the abandoned project sat there until last week. I knew that if I didn’t do it now- it would never be done- and I really wanted to wear it! When contemplating what to wear for St. Patrick’s Day, I remembered that I own very little green, and knew that this cape would be the perfect thing. There’s nothing like a deadline to force you to hurry up and sew 🙂 (ps. I do have a small bit of Irish heritage, but have never done anything more to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than dressing in green!)
In regards to fixing this pattern, I ended up pinching out about three inches of fabric from the shoulder and tapering it to the hem. Taking out that fabric made all the difference to the shape and fit of the cape. Instead of looking like I was wearing a blanket, it now falls somewhere between the fit and flare of a nurses cape, and a 40’s swing coat style.
The two things I do not like about how the cape turned out are, one, that the collar likes to roll out. I did everything, including cutting the under collar smaller, and steaming it in shape, but it does still like to flip out. However, if I decide that it bothers me too much, I can always wear it with a fur collar over top. The other thing, is that the hem puckers a bit. I’m planning on taking it in to my local dry cleaners for a pressing. I have gotten garments pressed before (without getting them dry cleaned), as it is actually quite cheap and gives a much more professional finish to a project that you just can’t achieve with an iron. I think getting home sewn garments professionally pressed is totally worth it- especially where wool is concerned.
So there you have it. After all the trials that the fitting gave me, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the finished cape. I do have a history of getting my projects finished and then not liking them, but I actually love how this one turned out this time! I think I will be able to get a lot of wear out of this piece. This colour of green goes very well with so many colours, and capes are great for those chilly days where you need some form of outerwear, but not a buffalo robe. In other words, because I live in Canada, I am going to get a lot of wear out of this before Spring and Summer come around 😉
Would I sew Butterick 3642 again? I don’t think I would. The pattern doesn’t actually call for a lining, and adding a lining to a pattern is always tedious. The aforementioned fit problems were kind of bothersome too, so even though I have fixed them now, I don’t know if I would want to sew it again. I would also like to try a different style of cape, with a different kind of un-seamed shoulder. Maybe I’ll try an indie pattern next time!
Do you have a cape, or wish you had one? Do you have any recommendations for a different cape pattern than Butterick 3642? And, do you observe St. Patrick’s Day, and are you wearing green today?
A fashion moment with Creative Hands is long overdue, and in this case, a St. Patrick’s Day fashion moment means, of course, all shades of green. Not that a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is only about wearing green, but in the realm of fashion it sure is 🙂
Apparently green was not as popular a colour in the 1970’s as I thought it would be. When I started looking through my books, I thought I would find an abundance of olives, but rather I found plenty of tan, harvest gold, blue and cream, with very few images of green sprinkled throughout. These pictures I am sharing here today are the sum of all twenty-one volumes. (Minus one picture of a creepy looking man in a quilted vest!) As with most fashion images from the 1970’s, there are plenty that I would not hesitate to add to my wardrobe today. . . and plenty I would steer clear of too! I hope you enjoy these pictures, and that they put you in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day this Friday!
The fairytale influences were very strong this past season- and I think that they will be with us for a while yet. The dress at the beginning of the post is a beautiful example of a medieval and fairytale inspired garment. I would add this to my wardrobe in a second!
This is another “Collector’s Piece”, which is a section in the books where they showcase textile designers projects. Can you imagine the work that went into this coat? So amazing!
This one looks better in the illustration than in real life, I think, although it’s hard to tell because she is sitting down (and obviously wanting that guy to Leave Her Alone, don’t you think?)
Not only is this an absolutely lovely skirt, and the entire ensemble is perfect for Spring- but let’s also take a moment to appreciate those shoes. Seriously- those shoes!!!
You knew that the pantsuit was coming, didn’t you?
Such a classic style of dress- I can see this masquerading very well as the 1940’s with a couple of tweaks- mainly fabric choice and a less pointed collar.
A classic coat never goes out of style. Raise your hand if you want the tapestry coat on the right!
It wouldn’t be the 1970’s without some smocking and flared pants!
And, lastly, this is a really nice green ensemble. I kind of think that fabric might be Fortrel, in which case that is too bad as that stuff is nasty, but I’m not sure if it is. What do you think the fabric looks like?
Which image is your favourite? Would you add any of these pieces to your wardrobe, given the chance? Do you plan on wearing green on Friday, for St. Patrick’s Day?
I have been wearing a lot of florals lately- oh right, that’s because that is the majority of what I own! If you were to take a look in my wardrobe you would see an abundance of patterns and many of those patterns are florals. Large scale garden flowers, tiny patterned flowers, geometrically shaped flowers, painterly flowers and even fabric and lace woven with flowers in it. Florals are such a great print to have though, because they just seem to go with everything. You can pair them with solids and stripes. You can pair them with polka dots and checks. You can even pair some florals with other sized florals, if the colours work well together. If you couldn’t tell already: I like florals 🙂 As I mentioned last week, florals are great all year round, and they add a nice spot of sunshine to the winter season.
The dress I am sharing, for this last day of February, is extremely similar to my black floral cotton skirt. It is not the same design, but at first glance it does appear to be the same pattern. It is made of rayon, and it was a 90’s dress which I shortened and darted to refashion into a more 1940’s style dress. Those two simple alterations turned the dress from looking like something that should have been at a thrift store, into one of my prettiest and favourite pieces for cooler weather. It’s funny how taking a few inches off of a hem, can make such a huge difference isn’t it?
I wore this outfit a few weeks ago, when the weather had warmed up enough to forgo a heavy coat, and I could wear this lighter cashmere blazer. I picked up this blazer many years ago at the thrift store, and to be honest it is actually too boxy for me. However, I do love the cashmere blend and it is such a pretty jacket. I really should take it apart and put some darts in the back, but I am feeling very intimidated by that thought for some reason- even though I don’t think it would actually be very difficult to do. It’s kind of silly that I altered this 90’s dress to suit my style and it quickly became one of my best pieces, and yet, I haven’t taken the time to alter this blazer and as a result I hardly ever wear it. There always seems to be some other project calling my name. . . Maybe someday I’ll get to it- and all the other projects waiting for me to finish!
Do you alter your garments, or get them altered for you when they don’t fit the way you like them to? Do you like to wear florals, and do you wear them in the winter?