I’ve wanted a cape coat for YEARS. Probably 10 years ago, I went out to lunch with a friend, and she was wearing this beautiful, gray cape (from Target, of all places!). And I just thought it was the most classic and chic thing I’d ever seen anyone wear. I kept my eye out for something like it for the next several years and nothing was ever quite right.
After I started sewing garments, I started looking for a cape pattern. I fell in love with the Camden Cape pattern from Seamwork. It was actually the thing that convinced me to subscribe! And then I did absolutely nothing with it for probably 2 years.
I started thinking about this pattern again at the end of 2017, and added it to my Fall Sewing Plans (and eventually my 2018 Make Nine, because I totally did not get to it in the Fall. The road to hell, you know?). I hit a bit of a road block finding the right fabric, and ordered a TON of swatches from Mood. Those turned out to not be very useful because it’s pretty difficult to get a feel for the drape of a fabric on a 3 inch test swatch. And then, my wonderful parents gave me a BIG gift certificate to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco.
I’d never shopped in Britex because it always seemed unnecessarily expensive (still true), but they have an AH-MAZING selection of wool. So I went in, petted all the pretty things, and got talked into a wool whose price tag made my toes curl. Amusingly, it’s not even close to the most expensive wool fabrics in there, but $75 a yard is NO JOKE guys. Then Douglass, the dapper wool floor guru aptly pointed out that this is the exact reason people give gift certificates: so you can buy something you wouldn’t have bought for yourself. So in the end, I bought two yards of the most expensive and most beautiful fabric I’ve ever owned.
And then you can imagine what happened next; I was so terrified to cut into it that I just stared at it for a month.
I knew I wanted a slimmer shape for my cape coat, as many of the patterns are pretty bell-like. A circle-shaped cape really didn’t appeal to me, so I knew I’d have to muslin to get the look I wanted. Eventually, after my muslin adjustments, I ended up taking out a whopping 24 inches from the hem circumference. It ended up a little tight in the shoulders, and I probably should have muslined a size up for more shoulder wearing ease and THEN taken out all that width. But I mostly wear it open or with just the bottom half buttoned, so it’s not too much of an issue.
I lined it in a black and white windowpane poly crepe from Califabrics. And I finished the lining hem with emerald green bias tape for an elegant clean finish. I pinked the lining edges, though I should have serged them because this faric frays like nobody’s business. So far the pinking is holding up, but I may go back and serge the seam allowances. I love the classic, but still playful contrast between the lining and the outer fabric. I hand sewed the lining to the outer fabric at the arm slits, rather than top stitching.
Overall, this fabric sewed up easily and the Camden Cape went together pretty smoothly. I even sewed my first blind hem! And never have I loved my tailor’s clapper more than during this project (which, in fairness, is what I bought it for). But oh man, so satisfying. I also found these great, wooden buttons at my local Joann’s, and I think they’re the perfect proportion and texture. Since the two layers of wool were too thick at the front edge to fit under my sewing machine foot, I hand sewed the button holes. I had never done bound buttonholes before and I think they turned out alright. I can definitely see myself using that technique on some other special garments in the future.
This cape makes me feel so pulled together and grown-up every time I put it on. And who doesn’t need more of THAT feeling in their lives?! Also, I can’t tell you how many compliments I get every time I wear it out. I can imagine wearing this for many years, and I don’t think it will ever go out of style. It feels like something my really stylish sewist grandmother would have made and worn. Here I’m wearing it with a Seamwork Neenah top in a speckled knit, also from Britex.
Bonus; since I narrowed the pattern SO much, I actually only used one yard of this beautiful wool! I’m not sure what I’ll make next with it. Honestly, I might even give this whole pattern another go, and correct some of the small imperfections. But that’s not a huge priority at the moment. I’m going to see how much wear I get out of this before I commit to making a super meticulous version. Or maybe a wool pencil skirt? If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears!