Yes! A cape! I know, I know. When I told my husband I was making a cape, the first thing he said was, “like a superhero cape?”. Understandably, I suppose. I didn’t really know what to come back with apart from, “well, it’s called the…umm… “Harry” cape – like, umm, well… the boy wizard Harry Potter, …I guess?” To which he rolled his eyes and sniggered. “Or”, I followed up, “maybe it’s what Prince Harry wears when he ventures out amongst the civilians in LA. You know… more of a regal thing?”. Frankly, I have no idea, but since it’s from the “I AM Magic collection” along with my floaty Irma dress, I guess the former is more likely.
I’m not a cosplayer, nor a vintage gal, and so, although I often admire capes on other people, I always fear they’ll turn out a bit Robin Hood on me, if I’m honest. I’ve almost bit the bullet a few times before with other patterns, but never quite made it to the point of execution. So what’s different this time? Well, several things, now you ask. Firstly, I was rather taken with the pattern itself because, one, it’s a classic shape, but especially because it has cleverly situated pockets that make it look like a coat as much as a cape from certain angles. It also has a simple inset collar band and a full bagged-out lining.
Secondly, I scored a length of Pendleton melton wool at a ridiculously fabulous sale I was at a couple of years ago for about $5. I didn’t know it was Pendleton until I got home, but it felt lovely and this deep teal shade is gorgeous. The only drawback was that, although wide, there was only about 2.5 yards of it, which is not enough for a coat, or even really a long jacket. I had considered colour-blocking and all sorts of other things, but when I saw this pattern, this was the first piece of fabric I thought of.
Finally – well, I already mentioned in the last post I think – but I’m feeling a slight push towards making some of the things that I pushed down the project list as being not so practical in pre-Covid times. My recent Irma dress was a good example, and now this cape. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not going out anywhere anyway or if it’s that I don’t know anyone if I do go out, because I’m not meeting friends, or if I feel more anonymous masked, and therefore brave, (perhaps all three?), but the whole “will I actually wear it?” thing has gone out of the window at the moment. As it turns out, damn right I will wear this. I wore this whole little ensemble on a hike today and you know what? Now I know why Robin Hood and medieval people and… and… Link wore capes. Or cloaks maybe? Let’s call it a cloak actually. It feels like a woodland cloak.
They wore them because they are not only easy to make and throw on, but because they’re actually lovely to wear. I don’t know – I’ve never really thought about it hard, but I suppose subconsciously I just figured they hadn’t invented sleeves yet or that the cape was some sort of rich-person random fashion accessory, but actually my Harry cloak (I’m not sure I can take that name seriously tbh) is not only very warm and cosy, but it’s very practical. It’s heavy enough that it moulds to your form, keeping you dry and warm, but it’s also totally non-restrictive, which made it perfect for the hike. I would go as far as to say I preferred it to my usual modern waterproof hiking jacket. I suppose actually, thinking about it, the fact that it would fit a number of different people as long as you were very roughly the same size would have been rather handy too back in the day… also you could eat an eight-course lunch and nobody would be any the wiser… hmmm…
But I digress. I genuinely really enjoyed wearing it on our little daytrip and have gone from being slightly doubtful to a converted fan. Who’d have thought? Bring back capes and cloaks for everyone I say!
As you can tell, the success of this garment for me personally is all about the style and practicality of it and I don’t have too much technical detail to add. The construction is really rather streamlined and simple, being basically a circle of fabric with another circle of lining and a simple collar attached to it. I did make a couple of notes for myself and anyone else who might make the Harry cape though:
The instructions are adequate and concise, but they don’t particularly mention grading or understitching anywhere. Since I was using wool, grading was pretty crucial to avoid as much bulk as possible at seams and I also understitched the pockets and collar. I also steamed and used my clapper on the seams all the way through, but will probably give it another round, looking at the pics (I can also see a slightly misplaced button, so need to redo that too).
My only small issue with the pattern is the lining. Before I talk about it though, I must first say: the LINING! Ta da! I had this lovely piece of Jennifer Bouron rayon in my stash that I loved, but wasn’t sure what to do with and this was the perfect match. I love it and love the way you get flashes of it as you’re moving.
Anyway, back to the details. Firstly, the fashion fabric back piece and the lining pieces are the same pattern piece, which is not an issue, except that they have separate cutting lines, so watch out for that. I missed it, although it’s easy to cut the lining down later.
More importantly, I feel like my lining was just a bit too long. It’s shorter at the side seams to allow for the placket, but it’s the same length as the outer layer, and it hangs a little low in some areas once it’s bagged out, even after careful pressing. I notice that in some of the official pictures (the child’s versions), it’s also hanging a bit low, so I think I should have shortened it by around half an inch or so. I AM Patterns suggest topstitching it to fix the issue, but I’m slightly concerned I’m going to put tucks in the lining now, so I’m mulling it over.
Ooh, sizing – I almost forgot. This is the 48, which technically represents a size and a half down from my measurements. I was sort of going for my high bust measurement-ish and then ignoring any FBA or grading for obvious reasons. I think it’s fine and I think another size down would also have been fine. Probably a size up too. That’s another good thing about making a cape/cloak – the fitting is easy!
So, there we are. I’ll be interested to come back to this in a year or so and see how much I actually do pull it out of the closet, but it’s off to a good start, so fingers crossed! I recommend giving it a go!