Thursday, June 21, 2012

Naoh's new cape and how I made it

A friend asked if I could explain some things about making a red riding hood cape or if I knew of a good tutorial... I found two examples of capes that I liked and one tutorial, but nothing complete that I could pass on to my friend.

Here is what I had found on the web: These little red riding hood capes are cute at the "seven thirty three" blog and I really like the one with the white string. My friend and I looked at these adorable capes from Made blog, and wanted to make a cape that is reversible. In the post from "seven thirty three", the blogger said she used this tutorial at It is a good basic tutorial, but it requires gathering which I wanted to avoid, and it wasn't reversible. I knew I couldn't explain how to attach the two sides of the cape without pictures, so I ended up making Noah a cape after I found some good fabric in my craft closet. Here is my process and an attempt at a how-to.

Note: I don't usually use patterns. I just give it a try based on other things I've done before and learn from my experiences. So - you'll get to see where I would improve this design if I did it again.

I'm hoping the pictures help explain this process because I'm not an expert seamstress and I don't know all the right terms. Hopefully you can adapt this to your own liking. Read through the whole tutorial before you start because you might end up with a few different steps if you choose to make it a little different than I did.

Here are the pictures and tutorial from my project:

I made a basic pointy hood by taking a 22" long x 11" tall piece of fabric and folding it in half.

The seam will only be on top of the head with this type of hood. You can see in the picture above and below, that I just folded the piece in half, pinned the side that would be closed, and sat it on Noah's head to size it.

Now we need to size the cape portion:

(I measured 11" from the fold because that is half the length of my hood piece. If yours is a different size, just measure half of what yours is.)

without curving the bottom

I safety pinned the neck to see how it would hang on Noah.

after curving one side of the bottom

I cut the fabric on his right so that I could see what the adjusted side with a curve would look like.

Next I just folded the cape in half and cut it to be symmetrical on both sides.

When I unfolded the piece, it looked like this:

Now, see how the hood fits on the cape and your model:

Put it on your model for a final inspection. This is where you can decide for yourself if you made the right decisions on how tall the hood is and the cape length. Check to see if you like the way the hood and cape match up. Make any final adjustments.

Now, here is where I let you learn from what I would do differently the next time:

If you love the way it looks, great! But if you see the same could-have-been-better, then here is how I could have fixed it:

See how in the first image, I was testing how the hood matched the cape? I think the goal in creating the hooded cape is to have the cape held up because it is resting on the shoulders of the model, NOT because it is hanging from the top of the head (think about a rain coat or other hooded clothing piece). In the first picture, the cape is only held up by resting on the shoulders. You can see that the hood doesn't quite reach the top of the cape because it is too short. I should have taken this as a red flag and made an adjustment. The second and third photo show how when I attach the hood, it hangs a little bit from the head. We like the cape (and my husband thought it was the coolest thing when he came home) but I would have preferred the hood to be a little bigger so that the cape sat on his shoulders a little better.

The basic idea is: Just make sure that the hood easily reaches your child's cape when you put these two pieces on your child so that the cape doesn't end up hanging from the head (if you don't like that).

If you are having an issue like I did, check these three options.

First option: Make the hood taller so that it meets where the cape sits on the shoulders and billows a little when the hood is up. If I wanted to keep the same cape size with a 22" neck, I could have cut a new hood piece that would be taller so that the hood could reach the cape without being stretched to its max. I might have preferred a hood piece that was still 22" long allowing for a 22" neck, but was 15" tall (or more!!) so that it could droop over the shoulders a little and allow the cape to hang on Noah's shoulders. By keeping the neck larger, and making the hood taller, Noah would have been able to grow with the cape when his head gets bigger and the cape would still sit loosely on his shoulders.

Second option: Make the hood smaller around the neck by making the length of the original hood piece smaller. The total length (22") of the hood piece affects the neck of the cape and how it sits on your toddlers shoulders. If I had made the hood piece a little shorter in length (18" or 20"), I would have ended up making the top/collar of the cape portion smaller to match (18" or 20"). This would have made the cape portion sit closer to the neck on Noah's little shoulders and would have given the hood a little shorter distance to meet the top of the cape without stretching.

Design adjustment: Take a look at this link and scroll to where she cuts out the hood and where she cuts out the cape. You'll see an example of a different style hood and the curved part of the top of her cape piece. You would need to sew the hood piece before you attached it to the cape piece and it would alter my tutorial steps a little. I just wanted a straight hood to make it easier, but make it how you are willing to make it! The pro to designing it the way she did, is that the neck can be smaller and sit higher on the shoulders while still leaving plenty of room for the head because the hood curves out on top.

On to the tutorial...

Now that you have the size of your pieces cut out of one fabric:

cut matching pieces with another fabric.

All the pieces are cut.

Take one of the cape piece and its matching hood piece. Unfold the cape portion and the hood portion. Line them up like the picture above so that right sides are up.

Now flip the hood over onto the cape so that right sides are touching, and pin the two pieces together on the top.

Sew a straight line across the top to connect the two pieces.

This is what it looks like unfolded after sewing the hood onto the cape.

Now you need to close the top of the hood. Fold the hooded cape in half with right sides touching again.

Pin and sew a straight line again.

Do the same with the pieces from your other fabric. Now you have two sides to your cape!

Now you need to connect the two sides:

It is like sewing a pillow, but a little more complicated because of the hood. Lay one of the pieces right side up with the hood laying as flat as you can.

Next lay the other piece face down so that both right sides are touching. Now pin all the way around. The slightly confusing part, is how to pin the hood closed:

on top of my pointer finger is a seem that sits around the neck, in between my pointer and thumb are the edges of the hood in both fabrics (this is the part you need to sew together), below my thumb is a seem in the other fabric that sits around the neck. - when you sew all the way around the garment, do not include the two seems that are already sewn together on top and bottom, and leave a 4 inch opening on one of the sides so that you can turn it right side out and so that you can insert a loop to fasten the cape to your child.

You have several layers. Understand that you have a piece on top that is the neck of your garment, two pieces in the middle that are the front of the hood that sits around the face, and another piece on the bottom that is also the neck of the garment. So, you need to match the seams up at the corners of the hood, and only sew together the front of the hood, which is the middle two pieces.

Now sew all the way around where you pinned, BUT leave an opening on one of the sides at the neck (where all the seams come together in the above picture). So you end up with a little of the hood and a little of the cape that will still need to be closed at the end.

The above picture is the sewn cape inside out.

Turn the cape right side out and press all the sides so that you can do a top stitch. The top stitch will make it look more finished and will allow you to close the opening and add a loop for the closure.

I used embroidery thread and made something of a hand crochet chain like what they describe in this Wikipedia article. I also chose a button from my small stash.

When you come to press the closure, fold the edges in to match the rest of the edges. Fold, iron, pin it, and add your loop so that it can get sewn in. If everything doesn't match up (mine didn't) keep adjusting and pinning until something works. :-)

The above photo is the cape with the loop in place ready to have its top stitch! Now just top stitch all the way around the garment to make it look finished, close the opening, and to secure the loop. Sew back and forth where you have attached the loop a few times to make sure it is secure!

Once you've top stitched all the way around, hand sew a button to the other side of the neck of the cape.

Have fun!
Noah loved playing in the cape!

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