Vintage on Tap is focused on the technical side of sewing, the advancement of traditional garment construction methods, and development of textile and fiber arts. Focusing on slowing down and appreciating the artistry of time tested techniques and skills and bringing them to the home seamstress.
As a vintage lover, I’ve wanted to own a vintage cape for as long as I can remember.
Having a beautiful cape to twirl in, to feel luxurious and fabulous in… really, who wouldn’t want that?
Unfortunately, for years I convinced myself that buying a cape would be impractical. But then it hit me: why not just make one?
Sewing a cape, inspired by a vintage cape from the 40s or 50s is totally within reach!
Purchasing a vintage cape sewing pattern on Etsy or eBay can be an eye opener. Prices may range from a cheap 7USD (5£) to a surprisingly expensive 50USD (32£.) Of course, if I you have the option to sew your garment from a vintage cape pattern, I say GO FOR IT!
BUT– using a modern sewing pattern with vintage sewing techniques can sometimes be more reasonable if you want a retro sewing fix and may not have access to a vintage sewing pattern.
How do I intend to wear this cape? For casual use, or more as a workhorse, daily cape?
Depending on your answer, pick lighter or thicker fabrics. For example, if it’s a purely workhorse cape, perhaps a sturdy twill or trenchcoat-like fabric might be nice. If you’re wearing your piece more for the glitz and glam of it, perhaps a sequin fabric or a thinner, more fluttery fabric can be what you’re looking for.
This also extends to the lining!
What’s the weather more likely to be when you wear it?
In my case, San Francisco doesn’t get too terribly cold and I’ll be pairing this cape up with wool sweaters and long sleeve shirts. I did not underline this piece with a flannel or cotton for insulation and opted for a mid-to-light cotton brushed “wool.”
If temperatures in your area get extremely cold, definitely insulate your piece! If not, then you are probably ok to proceed as I did in the video tutorial, with no additional underlining.
Remember, notches indicate where pattern pieces fit in relationship to one another– AS WELL AS where two pattern pieces meet. In pieces such as this Camden cape, you’ll be sewing on a curve for most panels, and the notches allow you to see where the two pieces match up to one another.
If you’ve had to do any fitting adjustments…
Please be sure to rewalk your pattern pieces to make sure your pieces and notches match. On this vintage style cape, keep an eye out on the following areas:
If you’ve shortened or lengthened the piece… That the front shell and lining pattern pieces match the facing
If you’ve done a full bust adjustment… That the front shell and lining pattern pieces match the bottom rectangular panel
Step Three: Identify at what point to incorporate vintage techniques into the sewing process
The process of upgrading your sewing patterns can seem overwhelming if you haven’t given it a shot before.
Taking the time before beginning the sewing process, to identify where to incorporate your new vintage elements can save you a lot of heartache down the road.
For the above listed upgrades, I added them in at the following points:
At the pattern drafting stage…
Complete any fitting adjustments you might like to do. Then, draft your new facing pieces.
For my Camden cape, I drafted a 2inch wide facing piece that extended from the original facing that ended at the neck, then brought the facing into a gentle curve around the neckline.
Sewing a vintage cape from a modern pattern is easy to do if you upgrade the pattern and make it more authentic to the time period.
A lot of modern sewing patterns draw direct inspiration and design from their older counterparts, and simply by including more intentional construction details, you can help merge the two styles seamlessly.
By incorporating bound buttonholes, hand sewing, and more fully thought out interior designs, you can sew your own vintage cape.
This New Year ReSEWlutions video is a two step reveal!
I go into two different topics as 2018 begins, discussing the fun questions that Cotton by Candy posed to me via a YouTube sewing tag as well as 2018 Vintage on Tap changes.
The questions Candy asked were fun and thought provoking and they definitely made me consider what the projects that might be the most intriguing for the new year:
1) What’s your favourite make of 2017? Why?
2) What did you attempt in 2017 that you won’t be doing next year? Why not?
3) What are you going to continue doing?
4) What are you going to try next year?
5) Where do you see your handmade wardrobe by the end of next year? What about in 5 years?
It’s super fun to think of new year reSEWlutions in this sort of way– reflecting on what worked, what didn’t work, and what direction you might want to go in in the future.
If you’re considering answering these questions via Instagram or YouTube, be sure to tag me so I can check them out!
Upcoming updates to Vintage on Tap are on the way!
Many fun changes are coming to Vintage on Tap as 2018 starts up. I’m actually prepping to start them and I think they’ll be a nice update to our process.
The biggest reason for this updated direction is that I wanted to be able to have a closer relationship with all the viewers around the world and have a more hands on experience that I hope my videos can provide.
Bound buttonholes can seem intimidating, but they don’t have to be.
The fear of bound buttonholes seems to lay in the perceived amount of steps that go into the process.
To be honest, there aren’t as many steps as you might think.
Adding fuel to that fire is that there are multiple ways to sew bound buttonholes. With the sheer amount of ways to get the job done, anyone encountering the technique for the first time can be intimidated.
For me, I was put off from them for a long time because I kept using a tutorial that was making it harder for me to understand the concept, not easier.
At one point I had made over 20 buttonholes and they all kept coming out wrong.
I was using what I’m dubbing the “two lips” method. With that technique, you were instructed to cut out two tiny lips and then attach them to the buttonhole and in the process, becoming stressed out and angry.
Sewing bound buttonholes should not make you angry.
When getting started with bound buttonholes, expect to make multiple samples before tackling your fashion fabric.
Ultimately, practicing ANY new technique, it’s a good rule of thumb to go through at least four or five iterations. One or two iterations to mess up the technique entirely, but then by the time you get to version five+, the process looks and sews cleaner and more gorgeous.
Step One: Sew your bound buttonhole rectangles.
In my video tutorial, my rectangles were 2in x .5in (5.08cm x 1.27cm.)
Trace your rectangle onto both your fashion fabric and the fabric that I’m dubbing the “lips” of the buttonhole. Using a couple pins, line up both rectangles as closely as possible (timestamp 1:30) and then pin the two layers of fabric together.
Sew along the rectangle, all the way around. Start and end your stitches as exact on the corners as possible.
Step Two: Mark your cut lines, cut, and turn inside out.
Starting at timestamp 2:38, draw your cutting lines. You need one line directly down the middle of the buttonhole, then as you approach the corners, create Y-shape from the center line to the corners.
Using a pin, find the center of the bound buttonhole (timestamp 2:50) and then snip down the guidelines, careful not to cut through your previous stitch line.
Carefully turn inside out.
Step Three: Tack your Bound Buttonhole “lips” in place.
At your iron, press the buttonhole lips in place, taking care that the corner tabs are laying correctly (timestamp 4:53.) Also be sure that your buttonhole lips are straight and look correct from the right side.
When everything is pressed and pinned, stitch the short ends of your buttonhole, through all layers, stitching “in the ditch” (the crease.) This step will keep the buttonhole from pulling open and and will tack everything in place, timestamp 6:34.
Trim from the wrong side any excess buttonhole lip fabric, leaving roughly 3/4″in around the buttonhole.
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If you’re attaching a facing or lining to your bound buttonhole…
Be sure to complete the steps above before attaching the facing or lining. You want to be sure the shell is prepared with its buttonholes so you can focus entirely on the facing/lining.
Step Four: Stabilize the facing or lining around the bound buttonhole.
After sewing your lining or facing to the garment as a whole, pin the facing/lining approximately 2in (5cm) around the buttonhole.
The exact amount of pins or the exact distance is not important, however, you’re aiming for the facing/lining to not wiggle or pull during the remaining process.
Using pins at the edges of the bound buttonhole, identify the center of the buttonhole, timestamp 7:34.
Step Five: Cut through facing/lining and handsew in place.
Carefully snip through the facing/lining, careful not to cut through the lips of the buttonhole. Cut all the way to the edges of the opening.
Fingerpress the facing/lining approximately 1/16in-1/8in (0.15cm – 0.32cm) under, pinning it carefully in place. Hand sew the facing to the lips of the buttonhole.
Press and admire your work!
Sewing bound buttonholes does not have to be a chore.
If anything, with this type of technique you can consistently make something small but beautiful. For me personally, because I tend to use older machines with considerably janky-er buttonhole attachments, this comes out more beautifully long term. It also gives my sewing more of that Intentional Vintage Sewing look, elevating it past the standard machine made buttonhole.
Have you made bound buttonholes before? What was your experience?
This post is part of the Vintage Vogue 9280 Video series! Check out the other installment of this series by clicking the image below: