Sunday, 16 March 2014

Liesl & Co Woodland Stroll Cape

I'm really happy to show you my first ever handmade piece of outerwear!


It's also the first thing I've made as a result of taking part in the Colette Wardrobe Architect project (still ongoing) - this cape was featured in my Core Style post, here..

I choose it because I am not yet confident enough to tackle coats, jackets and tailoring and the pattern really appealed to me. It isn't overly roomy like some capes and it's based on a vintage pattern, so I hope it will do double duty with jeans everyday and a pencil skirt for smarter occasions.


This is my second digital pattern (the first was So Zo vests). Due to the simple shape I thought it would be easy to stick together and fortunately I was right. I'm really glad I tried digital patterns. I like getting something pretty much instantly on the printer and the range of designs available. (Just to be correct Tilly & The Buttons Coco dress/top pattern was my third digital pattern, this was finished and blogged first as it was needed for a set date).

Me pretending to be the model on the pattern front!





























I bought the fabric from Oxfam. It's been quite a puzzle to know how to handle it. It came with an Italian label with fibre content listed as 45% PA, 37% WO,15% VI, 03% WS. So I gather there is some wool and viscose in there but I don't know what PA and WS are. Anybody? (Whenever I put a question like that out there I'm always convinced the answer will be obvious and I will seem really stupid!) Anyhow it's very thick and warm, double sided, pretty firm but with a little widthways give. I took a chance and machine washed it on a cool wool wash with wool wash liquid and it turned out fine. I hope no-one is going to tell me I definitely shouldn't have done that!

I choose the navy side as my right side, as sadly I look terrible in most greys (for the same reason I didn't make the cape reversible, which would have been possible with this fabric). If you follow the suggestions, you would use two fabrics - a woollen outer layer and a nice slippery fabric for lining, but this material is already really warm.

As I didn't use lining the instructions weren't very relevant to me. I read them and they look perfectly clear. I may make the cape again (lined) for autumn and then I will be able to say for sure. But there are only four pieces and five buttonholes so I think it's a pretty easy sew (and you can also use buckles instead for a more casual look).

The cape sat cut out for a while as I fretted over what to do with the seams. Neither the Internet or my sewing books provided an answer I was happy with. I made different types of seam samples but felt they were  too bulky/rigid for the shape which needs a bit of flop to look right. In the end I took the easy way with the shoulder seams and overlocked them after sewing and pressing (in theory I could have left them as I don't expect the fabric to fray but apparently I can no longer leave a raw edge inside my handmades). 

For finishing the long edge I finally decided to try to separate the fabrics. This took ages as they appear to have been bonded together with superglue. 

I used embroidery scissors at first but I made a little cut in the fabric, so I tried a seam ripper and much careful wiggling. Every now and then I still caught a nick in the fabric. Next I tried simply tearing the layers apart but was too worried about the fabric distorting, as the pattern relies on nicely shaped edges. So it was back to the seam ripper. It was frustrating as I could see this pattern and fabric together had a lot of potential but I just couldn't figure out how to do the step without the risk ruining the fabric. The hardest bits were the centre fronts as I had to separate much deeper to enable me to insert interfacing between the two layers. 

If anyone knows a foolproof way of separating fabric layers please, please comment below. Other than that, I cannot recommend a fabric such as this if you are going to separate the layers (although I guess some fabrics may be bonded less firmly. Order a sample!).

This is how the cape looked when I had separated then folded in all the edges:




Then I couldn't decide whether to top stitch the edges or hand finish them. The lazy part of me really wanted to top stitch, but it would have made a slight ridge all the way around the edge. Since I had put so much effort in already I hand finished the entire cape. My sewing would be a lot quicker if I did less hand finishing.

I finally got to grips with my automatic buttonhole foot making this cape. I had two problems, one was if I sewed with the edge of the item at the back of the machine the buttonhole foot catches on the ridge. I solved this by turning the fabric around (I know - "No shit, Sherlock!", but I am used to a four step buttonhole that you can stick anything under any old way and it always came out perfectly). Two, sometimes the needle would start to sew across the buttonhole too soon. Apparently the smallest tap on the buttonhole lever that you pull down causes the machine to think the end of the buttonhole has been reached, and I was accidentally knocking it the tiniest bit occasionally when guiding the fabric through. So much to learn!

The buttons are Italian from the newly discovered mini treasure trove that is The Crafty Patch. I am not sure if you can see, they are a kind of squashed circle the imperfection of which really appeals to me.



I attached them by making a thread shank using a method from this book. My mum had this book when I was little, but I got mine from a charity shop for £1.99. It was published in 1978 but is still the first book I turn to when I need some guidance - techniques don't change much and although I love the Internet for help sometimes I just like to sit with a page open and really absorb the method. If you see one of these books and you are a sewer, snap it up - you won't regret it!


Despite struggles with the fabric, I am really pleased with my cape. I think I will wear it a lot, some real life woodland strolling would be nice :)



Finally, there's quite a bit of fabric left over - enough for another garment. I don't want to waste it but neither can I contemplate all that separating again. If anyone has an idea for a pattern that won't require it I would love to know. I've thought of a jacket with bound edges (Chanel type) but nothing else really springs to mind.

Also, if you have worked with similar fabric yourself, how did you finish the seams? Thank you! 

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Philippa x

27 comments:

  1. I think this looks so stylish and classy on you Philippa! The color goes great and it is just so awesome looking. I love the imperfect buttons too.

    The reader's digest book is one of my go-to books when I need to know something or just want to browse :)

    Sorry, I'm no help on the separating.

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    1. Thank you Kristin! The Reader's Digest book is such a great resource. There are so many new sewing books, but this is the one I always return to!

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  2. Oh, it's just wonderful! It ticks every box - just as a post-Wardrobe Architect garment should! And the hand finishing is such a lovely touch. I'm sure you'll be happily strolling through woodland for many years to come!

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    1. :)) I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to see any results from this project - I kept thinking and not making much, but now I have I couldn't be more pleased. I really like what I've made and know I will wear it, which is just what I am aiming for from my sewing!

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  3. This is really lovely! I like the idea of a cape, but most don't seem that "wearable", but this does! I would suggest bound edges on your next make. Or just leave them unfinished, if you think the fabric won't fray. Or if you don't like that idea, what about a blanket stitch in contrasting thread? No idea what garment though!! Sorry!!

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    1. Ooh thank you! I agree this is more wearable than most capes. Being short and curvy I tend to drown in designs with lots of fabric, but this one isn't too bulky. I am thinking binding edges too when I use the rest of this fabric but it isn't something I have any experience with...I will have to do some pattern research.

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  4. That is a lovely cape and looks very classy on you. I think that PA is polyamide (nylon) and WS is far fancier - cashmere! Get you lady!! The codes can be found here: https://www.fabric-house.eu/fbh/en/cms/textileabbreviations

    I have only used bonded fabric once - many year ago - and it was two layers of cotton. I made a pair trousers out of them for walking and hiking (I used to spend a lot of time in Snowdonia!) they were navy on one side and turquoise on the other. Once they were made up I put them through the wash, the bonding dissolved and the two layers separated so they were like lined trousers - perfect for the great outdoors! Unfortunately no help to you of course . . . . !

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    1. Thank you! I knew someone would know what those materials are. No wonder this fabric is so warm, with that mix. And thank you so much for the link - what a great resource! I researched it myself but couldn't find anything.
      I like the sound of your double cotton - sturdy yet light. It sounds as though you sewed it as one fabric though. The bonding on this doesn't dissolve when washed and seems to be sewn rather than glued. I wonder what garment it was originally intended for!

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  5. Your cape is lovely! And the Readers Digest is my 'go to' reference as well ;) I am of no help at all re.bonded fabrics, I have one in my stash that I hope to sew with this winter, so I do appreciate hearing of your adventures - I'd not really planned it through yet, a topstitch & leaving them unbound was my only thought!

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    1. It seems a lot of people love the Reader's Digest! I need to see what you do with your bonded fabric. I have just learned (comment above) some of them are glued so maybe your finish will depend on the way they are secured. My advice is do a lot of experimenting on scraps first!

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  6. The cape is lovely and the fit is perfect! Love it!

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    1. Thank you Mary! I've just found your blog, and I'm looking forward to seeing your makes now!

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  7. Congratulations on making outerwear! I love your cape, and I agree with Kristin that it looks very classy on you - quite a testament to the Wardrobe Architect process. I'm not sure what to suggest in terms of next projects for that cool fabric, but there's something I love about your contrasting basting stitches. Maybe a skirt or bag with a hand-stitched hem or finish? I thought Sophie's skirt with the blanket stitch hem from Project Sewn looked pretty cool! (http://cirque-du-bebe.blogspot.com/2013/05/project-sewn-finale-silky-chevron-kind.html)

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    1. Actually I am very relieved I am getting to the point where some of the thinking, planning etc. is starting to result in real clothes I will wear, as there was a point when I was feeling a little...uh, is this going anywhere?! I think when I started sewing seriously I was a bit overwhelmed by all the wonderful choice you discover when you put sewing clothes + online together. I was getting swayed in all kinds of directions...I hope I can stay true to myself and what I will really wear from here on in. I am sure I will make some mistakes and I know they are part of learning, but feel this is a great start on a new chapter for me.
      Btw that skirt is very cool, thank you for the link!

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  8. That is a really classy garment and it suits you so well. I have no idea how I would've finished it, some wide bias binding perhaps? But doesn't the fleecey coat from Ottobre count as your first piece of outerwear?

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    1. Thank you! I sense this may be controversial, but here goes...in my view, fleece doesn't count! Lol!

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  9. Absolutely gorgeous! This is one of my favorite makes of yours. Lovely pictures as well, so chic.

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    1. Thank you Margo that is a very kind comment. I think it is my favourite thing I have ever made :) I hope I can make more things like this, that are well considered and will be worn x

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  10. Oh, this is so chic, I just love it. Very elegant in navy, and this suits you I think!

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    1. Thank you Carolyn, I'm really happy with it. Navy really is the base colour of my wardrobe and it is having a bit of a moment for the spring in the UK. I am seriously thinking of buying some navy shoes while they are in the shops (black is the norm), although I really like brown and tan with navy, too. It will be fun to see what you make for the autumn as I make for the spring! X

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  11. What a cozy, understatedly chic piece! I love how this shape flows over the body and really falls in a flattering, marvelous way. You did such a lovely job, dear Philippa!

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you Jessica. I think I'll wear it more in the autumn, but since the weather here is predicted to get (temporarily) colder, I might get some wear out of it sooner.

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  12. After never having heard of fused/double sided fabric until your post I've come across it again! Thought you might be interested http://marillawalker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/my-new-winter-coat.html

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    1. Goodness that coat is a masterpiece. What a lot of seam binding etc! I will use the rest of my fabric...but then probably won't buy any more unless I'm feeling very, very patient ;)

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  13. This is super cute and very classy. I like your ensemble in the last photo.

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