Quick, before winter completely disappears.
As I look back over my sewing over the last couple of years, I notice that I tend to huddle down in mid-winter and work on one big project, usually a jacket of some kind. This one was completely spontaneous. The night before our Christmas holiday, I had this big idea to sew a red cape. And not just any cape but a red cashmere, fully-lined-in-silk cape. With bound buttonholes. And here’s the kicker–I actually thought I’d be able to finish it in a day!
Turns out a cape was a complete bust for our particular winter, which never quite went much beyond t-shirt temperatures. But the trip to the colder weather of Michigan gave me the impetus to start. I started having these fantastic visions in which I would climb the Joe Louis fist with a red cape and my Flash Gordon shoes, and bravely overcome any blizzard that came our way. I love a good photo opportunity, and well, I feel like a superhero when I’m in Detroit. It’s more like Gotham than Gotham.
I grew up about 30 minutes from the city. My grandfather was a Ford assembly worker in the 40s-60s, the golden era of the motor industry. When I was a kid the actual downtown was sort of off-limits, but as an adult I treasured its steamy street holes and art deco vaudeville theaters. (Probably the only place I’ve seen bullet-proof glass around a gas station.) Detroit brims with a latent, atomic energy. Its people have a kind of directness, an urge to tell the truth, to build and to invent. I accept that strength in me.
So this is my Detroit cape. Paired with appropriately Flash Gordon shoes.
Pattern: Simplicity 5252, circa 1978? I used a combination of view 1 and 2. I love these 70s patterns with one size and all their lovely markings.
Fabric: Wool/cashmere coating (very nappy, almost like a melton) from Elliot Berman Textiles, silk charmeuse lining from Mood.
Buttons: Italian metal dome buttons from Britex.
My superhero gifts don’t include speed, so I didn’t finish in a day and missed my Joe Louis photo shoot opportunity. But I got surprisingly close. Instead I spent part of January calmly putting on the finishing touches.
This was a project I stewed on a for a few years. Over two years ago I spent some time sourcing all the right materials and notions, down to the buttonhole thread. I really wanted this to be a lifetime piece. It’s a total 180 from everything else I’ve been making, but I’m glad I had it waiting in the wings. Perfect for taking on the New Year and leaping over bronze fists! I don’t have a ton of detail shots, but those may come later. Lots of groovy details on this one–bound buttonholes, stay buttons, internal pockets for when you want to keep your hands safe and warm. I just love capes, cloaks and all their kin. For me, their whole point is having lots of fabric to whip around, even heavy fabric such as this. I don’t care what Edna Mode had to say.
For this shoot, Derek was all too happy to choreograph me jumping out of elevators into an abandoned parking garage.
It’s all about the movement! he said. Here’s a little peak at the world of my better half. He loves flight!
p.s. The dress underneath is Style Arc’s Kristin pattern, a simple shift dress that I’ve tweaked to bits and made multiple versions of over the winter. I had in my mind “Classic Shift Dress” with elbow length sleeves for multiple seasons and fabrics, and who knew Colette Patterns would run a massive contest on that very same idea a few months later? I highly recommend a shift for any body. And I’ll post more about this dress later when I don’t actually have a cape smothering it.
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