Shazaam Cape, With Love to Detroit

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.


  1. Han says:

    Amy, that is the coolest! How did you do that moving photo thing? I love, love, love it! So rich to hear the story behind it too.

  2. Mariann says:

    Beautiful cape Amy. Your choreography reminds me slightly of a Wonder Woman phase you went through a few years back.

  3. Steph says:

    As wonderful as the cape is and all the exquisite details what I especially love is how much it reflects your story! Great showcase of your many talents.

  4. jill says:

    Your cape is stunning! That color just vibrates, especially in the surroundings.
    I have a soft spot in my heart for Detroit. I worked there a couple years ago, for 6 months, and have gone back occasionally for work. You’re right about the people. I always says they have an earnest quality about them I can appreciate; and such a tenacious desire for Detroit to rise again.

  5. Scruffy badger says:

    This is an incredible make and. I love your phot shoot!! It’s funny how it turned in concept from a day’s make to a labour of love. It looks fabulous and I enjoy reading about what it and your ‘super hero’ context!

  6. merche says:

    What a shame the cold weather wonยดt stay longer (did I really say that loud?) You new cape deserves to be displayed and enjoyed ! It is a beauty!

  7. maddie says:

    Whoa! This is totally a far departure from what you’ve made over the past year (mostly bras). It’s funny how you thought you could finish it in a day. I also have that superwoman mentality when I start a project. Reality kicks in shortly after and I realize that in order to finish the project, much more time is needed.

  8. Heather Lou says:

    This is so brilliant! A Little Red Riding Hood for kicking ass in the motor city.We share a similiar nostalgic love fro Detroit – there is sme seriously cool shit happening there right now with artists moving in and all the urban farming…. we’ll see if it can get back on its feet again. Anyyay, love the gif, the gold buttons, and your superhero moves.

    • Amy says:

      Really is a cool city. Great communities were just starting to happen the last time I lived up there. Oh the real estate for creatives, a dime compared to Austin :/.

  9. Jo says:

    What a fabulous cape – gorgeous shape and length too. I am researching at the moment to make a cape out of some dramatic purple wool – I love the hood and your specially selected buttons and the little flaps at the arm slits.

  10. Sallie says:

    Really really gorgeous! Who wouldn’t want to run around in a bright red cape?! Such a classic, timeless addition to your wardrobe. And I’m sure all the extra time spent giving it the love and attention it deserves resulted in a truly one-of-a-kind heirloom piece. I snagged a similar 70’s cape pattern off Etsy when I first began to sew and it’s been sitting in my pattern drawer since, never really quite sure what to do with it, but you may have just given me inspiration! I would love to see more details!

    • Amy says:

      A Sallie cape would just be stunning I’m sure! The coolest thing about sewing them is you don’t have to bother much with fitting.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Omg, my jaw dropped! I LOVE these photos and the action sequence! Your cape is gorgeous and looks impeccably sewn.

    Are you going to participate in the Colette contest?

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Stephanie! I won’t be entering the contest. It’s for their particular pattern, I think? This is a Style Arc pattern, but it’s pretty much the same dress!

  12. Kazz says:

    Yes! you and your cape are the business, look at those bound buttonholes, those pockets? look at those gold stay buttons, hidden pockets? ahhh and that colour *bites fist* LOVE IT! Amylicious!

  13. dixie says:

    wow, this cape was worth the wait and all the hard work. it’s absolutely lovely and it really is a lifetime piece!
    and i hear ya about detroit, i’ve been there twice. it’s got an interesting vibe like somethings bubbling under the surface.

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