achievement unlocked: little red cape


so, the backstory on this one is that i bought the oliver + s “little things to sew” book almost a year ago because people were always pestering me about making more things for ramona. then it just sat on a shelf because i’m terrible about using books i actually own. the pressure is stronger with books i get from the library because they have due dates.

anyway, i decided i would make her this cape to wear during the winter, because it’s easier to fit a cape around car seat straps than a regular coat. i bought some cool red hand-dyed flannel for the outside & a coordinating quilting cotton in a retro cherry print for the lining. i felt kind of lame from the get-go, using red. that’s the color featured in the book & i usually intentionally do something different from my inspiration photos, just to see a different look. plus, a red hooded cape is pretty costume-y. but my local fabric shop didn’t have a huge selection of fabrics in the weight i wanted, & every fabric that jumped out at me was red. (my first choice was this gorgeous red wool, but it was almost $30 a yard. i just couldn’t justify dropping that kind of cash on something for a toddler.)

ultimately, this fabric looks cool. the variations in the dye make it almost look like suede or leather. i’m not super-in love with the cherry print. i would have preferred strawberries or even flowers or something. but the colors & the scale were right, & i knew i wanted something with a vintage vibe.


the “little things to sew” patterns are all printed in this crazy overlapping way, double-sided, so you have to trace off your pattern pieces. i don’t have any pattern paper right now so i traced directly on to my lining fabric & used those pieces as pattern pieces to cut out the outer fabric. i wound up using tracing paper & a pencil, which was so much faster than using a tracing wheel. A++, would use this method again! fuck you, tracing wheel!

i got all my lining pieces but one traced one day when jared took ramona to the playground,  then they just sat & rotted on my sewing table for two weeks. i just didn’t feel motivated to do any sewing. but then i got a letter from social security saying that they do think i am still disabled! the reconsideration is over & resolved in my favor! um…YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY! i’ll probably write more about this sometime. honestly, i still feel pretty traumatized by the whole thing, like i lost all of 2014 to this insane panic spiral & it’s going to take a while to recover. but with the fog of panic lifted, i felt like i could focus on sewing again.

plus, halloween. i knew we had a 2T parrot costume stashed away somewhere but we couldn’t find it when we looked on wednesday (two days before halloween). so i was like, “if i make this cape & get a basket & a stuffed wolf, she can be little red riding hood.” not that she cares. she doesn’t really know about halloween & is not allowed to eat candy (no, not even one piece–sorry, but she’s not even two). but i wanted to dress her up & take her downtown & maybe get some free twix.

so i started sewing. honestly, had i just made the cape as directed, i could have finished it in just a couple of hours. but i wanted to quilt the lining, for extra warmth. i basted wool batting to the lining pieces & quilted them in a pattern of half-inch squares & diamonds.


it was kind of a lot of quilting. it took me a couple of days of working steadily during ramona’s naps & after jared came home from school. i got it done right before trick or treating started last night, but there were a few more finishings i wanted to do, & we did find the parrot costume in a box in the attic, so that’s what we put her in.


after we got home from trick or treating & got ramona to bed, i finished off the cape. i edgestitched all around the hem, just to give it a nice finished look. i sewed on a black button from my stash, originally purchased for my railroad stripe suspender skirt. i even tried it on myself!

Photo on 2014-10-31 at 21.30 #3

i’m not a hunchback. it’s just that the cape has shoulder shaping that is too narrow for my shoulders, so it bunched up on top of them instead. but still! i look great.

i made the smaller size (medium, fits up to 4T) & honestly, it’s probably still pretty big for ramona. but i think it turned out way cute. & it was such an easy pattern (aside from the tracing), it would be really easy to make more for dress-up or whatever. i wasn’t in love with the directions, but luckily, i’m experienced enough with sewing now that i didn’t really need them. i was confused by the wording for attaching the button loop, because it says to “trim the loop to three inches” after folding it & stitching it to its loop width. the loop fabric is cut to be six inches long, so it’s three inches long when folded in half, & i couldn’t understand why i was instructed to cut a six-inch rectangle if i was just going to trim it down. eventually i realized that i was just supposed to fold it in half to make the loop & trim the loop itself down to three inches if it was somehow longer. but why would it be if you cut six inches to start with? whatever. i figured it out, but a beginner might be flummoxed. it’s an example of the directions being overly specific in some instances & not specific enough in others. (ie, it says to staystitch the “shoulder curves”. a beginner might not understand what the shoulder curves are, if they aren’t familiar with even basic garment construction. there also weren’t any indications on where exactly to start or stop the staystitching. this wasn’t my first rodeo, so i was fine with it, but you know.)

oh, i should add that i was a little worried about the thickness of the quilted lining. after the lining is sewn to the outer cape, the whole thing is turned right side out through one of the armholes. i was anxious about my bulky quilted-&-flannel cape not fitting through the armhole. but it was fine. it required a bit of wrestling, but we got there in the end. i also used my walking foot for all of the construction, & a longer stitch length (3.0 or 3.5 instead of my usual 2.5) because of the thicker materials.



Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

11 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: little red cape

    1. definitely a relief! & ramona is definitely adorable, with the possible exception of right now, as she is rolling around on the floor crying because jared wouldn’t let her pour cornstarch all over herself.

    1. thanks! the quilting took forever. literally hours. & i was worried the whole time that it was looking a little vera bradley. i’m still kind of iffy on it, but using red thread helps tie it in with the main cape fabric.

      & yeah, i am also relieved about the end of the appeal.

  1. Way to bury the lede! :p

    Congrats on the appeal, that’s awesome news! And the cape looks awesome. I ended up sewing Lilian’s costume, but I don’t know that we’ll get any more use out of it. The cape is sooo much more practical. And beautiful!

    We let her eat a couple pieces of candy, but now we’re eating the rest. She’s just enough older that she was super in to trick or treating.

    1. ramona seemed to have a good time trick or treating. she definitely cottoned on to the fact that people were willing to hand her stuff if she stood there looking cute. but she’s never had candy & doesn’t really know what it is. she just liked putting it in the bag, & jared & i have been eating it ever since. i plan to keep this no-sugar thing going for as long as i can. it’s so much easier to just not expose them to the things i don’t want to fight with them about (candy, TV, etc). i know these gravy days are coming to an end, but i will enjoy it while it lasts.

      i saw lilian’s costume on FB & your blog. it turned out super-cute.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: