Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Caped Crime Fighter - Cape Sewing Tutorial

Okay Bat fans are you ready to sew? 

 Does your machine have a new  size 10 sharp needle in it?  
Has the bobbin area been cleaned out recently, within the last 24 hours?  
If not make sure to do this and check your tension on a sample piece of cape fabric before preceding.  Satin is very unforgiving and uneven tension will result in puckered seams.  Additionally fluff in your bobbin area will get drawn up by your thread, again resulting in uneven tension.

This tutorial is not meant to replace the directions that came with your WS1002 pattern, but to compliment them with additional tips.  

 To begin let's discuss why we have carefully marked our seam allowances.  In the image above you have a piece of cape satin.   The selvage/lengthwise grain edge is on the right, and the chalked line is on the true bias, or 45 degree angle from the selvage.  Seams that are sewn on the bias or even off grain will want to stretch as you sew the seam.

 Here I am stretching that seam.  I highly recommend you try this on a sample if you are unfamiliar with this attribute.  When you sew an off grain seam and do not stretch the seam moderately as you are sewing it, the fabric will stretch out around the seam creating the appearance of a short seam with folds of fabric cascading from it. 

The center back seam is on the straight of grain, but the side seams of the cape fall off the grain.  Pin the seam as shown above being careful to pin through your marked stitching line.  Place the pins so that you can remove easily as you approach them to sew.  Sew your seam with a short 2. stitch length and apply a moderate amount of stretch as you sew by holding the fabric in front of and behind the foot and creating tension, while still allowing the fabric to feed normally.  You will notice that your seam allowance narrows as you apply tension, this is why we marked our stitch line to prevent you from making your seam allowances to deep thus making the cape smaller.

Once you have your cape and cape lining sewn together along the front edge, you need to anchor the lining seams to the cape seams.  This inhibits the cape from bagging out between the layers. 
 On Adams original cape you will occasionally notice some hard pressed wrinkles around the hem. 
 Capes are not generally sewn together at the hem due to this problem which was minimized on his cape by this anchoring technique.
The picture above shows the two seam allowances, one from the cape, and one from the lining  being tacked together as the directions indicates.  
Be sure to follow the directions (step 5)as to placement of these tacks.

Step 8 instructs you to pin your prepared neck binding to your neckline and press it so that it curves to fit.  Make sure your binding lays nice and flat. 
 It will do this because you have cut it on the bias which allows it to follow a curve.  
This same neck binding cut on the straight of grain would not be able to do this.

Once your neckline is under stitched and pinned to the wrong side you Prick Stitch the binding to the cape along the folded edge.  A prick stitch is accomplished by sewing from the outside of the cape.  It is done just like a back stitch, but with the back stitch being very small on the top edge.  In the picture above you can see a sample being sewn using white thread.  To see a video of the prick stitch being sewn click here

Your finished neckline will look something like this. Notice the tiny stitches on the outside and the longer stitches along the binding edge.
This stitch takes some practice to get even, but that is what you trying to achieve, consistently even stitches.

The next few steps should be self explanatory, so let's move onto the infamous hem.

Your hems should now all be fused with the bias tape and the seam allowances cut back to match the shape of the hemline as seen on the lower side of the picture above.  Now that your seam allowances are all cut back carefully pin the hems together matching the cut edges.  With a short 2. stitch length straight stitch the hems together 1/8" from the edge.

To set up the sewing machine for this final step you will thread 2 black spools through your needle.  Most machines have 2 thread spindles for this purpose.  Adjust your stitch width until your finished zig-zag stitch is 3/16" wide.  Shorten your stitch length so that it makes a nice tight stitch a little longer then a standard buttonhole stitch.
 Again always make a sample first to check your results.
Position your foot as seen above when you sew your zig zag so that the right edge of the stitch just falls off the edge of the fabric, wrapping the stitch around the matched cut edges.
After all of this you will have some fraying which extends beyond the sewn edge, this can be trimmed back closely and will, for the most part eventually wear away.
The original cape was hemmed in the exact same manner.

Now pat yourself on the back for a job well done, or drink a nice glass of wine, if you haven't started already and get ready to make a cowl:)

Please feel free to leave any additional questions you may have, by commenting on the post.  If you subscribe to the post,  you will then receive the follow up questions and answers:)  Additionally it lets me know if the the information has been helpful to you:)


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