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Pattern Puzzle - Drape Cape Top

Monday, February 23, 2015
As a general rule, capes and ponchos are not at the top of my shopping list.  I know they are currently on-trend but I find so many of them to be either unattractive or impractical.  We don't have cold enough weather here to benefit from the traditional wool cape with cozy hood or wrap.  However the more recent lightweight, knit designs in shrugs and capes are probably a lot easier to wear and may even have a functional place in our trans-seasonal wardrobes.  If you'd like to learn my method for creating Twist Drape Patterns I have a detailed worksheet for making Jersey Twist Patterns.  For just a few dollars you'll get the same training you'd get if you came to the workshop in my studio.
Drape Twist Pattern for a Cape

This design was inspired by a few catwalk cape-style tops that have also featured drape detail.  So I decided that I would bring our Single Twist Pattern Making Technique to this particular design challenge and see if I could produce an attractive Draped Cape.

Natalie Bray was my first stop to refresh my understanding of how to make a cape pattern.  After all it's not something I do every day.  On page 127 of 'More Dress Pattern Designing' Natalie starts with a coat block and provides a set of detailed instructions to make a cape pattern as outerwear.  

However our design is not outerwear but more likely to be the first layer of clothing (after lingerie).  So I started with my fitted dress block and made the following changes:
  1. Transfer the shoulder and bust dart through to the hip line on the front and back fitted block.  We will not be using the waist darts at all for this pattern.
  2. Place the CB (centre back) line of the back block at a right angle to the CF (centre front) line of the front block, with Shoulder Points (SP) touching.
  3. Draw a line from the connecting shoulder points through to the hemline area, half way between the front and back blocks.  In a half-circle cape style this is considered the side seam.
  4. Now redraw this line either side of the side seam to reduce the width in the hemline of our cape design.  We will need a slightly firmer fit in the cape hem to get the best results for our twist drape.
  5. Mark in the length of your top, just below the waist line in the high hip area, from the front through to the back.
  6. Now dip the back hem to just past the hip line.  This will produce a Hi-Lo effect in the hem of our garment.
Cape sewing pattern.
To develop the drape detail in the front cape you will need to trace a full front cape pattern as below.  And then:
  1. On the CF line mark in the front neck opening 12-15cm. 
  2. Mark in the twist drape cut lines as indicated in the diagram below.
  3. Please note that there are two tucks in the CF opening that are sewn down tucks and not part of the twist move.  One lines up with the CF opening and the other is directed from the CF line to the left shoulder point.
  4. Open up the front pattern to introduce extra fabric for the twist drape.
  5. Mark out the CF tucks and open to include the under tuck area for both.
  6. Please note that the front right and front left are separate pattern pieces at this time.
Pattern making drape cape.
To finalise the front pattern, turn the left side front upside down and connect to the right side front in the waist to hip area (where the twist is located).  Allow some extra fabric in the middle of the twist and connect both CF seams back to the hemlines with a gentle curve.  As a single twist pattern you will need to use a cloth that is good both sides for it to work well. 

Pattern Development
For the final pattern pieces I have kept the grain line with the CF and CB lines.  This will then place the bias of the fabric in the area of the twist drape for best results.  The finish for the neckline and opening would generally be a facing.  Bound edges would also work.

Twist Pattern for Drape Cape
For me, these blog posts are always a delightful end to a great weekend of pattern making nerdiness and they always leave a smile on my face.  So huge thanks to all and feel free leave your questions in the comments section below.  Always happy to hear from you.  :)

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fotomarieke commented on 23-Feb-2015 01:17 AM
Oh, I love this one too
Just an update on my UFO's
The twist front shirt will be a short-sleeved dress in my case. I Must add the bodice to the skirt and make a hem.
The drape back dress is finished but for the hem. I love it.
Now this one....I surely want to make it, but I would like it in a knit, not for outside the house, but just to put around me watching TV, or reading.
If I have a fabric like ponte do I then need the bias-cut?

Vancouver Barbara commented on 23-Feb-2015 02:18 AM
This cape would make a beautiful evening wrap in a very lightweight fabric – like silk chiffon or wool gauze. I think I would add slits for the hands and arms to come through. It's an ingenious design. Thanks for posting.
Samina commented on 23-Feb-2015 02:45 AM
Love your innovative design! If worn as a top, I would add an opening for arms.
Anita - studiofaro commented on 23-Feb-2015 09:43 AM
Hi Fotomarieke, it sounds like you have been very busy. I would love to see your samples. :) Yes I think a wool ponti for a cozy in-house shrug. The grain line I have used above would also work for the ponti. Straight grain for the CF and CB. then the knit bias will also make great drape in the twist.
Anita - studiofaro commented on 23-Feb-2015 09:46 AM
Thanks Samina. :) Yes I agree and this method would also work for a loose cut, cap sleeve top.
Anita - studiofaro commented on 23-Feb-2015 09:49 AM
Hi Vancouver Barbara, thx for dropping by. The silk chiffons and similar would be fantastic in this design. Especially over strapless evening style outfits. Are you thinking of making one?
Anita - studiofaro commented on 23-Feb-2015 06:05 PM
Yes I agree with your reservations Lauriana. The model that inspired this work was made in a drapey silk, maybe chiffon as a little layer over a sleeveless dress. I also think a knit version would be amazing for winter. Thank you so much for all your contributions. :)
Vancouver Barbara commented on 24-Feb-2015 03:13 AM
Hi Anita:

I would love to make one if I can find a print shop to print the pattern full scale. I just don't have the mojo right now to draft one. But I do have some gorgeous fabric that would look so good made into this design.
I really love your work and am so grateful for what you do. It sets me thinking in different ways.
Anita - studiofaro commented on 24-Feb-2015 07:55 AM
Hi Vancouver Barbara, I am pleased to hear you like the work. :) These blog posts are pattern making instructions and diagrams, not full patterns. Although the third scale models I use are closely proportioned to the original block they are not really intended to be printed full scale. There are a few exceptions where I have provided measurements or a 2" grid to recreate the full scale piece. I hope in the future to reproduce some of these patterns as pdf downloads. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
fotomarieke commented on 25-Feb-2015 12:19 AM
I don't think that the issue of moving your arms is such a big one.
The hem in the front is on the high hipline. That means that my elbow is at about the same heighth and the cape seams wide enough
Anita - studiofaro commented on 25-Feb-2015 10:34 AM
Thanks for the comment fotomarieke. :) So much will depend on fabric and end use of garment. I can think of so many opportunities to wear this cape. Snuggling in front of the telly in a wool jersey or ponte version. Walking from the car to the restaurant when there is a chill in the air. And gliding into the theatre looking forward to a new performance. Mmm.. seems my imagination is very active first thing in the morning. :)

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All images, designs, photos and layouts on this blog are created and owned by Anita McAdam© of Studio Faro. They are available FOR HOME AND PERSONAL USE ONLY.  If you would like to use our content for teaching or commercial purposes please ask.  I have some amazing resources for teachers and manufacturers. ;) enquiries@studiofaro.com

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