Construction Tips: Capes and Cloaks

Quick Cape

~ instructions by Philo

This cape takes an incredibly little amount of time - I think I made mine in half an hour. The stylish mandarin collar is achieved simply by the flat trim that forms the neck, and it fitsanyone, from little kids to grown ups. There's plenty room for imagination and design, too, so make sure to check out the Variations section at the bottom.


  • 60" width fabric, where the length is the finished length of cape
  • two 21" pieces of trim, minimum recommended width 7/8"
  • thread
  • your choice of fastening


  1. Cut and finish sides and bottom edges of fabric as desired. Use your imagination here: the cape can have square or curved corners, be hemmed or unhemmed, etc. Consider your fabric, too. sample cutting layout

    For example, for my cape of knit panne velvet, I folded the fabric on the center fold and free-handed a scalloped edge with curved corners, then left it unhemmed - the knit kept the unhemmed fabric from unraveling while the scallops kept the knit from curling.

    Leave the top edge straight cut.

  2. Marking the top edge in ten 6" sections, fold each section into a 2" pleat. Make half of the pleats going one way, half going the other, so that the two center pleats meet each other in the underside center (see drawing below). The fabric should now measure 20" wide.

    pleating the fabric

  3. Baste pleats in place.

  4. Placing one piece of trim directly on top of the other with right sides together, sew shorter ends together with 1/2" seam allowances. Turn right sides out, match up top edges and topstitch close to the top edge (forming an upside-down "pocket").

  5. Place the pleated fabric between the unsewn bottom edges of the trim. Pin and topstitch these bottom edges, catching both trim layers and pleated fabric.

  6. Fasten the neck edges with a hook and eye, frogs, or a brooch.


Consider lining the cape for extra warmth, or using a decorative trim or cording around the bottom and side edges.

To make a tie-closure, use two pieces of trim where the first is 21" and the second is 21" + the length of each tie. Mark off the center 20" of the longer piece, then sew the shorter piece onto this 20" section, tucking under 1/2" seam allowances. Sew the top edges together as in step 4 and proceed (omitting step 6).

The cape works equally well full-length or hip-length, like the fauns' coronation capes.

Back to the Construction Index

Contribute to this Section