I have wanted to make a cape with attached scarf for some time - it's the perfect mix of casual chic and cozy. The good people at MillYardage (yes, those people, the ones who sell authentic Polartec® Polarfleece® and sell their seconds at amazing prices to home sewists) posted their latest double-sided 'tweed' fleece and asked readers if they'd submit their own ideas for this fleece. I suggested a cape, and they suggested I make it and create a blog tutorial!
The perfect cape for a bicycle is one that's not too long, but roomy enough across the shoulders to bicycle in. I own a lot of capes (most of which I have made) and the ones that are shaped across the shoulders are not as good for bicycling as they do not give you enough room in the reach for your shoulders and arms. You'll end up with the front of the cape pulling across the closure (button or zip) if you don't have DIY Fleece Scarf-neck cape for bicycling enough room for your handlebar reach. This cape is straight across the shoulders, and features decorative reflective tape trim, ensuring whether you're walking the dog or cycling home from a beer with a friend, you're well-illuminated to the cars driving by.
I used 2.5" 3M reflective sew-on tape - a friend of mine bought a large roll and had a lot extra, so I bought 5 yards of it off of her. You can buy this online. Craft stores carry a narrower version of the tape as well.
You'll need about 3 yards of the Polartec for this DIY Scarf neck cape with reflective trimcape, and a pencil and some paper. This fleece is reversible and beautiful on both sides (unlike craft fleece which has only one good 'face' and is not thick and plush.)
Sewing Instructions for the body of the cape:
Measure from your shoulder down to about mid-thigh. This measurement is the length of your cape.
Next, measure from your wrist to your wrist with your arms outstretched (you'll need a friend or good eyes to see the tape at either end). Subtract 12" from this wrist-to-wrist measurement for the width of your cape. It puts the arm length about 6" above each wrist.
I then drew these measurements onto taped-up newspaper.
This is how I make the hem corner curve. Dinner plate!
I use 1/4 of a salad plate to create the back neckline curve.
The finished neckline, and the center front marking
You'll have a rectangle wider than it is long (unless you're very tall with very short arms!)
Trace the curves onto the bottom corner and neckline. For the curved shapes, I used a dinner plate for the bottom hem curve and a salad/bread plate for the neckline curve.
To trace the neckline pattern and create the separate front pattern, mark the exact center of the lengthwise side of the rectangle, this is the center front (or center back.) Trace a curve using your salad plate. You now have a pattern that is a full dimension of the cape. If you're unsure of the neckline curve, dive into your pattern stash to find a jacket pattern and use the neckline. It will be very similar.
When cutting, you'll want to cut the front open, and leave the back cut on the fold. The back is one solid piece of fabric, there are two front pieces.
If you're using reflective tape, now's the time to apply it: Lay the tape along your poncho in a pleasing arrangement. Cut the angled edges as they meet with the edge of your poncho. I pretty much winged this and eyeballed the position (I did measure the distance away from the center back mark on the ones I did on the back, and I made sure they touched at the center bottom.)
Sew the reflective trim on by using Wash away Wonder Tape to stick down the reflective tape. Use a longer-than-average stitch length and be pretty assertive in helping the fabric move under the needle. It wants to grab. You can also use a teflon presser foot.
Once your trim is sewn down to both front and back sections, it's time to sew the shoulder seams.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we're treating this as a one-sided cape, but I actually made mine reversible (instructions for this coming soon!)
Lay the fabric right sides together, raw edges of the shoulder / arm seams matched up.
Sew the shoulder seams either as a straight stitch, serge, zig zag or mock flat fell if you're making the reversible cape. I did the latter.
It's not necessary to top stitch the cape shoulder seams if you're not using a flat felled seam. If you do, this is how it will look.
Sew the front zipper:
Don't be intimidated by this zipper, I'll show you a two-step zipper method that helps manage the bulkiness of the fleece. You'll want your zipper length to be your center front length minus one and one half inches (this allows for the room of the zipper tape up top and enough so if you want to hem the bottom of the cape, the zipper won't need to be shortened.) I ordered mine custom from Zipper Shipper because I wanted it reversible, but you can find a similar standard zipper at your local craft/sewing store.
First, lay the zipper with the tape against the raw edge of the cape opening with the right side of the zipper against the right side of the cape. Yes, this is backwards, those teeth are facing the wrong way, and the zipper is face down! No worries, when we're done sewing this zipper down, we'll flip it to the inside and topstitch.
You can choose to baste the zipper at this point, but I just stitched it down. Use Wonder Tape here as well to keep that zipper in place while you sew (no pins!)
Flip the zipper to the inside and pin (or use Wonder Tape). Topstitch the fabric down on top.
Repeat on the other side, being careful to make sure that your zipper is in the same spot on both sides (i.e. it's not hanging off the bottom or top further than the other side). Once both sizes of your zipper are in place, you can zip it up and try on your cape!
Sew the scarf:
Measure a length of fabric 8" wide x 50" long (or as long as you want; it should flip over one shoulder with a tail down your back). Cut this rectangle. On the edges, carefully cut a curve in the corners of the scarf - I did this freehand, but you could trace a drinking glass for a good curved shape.
Mark the center back of the scarf. Mark the center back of the poncho. At this point, you get to decide what side of the scarf faces out when you wear it (the outside is what you'll see). I chose to reverse it, but you can wear it folded over and still show the same (right) side, or you can wear it flipped up and show the reverse side, which is how I sewed mine.
Match up the CB marks on both scarf and cape and sew the scarf to the entire neckline. I then trimmed away the seam allowance of the cape and folded and stitched down the scarf joining seam allowance to make things neat and tidy.
You'll note in my example there are no hem and scarf finishes. I simply couldn't decide what to do right now with it. There are several choices:
Leave it raw, the edges won't fray
Sew a binding out of a bias fabric (or knit fabric)
Sew a self-fabric binding
3-thread decorative serger stitch
Fold over and topstitch
Of these methods, the fold over and topstitch or the self-fabric binding is trickiest, since the fleece is thick when folded. The thicker the fabric for the binding, the more you need of it in width. I couldn't decide so I left it for now.
And the last step....
Put the cape on and wear it! It has plenty of length for your arms while bicycling, and you can stick your arms out the sides while walking your dog, all while being illuminated on dark fall nights!
I will post a reversible tutorial - the reverse side does not have the illuminated trim but it does have the stitching from it showing on the reverse, and that adds a subtle, sophisticated look, what I call the "coffee shop on a Saturday morning" side of the cape.
I have been a customer of Mill Direct Textiles for a long time and I was provided 4 yards of their khaki Tweed Polartec 200 weight fleece for this project.