How do fairies stay warm? I mean, they can’t wear sleeveless gossamer in the dead of winter, right? Also, who has time to sew everything from scratch, nowadays? Not this lady! Well, this blog post aims to solve both of these problems.
It all started when I found this red, velvet shirt at the Senior Center Thrift Store. I planned to cut off the sleeves and use the existing collar and button fastening. However, it wouldn’t work to wear the wings over the cape. Should I cut a hole in the back of the shirt to allow the wings to pop through?
Then, I hit upon the idea of having Emma wear the shirt backwards! With the buttons in the back, the cape could be buttoned and unbuttoned around the wings. I could cut a new cape front up what was the back of the shirt.
To make that cut up the center back, I turned the shirt inside out and matched all its major seams together by pinning.
Then, I slid the scissors up the back of the shirt, gently pulling away from the pinned side seams as I cut.
Next, I serged down the new, front edges of the cape. After that, I bound the edges with 1/2 inch, double-fold bias tape. It takes a little finessing, but I like to fold in the ends of the bias tape to make a clean, finished end.
Next, I sew the bias tape on, one side at a time. This helps to make sure the bias tape doesn’t “scoot” around.
Oh, yeah! Time to cut off the sleeves! After pinning the shirt together in a few places, to make sure it was flat and smooth from the shoulder seam outward and downward, I fed it through the serger. The serger cut of the sleeve, stitched, and bound the raw edges of the material, all at one go! I did have to go back and finesse the grade of the slope from the shoulder down to the hem a couple of times. (Edna “No capes!”, from Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is throwing me shade for, in fact, making a cape.)
Then, I sorted through my sash for the perfect, silver, vintage braid to trim the cape. Voila! I started the trim on the inside of the collar and continued it around the other side and all the way down the front edges.
At this point, I had Emma try on the cape. I liked how it rested on her shoulders.
The cape needed a new front fastener. I also wanted it to stay resting wide on the shoulders. This would allow more of the other costume pieces to show. So, I found this gold and pearl chain in my stash and pinned it on to see how it would work.
After playing with the chain to find its ideal length and placement, I hand stitched it to the base of each side of the collar’s front edge.
And that was it! Here is the finished front:
And here is the back:
I was really pleased with how the cape turned out! Using a shirt really saved me time, since I didn’t have to attach a collar or do complicated fastenings around the wings. It was liberating to use what the shirt already had to offer. I will definitely be exploring more ways to convert shirts into other costume pieces!
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