Ahhh the upcycled cashmere cape. This was undoubtedly my biggest sewing project to date. I'm not sure I'll ever stop tweaking it.
What I really want to highlight about this project is: Even if a project doesn't turn out perfectly, you never wasted your time. There are so many things that you learn by doing and by making mistakes. It could be very easy for me to see an imperfect cape and feel like I wasted three whole days trying to make it perfect, but the things I learned in those 3 days are invaluable to the projects I'm going to attempt in the rest of my sewing lifetime. Seriously, you can read a hundred times, "be careful with the edges or they will stretch and curl", and you will ignore it a hundred times until you actually sew that edge and it doesn't turn out the way you wanted it. THIS IS A GOOD THING. The best way to get comfortable with sewing, knitting or any craft, from my experience, is just to do the thing. Attempt stuff that you're not quite sure about and see why it does or doesn't work out. And don't get frustrated if your final product isn't something you're proud of, the lessons themselves should give you pride.
Here's a little background on my cashmere cape. It was a vintage bath robe from Goodwill Outlet.
Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool as-is, but old bathrobes kinda skeeve me out. A knitting pattern popped up on my Pinterest for a fancy cape and it triggered something in my brain like, "oh, you can put six trapezoids together and get this cool cape shape". The robe had the perfect amount of material for making six trapezoids. It looked simple enough in the picture.
Some of them trapezoids to be made from two triangles in order to get the most out of my fabric. I will admit, this would've been way easier if I just had store bought fabric that was the right size, but WHERE'S THE FUN IN THAT??
All in all, it took me probably 3-4 hours plus another half hour this morning for some little tweaks.
All that being said, here are some valuable lessons I learned while sewing my cashmere cape:
- Sometimes you have to math.
Math and I are not friends. Not in any stretch of the imagination. I love sewing because it makes sense, and doesn't require tooooo much calculation. That being said, sometimes you have to do math and planning before you can sew. Especially if you're making a piece made of 6 trapezoids that sometimes have to be constructed out of two triangles. Taking the time to do the math and sketch out your plan and how everything will lay out will save you so much headache later.
2. Get an idea of the whole picture before you start working on small sections.
This is relate to number 1. See how all your pieces are going to come together. Walk through your steps and notice if there are any gaps. Don't cut anything until you know what the ENTIRE plan is.
3. Figure out the best way to use the tools you have.
My life changed when I figured out the real way to use a seam ripper.
4. Fabrics can be moody bitches.
Cashmere is a hell of a fabric. It stretches. It makes holes super easily. It bunches up in ways that can't be anticipated. But it's so snuggly and luxurious. A big overall lesson is not to be afraid to make mistakes and backtrack. It might look better the second time around. Take your time and don't rush.
5. Never underestimate the power of pressing, trimming and shaving.
These two images are before and after I pressed, trimmed and shaved the cashmere. Everything lays SO much prettier in the after. I went to bed last night not completely thrilled with the cape, but after just a half hour this morning of making some minor adjustments, I'm in love with it again. Take the time for the extra steps. It helps your look seem so much more polished.