Let's Hare It For Melton
When I saw Hares in the Mist I knew instantly what I wanted to do with it. It is like that with a fabric sometimes. I bought 2m, because it is just right for a poncho/cape that fits me, (1.65m in height) and would still be fine for someone of 1.73m.
This is about being inventive, personalising, creating something a bit wow without having to be a real dab hand at sewing, honest.
Fabric arrived, was stroked, and laid out on the dining table. (I generally pre wash all fabric, but this is an outer garment and also so closely that woven I was naughty and got straight on with sewing).
The first thing to say other than it has that lovely melton handle, is that the rectangles are not the way round I had envisaged, ie. the long side does not run down the fabric, but across. This is not a problem for my design but useful to know. (Fig.1)
This is a cheap ‘build’ because there is no pattern buying, just the fabric with almost no waste, and whatever you want to spend on notions. Melton is virtually fray free, but I prefer a finished edge to the garment.
So you need a good pair of shears, the fabric, and a metal tape measure, thread and your machine, though you could work as easily by hand for the amount of stitching needed.
Step 1. If you want a collar/scarf or added appliqué material, cut across the width of the fabric to take off the lowest line of rectangles at one end, which may well be less than complete, (Fabworks is never stingy and I had about 2.18m), also anything less than a full rectangle at the other. This makes the garment look even, front and back.
Step 2. Measure from your nape to the length you want the cape (max is knee length). Having an assistant helps. Measure the nape/knee length from one end of the fabric and put in a pin., on the centre fold line. That is the back of the neck hole. Try the fabric draped over your shoulder with the pin at the nape, and double check how level it hangs back and front, arms out to the sides. Measure from the floor to the bottom of fabric, middle front and back. It might be out a fraction but just make it right by eye. Having assured yourself of the length, lay the fabric lengthways on your cutting surface, folded down the midline.
Step 3. Cut out a circle of fabric to make the neck. I used the base of a pasta plate that had a base diameter of 15cm. Set it on the fabric with one edge touching the nape pin, and judge it by eye to have it half on the fabric and half off the fold. Draw this line and check. When positioned correctly, cut out the circle, and also cut up the fold line to the neck opening to make the fronts.
Step 4. Some people may want a poncho like a soldier’s poncho with corners, but I do not want mine to double as a shelter, and also the corners hang rather low. Draw a nice curve on dressmaker’s paper or old roll of wallpaper (useful stuff). Pin it to the front outer corner, top layer, and try cape to check it is right for you. Adjust curve as required to look natural. Pin through both layers and cut off the corner along the curved line. (Fig.2) Repeat at back selvedge edge.
Step 5. You now have the basic cape, and this is where it is entirely up to your imagination. You have spare a full width of the fabric, perhaps 15cm to 18cm in depth, and the four curved cut off corners, all slightly different shades. (NB Ideas are just pinned) Do you want a collar? Do you want to use the cut off corners as angled appliqué to the fronts (Fig.3)? I found when tried on husband it hung a little forward and overlapping at the front and I put a little tuck mid way (make the rectangles match), and made self revers to the top (Fig.4). This means a gap, but it is easily filled if you use the long strip of spare fabric to make a collar, and stop stitching before it meets the revers. You can tie it as a scarf in the gap.
Step 6. You still have fabric spare and I suggest making appliqué shapes placed randomly in the rectangles, in contrasting colours of offcut. I love hedgehogs, so I tried a hedgie shape, but you could do the letters of your name, or George Clooney for that matter, placed in a random and pleasing order not just spelling George Clooney across your chest, of course). You might like numbers, or chemical symbols, or pears, or hearts or stars - any clear and easily recognised shape will do. (Fig.5) Stitch them to the selected rectangles.
Step 7. Finishing. I will be getting a binding, perhaps suede, or a toning woolly fabric, and also big wooden buttons. If they are shanked, all the better. To prevent your cape flying in the wind, put a button through a small hole front and back both sides where it looks best to you, but somewhere at least 30cm up from the hem and the same from the wrist when you stand arms held out to the side (I will blanket stitch holes by hand in three strands of embroidery silk). Stitch one button to the back in the same place and attach the two buttons to each other with strong thread. Repeat other side. I think a single button, near the neck if straight fronted, or where you overlap the fronts, is a good idea.
Wastage should be a tiny ball of snippets from tidying up the curves, and you will have a unique, cosy and good looking poncho/cape.