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The second garment is a combination skirt and cape. It is a full circle skirt that gathers at the waist band with a drawstring cord. This ‘waist band’ then operates as a high collar, when draped around the shoulders. It is quite a dramatic piece and a garment we have been looking forward to making. It is considerably much simpler to make than the Bygrave ‘skirtain’ with it’s pulley system, stitched channels and weights!

This is also the first time we have worked with both a pattern and a toile. According to the Oxford English dictionary, a  toile is:

An early version of a finished garment made up in cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected

We employed a similar process to the Bygrave costume in that we provided Nadia, our tailor, with a pattern brief for the skirt/cape. This involved the patent, illustrations of the cape provided by the inventors and our interpretations of the design. We provided our thoughts about how it operated in words, drawings and visual references from archival research.

Pease illustrations

Nadia responded with a pattern pack comprising 4 pieces and a toile made of calico.

Cape front (also lining) | Cape hem 1 and Cape hem 2 | Collar/Waistband

toile and pattern

We tried it on our bodies and on the wommanequin

toile on dressmaking dummy

It’s a simple pattern but it is magnificently large!


We chose to make a mock-up of the garment in a similar weight to the final Dashing Tweeds, yet cheaper, wool material

rachel cutting cape

The scale of the garment posed problems in the office. We joined some tables together and cut out in the common area of Floor 11 in the Sociology tower
rachel cuts cape

rachel cuts cape2

The collar/waistband piece pattern pieceThe lining pattern piece is cut from the same pattern as the caperachel cutting lining

Sewing it together was reasonably straight forward. I started by sewing the 2 x cape piece together and attaching the hem to the lower edge of the cape
sewing bagged out hem

I folded and stitched the centre frontswaistband and collar overlap

I stitched the lining to the cape front, attached the collar/waistband and turned it inside out.
Suddenly a cape appeared!

view inside cape

I top stitched the collar/waistband to the lining to give it structure.
I also stitched a channel to thread the drawstring ribbon/cord which gathers it to the neck or the waisttop stitching collar

Sewing in a Sociology office presents its own unique challenges……I do a lot of work on the floorsewing in a sociology office

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