Halloween is almost here, and that means if you don’t have a costume yet it’s time to get moving. One of the fastest, easiest DIY costume pieces is a cape. Simple yet dramatic, you can be anything from a vampire to a queen. This year, I’ll be wearing this cape as Red Riding Hood, maybe the single most cape reliant costume around.
This easy cape has two variations—with or without a hood. The hoodless version requires no sewing, and the hooded variation only two simple seams. Both variations can be made in about an hour, meaning even if you wait until Halloween afternoon you’ll still be finished in time for some evening fun.
The size given here is basically one-size-fits-all, but to make it bigger, just upsize the string for the neck measurement to 8.5 inches and make the hood 10.5 inches by 28 inches. You could experiment with even bigger hood measurements for more drape and mystery, but you would have to ease in a few gathers to fit the seam around the neck.
The real costume versatility comes in the fabric choice. I used a silky knit for lots of fairytale flow and drape. You could use fleece or felt for a legitimately warm cape perfect for being outside— meaning no coat to cover your awesome costume. You could even use faux crushed velvet for lots of regal drama, or wool tweed for an old-school detective.
For added costume effect, you can make a lining in a contrasting color by cutting a second cape in a lighter fabric and sandwiching the two layers together, putting a line of fabric glue or a few stitches at the hem to keep everything together. Linings also make your cape reversible, creating different looks. A red lining in a black cape works for lots of spooky and downright theatrical costumes.
For the ties, use ribbon, cord or a purchased toggle closure—basically anything that can keep the cape around your neck. Check out the notions aisle at the fabric store for lots of closure ideas. Giant buttons and elastic loops work really well for woolly tweed capes.
To decorate, try fabric paint or iron-on patches, especially for superhero capes. Attach fringe or braid trim for historic-looking detail, or add faux fur trim around the collar to make a cozy, wealthy look. Faux fur around the inner rim of the hood is especially pretty on fairytale capes. Tassels on the ties also look fancy.
Two yards fabric
12 inches of ribbon or cord tie, or a purchased closure
One 37-inch piece of string, for measurements
One 7.5-inch piece of string, for measurements
1. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise.
2. At the lower corner (the corner on the fold), hold down one end of the 37 inch string. Using a piece of chalk, draw an arc all the way to the opposite corner, using the string as a compass to guide you. Cut along the arc.
3. With the fabric quarter-circle still folded, use the 7.5 inch string and chalk to draw another arc starting at the inner folded corner. Cut along the arc and unfold.
4. Cut the ribbon or cord in half and sew it on to the neck opening. Alternately, sew on purchased closure.
For the hooded variation:
4. Cut a fabric rectangle 9.5 inches wide and 27 inches long. Fold in half widthwise. Using a whipstitch (up-and-out-and-down through the fabric motion) sew one of the long sides together. Turn inside-out and open bottom edge. Try it on at this point to be sure it fits, and then stitch it onto the neck of the cape.
It’s not too late to make an awesome, one of a kind costume—especially when you can make just one uniquely cool piece with a big style impact.
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