Caped Crusaders: Vintage Cape Patterns

September 25, 2012 § 7 Comments

Originator 299, a 1950s cape pattern

Originator 299 (c. 1952) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The cape trend of the last two years shows no sign of abating. (Read a Fashionising post about the trend here.) In terms of sewing patterns, Donna Karan’s V2924 was ahead of the trend (see Erica B’s version here) and this fall we have V1322 by DKNY. Paco Peralta has several cape designs available including the sculptural Funghi. In vintage reissues, Butterick has re-released some vintage cape patterns in their Retro line: B6329 (from 1935) and B6411 (a reissue of Butterick 4570 from 1948).

I often find myself reaching for the vintage version of a current trend, and I’ll have a cape project to share with you soon. While looking for the right pattern, I was struck by the variety of cape designs over the decades. Here’s a selection of vintage cape patterns from the Twenties to the Eighties.

1920s

Two 1920s patterns in my collection have capes with interesting details. This mid-Twenties pattern for a dress by Renée also includes a cape with button/strap closure:

1920s cape and dress pattern, McCall 4134, "Original Creation by Renee Paris"

McCall 4134 by Renée (1925)

And I still love the pointed yoke of this Miler Soeurs cape (see my grey version here):

1920s cape pattern, McCall 4459 by Miler Soeurs

McCall 4459 by Miler Soeurs (1926)

1930s

The Thirties were a good decade for capes. This 1936 copy of McCall Style News shows a matching cape and dress ensemble:

McCall 8629 illustration, February 1936 McCall Style News cover

McCall Style News, February 1936. Image via Etsy.

Sewing bloggers’ 1930s capes show how contemporary these vintage outerwear styles can look today. Debi’s mid-Thirties cape pattern has a similar look to the ensemble illustrated above, but with a false front creating the illusion of a matching jacket. Click the image to see her finished version:

1930s cape pattern, McCall 8501

McCall 8501 (1935) Image via My happy sewing place.

Puu’s late ’30s cape has a high-collared yoke, arm slits, and rounded, gathered shoulders (click the image for her construction post and see the finished version here):

1930s cape pattern, Simplicity 2522

Simplicity 2522 (c. 1938) Image via puu’s door of time.

1940s

The fashion for capes continued into the Forties. The decade’s strong-shouldered silhouette is visible in these two cape patterns from my collection. The first, from the early ’40s, has a pronounced, boxy shape and optional broad stand-up collar:

Early 1940s cape pattern, McCall 4134

McCall 4134 (1941)

The second cape shades into New Look sleekness, with a narrower collar and lower hemline:

Late 1940s cape pattern, McCall 7179

McCall 7179 (1948)

1950s

In the Fifties, capes showed a de-emphasis on the shoulders and a fullness that carries over to the early ’60s. Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet is actually from 1949; I thought it might really be a capelet, but the envelope description calls it a “flared cape with diagonal double-breasted closing below soft shaped collar”:

1949 cape and dress pattern, Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet

Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet (1949) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s an illustration of the Piguet ensemble by Bernard Blossac:

Bernard Blossac illustration of a cape by Robert Piguet, 1949

Bernard Blossac illustration of a cape and dress by Robert Piguet, 1949. Image via Hprints.

This mid-Fifties cape by Jacques Fath has big, buttoned cuffs at the arm vents. The shaped collar is part of the suit underneath:

1950s cape pattern, Vogue 1358 by Jacques Fath

Vogue 1358 by Jacques Fath (1956) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1960s

The Sixties were another good decade for capes. On this Vogue Pattern Book cover, Wilhelmina Cooper exemplifies the “thoroughbred look” of Fall 1963 in a tailored yellow cape:

Wilhelmina Cooper models a yellow cape on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1963.

Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1963. Model: Wilhelmina Cooper. Image via flickr.

This elegant cape by Nina Ricci has a wide shawl collar and is shaped by released inverted darts. The model is Maggie Eckhardt:

1960s cape and dress pattern, Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci

Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image via Etsy.

Astrid Heeren models this fabulous mod cape by Pierre Cardin:

Mod 1960s cape pattern: Vogue 1722 by Pierre Cardin

Vogue 1722 by Pierre Cardin (1967) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This late ’60s design by Pucci is modelled by Birgitta af Klercker and was photographed in Rome at La Cisterna:

Late 1960s cape pattern, Vogue 2231 by Pucci

Vogue 2231 by Pucci (1969) Image via Etsy.

1970s

As the Seventies progressed, capes generally kept their collars, but gained a new fluidity. This mid-Seventies Halston “poncho-cape” has a collar and button front, but is reversible:

1970s cape pattern, McCall's 3966 by Halston

McCall’s 3966 by Halston (1974) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This late ’70s Chloé design by Karl Lagerfeld, featuring Jerry Hall, includes a three-quarter length, circular cape with pointed bias collar. The cape gets its strong shoulders from an inside button and tab at each shoulder:

Late 1970s cape ensemble pattern, Vogue 2020 by Chloé

Vogue 2020 by Chloé (1978) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1980s

In the Eighties, fluidity gained the upper hand, as seen in these full, collarless, and unstructured capes by Yves Saint Laurent:

1980s cape pattern by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2790

Vogue 2790 by Yves Saint Laurent (c. 1982) Model: Terri May.

Late 1980s cape by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2163

Vogue 2163 by Yves Saint Laurent (1988) Image via Etsy.

Would you wear a vintage cape, or do you prefer the cape’s more recent incarnations?

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§ 7 Responses to Caped Crusaders: Vintage Cape Patterns

  • Debi says:

    FABULOUS post! I absolutely adore capes. I really love the two 1920’s capes you show. That first one with a tab is just amazing! Thanks for highlighting my 1935 cape…I really love it–I also want to try out the ‘false sleeve’ capes from the early 40’s!

  • puu says:

    great post as always. you’re making me jealous of debi’s 1935 wonder all over again! something about the earlier decades of capes strikes me as more romantic than the later versions, although the 60s and 70s have more appeal to me than the 50s versions. but for me, there is nothing classier than a 1930s or 1940s cape pattern….

  • Karen says:

    Yes, I would wear a cape and actually just made one from a vintage Vogue pattern, c. 1970s. (I just did a post on it a couple of weeks ago.) I have several other cape patterns in my collection, with plans to make at least a couple more – I think they are elegant!!

  • Dustin says:

    I’ve always liked the look of capes, as long as they’re not too restrictive. I was actually obsessed with capes a few years ago, to the point where I wanted to make one for myself based on a ’70s Fabiani pattern from black wool. I never got round to it and my fad has now passed, but I still love cape patterns. Not many people wear them so it’s really novel and distinctive when someone is wearing one. I’m really looking forward to seeing your choice of cape pattern.

  • Candy De Leon says:

    Thank You for sharing.

  • PatternVault says:

    Thanks, everyone! With any luck, capes will move beyond a trend ;)

  • CoudreMode says:

    I love capes too but feel the drama of a cape works best in cities and places where one can be seen walking around. Driving while wearing a cape is really annoying! :)

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