by Karen DIY Family Fun Shoestring Shopping

Princess Capes

For my mom’s birthday I needed some fabric, so when I ran errands, I checked at Wal-mart. I found exactly what I wanted for my mom’s project. Then I saw a bolt of sheer, light blue, snowflake decorated material in the clearance section. As the employee measured it I asked how much was on the entire piece. Eight yards. $20. Too much. Then she said, “Wait a minute, that’s on clearance. It’s only .50 cents a yard.” Wow! It cost $4! I bought it, my mind whirling with the possibilities as only a grandmother of eight little girls under the age of eight can do.

It must have been “Christmas” fabric that hadn’t sold and now had a fantastic price!

At home I hit Pinterest. Hundreds of ideas flitted across the page. I narrowed the scope to cape patterns and after a few quick measurements figured that I could pull off six capes. The two little ones under the age of one will have to wait until they can walk.

The capes came in four basic designs: a no-sew, sticky back velcro closure style, a hooded style with elastic, a gathered style, and the one I chose, a pleated style. I eliminated the no-sew one because it covered mostly the girl’s back, making it less fun to see and touch. I didn’t have enough elastic for six, so the second one was out. And the gathered style I don’t like to work with. My sewing machine is a little finicky on the tension which messes up gathering for me. It might work okay, but the sheer fabric might also be a no-go for it. So pleats it was. I liked the final look of most of the ones shown. I didn’t like the big collars or the pleated ones that were left with unfinished edges.

I dug around in my ribbon box and found some wide-ish matching ribbon. It folded easily. Perfect for the finish around the neck.

With all my ingredients handy, I was ready to go.

I laid out the fabric. It reached all the way across my very large living room. I made a list of how long each cape needed to be to give at least a little train for each of my darling princesses. Then I measured and compromised. The most I had to change was 6 inches, which wasn’t enough to make a huge difference when each one gave up one inch. I wrote the girls’ names or initial in permanent marker near the top on the selvage. That saved a lot of work later when I was putting them together conveyor-belt style.

I wasn’t sure if the sheerness factor would be difficult or not. It wasn’t. Yay!

Starting with my youngest, I put together the entire cape. It took about half an hour to figure out the best way to do each step. Then I put the other five together step my step all the way to addressing the mailing envelopes to send them across the country. That sped up the process. The worst part of the whole project was mailing it and paying double at the post office what the fabric cost. But building a relationship with my granddaughters is priceless.

Step One

I cut each cape. It just takes a rectangular piece. The fold of the material helps identify the center which came in handy for the third and fourth steps. As I  measured, I set a table knife at the cutting lines. Being fairly heavy, the knife held the cloth down well. They were handy and free. Sewing weights are great, but I don’t have room to store them or money to buy them.

Step Two

My grandson would have loved to help with this step! Good thing he wasn’t around.

I singed the hem edges. One blog mentioned they started theirs on fire this way. They went to the craft store and bought a sealer. I’m sure clear finger nail polish would have worked the same, but I’m a little daring. I fired up a candle and set to work. I could swing a six to eight inch section of the hem through the flame a few times without a problem. The type of material probably made the difference. When it was done, it formed very tiny droplets, barely visible. A few places got too warm and melted a scallop shape into the hem, but they didn’t show because the fabric drapes well and has a large pattern to it. It smelled a little like warm plastic, but wasn’t bad enough to give me an asthma attack or set off my super-sensitive fire alarm.

I left the selvage edge as it was since it didn’t fray. It did have a line of fringe along it, which I thought looked cute.

Step Three

I pinned the pleats in place. The width of each cape was the same, but the younger girls have smaller necks which required a few extra pleats squeezed closer together. I started at the center and folded the pleats toward the center back on each side. Many of the pleats overlapped with two or more that came before them. The sheer material made this work fine. Then I sewed the pleats down removing the pins as I went. I checked and rechecked for pins. The pleats could easily hide them and I didn’t want any stabbings!

The pins slipped out easily, so I had to be a little firm with them.
This step took the most time.
Working slowly was worth the effort.

Step Four

I cut a two and a half foot piece of ribbon, folded it in the center and then folded the mid section lengthwise to cover the pleats.Then I crammed the upper part of the pleats into the folded ribbon so the stitches holding the pleats were hidden. Pinning it from the outside and sewing from the outside let me be sure it looked best on that side where it is most likely to show. If some of the stitches show on the inside, it’s not a big deal.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match.
After pinning the center, I worked pinning one side and then the other.
When the stitches showed, I pushed it up into the fold more.
Since I’d sewed the pleats, this part was pretty easy.


Step Five

Time to tie the ribbon into a bow at the opening, fold or roll it and pack it into the envelope.

Just waiting for Li’l Sis.

The funnest part

When Li’l Sis  came over, her cape hung on the back of her chair at the table. She noticed it right away. The conversation went like this

LS: Is this for me?

Me: Yes, when Anna stopped by yesterday, she asked if I knew of anyone who would like this cape because she is too big for it now. I told her my dear little granddaughter will love it and take very good care of it and wear it all the time and act like a princess when she wears it.

LS: Anna gave it for me?

Me: Yes, I told her you would want to say thank you and I hugged her for you and she gave me a kiss like this. (Kiss.)

LS: Why didn’t she wait for me? Is she coming back? Can I put it on?

Me: She had to go back to rule her kingdom. But I asked her to come back some time soon and I told her you would love to have a tea party with her. She said she likes coffee with cream and sugar.

LS: I can use my tea set.

Me: Want to practice?

LS: Tie the bow for me.

Me: How does a princess ask?

LS: Please. Anna really came here?

Me: It’s fun to pretend, isn’t it? Want to keep pretending?

LS: Uh-huh.

I set up with my daughter and daughter-in-law to Skype me when the packages arrive for the others. I told them the same make believe story adding to our special memories.

The blessing

As I worked on each little granddaughter’s cape, I prayed for her. That made the whole project a huge blessing.

Getting to watch the granddaughters open their package added to the joy. I’m thankful for Skype and Face Time.

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