What I wear

The ‘Little Bit of Magic’ cape

Just in case you haven’t noticed,  I  love  capes.  However, I do not love Vegas.  It’s hot, it’s commercial, it’s all about alcohol and gambling and stuff I don’t do.  But this week’s theme on the Sew Weekly was “Viva Las Vegas”.  And Vegas is pretty much the promised land of capes.  Elvis, Liberace, Evil Knievel, magicians — in Vegas, it’s  all  about the cape.  So I may not be a Vegas girl, but I can totally be a cape girl.

Really though, as awesome as an Elvis or Liberace-style embroidered and bedazzled to the gills cape would be, I don’t think my life and wardrobe can support  that  much awesome.

So I went for a toned down version in classic black and white — something to evoke the traditional magician’s cape, with just a little hint of Vegas bling in a shiny, plush velvet, and a patterned jacquard satin lining.

I’m super excited about the lining actually.  The fabric was my Grandmother’s, so it’s wonderful to finally get to use it, 15+ years after I inherited it.  And the pattern reminds me of fountains and stories of glass pools with showgirls swimming in them.  Naughty!

Unfortunately the white fabric was damaged, and I had to cut very carefully to get the full lining out of it, which meant cutting along different grains to the outer fabric, which is a HUGE issue with this pattern.  The disagreeing grain-lines means that in some places the lining tugs just a little, and in others it wants to bag and hang out from below the outer fabric.  I did my best to mitigate the issue, but it isn’t perfect.

I bought the most gorgeous, elaborate, fabulous frog to fasten the front of my cape, and I couldn’t find it anywhere once the cape was finished.  So instead I’m wearing it with a vintage pearl bow brooch from Nana.  I’m almost glad the frog didn’t show up, as I think the bow perfectly references a magician bow tie (and besides, we all know bow ties are cool), and my brooches don’t get to make an appearance often enough.

To get into the spirit of the challenge I added a little Vegas sparkle with one of my Grandmother’s 1950s hats with a sequin band across the front.  I paired the cape with my Little Black Dress Clip Dress (done for the accesorise challenge), some seriously awesome tights, and, for maximum drama, elbow length white gloves.  Totally over the top, but that’s Vegas!

Unfortunately, unlike Vegas, Wellington is  not  the promised land of capes.  Wellington is the land of “Oh blast, I’m trying to cross the street and the wind has blown the cape up into my face and completely blinded me” and “This cape looked so cute over my coat, but it really isn’t cute the way it has been slapping me in the ear for the last 5 minutes”.  So now this is a still-days and indoors only cape.  But it does a great job of keeping me warm.


I first wore the cape for Yum Cha with friends Saturday a week past, but the pictures from that day were terrible, so I re-did a photoshoot at the Roxy Cinema — a 1930s themed cinema with lots of decoration by Weta Workshop.  And it’s in my neighborhood, and just down the street from my favourite restaurant, and a bit glitzy and over the top.  Perfect!

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric:  1.5m vintage jacquard satin from my Grandmother’s stash, 1m black velvet plush from…I honestly can’t remember.

Pattern:  My own, based on  a 1930s original  (the same pattern as the Capelet of Yay, but without the long stole pieces)

Year:  late 1930s meets 2012

Notions:  thread, and someday a frog (if I ever find the blasted thing – but I’m liking it so much without I might leave it off)

Hours:  5, thanks to the unfortunate directional issues

First worn?:  Saturday 26 May for yum char with friends (and then pretty much constantly since then).

Wear again?:  Yes, but only indoors or on still days

Make again?:  Not in the near future.  Between this and the Capelet of Yay, I think I have enough capes for a little while.

Total cost:  $0 (well, $3 for the yet-to-be-located frog).


  1. It looks great! I agree that the bow tie pin is perfect; it’s a shame, in retrospect, that you bought the frog. Oh well, maybe it’ll turn up and you can use it for another project.

  2. Dear Dreamstress,

    Had a a fit of the giggles as you described the cape smacking your ear and otherwise misbehaving. Could practically feel the wind and the frustration!

    Great cape, and who cares if the lining is a wee wonky. It’s fab-u-lous and that brooch with it is the best kind of icing.

    WETA did that cinema? Holy moly, I thought it was an original.

    Very best,


    • Thank you! I’m glad the post is amusing. You should have seen me crossing the street trying to claw the cape off my face. I’m sure everyone watching giggled too!

      The cinema is original in the sense that the building was a cinema back in the 1930s, but every single inner fitting has been replaced, and they went for an Art Deco meets Steampunk inspired interior, rather than basing it off the actual fittings and decorations of the original. There is another old cinema in town, the Embassy, and when they refurbished that one they based it off the original, using fittings that were still around, and even reviving a ceramics works so they could recreate the exact tiles that were in the bathroom. So the Roxy is Vegas, the Embassy is a museum. I love the Roxy for what it is doing for the neighborhood, but the Embassy is more my style.

  3. Elise says

    What a perfect thing to bring to the movies or to the theatre, or even to a restaurant. I love that your forearms are free, so that you can still hold a knife and fork while keeping warm. Nice!

  4. Lynne says

    What a little honey of a cape! You and the whole outfit look as cute as a mouse’s ear! Right down to the stockings/tights with the bows.

    I think the wee bow brooch is perfect – as you say, it tips its metaphorical hat to the magician’s bow-tie. Lovely contrast. I really like the lining material you got from your grandmother, too. Most unusual – lovely swirly pattern.

    • Thank you! And thank you for the new addition to my vocabulary – cute as a mouses ear. I love it! Mice ears are cute. And bats are even cuter – like mice in capes.

  5. Cornelia Moore says

    it’s true, Leimomi, you’re the total package here. I’ve never seen you look better. everything is the best for you, you got it all just right! the photos are fabulous and the capelet is adorable. just perfect!

  6. The little bow really is perfect. I must get round to making one of these for myself, though as you say this isn’t really a city for capes.

    • Capes are perfect for keeping warm inside, so as long as you have an office job, you can be the most elegant person around. I’d love to see your version!

  7. Wow, I thought you were in the Embassy from the photos. Now I am thinking I really must get over to the Roxy some time! And adorable! 🙂

    • The Roxy is pretty cute, but it is very much Vegas does a 1930s cinema on a Wellington budget. And thank you!

  8. Bow ties = totally cool. I adore this cape! The black and white fabrics work so well together, and I’m glad you got to use that fabric after 15 years of cherishing it! The pearl bow pin ties it all together beautifully 🙂 I’m also a big fan of your stockings – how fun!!!

  9. I have totally experienced the same face-smacking from my capes! Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    I love the sleek black look on you, especially in all the luxurious fabrics and the fun stocking details!

    • Haha – yes! Capes are good for a face slap any time!

      And thank you. I love the sleek black look, but worry that it is too boring. The pull between flattering and trying to be interesting :-p

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