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Sketchbook inspired Capelets for Wintry Wanderings

Vintage book illustration of a cape-clad Frog Princess

I love a good cape. One of my earliest memories of a garment are of a brilliant red wool cape my Aunt Sallie had in the 70's - I think it was lined in red gingham. She is only 14 years older than I am, so she was more like a cool big sister, and I remember the cape because it was something I had never seen before. Swingy like a skirt, not quite a coat, with mysterious slits for hands to slip out of. Very cool. Whether worn by a classical heroine or superhero, a cape is a garment that invokes a bit of cozy magic.

Bridget channels an Oak Queen in our Little Acorn Capelet, detailed with textural acorn and leaf embroidery.

Last year when I came upon a remarkable group of wool wovens at a favorite fabric source, I knew exactly what I'd like to do with them! As a designer, I am always striving to improve on each garment while honoring the classic, which is how our Capelets evolved. What is a 'capelet' you say? It's a little cape, covering the shoulders, that's more streamlined and (in my opinion) more versatile than a coat or fleece. Our capelets button under the arms so as not to get twisted around the neck like a traditional cape. They are also shaped at the arms, to facilitate ease of movement and active play. The generous fit allows comfortable layering over other clothing while avoiding that "stuffed sausage" feel I remember so clearly from childhood. Large buttons are easy to work by little fingers, pockets allow for hand warming or mitten storage.

While all these things add up to a little garment which packs a lot of cool weather punch, we still added in a bit of whimsical luxury - with a super soft faux fur lining here:

Umm, yeah - that's really yummy!

And a faux fur collar here:

Little Goodall Deerhart Capelet, with fancy faux fur collar. We made the model's antler crown from a scrap of the faux fur and Sculpey!

And while we're at it, why not a grosgrain ribbon bow?

Bluebird of Happiness Capelet, with removable grosgrain bow.

Lastly, I turned to my sketchbook to create some special embroideries as a finishing touch. My friends Lynette and Gene took my drawings and color selections and embroidered them onto the wool.

Embroidery Detail from the Deerhart Capelet

We used a sepia toned backdrop to create a sort of Victorian portrait feel when Sohostory photographed the capelets for us; it was great fun - especially making the headpieces we styled each capelet with! And there is a nod to the modern as well; each of the models wore the capelets layered over jeans, sweaters, and knit turtlenecks.

Our model Tessa doing her best to avoid giggling with a bluebird perched on her head. See why we called it the "Bluebird of Happiness" Capelet?

In terms of versatility, these are sized in two year increments, for longer wear - each capelet can be worn for two or even more winters, before being handed down to a little sister. The largest size will also fit a petite adult!

I'll close with a bit of fashionable etymology - cappa is the Latin word for cape (cloak or head covering), forming the base for the word “escape,” which comes from ex cappa.  We hope our trio of Capelets will inspire imaginative outdoor escapes, winter wanderings, and creative adventures!

Are there any winter garments which you remember loving (or hating) as a child?


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