Leafy cape



Serena Valguarnera


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

When I had read that the Natural World was the theme of the Competition, I thought for a dress or an accessori that wraps the person that wears it. I loved to create also something that would be gender fluid and also practical for a person with disability. Besides, a project easy to sew, because it was my first sewing project ever.
My first idea was a cloak covered with leaves sewed one by one. I drew a sketch of it but it looked like something fairy; I liked it but I was looking for something simpler and for a day-to-day life. So I started with a research of photos, paintings, frames of silent movies and magazines most of all of the last decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century; I love the aesthetics of this period. I chose to sew a short cape and I tried to join practicalness, elegance and simplicity. For the main fabric, I used the velvet because I love its softness at the touch, how it drapes and how responds to the light. Besides the velvet gives me feeling of warmth, elegance and lastingness. The trimming was the hardest part for me of the project. My aim was again something easy to make, but also pretty and related to the topic. My inspiration arrived from the pictures of the period I like and the decoration is an ensemble of historical references and free creation, taking off any ruffles or ribbons.

Outline the construction…

Firstly I drew a sketch of the cape, then I did the first tests of the stitches and a mock-up. I'd loved also to try some antique methods even if this project isn't an historical rebuilding. The whole cape is hand sewn and I used largely, back stitches; it demanded hours but it was relaxing.
I drew the pattern on brown paper and I transfered it on the velvet and on the fabric for the lining, tracing the silhouette with a white basting thread using running stitches. The fabrics I chose are a black cotton velvet - used with its darker direction - , and for the lining a dark grey pure virgin wool fabric. For the collar I inserted between the two parts, a piece of buckram, using pad stitches. I made buckram with a light-weight cotton fabric and powdered Xanthan gum mixed with water.
Between the upper fabric and the lining, I added a thin cotton fabric, and on the chest-zone I put the pads for making a more harmonious silhouette; i used synthetic padding.
The trimming was the hardest part, I used a soutache trim, passementerie and a cotton thread for embroidery. I worked black on black. I'm an illustrator and for transfering the drawing on paper to the velvet I used the pouncing technique: I proped the paper with a large needle and the I plugged with a powdered chalk inside a gauze.
In the collar I sewed a hook and a eye for closing.




  1. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 9, 2023 at 12:17 am

    Such a lovely cape! I love the embroidery and the color! So nicely done!

    • Avatar Serena Serena Valguarnera on May 27, 2023 at 7:56 am

      Thank you so much, Anna-Catherine 🙌🏽🏵️

  2. PK Reynolds McKnight P.K. Reynolds McKnight PK Reynolds McKnight P.K. Reynolds McKnight on May 10, 2023 at 4:25 am

    Lovely/ makes me think of Mary Poppins

    • Avatar Serena Serena Valguarnera on May 27, 2023 at 7:57 am

      Thank you a lot for this lovely comment ♥️ I really really love Mary Poppins 🥰

  3. Avatar Elizabeth Coggins-Hill on May 10, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    The soutache work is really rather fabulous. Well done!

    • Avatar Serena Serena Valguarnera on May 27, 2023 at 8:06 am

      Thank you lot Elizabeth 🙌🏽🌿

  4. Avatar Susannah Allanic on May 12, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    It is very charming. I’m impressed with using the pouncing technique on velvet. The soutache is really ‘rather fabulous’ as Elizabeth Coggins-Hill has already commented.

    • Avatar Serena Serena Valguarnera on May 27, 2023 at 8:10 am

      Thank you Susannah, 🙌🏽 the decoration was the harder part of the whole project, and it took a lot of time, but it was also inspiring and enjoyable 🌿

  5. Avatar Lowana O\'Shea on May 16, 2023 at 11:14 am

    This is an incredible make, especially for your first ever sewn garment! Well done on creating a stunning garment.

  6. Avatar Serena Serena Valguarnera on May 27, 2023 at 8:12 am

    Thank you so much Lowana 🌿

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