How to Make a King Cape

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Once you know how to make a king cape and have one hanging in your closet, you're ready for all occasions. OK, not ‌all‌ occasions—you probably don't want to wear it to the grocery store—but a bunch of occasions.

Need a last-minute Halloween costume? Pair your king cape with a plastic crown and call it a royal cape. A basic red cloak can double as a superhero cape or become part of your cosplay wardrobe. Finish yours with red faux fur and you can play Santa on his way to a fancy dress party all throughout December. You can also wear your cape around the house and make proclamations whenever you feel like your loved ones aren't adequately respecting and fearing you.

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Making a DIY king cape can be surprisingly easy no matter your level of sewing experience. The shape of a basic cape is simple to cut out, and there are ways to finish the garment without using a single stitch.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape

  • Fabric

  • Chalk

  • Sewing shears

To sew or not to sew?

Maybe you're envisioning a velvet cape that's lined with gold satin, has a perfectly finished hem and includes crisp seams perfectly fitted to your shoulders. If so, hopefully you also have a sewing machine and basic sewing skills if not intermediate skills. A no-sew cape is a quick DIY project but doesn't leave a lot of room for tailoring.

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If you do know how to sew, look for cape tutorials on YouTube and cheap or free patterns on cosplay and sewing sites. There are a surprising number of options out there for sewing something as simple as a cape. You'll find patterns for different shapes of capes, patterns for capes with sleeves and patterns for hooded capes. (Heavy, hooded cloaks are really more of a cosplay/Little Red Riding Hood/Lord of the Rings look than a royal look, but it's your kingdom, so who's to say the king doesn't need a hood?)

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Choosing your royal materials

The easiest way to make a no-sew king cape is by using a material that doesn't fray when it's cut. Using these kinds of fabrics lets you save time on finishing the edges of the garment. It's also important to choose a piece of fabric that's wide enough to drape from your neckline to the floor. Otherwise, you'll have to stitch together multiple pieces. Fabric weight is also important; real royal capes are heavy, not flimsy enough to blow in a light breeze.

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Fleece and felt are both good fabric choices for this kind of project. They don't really fray, have some heft to them and are available in bolts of 60 inches or wider. A 60-inch bolt of fabric should be wide enough to create a floor- or ankle-length cape for an adult of average height, but you may want to shop for even wider fabrics if the king in question is on the tall side.

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For the simplest version of a no-sew cape, you'll need a rectangle of fabric that's twice as long as it is wide. So, if you're making a cape for an adult using a 60-inch bolt of flannel, you'll want to get approximately 3 1/3 yards of fabric.

Take a royal stand on sustainability!

Making a king cape may be an opportunity to upcycle old garments and create something new. A red fleece blanket or tablecloth could potentially be transformed into a king cape. A red bathrobe or even an old sleeping bag could contain enough fabric to create an ankle-length cape for a child.

Making a no-sew cape

The basic idea behind making this no-sew cape is to create a piece of fabric that's shaped like half of a donut: a large half circle with a smaller half circle in the center as the neckline.

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1. Measure the "king's" height

Measure from the side of the neck over the shoulder and down to wherever you want the cape to hit.

2. Lay out the fabric

Use a clean floor or large table. Fold the left side over the right side to create a square.

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3. Draw out the cape's hem

Place the bottom of the measuring tape at the top left corner of the square—this is where the cape's neckline will be. Keep the end of the measuring tape in place with a safety pin or heavy object or have someone hold it for you.

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Find the person's height on the measuring tape. Hold a piece of chalk next to this point on the tape as you move the tape across the fabric like you're drawing a line with a protractor. The chalk should create a curved line. (If the person's height is greater than the width of the fabric, hold the measuring tape at the very bottom left edge of the fabric to start your curved line.) Online tutorials demonstrate this process if it's hard for you to visualize.

4. Draw out the cape's neckline

Repeat this process to create the line where the cape's neckline will be. With the bottom of the tape at the left corner of the square, draw a curved line about 5 inches down from the corner. You may need to recut the neckline to make it larger once you try on the cape, but it's better to start conservatively than to cut an overly large neckline.

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5. Cut out the cape

Follow along both chalk lines with your shears. Use your fingers to rub away any chalk marks that are visible on the cape.

6. Try on the cape

Drape the cape around the person's shoulders to check the length and neckline. Make adjustments as necessary.

Did you know?

The kind of capelike garment that kings and emperors historically wore during ceremonial events is technically called a mantle.

Finishing touches befitting a king

Once you've created the basic shape of your cape, the next steps are creating a closure and adding embellishments. If you're comfortable with very easy sewing projects, hand-sewing a button and closure onto the cape should be fairly simple. Hand sewing red ribbons onto the other side of the opening is another option. Skip sewing altogether and find a big gold or bejeweled brooch to pin the cape in place.

Finishing your cape is the really fun part. You may opt to fold over the raw edges and use fabric glue to conceal them or simply cover all the edges of the fabric with white fur trim, gold brocade or some other over-the-top fabric trimming. Embellish the cape even more by using a hot glue gun to attach big faux jewels, gold ribbon or even pieces of gold costume jewelry around the neckline.

And that's it! Your king cape is complete, and you're ready to rule. Just remember: With great power comes great responsibility. Wield your scepter fairly as you make royal decrees to your loved ones and try not to banish ‌too‌ many people to the dungeons.

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