Winter Cape – New York by Tessuti

Winter Cape – New York – Tessuti

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Italian Flannel with contrast binding

Capes are huge at the moment and are appearing throughout the catwalks all through Europe so this winter I am a bit “mad” about them.

Already a few of my students have made a winter version of a variety of capes and one of my students purchased this pattern of a Winter Cape  – New York – Tessuti  and I thought I would make it . I was interested in how the pattern would sew together and what I could add to the style “mix” of the garment. Given it was a rainy long weekend I really  enjoyed the process.

The shape of the garment is fairly rudimentary and quite an easy pattern to construct so I wanted to add a few more features or methods to such a simple make – I thought you may like to read about my journey and possibly apply a few of these techniques to your garments.

1. I made my own binding using satin backed Suede.

2. Slip stitching instead of top-stitching.

2. Self covered buttons using the same Suede.

4. Hand worked Button Holes.

  1. Binding.

There is loads of info on the net about how to make your own continuous binding – but I wanted to control where the binding joining seam placement was so I calculated where I would place seam. I tried a few samples first to see what binding I would prefer.


winter cape - new york by tessuti

Self fabric binding

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Pleather binding sample


winter cape - new york by tessuti

Final choice – satin backed suede

As my fabric was 150 cms wide, when cutting my binding on bias I was able to get just over 2.1 metre strips and then they would each shorten as I worked back into my “triangle”. Keeping my longest strips for the outside of the cape I could determine where I wanted the binding seam to fall by joining the longest and stitching them from the shoulder seams outwards. So instead of starting at the neck edge and working my way around, I start at the shoulder seams individually and worked either forward or backward.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Bind join at the shoulder /side seams. Determine where you want to place the join, and use a big machine stitch – stitching from left and right individually from join to fix binding before using a permanent stitch.

To join the binding I chalked a 45 degree angle against the edge – as the binding is cut on a 45 angle the chalk mark is actually on straight of grain. This stops the binding width stretching when joining. Then it was a simple matter of sewing a stitching line . I used stitch length of 1.5 to give it extra strength. Cut away the excess and press. As I have used suede I was careful pressing as you may end up with either shine or memory mark on the correct side.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

chalk guide line at 45 deg to edge

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Stitch on chalk mark. Small stitches and if necessary complete 2 rows.


winter cape - new york by tessuti

Trim excess and press lightly. Satin backed suede will scorch and shine.

2.  Slip-Stitching instead of Top-Stitching.

The correct way to top-stitch is – “to stitch on the top”- hence the term. Because my fabric is so bulky and also with the added binding it was even more so. So I pinned the facing in place, rolled the edge of the binding over approx 2-3 mm and slip-stitched my facing edge to the body of the garment.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

slip stitch facing edge- the needle and thread will run along the edge of the binding internally.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Flip the edge of the facing slightly over and slip stitch. run your needle approx 5mm to 7mm along edge of binding , needle out , then catching a few threads of garment fabric, needle back in running along internal binding edge and so forth.

I also thought that if I were to stitch from the wrong side of garment body the thickness of the bound edge would also show on the correct side creating a lump.
Also by stitching “blind” on the incorrect side, I could not be guaranteed that I was perpendicular to the neck edge of the garment for symmetry.

 3. Self Covered Buttons.

Below is a picture of my old ” Bertha”. I come from a family of rag-traders and this was my grandmothers that she used in her business. My Nan was born is 1898 so I guess this button cover machine/tool has to hark from approx 1920’s to 1940’s. Also you can see the original small cupboard she used to house all her blank button fronts and backs. ( with original dust…lol…)

button cover machine


This is a very weighty tool so I used readily available button covering kits for the cape. One type is much easier to use than the other. I will detail below the one I found more user friendly. And yes – I actually tried both kits.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Button cover kit –

The kit consists of – 1. button front – 2. button back – 3. tool base that fabric and front sits in – 4. and tool setter to force button back onto front ( the blue thing in the photo ).

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Using the template from the sew easy kit cut fabric circle size as needed.

The fabric circle is cut to whatever size the button is. Some web sites you can purchase templates for the different button/ kit sizes.

winter cape -new york by tessutiPlace the circle of fabric over the tool base and sit button front over the top. I used an end of a pencil to push the fabric/button front into the base of the tool. winter cape -new york by tessutiThe above photo shows you the button front squashed into the tool base. Here you can fiddle around with the fabric edges and make sure they are all “tucked” in nicely.

winter cape -new york by tessutiPlace the button back on top of the button/fabric base and place the tool setter on top. Make sure the setter is sitting exactly on top and not leaning to the side. Then push on top of the tool setter which in turn forces the button back into the edge/lip of the button front.

winter cape -new york by tessutiThe above photo shows the button back set into the button front. As you can see all fabric edges are tucked in nicely. If you ever have trouble with the fabric edges tucking in a glue stick comes in handy – just put a small amount around button front lip to hold in place.

winter cape -new york by tessutiThis is a photo of the 2 types of button kits I tried. The button on the left is the kit from Sew Easy. While this kit is relatively easy to use I didn’t like the length of the button shank and also the placement of the holes for stitching. The holes are at least 5-7 mm from the base of the shank so when I tried to stitch this to my garment the button would not stay upright. The button on the right is the one from the method detailed above.  The shank is more open, easily accessible for stitching and far easier to attach to the garment.

4. Hand Worked Buttonholes.

winter cape -new york by tessuti

Hand worked Buttonholes

Given that I had spent so much time on the construction of this cape – and the beautiful flannel that I had used – I thought hand worked button holes would be a fitting finale for the cape.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Using chalk to mark the buttonhole width didn’t work.

I at first marked my fabric with chalk to indicate where my buttonhole placement was but the chalk wouldn’t adhere to the fabric.

winter cape - new york by tessut

Thread tracing worked instead.

So instead I used a threaded needle and thread traced my length of buttonhole.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Stitch around buttonhole length 3mm from edge prior to cutting.

I then changed my presser foot on my machine to a 1/2 zipper foot and stitched 3mm from my thread trace – creating a 3mm “frame” around where I would slash the fabric to create my hand worked buttonhole. I used the zipper foot so I could see where I was stitching as 3mm is a very small distance.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

3mm frame for my buttonhole

I then cut open my buttonhole length according to the thread trace – then to create extra strength and reinforcement I then stitched small a close zig-zag on the edge of the cut fabric. Now to my  buttonhole hand stitching !!

winter cape - new york by tessuti

This is a diagram of how you create your stitch on edge of fabric.

I used embroidery floss to create my buttonhole edge – 3 threads. ( it comes in a combination of 6 threads but easily “splittable”)

winter cape - new york by tessuti

Diagram of formation of buttonhole stitch.

winter cape - new york by tessuti

My buttonhole stitch formation on cut edge of opening.

When I was working my buttonhole I rounded the edge of one end, and bar tacked the end that was closest to the edge of the garment. As this is the point of the most strain the bar tack would act as a strengthener.


More details of my New York Cape.

side button

Self covered buttons at side seams.



The pattern suggested that the hood seams are bound together. This again would have created bulky seams so I bound separately and slip stitched seams to the hood.

hood facing

Bound edges of the hood facing – the pattern suggested top-stitching but again I used a slip stitch to fix the facing against the body of the hood.


I hope that you have learnt something new .

Cheerio and Good luck to you all.

Ann from Designer Stitch School of Fashion and Design.

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