Caped Crime Fighter – Sewing & trimming the seams

This tutorial provides further information for the Caped Crime Fighter pattern #1002 specifically the Cape Sewing Instructions 1. & 2.


After completing step 1. on sewing the center back seam on both the cape and it’s lining, it is important to trim the seam allowance back to eliminate bulk and create a sharp point.

cape point wrong side

taped cape point showing trimmed(lower) and untrimmed seam allowance


Next we will tackle the side seams.

One of the unusual factors about this cape is that the hem is closed.  Generally on a lined cape the hems would be kept seperate to prevent the cape from trapping air between the layers creating bubbles, wrinkles etc. where the two layers fight each other.  To create a cape that lays smooth from shoulder to hem it is important to cut the cape accurately on grain and than to “marry” those layers together carefully.  During the sewing process stretching the side seam as you sew them contributes to this “marriage”  Generally we are told to allow the machine to feed the fabric being careful to NOT stretch the fabric as we go, but in this situation stretching the seam actually helps solve a grain problem.

stretching the bias grainline

stretching the bias grainline

In this image we see the various established grain lines.

Lengthwise – the most stable with no stretch runs parallel to the selvage edge.

Cross grain – has some slight mechanical stretch runs perpendicular to the selvage.

Bias – which is a 45 degree angle and has a great deal of stretch.

Areas in a garment where the bias grain falls will grow in length over time.  A professional dressmaker will prevent this from happening on a dress or skirt by “hanging out” the garment sections prior to sewing for a few days and up to 2 weeks depending on the type of fabric.  This technique requires that afterwards you recut the pieces to match the original pattern shape.

Another technique developed by Kliebacker that achieves the same goal is to stretch the seam as you are sewing it.  This technique works quite well on the cape, so lets see how we do that…..

In the cutting instructions on the pattern you were told to  “Mark all seam allowances with dressmakers carbon” this is always done on the wrong side of the fabric.  It is an important step through out the construction of this cape.  With your seams marked you can now accurately pin them together.

carefully pinned seam

carefully pinned seam

Pin your side seams together carefully. Be sure that the pin enters and exits on each side along your marked line. You will sew the side seams from neckline to hem so place your pin heads so they are facing the hem, as they will be easier to remove as you are sewing.

Start sewing the seam as you normally would from the neck to just past the 2nd notch on the shoulder curve. Once you are a few inches beyond that point grasp the seam in front and behind your sewing foot and stretch the fabric firmly as you continue to stitch (removing pins as you go) Be sure that you allow the machine to continue to feed the fabric while you are doing this. You will notice that as you stretch your seam allowance will narrow, meaning it will no longer line up with the 1/2″ seam guide. This is another reason why we mark our seam allowances as you will want to follow your marked edge precisely. Continue sewing to the hem and repeat this process for both the cape side seams and the lining side seams.

Once your side seams are sewn you can proceed to steps 3-4 in your instructions.

Step 5 tells you to tack your seam alowances together.  This step secures your cape layer to your lining layer invisibly.

secured seam allowance

secured seam allowance

Pinning the cape side seam allowance to the lining side seam allowance matching the stitch lines carefully sew short 1-2″ sections together as seen in the picture above. Refer to pattern instructions on where to begin and end this process on each seam.

In the next tutorial we will finish the neck edge.

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