Sewing | Tartan Cape – McCalls 3542

Tartan Cape

Tartan Cape McCalls 3542

I came across a sewing pattern for a cape, McCalls 3542, in a local charity shop for 50p back in March but decided to stash it away until the weather got a bit cooler and I’d actually need to wear one. So finally a couple of weeks ago, I pulled the pattern back out again and decided to start working on it. After a bit of research, I found that the pattern was from 1973 (one available on Etsy here), so an authentically vintage 70s one just perfect for the 70s trend that’s in this season. I didn’t think I was really a fan of 70s fashion…that was until I realised that it actually works perfectly with my love of burnt autumnal colours, so I’ve ended up with various 70s inspired pieces, including a few skirts, a gorgeous orange roll neck top, and a big floppy hat. I did intend to wear that for these photos, but Ben vetoed it – apparently he’s already embarrassed enough to be seen with me in a cape, my response? Oh well!
So I was expecting this pattern to be really complicated, because it’s a cape – capes sound difficult, right? In fact, I should have taken my cue from the pattern envelope which states EASY, as it actually was that. When I sew commercially available patterns, I tend to do a quick Google search beforehand to see how they’ve turned out for others, to get a bit of inspiration on how mine will look and to see if there are any difficult areas. This one was a bit tough to find though as it’s an old one, but I did find Vix at Vintage Vixen had sewn up a gorgeous version of the View C capelet out of an old bed cover – amazing! I decided to go with View B though, and note this view comes with a matching skirt – I chose not to make this (mostly because I didn’t have enough fabric), but one day I think I will.
One minor issue with the sewing pattern for me though…it was a size large, bust 38-40, whereas I’m generally a small or occasionally a medium. I decided that it probably didn’t matter as it was a cape, meant to be worn over bulky winter items, and probably wouldn’t be too obvious if it was a bit big. In the end, I also was a bit generous with the seams too which probably took it down at least another size. It mostly just means that the cape is a bit fuller than it’s intended to be, but that’s more fun anyway!
So a few more pictures, then onto more details about the construction:

Vintage Cape Sewing Pattern

Vintage Tartan Cape

As I mentioned, it turned out that the cape was actually fairly simple to put together, made up of 4 panels plus facings for the collarless neckline and interfacing along the inside facings. It also has slits for the arms between the first two panels on each side, and cleverly I decided that these two panels would be an excellent opportunity to try out French seams for the first time – yeh, that didn’t go so well, mostly due to the fact that the slits have a funny little facing that turns to the inside that got a little bit caught up in the French seam, but nevertheless, I figured it out and now know I can do French seams!
The collarless facing section did present me with a couple of difficulties though in terms of pattern reading, mostly because of the old fashioned language and slightly confusing diagrams. Not to fear, I was visiting my grandparents that weekend so took the pattern over for my grandma to take a look at, and between us we figured it out – it was actually really simple once you’d figured out what the diagram was showing you, as is always the case!
And finally, how cute are the little buttons?! I was planning to go for big stand out buttons, but I came across these in my favourite little vintage shop in Bakewell and bought them on a whim, only to realise they were the same tartan as the cape fabric, so I just had to use them. I was wary of doing the buttonholes as I’d used my buttonhole foot and auto-stitch thingy on a previous project to varied success, but the weekend before, Charley had asked me to use my sewing machine and auto buttonhole making foot and stitch to help out with some buttonholes she needed doing and we managed to master them then, so it was a breeze doing them on this project. I owe thanks to Charley on that one since I was so wary of it before, but now want to make ALL THE BUTTONHOLES.
The cape pattern isn’t lined as I thought it might be, and my fabric is a little flimsier than most winter-wear would be made from, but it makes a really handy lightweight extra layer at this time of year. Basically, I’m in love with it and wearing it everywhere. Ben on the other hand dislikes it strongly and is embarrassed to go out with me wearing it (I think he wouldn’t mind if it was an occasion I was wearing it for, but I think his issue is that it’s maybe a bit much for local supermarket shopping!), but as I said before, ah well! I’m wearing it with basically everything – over dresses, skirts and jeans, although it does look odd with skirts that are longer than it, so (random fact!) I ended up tucking the dress I was wearing below it in these pictures into my tights so it didn’t look so weird 😀

Vintage Tartan Cape pattern


  1. November 4, 2015 / 3:13 pm

    Hoorah for the cape, it looks fab! I can’t wait to get mine out of storage soon and wear it again. I love the neat little facings around the slits – I think I used a newer pattern but the theory is the same.

    • Sian Thomas
      November 4, 2015 / 4:08 pm

      Thank you! I just dug one of my winter coats out of storage (read: junk room where it was under piles of boxes) this morning – even though I don’t really like winter, it’s kind of exciting! I remember loving your cape last year 🙂

    • Sian Thomas
      November 6, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      Haha, that he will! You’d think after all this time he’d have got used to my slightly less than usual clothing but apparently not!

  2. November 5, 2015 / 6:06 pm

    I agree, fab job! The fabric is perfect. Floppy hat though next time please! Xx

    • Sian Thomas
      November 6, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      Thank you 🙂 And yes, definitely! I’m a bit funny about hats and always forget to wear them, but it is so awesome (and I got it super cheap on sale too!) xx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.