A Simple Design for The Fencing Cape
Originally published in Punta Dritta, March AS XXXV (2001)
Those of you who have read, or perhaps tried your hand at my last published project, the Simple fencing coif, will recognize much in this design for a cape. If anything, it is even simpler than the coif. The design is for a small cape that is not unlike the vestigial cape worn by gentlemen at the height of the era of the Rapier. As a garment it is not much, but it flows well in the off hand of a fencer. To be durable, I made mine from trigger cloth. Though just about any cloth of similar weight should work as well. Brocades would have a nice look to them.
Start with a piece of cloth 60"x60". Fold it top over bottom, and then again left over right. Tie a piece of string around a regular lead pencil. Hold on to the string with one hand at the upper left of the folded fabric, and inscribe an arc from the upper right to the lower left. Shorten the string to about 6" and inscribe another arc. You should end up with something like this:
The color change is, of course, just to show the area that will be the cape more clearly. Cut the wasted cloth from the upper left and from the lower right. If you completely unfold the fabric you will have a doughnut shape like this.
Fold it top to bottom and sew the bottom edge.
This would be a good time to try the cape on, if you ever think to wear it. If the neck hole needs to be larger, re-cut it now. Then, reach through the neck hole, and pull the bottom seam through. This will leave the sewing on the inside of the cape to give the outside a more finished appearance. Sad to say, you now need to iron over the seam so that it will lay flat. It just will not look right if you don't do that. The last step is to take a piece of bias tape in a matching or contrasting color that is a good 20" longer than the neck hole and center it over the hole. Use it to sew the hole closed, finishing the edge and leaving the extra bias tape hang loose equally on each side to act as the tie string for the cape. That is all there is to it.