A good capelet is a fabulous addition to any steampunk wardrobe. Cute, stylish, fun to wear, and yes, it's practical. Perfect for warding off a light chill while still keeping your arms free and unencumbered by a coat.
For my capelet project, I started with this--if I'm being frank--frighteningly ugly dress, which I got at the thrift store for $3.50. Don't worry about the dress's size--the capelet is one-size-fits-all.
While I do like the thick, heavy knit fabric of this dress, the material it's made of isn't really important. What matters is that it snaps up the front and has these very wide, weird, tapered armholes. Why anyone in their right mind would design a dress with sleeves like this, I have no idea, but they really are essential for this particular project.
Lay the dress flat on your cutting surface and, with a Sharpie or fabric chalk, trace a gently curved line all the way across the garment, incorporating as much of the armhole's width as possible.
Cut along the line you've drawn, all the way across the garment. (It is extremely important that the dress be laid out completely flat, to avoid uneven edges. If a few uneven edges occur anyway, just trim them up with scissors. Nothing to worry about.)
If the dress has shoulder pads, for goodness' sake, cut them out! (Seriously, who invented those things? I mean, really?)
Fold the edges over about 1/4 of an inch for hemming. My project is made of material that doesn't ravel easily, so a single fold worked just fine for me, but if you're working with a material that ravels and frays more easily, you may need to fold the material over a second time before pinning it down.
Now, sew up your hem. I chose to do mine by hand so I could work on it while talking to my boyfriend on the phone in the evenings, but of course you could do this on a sewing machine too.
And there you have it!
Really--it's that simple. I chose to keep mine pretty simple, since I like the casual versatility of it, but of course, there are endless possibilities for dressing this up and decorating it. Trims, ruffles, a corsage, brooch, fancy buttons, lacing or cording...make it your own!
Do you have a conversion or alteration project tutorial that you'd like to share on The Facts of Steampunk Life? Give us a shout at factsofsteampunklife(at)gmail(dot)com!