Vogue 7923: a Grey Silk American Girl doll Cape

An American Girl doll wears a long silver cape with a pink ruffle.

This grey silk American Girl doll cape goes back to before the explosion of actual historical sewing patterns from 18 inch dolls, when the Pleasant Company historical pattern set (you can find the patterns here for free download!) was the only “authentic’ source and for further inspiration we had to glean from the rag-dolll-y sorts of patterns you could find in the Big 5 catalogues.

Back in my last summer before i went to grad school, I came across the sewing pattern Vogue 7923. The doll dress in the pattern is deeply iffy – very 1970s prairie dress – but the CLOAK and the cloak was very Jane Bennet goes to the Ball in the 1995 A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. Sort of.  Close Enough.

Envelope cover of Vogue pattern 7923 - a regency ensemble for 18 inch dolls.

And lo – in the stash I just happened to have a meter of silver silk duponi, and also just enough pink silk for the ruffle and also just enough gold to bind the edges – it was all sort of higgledy piggledy pastels that only mostly matched, but Jane Bennet would have liked that sort of thing. Probably.

When you cut and gather on the grain, silk dupioni frays like you can’t imagine until you’ve sat down and tried it yourself.  Foolishly, when I cut the ruffles I didn’t leave any extra seam allowance to lose in the gathering process, and just as naturally I didn’t serge or zigzag or fray check the edges or do take any other measures even VAGUELY sensible.

Drowning in fraying edges, I yelled for help, and Mum and I spent a tooth-clenching, nail biting day gathering meters and meters of half-inch ruffles very carefully and very VERY slowly. Actually, Mum gathered ruffles with pefect calm and tranquility –  I did the teeth clenching and nail biting for both of us.

A 3/4 view of an American Girl doll wearing a long silver cloak with a pink ruffle.

At the end of that long day I stitched the ruffles to the cloak, bound the raw edges with bias cut gold silk (The whole thing was such a mess, a fancy sandwich of bias was the only thing that would contain it all!) and went over the whole perimeter of the grey silk cape with a pair of nail scissors hunting for stray threads – and managed to put the scissors right through the grey silk – an ugly jagged v-shaped tear.

small embroidered flower on a piece of silver silk

There might have been tears.

An American Girl doll wears a long silver cloak with a pink ruffle. The hood is folded back away from her face.

And THAT foolish ‘why didn’t I leave it till tomorrow?’ moment  is why there is a lovely embroidered flower on the edge of the hood, and only the tiniest HINT of fusible interfacing on the inside.  It’s a couture touch on this American Girl doll grey silk cape.  Thank you VERY much, Mum.

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