In the first of our Designer D.I.Y. at Home series, the former Givenchy artistic director shows us how to turn an old fleece blanket into a coverall.
At a time when everyone is isolated at home, nervous about spending money and without an occasion to dress up, what can we do to help you pass the time?
Styles has started a series of print-and-keep D.I.Y. wardrobe customization ideas, similar to the sewing patterns that glossy magazines used to provide. We want you to remember the joy of fashion and learn (or remember) how to make things at home. Some of fashion’s best-known creative talents will be on hand to guide you through the process.
What to do with those old picnic or children’s bed blankets gathering dust in a closet? Here the British designer Clare Waight Keller, who recently stepped down as the artistic director of Givenchy, where she was known for her elegant mix of the heritage and the contemporary (as exemplified by the Meghan Markle wedding dress she designed), guides us through how to turn an old blanket into a blanket cape — one of her trademark styles.
“I liked the idea of a cape, firstly because I love them,” Ms. Waight Keller said. “Throughout my career at Givenchy and Chloé, I have designed everything from checked blanket capes to haute couture evening capes.
“In times like these, I believe we are all looking to feel wrapped and protected. Capes are one of the most democratic fashion items: They work for everyone, regardless of age, shape, size or height.”
Lay the blanket flat.
Fold it in half lengthwise so that it’s 5 feet in width. That will eventually become the shoulder line.
Measure halfway across the
width at both the top of the fold
and the bottom.
Mark the measurements on one side of the folded blanket with the pen, then join the two dots vertically. The line should run straight up the middle of the folded blanket.
Cut vertically up the line.
Remember: You are cutting only one side of the folded blanket.
Measure 4 inches horizontally
on either side of the cut at the top
of the fold.
Mark each side with the pen, then cut along the fold to each point. Those cuts form the opening for the neck.
Finish the edges.
Most picnic and fleece blankets are made of fabrics that don’t fray, so you can leave the edges raw if you like. But a blanket stitch adds an additional visual element, if you have the time and inclination. To create this finish, follow these instructions:
Collect your blanket, needle and thread. Thread the needle with a long length of wool (approximately one arm’s length) and make a knot at the end.
Begin on the right side of your fabric. Bring the thread up from the back so the knot is hidden.
Pull the thread all the way through. Hold on to the thread as you pull so the short tail doesn’t become unthreaded.
Take the thread around to the back of the fabric and bring it up to the front again through the same hole. The loop should be parallel to the vertical edge of the cape.
Bring the needle through the stitched loop, from left to right, along the edge of the fabric.
Pull the thread straight up to tighten the stitch. Lay the thread atop your hand, so it remains in front of the stitches you are making.
From the back, make another stitch about ¾ inch to the left.
Pull the thread almost all the way through, leaving a loop. Bring the needle through the loop from front to back.
Gently pull the thread tight to complete the stitch. Continue sewing stitches to the left until your edge is finished.
Continue around the perimeter of the cape.
Your new cape can be worn in two ways:
1. As a wrap: Drape one side over your shoulder so it falls straight and then pull the corner of the other side across your neck to form a cowl, so the edge crosses your body diagonally.
2. Belted: Using a rope tie or belt, circle your waist beneath the cape in the back, through the sides and around the front so that it is secured to your body in front and left free to fly out behind.
Photograph by Julien Mignot for The New York Times