It's good to give yourself all the practical luxuries of a real salon when you're doing home haircuts: good sharp scissors, professional clips to hold sections in place, and even a floor easy to clean, a chair comfortable for the cuttee that won't break the cutter's back. In my experience private haircuts are usually done in various states of grungy undress, but it's actually better to have a cape which fulfills some simple functions. If nothing else it allows you to keep a good bit of clothes on underneath in cold weather! It should be tightly woven and have a slick texture, so hair slides right off it. I think synthetics would generally be preferable because of that, and they'd also be really quick to wash and dry. Most importantly, the cape should be long enough to reach past the wearer's elbows, butt, and knees in a sitting position. You want the hair to go directly to the floor, and not accumulate in ankward spots, although it's easy enough to shake it off the lap with a slick cape. And the neck should be adjustable so it can be kept tight enough to prevent entry of stray locks, without strangulation, for a wide enough range of potential users.
I love the crinkly gold lame version that I've run across :-). If you get the person to feel glamorous before they even see anything else, they're more likely to feel happy in the end. But I came across this cheerful Mexican-kitsch fabric, $1/yd, and it seemed just fine for me. It's heavy polyester satin, with very functional slickness.
For an adult, you need somewhere between 2 and 2½yards of fabric, wide enough to go over both elbows generously. First, you might want to round all the corners. It's not strictly necessary, but it'll keep you from tripping as you work your way around. In theory it's of course easiest to fold your fabric so all the corners are together and cut them. In practice, with very slick fabric, it might be easier to deal with them one at a time. In any case, you might want to use a plate as a template if you're not feeling very sure-handed.
Then you want to cut out a circle, positioned a bit over 60cm (2 feet) from the back lengthwise, and in the middle in the other direction. I folded my fabric in 4 at the desired point, and cut out a single quarter-circle, 5cm (2½") in radius. You could also use a smaller plate as a full template if you prefered, and had one the right size. Then make a long slash from the back hem to the neck in the center of the fabric - yes, that's on the SHORTER part.
Basically all you're going to do is an immense hem, all the way around, up to the neck and around it. I first pressed 1cm (1/2") under with a relatively cool iron (so as not to melt my synthetic), trying to keep the corners rounded and even enough, I did that on the wrong side so I could see what I was doing and distribute the extra fabric more evenly. I stitched the hem from the wrong side with a 3-step zigzag for best control. I used a thin microtex-sharp needle to minimize puckering, you might want to look in Sandra Betzina's excellent 'Fabrics' book for suggestions if you're not used to your fabric. I folded my pressed allowance in half with my fingers as I went, going all the way so that there was a triple layer of fabric everywhere. The firm hem gave a welcome bit of body to the finished product. Of course all this ended up a bit smaller around the neck because of the tighter curve, don't worry about it.
Finally I sewed some velcro (2cm/1" long) on one corner facing in, and a longer corresponding bit along the neck facing up, where it'd hopefully meet the first corner for the majority of necks. You can use several bits if you have a wider audience. The idea is to have a large enough overlap in any case that you don't risk pouring hair down the person's unprotected back. I used an experimental product, a 2-sides-in-1 tape with hooks and loops together, and I like it. It seems to hold well enough, and better yet it's softer on the neck if it ends up there by accident.
First published: 7 mar 06
All rights reserved. © Fuzzy Galore 2002-2006.