In the basement her suburban home, Jan Lamm specializes in making custom designed capes.
She started sewing when she was 4 years old. Eventually, she got into making wedding dresses, then costumes. In the 90s, Lamm began selling capes. Now, she estimates that she makes 700 garments each year.
“Everything I sew already has a buyer,” says Lamm.
Her fans are so happy with her work they often write her letters to say thank you.
You could say Lamm is an expert seamstress; each cape is custom designed.
Think of famous capes like the one worn by Dracula or the Phantom of the Opera; Lamm makes replicas for the family members of those famous horror actors.
To replicate some of the titular characters’ capes, Lamm needed to track down authentic pieces. One time, she needed a rare type of button called Black Jet Mourning Buttons. Lamm had to track down a button collector.
“I bought the entire collection so that I could reproduce these capes accurately,” says Lamm.
Lamm’s busiest time of year is, to no surprise, Halloween, but she’s found a market with people that wear capes year round.
“Right now still, doing a cape is so varied. It can be so many different things, but really I sew to make a living. So, I have go where the money is,” says Lamm.
For now, Lamm continues to sell capes. She doesn’t plan to switch, but says she is open to making other garments in the future.