Monday, March 21, 2011

A Super Sewing Project: The Superhero Cape

I've been doing a little more sewing than usual lately. First the quilt, then the nursing pads, then homemade wipes (I'll share the details on those later -- got to test them out first).  Most likely nesting mixed with cabin fever. Or maybe because it's one of the few things left I can actually do at nine months pregnant (today is actually my due date). Anyway, after I finished my other projects, I decided to sew something NOT for the baby, though, really, my first-born will always be a baby to me, but that's another story.

Like many four-year-old boys, my little guy is obsessed with superheroes. I am in love with this phase. I think it's completely adorable. His favorite superhero is none other than Superman.  He has a Superman shirt that he wore day in and day out because it has an attached cape. In an attempt to get him to wear his other clothes, I thought I would try and make him his very own Superman cape.  I think it turned out pretty well -- it didn't take too long and the materials cost next to nothing, maybe $3-4 at the most. My little guy loves the cape I made and he wears it everywhere. Now I don't have to sneakily wash his Superman shirt when he's sleeping anymore. The only problem is that he keeps telling me I need to make capes for his cousins -- a pink one for one of his girl cousins and a blue one for another so they can be the Justice League.

To make a cape for your own superhero, the materials you'll need are:
  • - 1/2 - 1 yard of fabric (how much you need depends on the child's size
    - Bias tape (I used extra wide double fold)
    - Coordinating thread
    I didn't really follow a pattern for this cape and I just kind of winged the whole thing, so please excuse the not-so-precise instructions that follow. I promise, though, this is a really, really easy project that anyone can do.
I started by measuring the boy from his shoulders to the back of his knees, then from shoulder to shoulder, just to give me an idea of the size I needed to cut. From there, I picked up the fabric and draped it around his shoulders to give me an idea how I wanted it to fit and then measured again. In the end, I cut a rectangle that ended up being about 20"x30".

The next step is to hide the raw edges and sew a hem. For mine, I did a narrow double-fold hem. To do this, I folded the raw edge to the wrong side of the fabric about a 1/4" in, then I folded again another 1/4". I pinned it in place as I folded. Once the side I was working was all pinned, I ironed the fold. I did this one side at a time. Only do this hem on three sides of the cape - the longer sides and wider bottom. We'll be doing a bigger hem for the top of the cape where it ties around the neck.

Stitch the hem in place. I used a zigzag stitch for mine, but you could also do a straight topstitch, too. I thought the zigzag looked a little more interesting and decorative.

Once the three sides of the cape are hemmed, you're going to make the casing for the drawstring at the top of the cape. I thought about just doing all four sides, including the top, with the same hem and attaching ties to the sides of the cape, but I think the drawstring works well because my son can either pull the cape around his shoulders or let the fabric cinch up in the back while he's "flying". I've seen both methods used, so do whatever floats your boat. I did it partly this way because it's how my mom made my awesome Batgirl cape over 20 years ago.

To make the casing, press the raw edge of the fabric to the wrong side of the fabric 1/4" in (like you did with the double-fold hem). Determine how much room you'll need for your drawstring. My bias tape was about 1/2" wide. Once you've figured out the width of the drawstring, add another 1/2" for wiggle room. Press under the top edge to about an inch in. Edgestitch in place. There should be a 1" opening at each end of the top of the cape.

Measure how much bias tape you'll need to thread it through the width of the cape, with extra for the ties around the neck. You don't want this to be too short because it will be too tight around the neck; you don't want it to be too long because the fabric will just gather in the back and hang low because there's so much slack.

Once you've cut the length of bias tape you need, stitch along the middle. I did this so it wouldn't come unfolded. Plus, the zigzag adds a decorative touch.
Attach a large safety pin at one end of the stitched bias tape and pull the bias tape through the casing.

Tie around your superhero's neck -- I did it in a fairly tight knot (and so I wouldn't have to tie it every few minutes). I tied it at a comfortable (and safe -- not too long that he could get caught on something) length so he could slip the cape on and off easily. The second I put it on him, he went to his usual Superman pose (fists on hips), stated resolutely that "this looked like a job for Superman", and he was off.

Did I mention that I love the superhero phase?


Z Fam said...

Heather if you ever want I also have a pattern that is double sided. I made one for Tay and I did batman on one side and yellow with a pink princess crown on the other. I also made one for my nephew and did batman on one side and sewed his name on the other.

Gwen said...

My sister made a batman cape for her son too. If you don't want to bother with tying something around your son's neck,choking hazard, etc., she just put two strips of velcro on the back of a batman shirt, and corresponding velcro strips on a cape.

Heather said...

A double-sided cape sounds awesome! I might have to give that a try (once Superman prefers Batman, you know).

Gwen -- that's how his everyday Superman shirt was and it works really well. Definitely an option. I thought about doing velcro on the bias tape ends, too (so I wouldn't have to worry about the tie) -- I may still switch it. So far, though, we haven't had any problems with choking or anything, but the velcro might be a better idea for littler kids, anyway.

Tara said...

Love it! I can't sew to save my freakin life so I may have to "hire" you once the baby makes his arrival to make some for my boys! =)

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