September 27, 2011

Superhero Cape

Someone special in our life turns three this month. To celebrate his birthday, I decided to make him a superhero cape personalized with his initial on the back. Using an old pillowcase as the fabric source  kept the total project cost under $4. (Add a couple extra bucks if you don't already have thread.)

My inspiration came from a cape I had once seen at a craft fair. But that was years ago, and I haven't seen a homemade cape since then. Needing a memory refresher, I clicked through several online sources before realizing that most sites offering tutorials are either extremely complex or extremely simple. I saw instructions for beautiful, fully-lined satin capes and I saw t-shirt capes made by removing the sleeves from a large men's t-shirt. I wasn't interested in making a cape on either end of the talent spectrum. I wanted to make a cape that had enough detail to be special, but was still within my skill level and time allowance.

The cape I created was cut from an old pillow case, trimmed with satin ribbon, and embellished with felt. Despite my novice skills, (this was only my second sewing project within the past decade,) I was still able to complete the project within a few hours. This time estimates includes two phone call interruptions and an erroneous seam that needed to be ripped out and redone - you could probably do this project much much quicker!

What you'll need...
An old pillowcase
A spool of 4" wide satin ribbon- I used 3 yards, but your need may vary based on cape size.
Two sheets of felt (found in the craft row for $0.25 per sheet)
similar colored thread

What you'll do...
1. Begin by cutting your superhero emblem. A basic superhero shape is an inverted triangle with the top corners cut off. Your base sheet of felt will become the color of the border and the initial. For the base sheet, you will simply cut the emblem shape. The top sheet of felt will be cut into an similar shape, only slightly smaller. You will also cut out your child's initial from this top sheet of felt. Fold the felt and make the first small snip of the initial. This will allow the lower scissor blade to insert through and continue to cut out the letter.

2. Sew the two layers of felt together. In my project, I first outlined the letter J, on the red felt with red thread. I then sewed along the outer edge of the red felt. I also sewed two plus signs into the side red space. (Partly decorative, partly to keep the two layers together)

3. Set the emblem aside and begin working on the cape. Place pillowcase on flat surface, smooth out wrinkles and trace half of the cape outline. Cut through both layers of the pillowcase. The fold becomes the center of the cape and the two halves will be symmetrical in shape.

4.  Prepare the satin trim by folding and ironing lengthwise.

5. Lay satin ribbon on the cape and cut to needed length.  You will need one long piece for the perimeter of the cape, and a shorter piece for the neckline.  Cut slightly more than you think you will need. You can trim it down later.

Neckline pre-velcro
6. Begin the trim work at the neckline. The pillowcase fabric should be sandwiched inside the fold of the satin trim. Use pins to keep in place while sewing. Sew along the inner margin, the outer margin, and one or two "lines" in the middle of the ribbon all the way around the neckline. You will also need to secure the loose ends of the collar (where the velcro will go) with a few rows of stitches.  Curves are tricky- do the best you can and move on - your little hero won't notice crooked seams.

Sew (or glue gun) the neckline velcro.

8. If excess fabric is visible around the collar trim it down now.

 Continue attaching the trim. Use pins to hold the ribbon in place. Begin at the top where the neckline meets the side of cape. I folded under the ribbon edge at this spot to prevent ribbon fraying. (Applying a no-fray solution or heat searing are other options to prevent fraying.) When you reach the corners, simply fold the ribbon as if you were wrapping a present, and keep pinning.

10. Sew on the trim with the same technique as the neckline a row of stitches along the inner margin, the outer margin, and one or two rows of stitches in the middle.

. Lastly, attach your hero emblem. Pin in place. Stitch along inner margin of child's initial, and outer perimeter of emblem.

Congratulations! You've created your own superhero cape!

For more superhero inspiration, check out this feminine superhero cape tutorial. Her version looks a little easier than mine with super cute results!!  

1 comment:

  1. That is a really cute idea! Very craft thinking on your part. Good job!