Most of the kid capes you find in stores are ridiculously overpriced pieces of fabric and glitter. Make your own personalized cape with just two pieces of fabric, a little embellishment, and a sewing machine. But even if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can still MacGyver up an old T-shirt into an excellent cape in about ten minutes. And sure, feel free to use duct tape if you’d like.
(Cape with fabric)
- Fabric—a yard (fabric is sold in yards) of your favorite color, preferably solid; or let the kid choose the color
- Embellishments—iron-on logos, initials, whatever you’d like
- Iron-on paper (So that if you don’t have an iron-on logo already, you can make your own!)
- Bias tape (You can find this at your favorite craft or fabric store. Again, let the kid choose the color.)
- Sewing machine
(Cape with recycled shirt)
- Needle and thread
- Velcro bits if you have them (not absolutely necessary but nice if you don’t like the idea of tying the cape around a neck)
Source: ,Dad's Book of Awesome Projects: From Stilts and Super-Hero...
For fabric superhero cape:
Take your yard of fabric and cut it in half and then place one half on top of the other. I prefer to use solid colors because it’s easier, and any embellishments “pop” as opposed to getting mixed up with any fabric patterns.
Measure your child from neck to just below the hips—you probably don’t want the cape to get too long, just so it doesn’t trip her or get caught in things. But you can measure it to her toes if you’d like. It doesn’t really matter. I just like the look of the hip-length kind. Anyway, there’s your guide for size.
Using your personalized hip-to-neck length measurements as a guide, grab some chalk and trace out a cape design on the fabric, which should still be placed one piece on top of the other. When you trace, leave an extra inch at the bottom and the sides. For instance, if you measured from neck to hip and got 20", trace out 21" for length on the fabric. Make the sides an inch bigger than you want the finished product to be as well. When you sew later, this extra fabric magically disappears. As for the pattern, look, you know what a cape looks like: broad at the bottom, tapering up to the neck. It doesn’t really have to be perfect, because sewing later on will provide the straight lines. Just trace a pattern onto the fabric.
Pin the pieces of fabric together, and cut it out in the pattern you’ve traced, making sure you’re going through both pieces of fabric. When you’re done cutting, you should have two identical, cape-shaped pieces of fabric. You are on the way!
If you’d like, now is the time to embellish one side of the cape. If you have an iron-on patch, go ahead and apply it. If you’d like to make a personalized cape with, say, the initials of your favorite, pint-sized crime fighter, take a swatch of different-colored fabric and follow the instructions on your iron-on paper. (See image) You can buy this stuff cheap at any fabric store. All you do is iron a good amount on your swatch of fabric and then, once dry (thirty seconds), cut out the initials you’d like from the swatch. Then peel off the sticky paper and place the initials, sticky side down, on the cape where you want them. Iron them on. Boom! That’s it. You can also sew them on for good measure and to prevent later fraying, but simple ironing should work fine.
Once your cape is personalized, here’s the trick: Place the side you just embellished on the other cape-shaped fabric so that the embellishments are facing down. In other words, the embellished, personalized side should look as if it’s inside out. Yes, exactly. It seems weird, but here comes the magic.
Pin the cape so that the bottom matches the bottom, the sides match the sides, and the neck matches the neck.
Now, you can begin sewing. Start at the neck and go down one side, and then sew the bottom before going up the side and stopping at the other side of the neck. The neck should remain un-sewn and open, as if you just made a really big pouch.
Take your scissors and cut off excess fabric around the edges. Don’t get too close to your thread line but also don’t leave too much fabric—¼" tops. (See image)
Once it looks good to go, turn the fabric inside out. Now, your embellishments should be on the outside for all to see. Iron the corners and side to set the shape in place. This is the secret to sewing: 90 percent of it is ironing. Ironing makes everything look perfect.
Cut a long strip of bias tape—let’s say 2'. Place the middle of the strip at the middle of the cape neck so that the ends of the bias tape form long ties. Almost done now. See how the tape opens up and forms a pocket sort of? Make sure you place the cape neck inside that pocket and then pin closed.
Now sew the bias tape closed all along the strip. (See image) This process closes the cape neck and also provides the cape ties. If you’d like, you can make your own bias tape, but store bought is so much easier for those not familiar with sewing.
That’s it. You just made your very own superhero cape. Well done!
For recycled T-shirt superhero cape:
If you don’t have a sewing machine, here’s a great way to take an old T-shirt and make your own cape.
Take your old T-shirt and flatten it out so that the logo is facing up. Once it’s all smoothed out, cut around the neck of the shirt on the back, starting in the middle and ending where the shoulder hem meets the front of the neck. (See image 1) In other words, only cut out the back side, not the front. The front will form your cape.
Once you have the neck cut out, cut down the front of your shirt to form a cape shape, making sure you keep the logo you want. (See image) You don’t even really need to trace any pattern if you don’t want; just cut down the shirt from the neck to the bottom, angling out along the way. When you’re done, you should have a cape.
Excerpted from "Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects" by Mike Adamick, Copyright © 2013 by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Images by Mike Adamick and 123rF.com.