The Makings of a Superhero: The Superhero Costume

August 10th, 2011 § 7 comments

Superhero GirlA superhero is not simply someone who stumbles upon a crime or injustice and makes a spontaneous decision to intervene.  A true superhero has a strong moral code and has vowed to actively battle, risking his or her own safety, for the betterment of humankind.

Superhero status should not be reserved for the mega rich, super-fit extra-terrestrial brilliant scientist type.  Sometimes merely being at the right place at the right time may be all that is needed—due to some freak laboratory accident, the clumsy lab tech comes into contact with a secret fizzley purple formula within a flask; the mousy orphan unearths a pebble or a magical wizard who bestows upon her the godlike powers of Captain America or Supergirl, transforming her into a massive powerhouse with enhanced metabolic powers.

Masked SuperheroAnd, sometimes a superhero needs to look like a superhero.  For, nothing motivates a pending protagonist more than a good outfit.  A good outfit not only provides protection and technological advantages, it conceals the supersecret identity of the real-life superhero from revenge-seeking criminals.  As well, a superhero’s secret identity protects friends and family from becoming targets of his or her archenemies.

Running SuperheroRecommended Components:

A real-life superhero outfit must be of sufficient quality to show that some care went into its creation.  Cape, mask, magical utility belt and speedy sneakers—all should incorporate the crusader’s well-considered name and theme.

Materials:

This project requires the following scrap materials: 1 yard fabric (preferably two different patterns, ½ yard each) for cape; decorative fabric fringe for cape bottom (beaded or tasseled cotton, lace, tassel, cording—anything is fine as long as there is a “lip” to sew onto); Velcro bits for cape closure; small fabric scraps (we used felted wool sweaters and soft remnant velveteen) for mask and magical belt; elastic for back of mask; and ribbon or remnant seam binding ribbon for magical belt tying mechanism.

Note: for sweater felting tips, see previous Mossy tutorials on wool sweater felting (Swittens, Tiny Birdhouse or Sweater Mice).

Instructions:

Choose a great name.  If you and your team are completely stuck, the Superhero Name Generator may be utilized to provide some direction.  Use the patterns below as a guide to cut large pieces for the cape (with both fabric types).  Cape pattern is similar to an enlarged baby bib pattern with offset neck closure—just worn backwards.  Cape length (A) should measure from superhero shoulder to lower thigh.  Use pattern as guide to cut smaller pieces for belt and mask.  Belt is long (approximately 16”) and rectangular, made out of two contrasting fabrics (we used felted wool sweater as the backing, and a smaller rectangular piece of patterned cotton).  We used felted wool sweaters for the outside of the mask and soft, velvety remnant velveteen for the inside of the mask. If desired, cut out fabric letters or symbols to add to cape and belt.

Superhero Costume Pattern

Cape LetterFor cape, pin and stitch fabric letter/symbol to back center of cape.  For this, a regular machine lockstitch set in 1/16 inch from the letter’s edge is perfect.  The letter’s edge may then be frayed by hand, if desired.  With right sides together, pin and sew cape fabrics together using ½” seam allowance, leaving an 8 “ opening on the bottom edge for turning right-side-out.  Trim seam allowances and clip curves (clip valleys, notch mountains).  Turn the cape right-side-out and press.  Add fringe at cape bottom.  Edgestitch around the entire cape.  Have the potential superhero try the cape on to determine neckline Velcro placement.

Superhero BeltFor belt, pin two rectangular belt fabrics together—one slightly smaller than the other.

Sew around edge, inserting long thin ribbon at sides (remnant seam binding ribbon is ideal for this) to tie around crime fighter waist.  Pin and stitch fabric letter/symbol to front center of belt.

Superhero Mask DetailsFor mask, pin right sides together and, using embroidery thread, blanket stitch all edges together (Futuregirl has a great tutorial for this).  Add elastic band and, if desired, add decorative remnant fabric flowers (to cover messy elastic band stitching).

Superhero Mask FlowersNote:  Along with a good outfit, a dedicated superhero may require a cast of recurring characters (which most likely will include you), a headquarters or base of operations (usually kept hidden from the general public), and a background that explains the circumstances by which the character acquired his or her abilities.

Dueling SuperheroesWith great power comes great responsibility!

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