Whilst this post is the third in my Handmade Christmas series, it is actually the gift that started the whole ball rolling with making handmade Christmas presents in 2014.
Being on the other side of the world to the niece and nephews can make it hard to pick what I think will be the perfect present. I don’t have regular insight into what’s in their wardrobe or their arsenal of toys and I don’t want to double up on something they may already have. So by making them handmade items I knew they were going to get something unique (at the very least).
I can’t recall now what triggered the idea for a superhero cape and mask, maybe it was our next door neighbour’s 4 year old and his love of Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that got me thinking about making some type of costume for Nephew E (I can’t call him Baby E anymore as he is almost two and a half!). Whatever the trigger, I remember the lightbulb moment and I started googling ‘superhero capes and masks’. You can pretty much find anything on the internet to get your diy started!!
Next I remembered how E would react when Nanny would say “nana nana nana nana Batmaaaaan!” to him…so it made sense to make something Batman themed.
On the trip to Spotlight that I bought the bits for Baby A’s and Baby S’s presents I found the materials I needed for the cape and mask. Unfortunately, Peanut had reached her limit on the shopping trip so a second trip to Spotlight (Peanut-free) was required to buy the fabric! This should have allowed me time to choose the perfect fabric…and at the time I thought I had, but now it’s completed I know I would choose something a little different next time…and I shall explain why.
I found this tutorial for a cape that I mostly followed for the neck ties and cutting suggestions.
The above image doesn’t really show it well, but I chose a satin for the cape. I think all superheroes need a shiny, flowy cape and this fabric had a lovely drape and sheen to it. In the end I think it was a bit too thick and heavy for a littlies cape, especially as I doubled up the fabric so that basically the inside of the cape was lined with the same black satin. Don’t get me wrong, Peanut thought it was fab and she loved wearing it, but in future I will choose a lighter fabric when making something similar for a little person.
The yellow satin I used for the logo was a lighter satin and I think it would have been more appropriate.
The template for the Batman logo was sourced from here.
I had forgotten how challenging sewing satin could be. To help stabilise the pieces I used scraps of an iron-on adhesive I had (I don’t recall the brand of it, but I got it from my local quilt shop). I also placed lightweight paper underneath the pieces so that it could slide through the machine easier. To appliqué the pieces on I used a large size zig-zag stitch. This gave a nice finish to the logo, but I did have a lot of stray threads to snip at the end!
I don’t have photos here but I used 3 snaps on the neck pieces so the size can be adjusted as needed. The only snaps I had were white, but I just used a permanent marker to colour the top of the snaps so it blended with the black of the cape…nobody will ever know (I hope)!
I didn’t originally plan on doing the scalloped hem for the cape but on googling ‘Batman Cape’ a bit more I realised I had to do it! Again, not an easy task with slippery satin, but it worked out OK in the end. Finishing off the hem was where I wished I had an overlocker. I did a close stitch zigzag similar to that used to appliqué the logo and because of the stretch in the satin the hem ended up a bit wonky. I know there are techniques I could have used to minimise this, but by this point I was feeling some internal pressure to finish everything so I could post the parcel off to the UK. It had to be there for Christmas.
The mask was super easy. I used the template I found here.
I used a medium weight Legacy brand interfacing I got from Spotlight to help give the mask some shape. Again, the satin was tough to work with especially when trying to get those nice points for the bat ears one the mask. That’s where the iron helped!! I had to guess the size (another limitation of being on the other side of the world). After using my daughter and the the neighbour’s 4 year old son I came up with a size that was somewhere in between and adjusted the elastic accordingly. It’s a little big apparently but it means E can get a bit of wear out of it for a while. You can see that I also covered the elastic in the same satin so it was a bit more comfortable for a small person to wear.
So there you have it. This gift was a bit more challenging than I originally anticipated, but the outcome was so worth it. Seeing my little girl running around in the cape when it was finished (even though it almost touched the floor on her) was priceless and I can imagine E doing the same (and his baby brother, S, when he’s a bit older too).
E’s mum sent me a photo of E wearing his cape…makes me smile so much!