20-Minute Super Cape Tutorial
I wish I was one of those bloggers who thought of and completed our family’s Halloween costumes in September so I could share them in a timely fashion here on the blog…you know…so you could make them too if you wanted. Alas, I am just like every other parent out there, scrambling at the last minute to get them done. So what do I do with my costume tutorials that are just so clever and I’m super proud of? Sit on them for a year until Halloween rolls around again and it feels appropriate to share them! So…with Halloween finally in sight, I’m going to be sharing a few costume tutorials in the coming weeks. First up is my 20-Minute Super Cape Tutorial I used as part of our Lego Batman family costumes last year. I already shared the baby version of this cape here, but this easy method is also ideal for adults and kids alike and really comes together fast! Whether you need a cape for Halloween, a super hero birthday party, or just to add to your dress up box, this is one anyone can make…and last minute at that!
This cape was part of our Lego Batman family costumes. We combined the capes with hoods and shirts (tutorials coming soon) for a quick and easy costume!
This cape is a full half circle, so it’s nice and full when worn by both kids and adults. Although it attaches around the neck, it’s fullness brings it over the shoulders so it can still be seen from the front.
We made it with scallops for our Batman costumes, but you could easily leave the edges un-cut for any super hero, or add sharp points or tattered edges for a very different look. I promise this super cape really comes together in a snap, and requires very minimal sewing…perfect for those last minute costumes!
Only a few supplies are needed for this super cape:
- 2(ish) yards of fabric. If you are making this cape for a small child, you can get away with a smaller cut. However, if you want this cape to be long and full, 2 yards will be plenty! As far as what fabric to choose, I suggest you head to the fabric store and see what you can find! There are so many fun fabrics (usually on sale this time of year) to make costumes from. While you can pick any color, texture and pattern you like, I do recommend you find something that won’t fray. This cape isn’t lined (which is one of the reasons it’s so quick and easy), but if you choose a fabric that frays, you’ll be frustrated with the messy hem line. Instead, tug along the raw edge of the fabric (the cut edge) and if no threads come loose, you’re good to go!
- Sew-on Velcro. You can certainly use adhesive-backed Velcro if you’re in a hurry, but I find that kids are prone to yanking it right off. Sew-on is a better bet for a lasting costume!
- Matching Thread.
- Other Tools: Sewing machine, scissors, chalk pencil or roller, iron, tape measure, seam gauge.
Cut the Fabric
The first step is to cut out your cape. Essentially, you are going to fold your fabric in half (cut edges together) and cut it into a quarter circle as shown in the diagram below (when you unfold it, it will be a half circle). The easiest way to do this is to first determine how long you want the cape to be when it’s complete. Take that number (in my case, 25″) and add ~4″ (for the neck cut out), Then use a tape measure, just as you would a compass, and measure that many inches (in my case, 29″) from the corner at the top of the fold. Make a hash mark with a fabric pen or chalk marker, and then rotate the tape measure a few inches, being sure to keep the end of the tape measure in the corner. Work from one corner of your fabric to the other, using the tape measure as your guide. When you’re done, you should have a quarter circle of hash marks on your fabric.
Next, take a scissors and cut along your hash marks. Now your fabric is cut into a half circle, but keep it folded for now.
You’re going to repeat the same process for the neck. This time, measure down 4″ from the corner to create a smaller quarter circle…
…and just like the bottom, cut out the smaller half circle along the hash marks.
Create the Scallops (Optional)
The next step is to make scallops across the bottom of your cape. This is completely optional and will not affect how the cape comes together.
At this point, your cape should still be folded in half with the bottom rounded and neck cut out. Fold the cape in half again (below, left) and in half again (below, right).
With the cape all folded up, your going to make a round shape from one corner to the other. You can trace a plate or a bowl or just eyeball it! I do suggest making the scallop deeper than you might think you want. Once the cape is unfolded and put together, shallow scollops can be hard to see!
Once you’re satisfied with the scallop, use a scissors to cut through all the layers of fabric at one time.
When you unfold the cape, you will see you are left with a full half-circle cape, with a neck cut out, and scallops along the bottom!
Gather the Cape Neck
Alright, this is the toughest part of the whole cape (and it’s not even that hard!). To make the fabric lay nicely at the neck, we’re going to gather the fabric. Don’t be scared – gathering isn’t that hard. I’m going to quickly walk you through it here but if you need a more detailed tutorial, check out this post.
First, set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length possible (mine is at 6.0). Next, sew two lines of stitching from one end of the cape’s neck to the other; do NOT backstitch at either end.
You want to make sure you leave at least 6-8 inches of thread ON BOTH SIDES, and space your lines about 1/2″apart. When you’re finished, the neck line should look like this:
To gather the fabric, you’re going to pull ONLY the two top threads (on one side) and slide the fabric along the bottom two threads. (I know this sounds scary, you can do it! Again, if you need more help, read this post!)
As you (gently) pull, the fabric around the neckline will gather. Take some time to make your gathers even, and then run the neckline through your sewing machine one more time (using a regular stitch length this time) to hold all the gathers in place. If desired, remove your original lines of stitching with a seam ripper.
Create the Neck Strap
At this point, you can set aside the cape while we focus on the neck strap. From your fabric (or a coordinating cotton if you chose a cape fabric that is stretchy), cut a strap that is about 4″ by 16-18″.
Use an iron and a seam gauge to iron both long edges about 1/2″ toward the center (below, top). Then fold the entire strip in half length-wise, bringing the ironed edges together and iron in place (below, bottom).
Attach the Neck Strap to the Cape
Find the center of your neck strap and mark it with a pin. Then find the center of the cape’s neckline and insert it inside the folded strap at the pinned mark. Feed the rest of the neckline into the folded strap and pin in place.
With the cape tucked into the next strap, you’re going to sew down one side of the strap and up the other, catching the cape’s neck gathers, as well as the back half of the strap, in your stitching. Use a standard stitch length and coordinating thread for these stitches.
As you make your way down one side of the strap, don’t bother cutting your threads and going up the other side. Just pivot at the corners, about 1/2″ from the end of the strap.
Attach the Velcro
You’re cape is pretty much done and almost ready for wearing! The final step is to attach Velcro to make it easy for kids (and adults!) to get on and off.
At the end of the strap, fold over that final 1/2″ of raw fabric (along the stitch line you created above) and place a peice of Velcro along the raw edge; pin it in place.
Note: I only used two peices of Velcro side-by-side because I didn’t have a big enough piece!
Sew the Velcro in place with your sewing machine. Notice that by tucking in the raw edge of the neck strap under the Velcro, the cape closure looks nice and clean from the outside!
Repeat on the other side of the neck strap with the other half of the Velcro swatch. Take care to place the Velcro on the correct side of the neck strap so that the two ends overlap as shown below. Essentially, you will have Velcro on the top of the neck strap on one side and on the bottom on the other side.
TIP! I recommend placing the softer side of Velcro on the strap that will face TOWARD your child’s neck so it is less scratchy.
TIP! Pin the Velcro on both sides and try the cape on before stitching everything in place to ensure you have the Velcro in all the right spots!
And just like that…your cape is done and ready for wearing!
NOTE: I made two identical capes for Henry and myself…his touched his knees, whereas mine only came just below my waist. Since you are limited by the width of the fabric (usually around 42″) for the length, you will not be able to use this same method to make a floor length cape (unless you use 54-60″ wide fabric).
When I sat down to make these capes, I searched around for a quick-and-easy tutorial and kept coming up empty handed. I either found ideas that were too complicated (with a lining, hood, etc) or not complicated enough (tie around the neck). Using some of the techniques I found during my search, I pretty much made these capes up as I went along. After I got the first one right (the yellow one) and it looked so good, I knew I had to share the tutorial with you all! If you need a super cape for any reason, I hope you’ll give this one a try. I just know you’ll be thrilled with the results!
I’ll be sharing how I made the Lego Batman t-shirts and Robin onesie in a future post. If you need a cape for a baby onesie to complete for your family ensemble, see how I did it here!
I haven’t got the faintest idea what we’re doing for Halloween this year! How about you? I wonder if we can come up with something that will allow us to use our capes again! #probablynot #wishfulthinking That’s okay – I’ve come to enjoy the Halloween costume creating process in recent years…even if it is all last minute!
Have a great weekend friends!