It all started with "Superhero Princess Week" in pre-school. My daughter isn't a big princess fan, but I dutifully offered to make her a princess dress this past weekend. You should have seen her face - it was as if I had asked her if she wanted to eat an entire plate of creamed spinach! There was no way she was going to wear a princess dress to school. "Would you like a superhero costume instead?"Of course her answer to that one was "Yes!" So I quickly pawed through my fabric stash, and after hearing several choices she decided she wanted to be ...
faster than a running cheetah, able to leap into the canopy in a single bound - she wanted to be Jaguar Girl! A perfect fit for her, since these have become one of her favorites this winter.
I found several tutorials on line for making capes out of thrifted skirts, but hitting a thrift shop wasn't an option, so I had to come up with plan B. To draft my pattern, I started with a bib that I knew would fit around her neck. After measuring the length from her shoulders to her knees, I laid the bib over a large piece of white paper, measured down the appropriate distance, and roughed out my design. As for how wide to make the cape, I completely winged it. (My french curve was quite helpful for creating the curves at the bottom. I think I picked mine up at a thrift store for a buck or two, but I've found that it's quite handy to have.)
Here's the bib and my pattern. The bib is fairly large - designed to cover a messy toddler.
Here is my final pattern:
My daughter is quite tall for four and a half, so this size would probably need to be shortened if your child was younger or on the short side. (It also fits her six year-old brother.) One change I made to the pattern you see above is at the top. You've got to cut through the fold there to get the two little flaps that overlap to close the cape under the chin. I also clipped the square corners into more of a curve because I thought it would be more comfortable.
I cut one cape from my jaguar fabric and one from plain black to serve as a lining. Next I appliqued the J and the circle to the jaguar piece using fusible web. (I made the J pattern by printing out a capital J in a font I liked at size 450 and the circle is just a tracing of one of our dinner plates.)
To sew the cape I placed the fabric pieces right sides together and stitched around the outside, with a 3/8 inch seam allowance, making sure I left an opening to turn it. I turned it right side out, pressed it, edge stitched around the outside to give it a finished look, and finally I stitched on a velcro closure at the neck. Perhaps an hour and a half from start to finish.
The mask was quick and easy, too. I just traced the mask onto fusible web. Then I cut out the mask and a second mask, the same size, out of fabric-backed vinyl (left over from these boots.) I fused the two together, making sure the fabric side of the vinyl was going to touch my daughter's face. I used the vinyl because 1. I had it on hand and 2. I wanted something to give the mask a little stiffness. Heavy weight interfacing would probably achieve a similar effect. Next I stitched around the edge to make sure the two pieces didn't come apart, added the elastic strap, and that was it. I found the template for the mask here.
You should have seen her running down the hallway on her way to show her teacher. The teacher in me knows I should have stopped her and reminded her to "use her walking feet," but I decided the thrill of feeling her superhero cape flapping behind her was more important than walking - just this once.