Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Super easy superhero...

We are super crazy around here, oh, and we're also crazy about superheroes. I made my little man a superhero cape and he loves it. And we got lucky in our preschool rotation to end up with the letter S -- it was obvious what we needed to do! Woohoo for superhero day!

This, however, involved making capes for four little girls, so it had to be cheap and super quick to make. Voila! Super easy super cape to the rescue!

Sorry again -- I'm getting the hang of this craft blogging thingy, and I didn't take any before/along-the-way pics, although this was so super easy, you probably won't need them!

I got some of the cheapest cotton fabric at my favorite fabric store, cut along the fold (it was 45 inches total, making each cape 22.5 inches wide), and then cut it lengthwise 24 inches. *I bought two yards of fabric, and it made six capes.* I also bought a couple of packages of dark purple double-fold bias tape.

I hemmed the cape about an inch on three sides (fold under 1/2 inch, then fold under again). On the top side, I used my serger to gather stitch the top (if you're using your sewing machine, just set it to a basting/long stitch, then gently pull on the threads and bunch the material to gather it).

I cut about 26 to 30 inches of bias tape and laid it along the top (you'll open it up and place the material inside, with half on top and half beneath). Make sure to line up the center of your tape with the center of the cape. Wow, sounds like one of those phrases that rhymes to help you remember it...

Just pin it in place and stitch it all the way from end to end, making sure to tuck under your short ends on the bias tape to get a nice finish.

And see how nice that worked out? The bias tape covers the top and serves as a tie and a nice little pop of color, and the gathers help the cape to lay just right over the shoulders. Plus it takes like 5 minutes and cost me around $2 a cape. Nice...

Just a little note: I had my serger on a four-thread stitch, so it made my gathering stitch kind of wide at the top, and one piece of bias tape wasn't wide enough to cover my threads. You can buy wider bias tape, but since I was in the middle of my project when I discovered this, this is what I did: I cut two pieces of bias tape, then opened them up and laid them with right sides together. I stitched along the top folds, doubling the width of my tape. Then attached it just like you normally do with bias tape (put your material inside and let the tape fold around the edge). Yes, I love this stuff -- it looks so nice and it's so easy to use.

Fly away, little E! My cute little model here is almost two years old, if that helps you get an idea of what the length looks like. Most of my preschool girls are 4 years old, and this length hit them right about the knees. It's probably a little long on E, but she's only growing and it doesn't seem to get in the way of any superhero fun...

A little bonus: If you're feeling ambitious and want to make this cape even more special, you can add a letter or a design very easily! For the Super Why version of my son's cape, I printed out an question mark in 120 point font and used it as a pattern to cut one out of felt. Just pin it on and stitch around the edges. Super!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Epic failure... or I-learned-a-lot success?

Ugh! I hate projects from which I learn a lot, aka I messed up a ton, although I should get used to it (it happens more frequently than I'd like to admit).

So my little man had his 4th birthday a few weeks ago, and I knew I wanted to do something special for him. He's just gotten into make believe and dressing up (not to the extent of his girl friends, but you know). I made him a super cape (his term, "super kate,") a few months ago and he loves it.

Now he's very big into Disney's little pirate cartoon, so I thought I'd make him a vest and bandana like the main character on the show. It started out simple enough... I used one of his shirts to cut out my pieces: two backs and four fronts, so I could fully line it.

But I haven't made a vest before, and let's just say the way I thought it would work in my head was SOOOO not the way it needs to actually work. I started putting it together and that's when things started to fall apart (only figuratively). PS- Don't start sewing sides and shoulders and arm holes like you would a shirt if you're lining it. Doesn't work...

I HATE unpicking things, but it never fails -- almost every sewing project I do with a pattern, I end up misunderstanding something, sewing it the wrong way and having to unpick my seam. My seam ripper and I are good frenemies...

With this project, I unpicked, a LOT. And here's what's stupid: One of my favorite craft blogs has an excellent tutorial on doing a lined vest. I had read it a couple months ago, but didn't take the time to go over and reread it before I started my project. Could have saved myself a lot of time. Booooooo....

So I guess the moral of the story here could be to really do your research/double check the pattern at the beginning of your project. As I kept unpicking the arm holes, then unpicking all around the vest, I just kept thinking to myself, "Epic failure..." Also, if you get tempted to just throw the whole thing in the garbage, with a lot of angry force, just remember it can be salvaged, albeit with some unpicking. I'm glad I finished it.

But enter the hero of our story: Bias tape! I've been on a bias tape kick lately, and I was already planning to use it for this project, but it really saved me this time! I ended up unpicking all the edge seams, and I had already trimmed and clipped my material to lay flat in the collar corners and around the neck. So my serger smoothed things out for me and I serged all the outer edges, (you wouldn't normally need it with the bias tape) -- it trimmed it all up nice where I had clips, etc. Much easier to work with.

Yeah, bias tape is pretty awesome, and it made my little pirate vest look just right and covered my crazy edges. I added some gold buttoms and YO HO HO! My birthday boy is a pirate!

Aaaarrrgh! I wanted to share this tutorial, but I did it all wrong. So make me walk the plank... If you want a vest tutorial, head over to that blog I mentioned earlier and search her tutorials -- hers is much better! I will, however, be sharing a tutorial for my bias tape cape in my next post. :)