Children’s dressing up costumes

At our church toddler group there is a dressing up box. In said dressing up box there are various fairy outfits, wings, and a few hats, but no boy outfits. This recently came to my attention when someone put our son in a fairy outfit at the group!

So I was tasked with finding some costumes which boys might like to wear. Girls may well like to wear them too! Buying costumes can be expensive, plus they are only for children up to age 4 so we thought it might be possible to make a few things.

I was quite excited to have a project to get my teeth into. A while ago I was intending to turn spare pillowcases into items such as a pair of pyjama shorts, but we then decided to sell the flat and it was easier to keep my sewing stuff locked away, plus being pregnant I was too tired initially to do anything creative, and now I’m too big to measure for clothes I might want to wear next summer!

I made a list of costumes that would be easy to make, checked my supplies, bought extra fabric, and scoured the internet for easy tutorials.

My first project was to make a tool belt. I found some easy-to-follow instructions here. I already had some brown binding so I just needed the main fabric. It’s really easy to make. I made one for our son as a test, then one for the toddler group.

Tool belt
Tool belt

I might make a couple more in different sizes. In hindsight, brown fabric would have made it more obvious that it is a tool belt, but this way it can be used as anything. Plus I liked the green and white stripes used in the instructions. Hubby thought it was an apron, which made me think I could make an apron using the same design but adding a larger piece of fabric for a top section. Our son loves it and when I got him dressed the following day, wanted to wear it even though he didn’t put anything in it.

Superheroes
My model superheroes

My second project was a cape and mask. All boys, I’m told, love being superheroes. Our son has got into Spiderman, Superman and Batman, but only because he recognises the characters on t-shirts and in shops. We haven’t sat him down to watch the Dark Knight yet.

So again, I found an easy tutorial to follow. And I did a test for our son before making any more. I used our son’s initial (‘L’) for his cape as suggested in the tutorial. Cute. It worked fine but he finds the velcro a bit itchy around his neck. It also uses two pieces of fabric, which is great because it is sturdy and will last longer but in order to make more capes cheap, I made a couple using one piece of fabric (instructions below).

Superhero cape
Our son’s superhero cape

I am yet to make the masks. They’re next. I have found a Robin Hood outfit to try and I’m going to try to make a simple pirate waistcoat. I have no idea how to make a waistcoat so I’m building up to it!

I made my own version of an easy cape using just one piece of fabric. Very easy. So easy! The instructions below seem long but it’s really simple to make and once you know what you’re doing, you’re off. Here’s how (apologies, I can’t remember all the technical terms, although I can understand them in a pattern!):

Simple children’s superhero cape

You will need:
Fabric (about 25″ x 25″)
Fabric in co-ordinating colour (about 30″ x 3″)
Felt in appropriate colours for logo
Sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc

Measure the child who will be wearing it (or guess how big they are – doesn’t matter if it’s a bit long) from the nape of their neck down to mid-calf. My final capes are about 22″ long. Add a couple of inches for hemming. That’s your length sorted. Width across the bottom is about 19″, plus an inch or so for hemming.

Cut your fabric in a rectangle, then cut the two long sides slightly diagonally so that the top is narrower than the bottom. This gives you a general cape shape.

Using a co-ordinating fabric, cut a 30″ x 3″ strip. This will be the strap.

'Jesus' superhero cape
‘Jesus’ superhero cape

Iron hems along the two sides and the bottom. You can measure this but I did it by eye. I did what I call a ‘double hem’ – fold and iron, then fold that and iron again. Along the top, iron a simple hem (fold and iron once) and then fold a 2″ section over and iron that. This is where the strap will go.

Iron the strap. Iron both long sides of the strap so they fold into the middle, then fold together and iron. This should give you a nice clean edge. Whilst you’ve got the iron out, give the whole cape a quick once over.

Now to the sewing. Sew the hems of the cape along the sides and the bottom. Then sew the simple hem along the top. Next, sew the 2″ section for the strap to go in. Fold along the ironed fold and make sure you sew at the bottom of the chunk so that there is plenty of room to get the strap in.

Sew your strap together by sewing a simple hem on the two small edges, then sew along the long edge of the strap. Push it through the cape.

Finally, the logo. I did mine by eye and guessed sizes. In hindsight, it would be a good idea to measure it so that it is a decent size and a good shape. You could print off a template or draw one first. I used felt and you can do whatever design you want or whatever letters. Curves are hard to sew…

'S' superhero cape
‘S’ superhero cape

One tip would be to think beforehand what colours you want to use for your logo. I used the same colours as the cape and strap and then made sure I sewed them at the same time that I had those colours in my machine. For example, with the ‘S’ cape opposite, I sewed all the red for the cape, then sewed the red ‘S’ onto the blue felt, switched all the thread over and then sewed logo onto the cape and sewed up the strap. Saves a lot of hassle switching threads back and forth.

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