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Creating Custom Capes

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Old 06-02-2010, 11:16 AM   #1
Dai-Guard's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,637
Creating Custom Capes

Does anyone have any experience with making action figure capes? I found this article and it looks promising, but I'd like more opinions. I'm wanting to make some capes for some Batman figures, by the way.

Raving Toy Maniac Custom Corner - How To Make Poseable Cloth Capes

"How to Make Poseable Cloth Capes

by Leslie Hancock

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape01.gif

When I started playing with capes, I was making a Martian Manhunter figure; if you're familiar with this character, you know that he has a very poofy, flowing cape. The cape is a huge part of his look, so I really wanted to come up with something that would give me that "poof-and-flow" appearance. I wanted it to look like there were just yards and yards of fabric flowing in the wind.

Inspired by the poseable cape of Dr. Strange, which has wires embedded in the plastic, I decided to try something similar with fabric. The problem was that I couldn't sew. So here's what I did.
What you need:

* 1/3 to 1/2 yard of fabric (depending on the size of your figure and how many mistakes you think you might make): I like satin; it catches the light nicely and is a good weight. You don't want a fabric that's too limp and floppy, like rayon. Get something that has some crispness or some weight to it.
* bead wire: It comes on spools, which can be found in the jewelry-making section of the craft store. Any other fine wire would do as well, I'm sure.
* Stitch Witchery® fusible bonding web, regular weight: You can get it at a fabric store or a Wal*Mart type place. It comes on a roll, like tape, and is a gauzy iron-on bonding strip.
* an iron (not pictured)
* needle and thread
* colored hot glue sticks and glue gun (if your cape needs a fancy collar that will have to be added on): Try to match the color of the glue sticks to the color of the fabric.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape02.gif

What you do:

1. Fold the fabric so that the folded-over part is long enough for your figure's cape, plus an inch or so for "poofing" (if you want it to flair up and out instead of hanging straight down from the neck) and for a seam allowance. You can cut some off later if you need to. Better to make it too long at this point than too short! Iron the fold into a sharp crease and cut off the excess fabric.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape03.gif

2. Cut out a trapezoidal shape with the fold at the bottom. Cut the top narrower for fewer gathers and wider for a fuller look, leaving enough room to run your gathering thread and to tuck the top and side edges under. "Try it on" your figure by gathering up the top with your fingers and holding it up to the figure. You can leave it collarless or add a collar or hood later on with needle and thread or hot glue. If you're really good, you can shape the collar as part of the cape itself as you go. I wasn't able to pull it off, so I added mine later.

3. Don't use the Stitch Witchery yet. First, turn the raw edges under about a quarter inch and iron creases into them. Make sure your creases match up when the two layers of fabric are pressed together. Cut notches at the corners if you need to in order to tuck the fabric neatly inside itself.

4. Now cut a piece of wire and a strip of Stitch Witchery for each of the sides, the bottom, and the neckline of the cape. The wire will be very close to the edges of the cape, so measure accordingly. Also, the neckline wire will likely need to be shorter once the fabric is gathered.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape05.gif

5. Open your trapezoid so that the inside of the bottom layer is exposed. Place a strip of Stitch Witchery along the fold and the corresponding length of wire on top of the Stitch Witchery. Without disturbing their placement, lay the top layer of fabric back where it belongs, ensuring that the edges match up properly.

With a hot iron, press and hold according to the instructions on the Stitch Witchery package. Leave about half an inch or so at each end unstuck for the moment so that you can slip the side wires all the way to the corners. Iron the two side seams and the top using the same procedure. Be sure all of the raw edges are securely tucked inside.

NOTE: Don't let the Stitch Witchery touch the iron directly! It will gunk up the sole plate of your iron by melting onto it. I had to learn that one the hard way, unfortunately.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape06.gif

6. With needle and thread, make a running stitch across the top-close to the seam if there will be no collar; about a quarter inch down if you will be attaching a collar or hood. Pull the thread to gather the neckline and tie it off securely and as neatly as possible, preferably on the underside.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape07.gif

7. Make a collar or hood if you need one and attach it with hot glue or needle and thread (on the inside seam or hidden under the collar itself).

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape08.gif

8. "Pose" the cape by bending the embedded wires. Be careful-the ends can poke through the fabric! Add brooches, clasps, ties, or any other accessories you need to complete the cape.

Creating Custom Capes-lhcape09.gif

And voila! An extremely cool cape to finish off your project."

(Some others had a few additional thoughts; they are found below. ~Superquad7)

Originally Posted by Rhinox555
Jin Saotome's description for this Batman custom mentions thin clear vinyl sold at Wal*mart. Softening it with a hairdryer will allow you to put it into a different pose.
Originally Posted by Yaujta
I've used sport cloth (or cheesecloth) soaked in thinned down Elmer's glue for vinyl kits of Spawn and Batman in the past. I also did one for a Spawn 6" figure and it worked well.
Originally Posted by Bigbot3030
I've done a cape before for a Spawn figure I made, but I used a combination of spray starch and slightly thinned down white glue brushed on the inside of the cape (my theory being if it discolored the cape, it'd be on the inside where there are shadows, which is also why i didn't thin it down to much, didn't want it soaking through the fabric) and that worked fairly well. [The] problem with that is it was a larger figure (around 10" tall, made from paper mache) and it was static, so that doesn't translate as well for you.

I like the idea of putting wires in it [ . . . it's] less permanent, and you can tweak it until you get the look you want.
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Last edited by Superquad7; 06-19-2010 at 04:23 AM..
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