October 31, 2012

The First Avenger

Like many a three-year-old boy, Lincoln has become slightly obsessed with superheroes lately. Now, I'm pretty sure he hasn't actually ever seen a comic book, and he only watched a few minutes of The Avengers before proclaiming it too scary, but that doesn't seem to matter. There are superheroes on his underwear and his Popsicles, and therefore superheroes are where it's at.

So when we first started asking Lincoln what he wanted to be for Halloween, it came as no surprise that his answer was "a superhero". No specific superhero at first, and then gradually depending on the day he would answer Captain America or The Incredible Hork (turns out that Hulk is a pretty hard word for a toddler to say, although he's getting it now). We finally told him the clock was ticking and he needed to make up his mind, and he decided on Captain America once we told him that we would buy him a cool shield to go with his outfit.

So, our boy, along with a million other boys I'm sure, will be proudly dressed as The First Avenger tonight:

The First Avenger

But unlike some of those other boys, he'll be in a fully mama-made costume because, you know, of course he will. Why buy a $20 costume at Target when you can spend a few hours of your own precious time on something that will be worn for 1/4 the time it took to make it? That's just how we roll around here. Gotta earn my sewing street-cred somehow.

Captain America

Aside from the time investment, I was determined to do this on the cheap though, so I scoured my library of patterns and raided my stash to create this ensemble. The fabric is just basic jersey and 1x1 rib knits from JoAnn that I picked up in the remnants bin. When I see a good size chunk of knit in there I usually grab it, because you can easily make a kid-sized tee shirt or pants from the lengths typically in the remnants bin. And since remnants are 50%-75% off the already cheap price, you can usually make said tee or pants for less than you can buy a garment at Old Navy or Target. But anyway- enough justification of fabric hoarding- back to the costume!


Captain America Shirt

I used a tee shirt pattern from Ottobre Magazine issue 3/2011 as the base for the top. It's pattern #24, and it was a short sleeve tee but that was easy enough to remedy. I lengthened the short sleeve pattern by 2" to add the folded hem and layered it over a long sleeve with a ribbed cuff to provide some warmth and mimic Captain America's layered look. I just stitched both sleeves to the body together, handling them as one.

To make the body, I first stitched up the striped section (2.5" strips of red and white ribbing serged together to make 2" stripes) then stitched that to the navy jersey to make one piece of fabric. I cut the front and back pieces from it, making sure to line up the stripes on the front and back, then constructed the rest of the shirt as usual. The pattern calls for a turned and stitched hem, but with all the seams in the striped ribbing section on the bottom I was afraid there would be too much bulk so I added a ribbed band instead.

Captain America Helmet

The helmet is another Ottobre mutation. It's based on #8 from issue 6/2011, but I took some liberties in creating it. The Nikita hat as drafted has a brim and a chin strap, but I left those off. It's also made of (non-stretch) corduroy and lined, but I wanted to use jersey, so I just made it up without adding seam allowances (to account for the stretch) and added a ribbed binding to the edges. The applique is just white felt that I cut out and machine stitched on. I found a photo of Captain America's helmet on google images, blew it up 200%, and traced. Easy.

I actually first made up the Sweet Pea Pilot cap (free download from Sew Liberated) but even after I added some width and length to the largest size it was too small. Crazy-huge head strikes again! I could have added more width and made it again, but I tried the Ottobre version instead mostly because I get bored making the same thing more than once. The end result is essentially the same, and I did use the Sew Liberated construction method (detailed in the tutorial) to attach the side panels as it results in a nice flat seam.

Then I had some trouble deciding how to handle Captain America's pants/boots situation. The comic sketches show a dramatically cuffed pair of red knee-high boots paired with blue skin-tight pants (naturally- what kind of comic book hero would he be without his spandex?)


And just as naturally, I wasn't too keen on the idea of putting my three year old boy in tights. Instead, I decided to just make him a pair of sweatpants from the same navy jersey I used to make the shirt. They're loosely based on New Look 6719- just your basic pull-on elastic waist (girl) pants- but I took out lots of width and added length to fit my tall skinny boy.

Captain America

I was going to leave it at that, but there was this nagging voice in my head that said that Captain America's look wouldn't be complete without the red boots. Or that could have been David. Either way, there was a last-minute addition of red boots to the ensemble. Sort of. It's really just a tube of red ribbing with a cuff sewn in (interfaced with Peltex 70 to make it hold shape) and hand-stitched onto the leg of the pants. I figure I can always cut it off after Halloween and we'll have a pair of plain navy pants to add to the rotation.

But wait- there's more! Captain America has a sidekick, doesn't he? Of course he does! I'll be back in a bit with Juniper's costume. It's adorable. Also perhaps the cruelest thing we've yet done to our poor defenseless infant daughter. But also hilarious. You'll love it.

What are you doing for Halloween? Do you make costumes?