Sewing a safe DIY cape for kids?
October 28, 2018 10:36 AM   Subscribe

My nieces are obsessed with The Princess In Black and I want to make them capes so they can fight monsters to their hearts' content. However I'm paranoid about safety and can't find a clear answer online. Parents/family members of kids who play with capes, what is the safest children's cape fastener? Velcro? Magnet? Is there any other safety aspect I should know about? Bonus points if you have a specific pattern to recommend!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How old are your nieces?

In general, the capes that velcro inside of the neckline are better than anything that ties around the neck. The capes on the book covers seem to be designed in this way, too.
posted by jbenben at 10:44 AM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, great question! 3 and 5.

If they velcro inside the neckline would that mean they'd need to have a shirt with velcro too?
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:46 AM on October 28, 2018

If you're concerned about potentially strangling (I'm sorry, I can't think of a more sensitive way to put that) you might see if you can use a fastener off a pet's breakaway collar. I'm looking at my cat's collar right now and it seems like it would be trivial to adapt it for a person cape.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:50 AM on October 28, 2018

Back when I was making costumes, I used fabric frog fasteners for a decorative fastener on capes. One or two will make the cape fit loosely, and they unhook easily.
posted by Lunaloon at 10:57 AM on October 28, 2018

Response by poster: Stewriffic, yes this is exactly my concern. I found an idea here that has "sleeves" that attach the cape - safer although I'm not sure if my nieces are coordinated enough to put it on by themselves.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2018

How about attaching the cape onto the shoulders of the outfit by velcro?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing capes that velcro onto the shirt. My son had a Superman shirt that had a velcro cape. It just had small pieces of velcro that attached to each shoulder of the shirt. It worked great, was fully "breakaway," and had basically no strangulation risk.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:10 AM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Safety pins to the shoulders and back of the shirt collar.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:11 AM on October 28, 2018

Or fancy-looking brooches on the shoulders instead of safety pins.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:17 AM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Get a plastic headband. It will fit loosely on the neck. My son had a cape with Velcro at the neck, wore it to shreds. 1 shirt to wear with it would not have been enough. Also, the day care provider said he acted way more confident whole wearing it.
posted by theora55 at 11:35 AM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Agreeing that Velcro on the shirt works very well — strong enough to keep the cape on while playing but it still comes off with a easy yank. The cape on my 4-year-old’s Batman costume attaches on the shoulders. I added extra velcro strips on the costume’s triceps so that he could get the full flowing cape effect when he holds out his arms when he runs. Even with the extra the cape still tears off easily.
posted by not_the_water at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

ID lanyards are available with break away fasteners; they don't require much of a tug at all to separate and would be easy to sew onto a cape.

Or the little clips that clip on ID holders have could be used to attach to any shirt without any risk of getting poked.
posted by Mitheral at 12:12 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I made my son a cape last Halloween by sewing on straps, backpack style. I used thick strips of elastic to make it easier to get on and off.
posted by messica at 3:09 PM on October 28, 2018

Magnets would work well, although industrial breakaway vests use velcro.

An easy way to vastly reduce the breakaway strength is to sew the cape to the far edge of the velcro strip, so that pulling on the cape peels the velcro pieces apart rather than trying to drag the pieces along each other.

If that doesn't make sense, imagine sewing the velcro to the outside of the cape, folding the edge over so the velcro was now facing in, and then pressing that down.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2018

Magnets would work well, if you're completely certain that you trust your kids with magnets. Neodynium magnets can be dangerous if swallowed, but something weaker might do ok.

I like the idea of using clips (ID clips or binder clips or small clothespins).
posted by aimedwander at 8:44 PM on October 28, 2018

Don't use magnets. They're a hazard if swallowed and are going to be a pain in the arse to wash, what with the sticking to the machine and all. They're also a bitch to sew into place.

Just use velcro. Velcro is standard for these sorts of things. You can sew it easily or use the stick-on type. My son has one Batman cap that has a neckline with a velcro closure, and another that velcroes to a shirt. Three and five are sturdy enough to have a neckline closure (tabs that close around the neck) provided you check them first and make sure they tearaway easily.
posted by Jilder at 10:16 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

An acquaintance's kid was just in the hospital for a week (surgery to close holes in intestines) due to swallowing magnets. Please don't use them!

My kid has quite a few and they all use velcro.
posted by valeries at 6:42 AM on October 29, 2018

My kids had a cape that they used. It was held on with hook and loop fasteners. It is impossible to choke/strangulate with the stuff they used. If you pulled on the cape, it would open right up.

The design is simple: a large rectangle of fabric for the cape. Hem all edges except the top edge. Make a band that is about 15-18" long and 2.5" wide. Fold the band in half, right sides together and press. Sew the end seams, then sew the open edge in about 4", using a 5/8" seam allowance. Clip and turn right side out and press. Fold a 5/8" strip inside and press. This should leave you with a 5/8" band with a 9-12" open edge. Gather and/or pleat the top edge of the cape into the gap and top stitch it closed.

Stitch hook and loop fasteners onto the top edge of one end of the strap and the bottom edge of the other.
When you buy it, you'll find that there are different grades that hold different amounts of weight. Pick something appropriate. Pro tip: if you want less grab, use a smaller section of the hooks. You could put a long strip of loops and a 5/8" square of hooks and that would cut the force needed to tear it away by a lot. If you need more hold, add another square.
posted by plinth at 8:48 AM on October 29, 2018

The standard connector is one of these -- the pop apart when they're under much strain:
It may be too late to get them from Amazon, though; do you have a good local craft store that may have "breakaway barrel connectors"? If not, sometimes you can cannibalize them from ID lanyards: you feed a strong out wtierh end (with a knot inside the barrel end), and then sew that to the cape.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:59 PM on October 29, 2018

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