Mar 11, 2015

DIY Superhero Cape | Superpowers Not Included

Apparently, when I think superhero I think spandex. So when I settled on making two superhero capes for my son and nephew for Christmas, I headed out to the fabric store and ventured down an aisle I had always avoided. There has always been something about the shine and the stretch of spandex that intimidates me.

Not only did I think it was a great idea to use a completely new fabric, I somehow decided that appliquéing a design on the back of the cape would be an even better idea. So naive/overconfident me left the fabric store with not one, but two brightly colored spandex fabrics. There must be something in the air at JoAnns that says 'you can totally do this' because it wasn't until I got home that I realized I had no idea where to start. 

And now, I am going to publicly confess that my first attempt was basically a disaster. I tried to sew the fabric just as I would a regular cotton and hoped that the results would be acceptable for 2 year olds. I was horribly wrong. The results were a skewed and wrinkled mess. Ugh. So embarrassing. 

I swallowed my pride and found this awesome tutorial online for stretch appliqués. This lady saved my project! Armed with new understanding and some stabilizer, I started again. It turns out the whole thing was surprisingly simple. 

Here is what you do. 

Gather the necessary materials: 
spandex fabric in two colors - 2/3 of a yard for the cape and a 9" x 9" square for appliqué
iron and ironing board
iron on tear away Stabilizer (Totally Stable)
sewing machine with a stretch stitch
polyester thread
letter template

Mark and cut the cape using the dimensions in the frepattern. Cut the top of the neck hole open as in this photo.

Create a letter template. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut an 8" x 8" letter in cardstock. Cut an 8" x 8" square of the appliqué fabric and two squares of the stabilizer of the same size. Cut a third square of the stabilizer approximately 1" larger all around than the previous squares. 

Iron an 8" x 8" square of the stabilizer to the front of the appliqué fabric and stencil the letter onto the stabilizer with a pencil. Cut out the letter. 

Iron the larger stabilizer piece to the back of the cape fabric where the letter will be placed. Turn the cape over and position the letter onto the front. Take the final 8" x 8" piece of stabilizer and iron it onto the letter, sandwiching the letter between the cape and the stabilizer. This will hold the letter in place for sewing without pins and will keep it from skewing and stretching. 

Sew around the edge of the letter and tear away the stabilizer. The stretch appliqué tutorial used a straight stretch stitch. In hindsight I would probably do the same. I instead used a zig zag stitch which I think looks great, but it was a beast to pull the stabilizer out of the stitches after sewing. 

Look at what an improvement over the first attempt! 

To finalize the cape, sew two small pieces of 'sew on' velcro to the neck. 

The capes were a hit :). My son couldn't even wait for me to take this photo before he tried grabbing it to 'fly'. 

Although he likes to fly, I am pretty sure his superpower is super speed. 

Mar 6, 2015

Sending a Little Love | How to Put Together a Care Package

It just so happens that my immediate family is spread out across three states and two countries. I really can't complain as I am one of the ones that moved away, but it does get hard at times. It gets especially difficult when someone is in need of a little extra care. My first elaborate family care package was crafted at just such a time. I had too much fun picking out items with the sole purpose of keeping my sister-in-law entertained while she was recovering from surgery. I couldn't make her dinner or take her dog for a walk, but I could give her something to keep the cabin fever at bay. It turned out to be the perfect creative outlet for all of my pent up desires to help, my love of mail, and probably my obsession with washi tape. 

Judging by the popularity of my last care package post on pinterest and the blog, it seems more than a few of you like the idea of sending some love through the mail. In that case, I think we should be friends:). Anyone who likes to make others feel special with surprise gift boxes is awesome in my book. In an effort to provide a little inspiration for your next care package, I thought I would share a few of my tips and my most recent box crafted for a brother and sister-in-law in need of a little love. 

Start Collecting Surprises/Pick a Theme

Starting a care package can sometimes be the most daunting. What do you buy? How much do you get? Etc. My care packages always seem to grow organically. Whether starting from a particular theme or with just a few things that remind me of the recipient, it always seems to come together. My sister-in-law and I share lots of similar interests, so I began this care package by collecting personal favorites I knew she would love: my favorite Rifle Paper Co Journal, Butter Nail Lacquer, a fancy Glass Water Bottle, scone mix, handmade elastic hair ties, and my favorite eye shadow

Though we didn't start with a guiding theme like my 'don't go crazy while getting better' care package, a loose theme of 'sending love' surfaced and I added a small garland to remind them that they are indeed very much loved. 

No care package worth its weight doesn't have a little chocolate and caramel. Ghiradelli seemed appropriate for a box from the San Francisco bay area. 

With a little help from the family, the pile of goodies grew from there.

Recruit Others to Contribute

Sending a care package on your own is a great idea, but consider getting others involved. My brother and sister-in-law receiving this box happen to live overseas with no family close, meaning a box from the whole family would be just that much more special. I recruited everyone's help in coming up with ideas and adding gifts. 

Mom came through in a big way with two dinners in the form of a soup mixes. Coincidentally, I've always thought food should be considered an official love language. It is my book, at least. 

Thinking that the box was a little heavy on the gifts for my sister-in-law, my husband added his favorite beard shampoo. Men sure do love their beards.  

Perhaps the most special (read 'tear inducing') were the stack of handwritten notes from each family member. To top off the stack of cards, I calligraphed Psalm 143:8 which has served a trusty reminder to me of God's love. 

Now that we had a good pile of goodies and notes, I started on the next care package phase - decorating. 

Pick a Color Scheme and Decorate

And with that statement I might have lost you. Yes, I do actually pick color schemes for my care packages. I fully realize this is probably ridiculous, and not everything in the box has to match, but I do pick a few colors to carry into the decorations. It really makes the care package seem intentional, lovingly put together, and extra special. It is no longer a box full of stuff, but a party in a box and a thoughtful gift. 

For this care package, the first three items I purchased happened to match and I decided to make coral, red and teal my color scheme. 

I add bows, tags, notes, bakers twine, washi tape and ribbons to everything. When in doubt, add more washi.  

I carry the decorations to the inside and outside of the box because it would be a crime to send such a fun care package in a dreadfully boring box.  

And there you have it. A box chock full of love and surprises ready to make its way to England and brighten two people's day.

We packed it all up, sealed it with absurd amounts of packing tape, made the most detailed customs form you have ever seen, and sent it off with love. Three days later we got a phone call and numerous texts as they discovered the little surprises inside :). Mission accomplished.

I'd love to see care packages that you put together for your friends and family! Connect with me on Facebook and share your creations!