Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Sam did not get to keep this cape. It was one of an identical set that he took to a birthday party for five-year-old twins Erik and Connor, who happen to love Cartoon Network's Ben Ten. I'd never heard of the show myself, but it turns out you don't have to be a fan of the show to be a fan of the cape. Sam loved it, and has already put in his order for one of his own -- with a few customizations, of course. He wants a jaguar print backed in the sparkly green fabric I used here. He's got his own sense of style, that one.
But he's a good kid, and even though he wanted to keep one cape for himself, he willingly took it off after the photo shoot to wrap it up.
So I'm gonna make him the cape he wants. And with any luck, the lessons I learned on this one will come in handy. I should have used a trapezoid shape or gathered the top or something to make it fit around the shoulders a little better. And though I like the fact that this is fully reversible, putting appliques on both sides was really time consuming. It seemed to be a hit with Erik and Connor, based on their shrieking "Ben Ten! Ben Ten!" when they opened it, so I guess it was worth it. I'm not sure the extra detail was worth being an hour late to the party while I finished them up, but when I saw the haul of toys those two raked in, I was glad I'd spent the time. That's really what this whole handmade gift thing is about: something different, something not plastic. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it was cheap.
Here's the scoop on the material:
I've had the black fabric in my stash for years -- I think I bought it for a dollar a yard when I was pregnant with Sam, planning to make maternity clothes. Never happened. But it's made a few appearances since (Sam's Halloween costume last year), and after two super hero capes, there's not much left.
The green sparkly fabric is part of a huge stack I bought from someone off Craigslist. Her grandmother, who'd been a seamstress for Singer for 40 years, apparently embraced the motto "She who dies with the most fabric wins." For twenty dollars, I got probably 80 yards of fabric in cool vintage prints, and another twenty got me a mountain of trim, buttons, and notions. Negotiating that great deal was not easy -- both the daughter and the granddaughter of the seamstress were there, and they seemed to have different goals. The granddaughter just wanted to get rid of everything, while the daughter wanted to get full retail value for it all. It was tricky. When all was totaled and stacked, the daughter just kept saying shaking her head and saying, "You're getting a great deal. That's a lot of fabric." I might have felt a little bad about being such a swindler, until I got it home and realized just how musty -- and full of allergens! (I couldn't stop sneezing while I sorted through it) -- everything was. I didn't notice how stinky my pile was because grandma's whole house was a bit musty smelling, with giant stacks of old fabric everywhere. And I specifically sniffed my choices and put back selections that seemed particularly bad. Still, when I brought it all home the stench was undeniable. So I washed those 80 yards of fabric, plus the miles and miles of trim TWO TIMES EACH! And now I figure, I totally earned my great deal through hard labor. The pile is still not quite sunshine fresh, but at least I'm not allergic to it anymore.
I hope having some time to air out in my craft area will help, because I'm planning to use a lot of this stash to make little purses for a craft bazaar coming up in October. Expect to see lots of ribbons and ruffles coming soon to a blog near you.