Introduction: Stupendous Man!
For Halloween this year he wanted to be Stupendous Man, which is Calvin's superhero alter-ego in the strip.
I was excited about his choice this year because 1) it was awesome, and 2) it was super easy. The costume consists of the following:
- Hobbes Doll - Optional. You can make one with the pattern I've included in my Hobbes Doll instructable linked above.
- Red shirt with black stripes
- Black pants
- Red Cape
- Superhero cowl - Use my child-sized superhero cowl pattern. If you need a bigger one, follow my instructions in step 3 to make a cowl pattern for adults and especially fat-headed children.
Step 1: Calvin's Shirt and Pants
Let's begin with the easiest parts of the costume.
I purchased a new red t-shirt for my son for about $3. Using a black permanent marker and a ruler I drew lines on the shirt every 2 inches on the front, back, and sleeves.
We had some black pants that he wore, although any dark-colored pants would have been fine.
Step 2: Superhero Cape
Capes are easy pieces of costumery to make, and the internet is full of how-to instructions for making them. This is how I made mine, which was pretty simple.
I started with a piece of red cloth, folded in half so the folded dimensions were 18" by 30".
Two tie pieces were made and sewn to the shoulder areas of the cape so it could be tied in place, matching the style of Calvin's cape in the strip.
See the photo notes for all of the dimensions and where to cut, hem, etc.
Step 3: Making a Superhero Cowl Pattern
If you want to make your own cowl pattern, you need to start by creating a head mold. The method I used was quick, easy, and seemed to work very well. To make the head mold:
- Begin by laying out strips of duct tape on a cutting mat, and cut each one down the middle lengthwise, and then cross-ways so you have plenty of strips that are about 4 inches long and 3/4 inches wide. (It's important to have these ready ahead of time.)
- Press a couple of sections of aluminum foil onto the subject's head, covering everything but the nose and mouth.
- Cover all the foil with strips of duct tape, locking in the shape.
- Draw lines on the duct tape dividing the head-shape from front to back, and from side to side.
- Carefully cut through the tape along the line at the back, and tear the foil underneath until the foil and tape head-piece can be slid off of the subject's head.
I cleaned up the edges as I saw fit, adding and trimming a little tape here and there to create the desired neck, cheek, and nose lines.
The shape was cut in half from front to back, and then one of those halves was cut into half again. These two pieces were pressed down flat and traced onto paper. I then added a little tab to the front section to make a chin strap, along with about 1/2" along the sides of both pieces to account for seam allowances.
I used the pattern to make a practice cowl, and based on how it turned out I made a few more little tweaks to the pattern to address a few minor issues. This completed the pattern.
Step 4: Cut Out Fabric and Reinforce Bottom Edge
When Calvin is wearing his Stupendous Man costume in the cartoon, his cowl appears to have a couple of little subtle Batman-esque peaks. My interpretation of the pictures in the strip is that the author drew these intentionally, because they are visible in almost all of the Stupendous Man strips. I included these as an option on the pattern, but if you're making this for some other superhero just cut through them when you cut out the pattern.
Begin by printing out the pdf pattern included in the introduction, preferably on stiff paper like card stock. If you have the option, print it with "no scaling" which will give you a pattern exactly the same size as mine.
Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines. Use the pattern to cut out two front pieces and two back pieces from your fabric.
Trim off the dotted sections along the bottom of the pattern pieces and use these to cut out two of each shape from your fabric. These shapes can then be attached to the main pieces with an iron-on adhesive, such as HeatnBond Ultrahold (which is what I used). This will reinforce and finish the bottom edge of the cowl and the eye holes, and reduce fraying.
Step 5: Mark and Cut Eye Holes
Use the pattern to mark the placement of the eye holes, and carefully cut them out with small sharp scissors, or a sharp hobby knife and cutting mat.
As you can see in the second photo, my original eye holes were just a bit too small and a bit out of place. I trimmed them a little more, and then they were great. (The eye hole marking on the pattern is the final corrected version.)
Step 6: Sew the Cowl Together
Pin the front pieces of the cowl to the back pieces, and sew these together first. If you want to zig-zag or serge the hem on these pieces, do it now.
Pin the left side the right side, and sew together. Zig-zag or serge the seam if desired.
Sew a couple of pieces of velcro to the chin straps to hold the cowl in place.
Try the cowl on. If it's too loose for your liking around the cheek area, you can make a couple of small pleats on either side of the face so it fits more snug and superhero-like.
If you're happy with it, you're done! Congrats!
Note: My kids have a large bin full of outfits and old costumes that they dress up in all the time, so I'm inclined to make things as durable as possible so they'll last a little longer than just one wearing on Halloween. I did a tight zig-zag stitch all around the bottom of the cowl and also around the eye holes, but it gave me some trouble. So I do not recommend this, especially if you use HeatnBond Ultrahold, as I did. The packaging on the adhesive says not to sew it, and now I know why. Although I sewed through it just fine in short sections earlier, when I was zig-zagging through it, it gummed up my needle every 15 stitches or so. This made my machine start skipping stitches and made a mess of things in short order. To work around this so I could finish what I had started, I had to wipe the needle down with a q-tip dipped in adhesive remover (Goof Off) after every inch or so of stitches. The cowl is perhaps a bit more durable now, but it took quite a while to complete!
HeatnBond does have a "Lite" version you can sew through, and if you use that you could do the zig-zag finishing without the same trouble I had. But is it worth the extra trouble? I don't think so. I recommend just using something extra strength like HeatnBond Ultrahold and skipping the zig-zag edge finishing all together.
Well, I think we're done here! Put all the pieces together, and you've got your very own . . .