Introduction: Ultimate WW2 Captain America Costume

Picture of Ultimate WW2 Captain America Costume

Since seeing some of my old Captain America comics, my 4-year-old has been pretending his frisbee was a shield as he valiantly battles the forces of evil.

With Halloween approaching, I decided to make him a WW2 Captain America costume similar to the one in Marvel's "Ultimates" timeline.

As you can see, it worked out well. Now we have our own little super soldier watching over our neighborhood.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Most of the materials came from thrift store purchases. A pair of duffle bags and a dress provided all the buttons, straps, velcro, buckels, snaps, and lining I needed.

I still had to buy new items like: the shield (Amazon), a pair of red gloves (welovecolors.com), a toy army helmet, red and navy dye, blue and white spray paint (Walmart), a can of spray foam insulation, a tube of gorilla glue, and a can of red plast-dip (Home Depot).

Step 2: The Mask

Picture of The Mask

To make a mask pattern that would fit well, I wrapped my son's head in plastic wrap and applied little pieces of tape (paper-mache-style) to the plastic. Then, I slipped it off his head and cut it out into pieces that would lay flat. These pieces became the patterns for the mask. Then, I sewed together the pieces into a rather fashionable mask (if I do say so myself).

Pressing the mask's seams was a bear (particularly the eye-holes). And in the end, I had to resort to hot-gluing the seams to the underside of the mask. This was the only way I could keep them from poking into my son's eyes.

I decided to dye the mask (and enough white cloth to make the nessesary jacket stripes and boot anklets) outside, so there'd be less mess. However, I discovered that room-temperature dying doesn't produce colors as intense as stove-top dying.

After the dye-job, I finished off the mask with a chinstrap made from a piece of brown vinyl leftover from a previous project.

Step 3: The Jacket

Picture of The Jacket

I don't really use store-bought patterns for my sewing. This means I've gotten quite good at laying out existing items of clothing onto fabric and tracing out the pattern pieces I need. That's basically what I did for the jacket. I took one of my son's winter coats and traced out the pieces I needed to cut. Then, I pinned and sewed together the basic jacket.

Having learned my lesson while dying the mask, I decided to dye the jacket in a simmering pot on my stove. This worked much better; producing sharper color and wasn't nearly as messy as I'd feared.

After the jacket had air-dried, I cut off the bottom half and sewed in the red-and-white-striped panel (also made from white denim; half of which was dyed red).

I finished the jacket off by sewing in a strip of black webbing for a waistband, and added the buttons I salvaged from the thrift store dress. The white chest star is made from white denim and some leftover blue piping I had laying around.

Looking back, I would have saved a lot of time by buying an existing navy jacket (or ideally) a child's pea coat and modifying it. I coulda used the removed bottom half of the jacket to make the full-chest front panel. Also, I probably should have just purchased red and white pants from the thrift store and skipped the dying altogether. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Step 4: The Helmet

Picture of The Helmet

One of the coolest features of this version of Captain America's costume is the mask/ helmet combo. I like it much better than the (rather dorky) blue mask with white wings.

To make the mask, I started by painting the front of the toy army helmet white. I used Krylon's Fusion paint because it supposedly bonds to plastic better than typical spray paint.

Then, I printed out a 3 inch capital "A" in a suitable font. I taped a piece of waxed paper to the back of the printed "A" and put strips of masking tape onto the waxed paper. After cutting out the "A", I was able to peel off the masking tape, which was now a pretty decent "A-shaped" sticker.

I applied the sticker to the painted helmet, masking where the white "A" would be. Then, I spray-painted the rest of the helmet blue. I even painted the underside of the helmet as well (making sure to cover the helmet strap with tape beforehand).

After the paint dried, I was able to peel away the sticker and was left with a helmet any 4-year-old crimefighter would be proud to wear.

Step 5: The Boot Anklets and the Belt

Picture of The Boot Anklets and the Belt

The anklets were pretty straightforward. I cut out strips of the dyed red denim, sewed them together, and added some velcro, vinyl sole-straps, and some ornamental buttons.

The belt is made from one of the duffel back straps, some velcro, and a leather buckle from the smaller bag. Attaching the leather belt buckle was a bit tedious. I used the sewing machine and had to hand-advance the machine, setting the needle into the existing holes.

The pouches are made from some of the bag fabric. Each pouch has velcro closures cunningly hidden behind ornamental leather tabs. He doesn't actually carry anything in them, but they sure look cool.

Step 6: The Shield, Part 1

Picture of The Shield, Part 1

The pista de resistance (sp?) of any Captain America costume is the shield. Now, the more knowledgeable geeks reading this will know that in the Ultimates timeline, Cap used a triangular shield in WW2 (instead of his trademark round one). I choose to be somewhat anachronistic and use the round shield for several reasons.

First, my son's 4 and I don't want him poking his eye out with one of the shield's sharp corners. Next, plastic versions of the round shield are cheap and readily available online (I bought ours for about $6). Finally, this costume is different enough from Cap's traditional red, white, and blue pajamas that I felt it needed the round shield to make it more recognizable to the average parent handing out candy.

So, I started with the round plastic, officially licensed shield. Unfortunately, there were a few issues I wanted to address before adding it to the costume:

The plastic shield is a little too flimsy. My son cracked the frisbee he used as a shield surrogate when he accidentally stepped on it. The store-bought shield seemed even less resilient. So, I bent a bunch of steel wire into a zigzagging circle and glued it inside the shield.

The shield comes with a pair of elastic straps that were the epitome of cheap. I engineered a strap system where each strap can be unclipped and lengthened. This allows the shield to be worn on the back or carried on the arm just like in the comics.

-Side note: the strap/ clip system is the aspect I'm most proud of. I searched around the internet but no one else (to date) has devised a sensible way to explain how the straps on Cap's shield shorten/ lengthen from his back to his arm. I believe my implementation is ground-breakingly unique and elegant.

The shield's a little too deep, so I trimmed off about 3/4 of an inch to make it less bulky.

The plastic strap bindings are too flimsy and too close together. I bend more steel wire around some plastic clips and glued them in more appropriate places on the shield. Before gluing, I sewed straps onto 2 of the 4 bindings. I didn't sew the other 2 because I needed to fit the shield's inner lining on later.

I made sure to raise them up from the shield to accommodate the next step. To hide the wire and glue, I sprayed foam insulation into the shield's concave. After the foam had hardened, I used a long-bladed knife and trimmed off the excess. The shield was nice and stiff at this point.

Step 7: The Shield, Part 2

Picture of The Shield, Part 2

Next, I needed an edge treatment to cover the raw cut edge left over from trimming the shield's depth. I drilled 130 1/16th inch holes around the edge of the shield. Then, I stripped off about 2 feet of the protective housing from some 14 gauge copper wire. I carefully fitted the stripped wire jacket onto the edge of the shield. I looped thread throught the holes and around the edging to hold it into place.

Now it was time to cover the inside of the shield. I used a piece of brown vinyl to hide the yellow foam filling. I put fiberglass mesh tape (the kind made to cover drywall seams) on the back of the vinyl to keep it nice and stiff and to avoid wrinkles.

I cutout 4 rectangles for the strap binding to poke through the vinyl and spread the gorilla glue onto the back of the vinyl. Then, I threaded the straps and bindings through the holes and pressed the vinyl into place. To hold the vinyl down while the glue dried, I poured all the spare change I could find onto the shield. This worked reasonably well.

After the glue dried, I brushed on several coats of red plasti-dip over the applied edging, thread, and brown vinyl. This prevents the brown vinyl from peeling up and binds the back and front of the shield together.

However, instead of looping the thread over the edging, I should have just woven the thread back and forth through the holes. Looping the thread over the edging made the edge bumpy. I thought this would get smoothed over by the plasti-dip. Instead, the plasti-dip enhanced it. If I had simply woven the thread through the holes, alongside the edging, the plasti-dip would have still held the edging firmly in place but without any bumpiness.

To finish the shield, I trimmed the straps to the correct length and sewed on the plastic snaps that complete the strap system. I also repainted the blue outside the star to match the blue helmet.

Step 8: Final Results

Picture of Final Results

So, after about two months of work, I've finally completed the costume. To get the most out of it, we've taken our son out for a few "photo shoots" with appropriately-themed backgrounds.

Step 9: -SUPPLEMENTAL- Candy Bag

Picture of -SUPPLEMENTAL- Candy Bag

Earlier in the week, we went to a local church for a trunk-or-treat. I realized that seeing Ultimate WW2 Captain America carrying a bright orange plastic bag spoiled the illusion. So, I whipped up this military-styled candy bag from some leftover duffel bag material.

To make it really "pop" I printed "U.S." on a sheet of paper and cut it into a basic stencil. A quick once-over with some white spray paint and I had a very military-looking bag. The strap runs under one of the jacket's shoulder flaps to keep it from sliding off his shoulder.

Comments

Simran Sharma (author)2016-10-11

Wow awesome.

flapper501 (author)2013-03-04

What I was thinking of doing, since we have to do a mask for school, I was thinking that I could do the tape thing, and then paper mache on that (the mask has to use paper mache) What do you think?

mrcrumley (author)flapper5012013-03-04

Yeah, I think that would work fine. If you want the tape to be part of the mask you'll probably need to use tape made of fabric tape - like athletic tape. Otherwise, the tape will peel off the inside of the mask - but that might be OK, actually.

Zeeeena (author)2012-10-31

I'm absolutely amazed!!! EXCELLENT job!! Stuff we make is always better than that cheap crap you buy in the store!! My kids (all over 20) always say, wow mom, that looks like you bought it!! Trying to complement me.. I go DON'T INSULT ME! LOL

SGT. Desert (author)2012-08-23

Sweet .I am a marvel comic fan and i can say this turned out pretty good . PS: i have seen a captain america costume and it was 59.99 usd ???

dcreamer (author)2011-08-13

That's an amazing suit, I especially love what you've done with the shield.

mrcrumley (author)dcreamer2011-08-15

Yes, that was the most rewarding part. Two years later, it's held up pretty well. the straps allow either arm or back carrying, and the plasti-dip seal on the edges hasn't peeled.

We recently bought one of the new frisbee shields put out for the CA movie and mine compares nicely. The new one is made from much better plastic, but is even smaller than the older one. Although it is a nice product, it's just not a cool as my modified shield.

bcurtis1 (author)2011-07-31

wow awesome i made my own helmet using your instructions and it turned out amazing

mrcrumley (author)bcurtis12011-08-01

Cool. Glad to hear other folks are getting use out of this Instructable.

aazana (author)2011-07-24

Hi, just a quick question. I know it's been a while since you made this, but how did you make the belt? I'm making a Cap costume for my cousin, and I'm a bit stuck on the belt, but your's looks absolutely fantastic. I really hope I didn't just miss it in the steps.=P

mrcrumley (author)aazana2011-07-25

Take a look at step 5. I have some pretty good images of the belt pouches. Each pouch is made from 3 pieces of fabric - 1 long "tongue" and 2 side panels. All three pieces have one squared end and the one rounded end. After cutting the pieces, I sewed the webbing loops and the velcro closures on the long "tongue." I also sewed on the decorative leather flaps that I salvaged from the various zipper pulls from the duffle bags. Then I sewed the side pieces onto the tongue to make the pocket shape.

aazana (author)mrcrumley2011-07-25

Ah, thank you! I knew I had skimmed through it too fast.XP

ragashnaga45 (author)2009-08-26

if you still have the template or can make some can you post them on the web?

mrcrumley (author)ragashnaga452009-08-27

Gosh, I'm sorry. I'm afraid I don't. But if you do the whole "tape-on-the-head-thing", I think you'll get an understanding of how the mask's put together - which will make sewing one easier.

asirio1 (author)mrcrumley2011-07-14

yeh it worked for mine

asirio1 (author)2011-07-14

great job

radioactivespider1 (author)2011-06-30

As early as now, I already know what I'll be wearing for our annual costumer party comes December. *flashes evil grin, rubs chin and bursts into hysterical laughter*

What I'm saying here is thank you, mrcrumley! :)

elga (author)2011-06-13

gracias me gusta mucho este traja

Sithen (author)2011-05-23

That's just about the coolest thing ever..

mrcrumley (author)Sithen2011-05-23

Thank you, citizen!

baneat (author)2011-03-24

I think a large frisbee would work great for the shield, to play with as the trademark throw as well (Maybe foam the rim O.o)

hxh103 (author)2010-11-28

ummm...that is a bad azzz costume, great job

mrcrumley (author)hxh1032010-11-29

Thank you.

Willowby (author)2010-10-29

Just a thought but since you covered the backside you could have possibly just glued in blue foam camping pad instead of all the extra effort with the spray foam.

mrcrumley (author)Willowby2010-11-03

Yeah, but I really needed something to stiffen the shield. Gluing foam padding would have put all my faith in the adhesive's strength to do this. My method utilized adhesion, and interlocking friction as the foam's shape exactly matches the shield's.

D00M99 (author)2010-10-07

Whoa. Where did the tank come from?

mrcrumley (author)D00M992010-10-08

We have a National Guard armory in our town, so we drove over there and asked if we could take some shots. They were really cool about it. It's actually a howitzer, but our local unit did use it in the first Gulf War.

D00M99 (author)mrcrumley2010-10-09

Awesome. :)

bustedit (author)2008-10-31

lucky kid! great costume, and those photo shoot pics are awesome

mrcrumley (author)bustedit2008-10-31

Thank you bustedit. I like your photo as well. I was sorry to see your injury on Dancing with the Stars, but hopefully you'll have a speedy recovery.

mrcrumley (author)mrcrumley2010-10-08

BTW, at the time of the above posting, bustedit had a profile picture of Misty May with the Gold Medal over her eye (like a pirate). Thus, my semi-weird comment above.

FreedomFighter617 (author)2008-11-03

I might just have to try and make an adult version of this costume for myself for next Hallowe'en. Excellent job and keep up the good work.

Good idea. With the Cap movie slated for 2010, you'll still be ahead of the curve.

mrcrumley (author)mrcrumley2010-10-08

Sorry, 2011.

Wingmaster700 (author)2010-10-07

this is boss

straight up

i would totally do this for this year if i had time or money and especially your skill, this is an awesome instructable

being a father must be extremely rewarding, i mean your son is riding a tank wearing your costume

AWWESOME

mrcrumley (author)Wingmaster7002010-10-08

Thanks. Yes, he's six now and has two trucks full of costume stuff that I've either made for him or passed down from stuff I made for myself when I was younger.

sciencensorcery (author)2009-10-29

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I featured this in my weekly column on Fandomania:

fandomania.com/fandomestic-5-adorably-geeky-kids-costumes/

Ward_Nox (author)2009-08-28

i though caps WW2 shield was shaped diffrently

mrcrumley (author)Ward_Nox2009-08-29

Yes. Read step 6.

Ward_Nox (author)mrcrumley2009-08-31

ahh fair enough (actually in the ultimate avngers manimated movie caps WW2 uniform was olive drab where your sons is Blue so NBD even marvel can't keep the details right)

mrcrumley (author)Ward_Nox2009-08-31

Hmm. maybe the color-shifting is due to folks' recollections changing over time. Do I win a No-Prize for this?

Ward_Nox (author)mrcrumley2009-09-03

only if you can name the original Capt America you know the one who was given the super soldier serum before Steve

mrcrumley (author)Ward_Nox2009-09-03

I'll be honest an admit that without the Internet, I can't. Although I seem to remember something about a black soldier been given the formula, but I can't recall if that happened before or after WW2. Oh well, I'd have to look it up.

Ward_Nox (author)mrcrumley2009-09-10

acctually several african american soldiers were given the formula (only one survived) his grand son is the young avenger Patriot who gains Super soldier powers after he got a blood transfusion from his grandfather

Myrdydd (author)2009-08-28

I just found this, but I have to confess that I'm quite impressed! 5 stars for you, sir!

mrcrumley (author)Myrdydd2009-08-29

Thanks.

ragashnaga45 (author)2009-08-24

this is a great tutorial of one of my favorite superheros! i am even using this to make my own halloween costume!

mrcrumley (author)ragashnaga452009-08-25

That's cool. After making this one, I've kinda realized that this version of Cap's costume would work really well for adults. The traditional outfit is skin tight, so it's difficult to hide a less-than-heroic body underneath. But this uniform has enough bagginess to be pretty forgiving.

freeosin (author)2009-05-23

Dude. That was ridiculously amazing. Cap has always been my favorite. I love the way the Ultimates series has portrayed him. We have a costume party (super-hero themed) coming up and unfortunately I am not Cap haha. I am gonna be his buddy Hawkeye. Working hard on it and I believe you have helped me solve the "mask" dilemma. It seems that the eye-holes really seem to want to pull away when you just use a non-layered material. I need to try something like the tape/cloth idea but I am worried that it wont be snug enough.

mrcrumley (author)freeosin2009-05-25

Try buying a thin plastic masquerade mask and gluing it onto the inside of your mask. It should keep it flush against the curves of your face.

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Bio: (Is there a word that means more than "ultimate"? Oh well, I'l just make one up... "omnilent") Omnilently creative, MrCrumley fights a daily battle ... More »
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