Introduction: Ultimate WWII Captain America Costume (Marvel Comic Book Based)
Third Prize in the
Halloween Photo Instructable Contest
Always liked Captain America, and loved the retro look of Ultimate WWII Cap from the Marvel comic so decided to try and make my own. Thanks to all the previous builders of this costume and shield that I used as resources (will attempt to name and give links as possible). Started build in springtime and had alot of time this summer so took my sweet time to check things out carefully.
Approximate Cost = $264.00
Basic sewing skills needed (If you don't know enough, ask someone who knows sewing what is best stitch for the job or research on web). Although liquid stitch will do most of the "sewing", you will still want to do some re-enforcing by sewing at stress points (will indicate where later).
* M1 Helmet - Originals can be very expensive, found & purchased 1950's exact replica through web for $27.00 (minus S+H) under Austrian Military surplus! "Seek and Ye Shall Find!"
* Combat boots - Purchased Demonia Rocky/10 hole steel toe replica boots in burgundy color for $114.00 (minus S+H) online (sinistersoles.com). Love these boots and plan on using them after Halloween anyway.
* 1911 Colt pistol - Purchased replica air soft version @$25.00 that came with assault rifle (Big 5 Sporting Goods). Painted with Hammered Metal spray paint (Wal-Mart, @5.00).
* Thick Burgundy colored sweater to wear under coat (don't worry, you will only use parts that are visible to keep a lighter, cooler look for build. I had an old sweater and used only the bottom portion of the sweater for my needs. I recommend going to a thrift store to look for an old cheap sweater you can cut.
* Replica canteen with cover and strap, $7.16 grey, Air Force surplus online (armynavydeals.com)
* Replica captain bars and U.S. pins online (armynavydeals.com). 2 of each for shoulder and collar placement
* Chef coat/Navy blue @25.00, purchased at uniform supply store
* Dark red two hole canvas belt with brass clasp (purchased at Military Surplus store, can also be purchased at armynavydeals.com, look under Men, Accessories, 1 3/4'' Vintage belt with double prong buckle on sale $9.85. Buy white and dye red)
* Leather work gloves $5.00 (Wal-Mart)
* Brass colored snap buttons, spring hooks & large black sewing clasps (Jo Anne's Fabrics). For cartridge pouches, suspenders and leggings builds.
* Cotton canvas military green - used old military duffle bag I had lying around. Used for making leggings, cartridge pouches and suspenders.
* Heavy Cotton fabric in burgundy (deeper color looks more aesthetically 1940's) and cream (warmer white also more aesthetically 1940's), Faux aged brown leather fabric (cheaper, lighter and more flexible than real leather) purchased half yard of each for under $10 each (Jo Anne's fabrics).
*Tan leather work gloves (Wal-Mart, $8.00)
* Cardboard - Used for round Captain America Shield. Light weight and low cost (see build by seamster). I like the look of the round shield as opposed to the more "knight of the round table" shield.
* Dark red and navy blue dyes, @$5.00 each (Jo Anne's fabrics).
* Liquid Stitch, @$5.00, used coupon (Jo Anne's fabrics). This will save tons of time and eliminate having to stitch every part of build. Used on coat, cartridge pouches, headpiece and leggings.
* For Head piece - Mardi Gras mask @$2.00 (Party City), black rimmed swimming goggles .99 (99 Cents Store), strap with buckle snap (taken from old baseball cap, also sold at times at 99 Cents Store), lenses from old prescription glasses (more for simple fact that I need glasses/far sighted). Looks great though.
* Spray paint - flat black (used as primer), Navy blue (for helmet), cream (for star and captain stripes on helmet), hammered metallic pewter (for 1911 Colt air soft pistol), Mighty Sealer/liquid rubber - used to strengthen foam sheeting in gun holster build
* Heavy Fabric Scissors - Cuts fabric cleaner * Hot Glue gun/glue sticks * 1/8 inch craft foam sheets/black * X-acto knife & X-acto cutting matt * Sewing kit & heavy duty thread/black * sand paper/coarse to fine
* rotary hand tool
STEP 1: Used seamster's "Flying Captain America Shield" build for several reasons. Pretty easy build, it looked good, will be light weight and flexible (important when you have everything on and you're planning on possibly dancing in this costume), and it can fly like the comic book version (how cool is that!). I used red wine colored duct tape (closely resembles burgundy) to keep with the color tone I was going for. I think it works well with overall costume hues.
STEP 2: I decided to start with the coat (if I could do this part of the build then the rest could follow). Once I found the chef's coat that I could alter, I needed to decide how to add the red & white stripes. Another build indicated buying an American flag and cutting to fit bottom portion of coat. Only problem is that the coat is made of cotton fabric and flag is polyester blend at best. The two did not work well together and the liquid stitch I wanted to use to save on stitching shown through. I decided to use Burgundy and Cream colored cotton fabric. These colors better matched my idea of what I wanted to create. You will begin with removing any pockets by use of a stitch removing tool (sold at Jo Anne's fabrics or anywhere sewing supplies are sold). Do this slowly and deliberately so as not to cut main fabric (if you do, just call it battle damage). Remember to save the pocket fabric for use on the shoulders of your coat as flaps (more on this later). You will need to purchase large, gold buttons to replace the dark blue buttons on the chest part of the coat (keep in mind, the coat can be buttoned from either male or female side; you want to button your coat toward the your left, the heart side). These will be placed further to your left than the original buttons here. Do this by putting on coat and marking your fit with sewing needles for each button placement. Next decide if you will need to fold cuffs to allow the red sweater sleeves to show. I sewed the ends to create a neater look and keep them from opening up. Next, I created the flaps for the top of the coat by cutting the pocket piece I saved into two equal halves. This should look rectangular in appearance. I first folded, sprayed with starch and ironed these into shape. Using liquid stitch, I then glued these to hold their shape. I then glued these to the shoulder version (pin these in place first and try on the coat before gluing in place). Once dry (only takes @ 5 minutes) I carefully sewed the corners with navy blue thread for extra strength. Next came the cutting of the burgundy and cream fabric for the stripes and star. The burgundy fabric was cut into one piece and used as the base for the cream stripes to be added to. Before this I added the burgundy portion (dimensions are to my body so use sewing pins and come up with what fits your body type) with liquid stitch and then cut away the navy blue coat fabric at bottom portion of coat to keep it as thin as possible. After reapplying liquid stitch and ironing areas that needed it, I made 10 of the cream color stripes. I went with 3.5 inches by 13 inches for the stripes (but use measurement dimensions that will work for your body type). I starched and ironed these and used liquid stitch to hold the shape and after carefully measuring 3 inches between cream stripes (use sewing pins to hold here) I glued (liquid stitch) and ironed in place. For the star, I made several using the star template used in making Cap's shield. After several sizes (original size was a little too large), I settled on a size that fit well enough in the middle of the coat (remember to use sewing pins to hold and adjust until you find the right placing before gluing and ironing).
STEP 3: Next came the suspenders with cartridge pockets. Although you can buy some WWII replicas and dye red, I decided to make my own based more on the comic version. Here is where I utilized an old army gas mask bag (I purchased to use as a messenger bag and didn't). After measuring my shoulder to hip dimensions I cut the long shoulder strap (1.5" wide) off and cut again in half (was long enough to use as two shoulder suspender straps (always have more than you measure to cut away as needed). Using a replica military suspender with a simple design that I was looking for as a template, I attached these straps to a thick rubberized portion of gas bag cut into a Trapezoid shape flipped upside down (see diagram). To this I added a wider strip of canvas (2.5 ") from my old duffle bag. To the end of each shoulder strap I glued brass metal adjustment rings (Jo Anne's Fabrics) and sewed corners for extra strength. To the end of all three straps (2 shoulder, 1 back), I glued brass latches (Jo Anne's Fabrics)and corner sewed for extra strength. This was now set aside to wait for 2 cartridge pouches & dyeing (always dye items needing same color in same batch to get them all close as possible in color).
STEP 4: Next I started on the leggings. Here I used the green canvas from the old duffle bag. After downloading some clean images of the shorter version I liked (there are longer and shorter looks), I got my calf and ankle measurements by wrapping my calf and upper ankle with a clear plastic bag that I scotch taped to fit (do this while wearing pants to get some proper thickness). Have some help you cut the top and bottom (where you decide looks best). I went with upper ankle to bottom of my calf @11" (you will lose an inch after folding, gluing and ironing half inch on top and bottom). use this plastic template for cutting your canvas fabric. Remember to add an extra 1.5 inches for folding and gluing half inch in all around. You will need to measure, pin and try on until you are satisfied with fit while wearing pants and boots. For the strapping I bought eyehole punch kit with silver eyeholes and used 10 eyeholes ( 9 on side and 1 for opposite locking end of strap) on the right side of the right legging and the left side of the left legging. Think that the holes are on the front flap and close with the back side flap, meeting at the outside of your ankle (use ankle bone protrusion as your center). On the back side I sewed (with heavy duty thread) 8 clasps (one less than eyehole count ) in between the opposite eyeholes that the thin strapping (thin shoelace) will loop through (see image). For the adjustable strap that slings under the boot, I took the snap on brass clasps from old baseball caps and cuttings from the old duffle bag. I used the eyehole punch to hold the female end of the brass clasps. Worked well and is adjustable. After checking the fit with pants and boots on, these were now set aside for dying red later.
STEP 5: Next I began the cartridge pouch builds. Two sizes were designed, 2 small (2"X3.5") for suspenders, and 7 larger (2.5"X4") for utility belt. I made 7 to go with the canteen and a holster for the 1911 colt pistol. I basically liked the size and shape of two medicine boxes I had. After carefully dismantling both boxes I traced both over thin card stock (blank inside cereal box is perfect thickness). Now I cut out and played with these to see were my fabric would need flaps and folds, and where they were redundant and unnecessary. Once this process was complete, I used liquid stitch to glue parts together inside out so that they could then be sewn tightly and pulled out and have a neat seam. I then glued strips of canvas belt (from duffle bag) on to the back where they would slip into canvas belt I purchased. After dyeing everything in a dark red dye (follow instructions, but stir batch constantly to insure an even color), I then cut out card stock and glued them inside of the pouches in order to have pouches keep their shape. This gives them clean lines and a nice full look while keeping them light as possible. The canteen cover was simply dyed with everything going red after adding glued strip of canvas belt (from duffle bag) on to the back to slip into canvas belt.
STEP 6: Next I decided to work on the mask and helmet. Here I used the Mardi Gras mask to hold the shape of the cheekbone, as well as, to have a base to set the rubber eye parts of the swimming goggles. After playing with the fit, I discovered how by slightly enlarging the eye sockets of the Mardi Gras mask with an X-acto blade, that the rubber parts of the swimming goggles fit nicely. After contemplating using the original goggle lenses, I decided to use the lenses of an old pair of glasses. This turned out to look good and allows me to see just fine with the mask on. If you don't have need of prescription glasses, you can just leave the rubber parts in without any lenses or use the swim goggle lenses (can be a bit blurry if they are like the cheap ones I bought). In order to get the size of my head right, I followed the basic process mrcrumley details in his build (Ultimate WW2 Captain America Costume). I placed a plastic bag on my head and had my son tape over with blue painters tape. I then cut to the shape I wanted used it as my template to cut out the shape from my "leather" fabric. What I did different is that I did not cut my fabric into as many parts. I chose to keep in one basic shape and glue the Mardi Gras mask to the area where my face and eyes would be. I then cut slits where the eyes went and simply glued the flaps inwards. I then placed the rubber goggle pieces into place and with patience placed my prescription lenses in place. The rest of the build involved adding a strap from an old baseball cap for the chin portion and one on each side of the Mardi Gras mask ends to help hold the mask firm from the sides and on to my face. I made these look like leather by wrapping the leather like fabric I purchased (dyed a large portion of this fabric in the red batch for this use) around the original fabric. I then added eyeholes to both side straps and used some of the leather looking shoestring material (Jo Anne's Fabrics) to tie off at the back of my head. Works and looks great. The helmet involved sanding off original green color down to steel, primer with black (I wanted to darken top Navy blue coat as much as possible), placing green (frog brand worked better than traditional blue brand) painters tape in the shape of the large "A" in front and captain's bars in back then sprayed it all the darkest Navy blue I could find at Wal-Mart. After drying overnight to be safe, I then removed the initial tape and using newspaper, I retaped everything but the "A" and captain's bars. I then sprayed those small areas with a white/cream color.
STEP 7: Now I had the gloves, sweater portions, pistol holster and weapons left. The WWII Thompson replica came from a previous build of mine you can look up (or buy an air soft replica), but the pistol I purchased at Big 5, taped off and painted with a grey hammered metal look (Wal-Mart). The holster I considered buying, but when I saw the prices I decided to build as well. I basically used plenty of reference photos to get the dimensions, measured and traced the pistol, cut some 1/8 " black foam I bought at Michael's to the paper template I drew and proceeded to spray both side with Mighty Sealer/liquid rubber to strengthen before gluing the dyed red "leather" fabric on outside portion of piece. I then folded around pistol and hot glued together. Before adding the red "leather" fabric, the raised U.S. emblem was done by drawing and cutting the U and S out of @1/8" cardboard, creating the ring with thick toy wire wrap and gluing both parts on to the holster. I added an eyehole and black shoelace to strap on leg. The holster looks "sick" and is lightweight! The gloves are basically tan leather work gloves from Wal-Mart that I soaked with a red spray dye (Michaels, $ ). I added some brown acrylic fabric paint to darken and get the burgundy look. Spray lightly and let dry in the sun for a good hour between coats to get a good cover that doesn't crack when you use the gloves. For the exposed sweater parts needed I simply cut out sections of the hem that had the ribbing I wanted and sewed the together to make the neck area and cuffs. Again, this is to have the look without the added bulk and heat of a full sweater. One does not get too cold living in San Diego, even in winter.
STEP 8: Final step was to purchase pants that closely resemble WWII paratroopers pants. I settles on Wrangler tan cargo pants with large side leg pockets. I dyed the pants navy blue and tried everything on. Done, now am ready to go out and beat on the Axis powers of WWII and still go dancing without overheating or pulling too much weight!
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