Costume Elements... Assemble!
Superhero Costume Class
Lesson 8: Costume Elements... Assemble!
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It's time to put the final touches on your costume. Even the most well made costume pieces will be useless if they don't stay on your body or fit uncomfortably, so we need to add straps and other means of attachment to our foam and Worbla pieces.

And, there's one more important thing we need to talk about... capes. Capes are an iconic part of the superhero look, even if everyone's favorite superhero fashion designer Edna Mode doesn't approve. They are really quite simple to create, so I'm not going to spend too much time talking about them, but I will show you how I designed and printed the wing pattern on my Metamoth cape using an awesome service called Spoonflower.

Closures and Attachments

Now that you've built and painted all your all your accessory pieces you need to add a few final touches that will allow you to wear them. The best Method for creating these attachments will depend a lot on your specific designs, but in general you want to choose materials and points of attachment that will be the most comfortable and the most visually in line with the rest of your costume.

For comfort and convenience, one of the best ways to attach things is to use elastic as straps. Elastic strips can stretch with the motions of your body, which often means you don't have to use any buckles, or clasps. Elastic also comes in a really wide variety of sizes and colors, so you can usually find something that will fit with the aesthetic of your costume or blend in if that's what you're going for.

Another very popular strap material are nylon straps, which also come in a lot of colors and widths. These straps are especially good for attaching EVA foam because they will melt a little when you use hot glue on them, and therefore stick really well.

If you are wanting to create straps and attachments that add to the aesthetic of your pieces, you might want to use a nicer material like leather. I cover how to make leather straps and belts, and add buckles, clasps, rings and snaps to leather in depth in my Leatherworking Class, so if you're interested in using leather to attach your pieces take a look at those lessons.

To figure out the placement of your straps you can put your pieces on a dress form, or on yourself, and tape or hold the straps in place to see where they need to be attached.

Then you can mark where the ends of the straps should sit on the foam.

No matter what type of strap you've chosen you will still need a way to attach the straps to your pieces. This can be a bit tricky with EVA foam because of the tendency of foam to tear under too much focused pressure. Sewing or riveting to foam is therefore not an option, so the best way is to glue your straps down.

With pieces like my shoulders where the straps aren't going to be under a ton of pressure, you can use the same contact cement that you used on the foam, or you can use hot glue for a really secure bond.

To help the glue stick even better, score the area on the foam where your strap is going to sit so the hot glue can soak in and really bind with the foam.

Once you've glued your straps down you can add a layer of leather or fabric over them if you want to cover the ends and make the inside of your armor look nice. I like to glue my leather down with Weldwood.

To attach straps to Worbla you can do what I did with my headpiece and build attachment slits or holes into the structure of the Worbla.

If you want to create less visible strapping you can also use pieces of Worbla, or preferably Wonderflex, to secure the ends of your straps down to your piece.

No Capes!?

Capes are controversial in the superhero costume design community, and we all know they can cause some serious accidents if you stand too close to a rocket or fly through a vortex ... but there's no doubt that they just make you feel super!

Especially if your superhero takes its identity form a winged creature like mine does it's hard to resist topping off your costume with a cape. Superhero style capes are really quite easy to make, especially if you're using spandex or some other material that doesn't need to be hemmed.

The shape of your cape really depends on the style you are creating, and what you want to be able to do with the cape. To get a cape with a good amount of volume, you should at least be able to raise your arms to shoulder level. A rough butterfly wing shape like I've created here is actually a good basic cape shape, and the most that can usually fit on one piece of fabric without a seam.

To make your cape extra special and unique, a really fun thing to do is to have your cape fabric printed by Spoonflower. If you've never used Spoonflower, it's an awesome web based service that lets you send in digital files to be printed on fabric! They have a pretty wide selection of fabric, the quality of the printing is good, and the prices really aren't bad.

For my Metamoth cape I looked for a lightweight fabric that would be flowy and slightly transparent, and wouldn't fray to much along a cut edge. I ended up choosing their poly crepe de chine which was cheaper than the silk crepe de chine and also wider, 54".

To get a large design like this printed on Spoonflower you need to send them a file that is the full size of the area you want printed at 150 DPI minimum. I created a Photoshop document that was 54" wide and 72" (2 yards) wide, and then I searched the internet for photos of moth wings using an advanced google search for large images that were available for "reuse with modification". Of course if you have your own photos or want to draw a design from scratch that's great too.

I collaged together several wing images, changing the color and size until I had something I liked behind my sketch.

Then I saved my file and uploaded it to Spoonflower. If you have time, it's a great idea to order a test swatch of you print to see if it's the colors you were hoping for. I was rushing to get mine in time, so I skipped this step, but amazingly my wings turned out exactly the color I was hoping for - a very good match for the purple on my supersuit.

Because my cape has such a complicated shape, hemming it wasn't really an option, so I just cut the edge with scissors. Crepe de chine is not prone to fraying, but sealing the very edge with nail polish would still be a good idea.

To attach my cape to the rest of my costume I just sewed small snaps onto the wings and the back of my supersuit so I could remove it when I wanted. You could also attach the cape to the underside of the shoulder piece, or build a special cape attachment point into the shoulder like the one on Thor's costume.

The Next Stage in Your Costume Evolution

You've made the first step in your transformation, but superheroes are always evolving and gaining new powers. I've shown you some basic skills here that will get you a long way in your hero's journey, but if you want to take your costume to the next level here are a few skills you might want to explore.

Add Lights: Illuminating costumes is a specialty of mine, so naturally I think adding lights to a superhero outfit will only make it more super. Whether you want to add a simple illuminated element like Iron Man's Arc Reactor, or cover your whole costume with lights, there are a lot of simple lighting solutions to choose from like el wire, fiber optics, and LEDs. If you want to get a more complex understanding of wearable electronics, enroll in push_reset'sWearable Electronics Class!

Take your foam and Worbla game to the next level: there are a lot of great instructables out there that will help you master some of the more complex techniques for working with foam and Worbla. Learn how to carve foam to make large props with this Crusader Flail tutorial from JackieC29, create amazing details with finish and paint in this EVA Foam tutorial from Towering Props, and even incorporate some articulation into your Worbla costumes with this awesome Skeleton Hand tutorial from gpetit1!

For more ideas of projects to work on next, check out the future projects section at the bottom of the class page.

Assuming Your Secret Identity

Now it's time to take up the mantle of your alter ego, check your moral compass, and go out into the night to fight for justice, take over the world... or maybe or just enjoy the fact that you can fly or shoot laser beams out of your eyes! I have to admit, if I developed superpowers, I'm not sure my first instinct would be to run out an rescuing people. If I had the power to manipulate metal like Magneto, I think I'd be more likely to pursue a career in sculpture or aerospace engineering than supervillainy... but then again, making things has always been my superpower.

Show us your outfit! Post a picture of your whole superhero ensemble and tell us about your new identity!


Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project