hayleecape2.jpgIt’s late fall, there’s not so much to do in the garden anymore, and a girl’s fancy turns to…sewing superhero capes?

Once upon a time many years ago, I looked out my front door in the afternoon as the kids from the school up the street were walking home. At that moment, a boy of about seven or eight years old strutted past my house looking extremely pleased with himself. He was pulling his pack on wheels behind him while his chest was puffed out and his superhero cape fluttered behind him. I was struck by how happy and confident this little guy looked, and a thought immediately popped into my head, “Every kid should have a superhero cape!”

The idea sat in the back of my mind until about a year and a half ago. I had a nephew and “honorary” nephew (a friend’s son) who were turning three within days of each other. I drew up a pattern for a cape and revised it until I was happy with it. Of course, it would have to be easy for small hands to put on and take off. For safety reasons, the neck should attach with velcro that would release if the cape got caught on something or was pulled. I wanted the capes to be made out of the bold primary colors that kids (and I) love. They would be made out of 100% cotton for easy machine washing and drying. And oh! I could make them reversible with the child’s initial on one side and some sort of generic “superkid” logo on the other side. The logos would each be two colors, giving me a super opportunity to really get good at satin stitch applique, a skill I’d been wanting to hone. Finally, I churned out two very snazzy superhero capes, one with an “R” for Ryan and another with an “A” for Andre.

I was tickled to learn that Ryan liked his cape so much he asked if he could wear it to school. And later that year, he insisted on wearing it for his Halloween costume too. I got terrific pictures of Andre wearing his cape in “action shots” from his birthday. I was addicted. Later that year, I made one with “H” for my niece Haylee, and was rewarded with a photo in which she insisted she be running (so I actually received several pictures, many in which she was just a blur).

My “superhero cape for every kid” campaign was off to a good start! I continued to make capes for nephews and nieces in the three-to-seven-year-old range. Word got out, and I was getting requests to make capes for other children. After some urging, I opened my shop at Etsy so I could take orders for capes from anyone in the country (or the world, actually). For $27 (plus shipping), I make a custom, reversible cape. I decided that while making confidence-boosting capes for children at home, I wanted my project to also benefit other children who need much much more than just a fun confidence booster. So I am committed to donating $5 from every cape I make and sell to the Africa Vulnerable Children Project at Living Compassion.

Superhero capes are hands-down my favorite thing to make. Honestly, I smile and hum the whole time I’m sewing! So if you or anyone you know needs a cape for a young person in your life, go check out my shop on Etsy for ordering details.

And for more information on Living Compassion’s Africa Vulnerable Children Project, visit www.livingcompassion.org/africa/