Cosplay 01: How I Made My Supergirl Costume

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With a strangely-increasing amount of free time on my hands, I decided to do something productive and start working on my EPIC list of costumes (currently sitting at just over 30…yikes!) After watching CBS’s Supergirl I decided that start with my favourite Lady Kryptonian, and so far she’s the first costume that I’ve pulled together from scratch! So here’s how I made my Supergirl costume:

Starting with the basics:

My sewing abilities aren’t exactly thrilling, so the thought of making myself a skirt and leotard/shirt kind of made my blood run cold. Instead I slightly cheated and bought a red skater skirt and a royal blue leotard (I really want to work on the top at some point, to make it a lot closer to the CBS Supergirl version rather than regular Supergirl, but it works for now!)

I also bought myself a yard of red stretchy material (to make the cape) and, after scouring the internet and shops for weeks, a black belt that I would later colour gold. I didn’t realise how scarce gold or yellow belts really were, until this anyway…

Creating the S Logo:

I made the S logo on the front of her top using Fabric Paints. I’ve seen versions that were sewn on, and some were shirt transfers, but I already owned these and it seemed pretty easy!

After creating a prototype logo out of paper, I taped the design onto the fabric using masking tape. Once it was all in place I gave it a final try (to double check the logo’s size) and started with the red. For this I used Dylon Fabric Paints and several different brushes (make sure you have a flat-edged brush for the edges). Each paint layer needed to be sealed before the next could go on, and it took about 5 layers to make the red really pop on the blue fabric. I know, crazy using red to go over blue, but I’m a determined person! Once this was done and sealed I used Dylon Dark Fabric Yellow paint for the outside part – because this is designed for use on darker fabrics it took less layers to achieve the colour I wanted, only 3 at the moment. Then I just had to seal that with heat and voila – one Supergirl logo!

Since then I’ve tried it on a few times and the paint has started to crack a little bit, but it’s nothing that can’t be touched up.

My final adjustment to the shirt was to add two hoops of elastic at my wrists so that it would loop around my thumb. The shirt was a little too long and moved a bit, so these help it stay in place a lot better.

Creating The Cape:

At first I considered buying a pre-made cape, but the existing Supergirl ones were mostly either ridiculously short or dubbed as ‘sexy’. Instead I found a pretty awesome Superman cape tutorial and adapted it to Supergirl’s slimmer design (well, mostly adapted anyway, but more on that later!) You can find the original tutorial here, so thank you mystery person on the Internet! The cape, as previously mentioned, was made from a stretchy red fabric and measured to the bottom of my knees (I’m 5’5″ for reference), so a yard was plenty of material.

Unfortunately I didn’t take too many pictures during the cape-creation process, but it basically went like this:

  1. I measured my teeny-tiny shoulders and cut out a shoulder/neck line.
  2. I created folds in the top of the cape that would shape it and create the wavy folded design.
  3. After LOTS of adjusting and stabbing myself with pins, I sewed this basic cape shape onto a strap of black elastic – this was my harness and where my buckle attached for easier release! (Again thanks mystery Internet guy for that part – it was a real choking-saver!)
  4. I used some leftover red material to cover the elastic that people would see, and also to cover the edges of the folds, making a neat cape collar.
  5. Everything in this project is hand-sewn, including all the hems on the cape – probably the most time consuming task, but it looks pretty good!
  6. The folds were then padded out with the inside lining of a small quilt – the tutorial said it would hold them in place for pictures and, basically, make them look more epic. It really did! (Despite the many injuries this part caused).

At the moment I still have to put some red material over the white padding, but other than that it’s finished! One thing I didn’t really think about is that SG’s cape is different to Superman’s – it’s much thinner in design and seems to come from two points (like it would connect in a V on your front) rather than over the shoulders, so this took a little more fiddling to get it looking better. We can’t all get everything right with a first project, right?

Supergirl’s Belt:

To date I’ve made 3 versions of this belt, and the third version was by far the best. I bought a slightly too-long black leather belt and snipped the buckle off. After measuring myself and making a brilliant paper-version (primarily for the V-angle at the front) I transferred that to the leather belt and cut both ends at an angle, so that they fit together as a V. These were then super-glued together, and back cut open so that it fit around my waist.

To make it gold I first removed the shine and top layer by using methylated spirits – you only need a TINY amount and just brush it over the top quite quickly. Once that was dry I painted it using gold spray-paint (simply because where I live has no craft shops and it was designed to be flexible). I used a generic brand and it covered the black smoothly with 1 coat, and I finished it with a coat of sealant once everything was dry.

Finally the belt needed a way to attach together: at the moment I have it holding together with a section of velcro running across the back. It’s quick, simple and works well even if I’m moving. I additionally added some extra velcro to the sides of the belt and the corresponding area on the skirt – this would hold the entire belt in place while I’m walking around and hopefully help it stay during pictures.

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The belts drying – the bottom belt was a little battered and the paint didn’t take too well, so I used this as a test for the angles.

Shiny Red Boots…:

The final massive part of her costume were the red boots, and they were probably the worst part of this project. I spent a long time scouring the Internet and shops for red boots, and eventually moved to other colours in the hopes of painting them. I found some perfect black boots online – they even had the over-the-knee part similar to Riding Boots, and only cost £10! Bargain! They were black, so I ended up trying to paint those too.

I eventually settled with Neopaque Red leather paint which not only looked awesome but promised to work on leather and synthetic leather without issue. I followed the same steps as my leather belt: prep it with spirits to remove the sheen and then paint it a layer at a time, allowing ample time to dry between each coat. The boots currently sit on 3 coats and don’t look too bad, apart from the glaring fact that they’re more of a pink than red…. It honestly bugs me more than it probably should, and I’m looking at using another red paint to go over the top and give them the Crimson finish they deserve. Once that’s all done though, I’ll finish it with a sealant and BOOM! Supergirl boots are a GO!

That’s pretty much it! I still have work to do on the boots, but once that’s done I only need the blonde wig and to add some blue tights and it’s all sorted. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, for my first made-from-scratch costume. Now to wear it out and see how it goes!!! 😀 Hopefully this will help people if you’re looking how to build your own Supergirl costume.

Thanks for reading! 😀

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