I'm very happy to report that at 5:14 EST, I finished my prototype Superman Returns cape. Much rejoicing is currently in process.
I must confess first that I was losing faith in my sewing machine. I've been growing continually frustrated with its apparent limitations, and the fact that the string keeps breaking.
Turns out, like any tool, you need to know how to use in order to get good results out of it. I'm VERY fortunate to have purchased this sewing machine from a seller who is really happy, willing, and able to provide all kinds of support for his product. And quick too! I've been firing off question after question, and he belts answers right back. My biggest complaint over the last two days has been the machines seeming inability to sew through a couple layers of the cape fabric. The seller recommended a few settings to switch, and more importantly to switch to a size 18 heavy duty needle. I went down to Jo-Anne's and got one this morning.
Allz I can say is WOW! Once I put that needle on and jacked the tension all the way up to 9 (no, not to 11) I was PLOWING through multiple layers of the stuff. It was sick. Knowing that I and my machine were now working toward the same goal, it was time for the final assembly of the cape.
A tip I picked up from a website was to use binding clips to hold your fabric together. They are faster to put in and remove than pins, and less hassle too. And considering the thickness of this fabric loaf, I figured they would work great. I picked up a pack of fifty from Office Depot for like three bucks, and stacked up and positioned my material just how I wanted to sew it.
And that was really all there was to it. I had the final assembly done in just a couple of minutes. I ran my seam over it twice, just to reiforce it, and it turned out great. Here's the final piece.
And a close up of the collar.
Please disregard the color differences. Though I am happy with the outer shell and inner lining of the cape, the stabilizer and cape clips are all wrong. Just temporary.
A few thoughts as a post-mortem on the prototype cape. First of all, I'm VERY happy to have it done. I'm also very happy that I made a prototype, and did not put all my eggs in one basket for this. If I was working against a timeline and this was my final result, I would be in trouble.
Why? Overall, I'm not happy with the weight. The thing is frickin' heavy. So much so that I would need to devise some kind of rig under the costume to keep it in place, and it would probably be wildly uncomfortable to wear after an hour or so. I have two things I can do to remediate this. First of all, I'm working on the opacity of my latex. Regular readers will be familiar with my struggles in this area. I think if I can get the latex down to three layers plus an adhesion layer, that will cut the weight down significantly. I think this cape has something like six or seven layers. Second, the inner lining is pretty heavy. I need to switch to a lighter weight material. Now that I am much more comfortable with the process of dying, a lot of opportunities have opened for me. All I really need to do is find a fabric that I like in white, and I can make it happen.
I also learned a lot about how to assemble the cape, and have acquired all of the tools and knowledge I need to do it.
Overall, it's been a really great experience. Now I just need to work on building my NEXT and final cape.