Child’s Dragon Cape DIY

DSCF5130 (2)Costumes can be tricky, especially for children and especially for outdoor events. Although everyone wants their costumes to be cool and comfortable, dressing children has the added difficulty of juvenile pickiness. If it itches, it won’t stay on. If it gets too hot, it might be randomly discarded.

With such high demands, it can be difficult to make a kid-approved costume quickly (or at all). It is therefore my great pleasure to present a kid-tested and parent-approved dragon costume DIY.

You will need:

  • A needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins (straight or safety)
  • Heavy and/or stiff costume satin (or other shiny material)
  • Felt
  • A candle
  • Velcro strips
  • Iron-on gems/decals (optional)

Instructions:

DSCF5096First, measure your dragon. My dragon had a 38” wingspan, and I decided the center of the cape should come about 13 inches to his middle back.

Only buy fabric once you know of much you need. The color of the cloth and felt you buy is up to you, but I highly recommend using textured felt. I found a perfect brown felt with an alligator skin texture, and it added a lot to the finished look of the costume.

Take your fabric and fold it half the length of your dragon’s wingspan. Adding a few extra inches won’t hurt. Measure and mark the length of the middle back you measured earlier along the fold. Working out from the fold, pin a rough pattern for your wings. The pins will keep the two layers of fabric together so the finished wings will be symmetrical, and you can mess around with the pattern until you’re satisfied. I altered mine a few times and ended up designing more dramatic dips and spikes than the version in the picture. Make sure to make a dip at the very top where the neck will go. This will circumvent uncomfortable chafing and prickliness for your dragon. Once you’re satisfied with your design and you’ve triple checked that the fold is where you think it is, cut out along your pattern. When you unfold the fabric, you should have a perfect wingspan.

DSCF5097Cut four strips from the left over material, making sure they are long enough to go around your dragon’s biceps and wrists and still overlap.

Take your wings and the four strips and carefully singe all raw edges with a candle. Keep the fabric at the very edge of the flame and remember that it’s better to go back and re-singe a portion than set your wings on fire. Be careful, because the melted edge of the fabric can be hot to the touch the first few seconds after it has passed through the flame. Always practice basic fire safety.

DSCF5104Take your felt and make spikes. The top spike should be a triangle with a rounded bottom, but all others can be simple, elongated pentagons or flat arrow-shapes (think triangle + rectangle). Ultimately, the shape and length of the spikes is up to you. It might be worth spending an extra buck so you have spare felt to play around with for experimentation. Go ahead and make the spikes for the tail as well, adding a special shape, if you so desire, for the end.

Using your needle and thread, tack the spikes to the back of the wings, starting from the bottom edge of the middle back. Layer each spike over the next, tacking the corners closest to the point of each spike to the corners farthest from the point on the spike before it. The point of each spike should overlap the flat area of the spike below it. The rounded spike you made crowns the top of the spike-line, rounded side up, towards the neck of your dragon.

The tail follows the same pattern as the back spikes, except the spikes are only stitched to each other, and not tacked onto the satin fabric. While the tail can be an extension of the back spikes, I chose to make a small gap and attached the top of the tail to the inside of the wings.

DSCF5098Take another piece of felt and fold it in half. We will be using the same mirror-image symmetry trick we used last time. Cut a curved ‘V’ into the fabric, making it nice and wide. Add some jagged points (or bumps, or whatever floats your boat) and unfold the felt. Tack the edges on the wings, equidistant from the middle. Be sure to leave lots of room for your dragon’s head to through. This piece will help the wings stay settled on your dragon’s shoulders.

DSCF5101Tack the strips of fabric you made earlier to the inside edge of the wings (one at each wingtip, and one half way to the middle on each side). Make sure both ends of each strip are free. Stitch on some Velcro to the strips. Be careful that the rough side of the Velcro isn’t angled to rub against your dragon’s arms. The strap that comes over the top of the arm should have the rough Velcro stitched on the top. The soft side that comes around the bottom of the arm should have the soft Velcro stitched to the bottom.

Congratulations! All that’s left is cosmetic accessories. I used a pack of gold, silver, and diamond iron-on gems to DSCF5111 (2)simulate scales and imbedded treasure on my dragon’s wings. Another option would be to add strips of felt from the neck to the tips of each point in the wings, giving the illusion of bone structure. Or you could do both. That’s something for you and your dragon to decide.

If you and your dragon are going to have a long day out and about, raiding castles and charming peasants, I suggest using safety pins to fix the wings in place for the ideal comfort of your dragon (lest the collar-piece slide up and rub against the neck).

Now that your dragon is properly attired, go forth and steal some hearts!

Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.


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