Cosplay How-To: Captain America Purse

A few months ago, the overlords and I embarked on a fantastic adventure into the world of Avengers cosplay. We debuted our outfits at Wondercon, with much success. We thought of it as a trial run, however, for an upcoming photoshoot with a dear friend. There were a few things we had to tweak and adapt for each costume prior to the photoshoot (such as fixing the widow’s bites for the Collectress’s Black Widow cosplay, and adjusting my Loki helm), but the Collectiva Diva only had one request: a Captain America purse to go with her geek chic cosplay.

Purchasing a purse was out of the question, due to high prices. So I took the project on myself, and had a great time crafting this for Diva. You can follow this short tutorial to make your own superhero bag.

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Materials:

  • Fabric of your choice
  • Cap’s Shield Iron-on
  • Thread to match your fabric
  • Fusible interfacing
  • A kitchen towel or something similar
  • An iron
  • A sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Your imagination!

Step One:

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Depending on the size of the decal/iron-on you have purchased, create a paper pattern for the purse. Keep in mind that the size of the iron-on will be the size of the purse. I measured out a circle that was about an inch larger all around than the iron-on. You always want to make sure you have more fabric than you need, for a seam allowance.

Cut out your pattern and pin it to the fabric. Using scissors or fabric shears, cut out 4 circles. The colors are up to you—I chose red for the outside of the back panel, the Avengers print for the inside of the back panel, and cream for both sides of the front panel. I doubled up the fabric for stability, but if you prefer your panels to be thinner, you will only need 2 circles instead of 4.

Step Two:

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Pin the paper pattern to the fusible interfacing. (The interfacing serves to add further stability in between the front and back panels. I got this Pellon Fusible Lightweight interfacing at Jo-Ann’s.) You will need 4 circles, one for each piece of fabric you just cut out.

While your iron heats up to the settings mentioned on the back of the box, line up the interfacing with your fabric circles. As you can see in the photo below, mine don’t match up quite right because I made the mistake of throwing away the paper pattern and free-handing the second circle. You want to make sure that the “sticky” side (it has a rougher texture from the adhesive) is facing the “wrong” side of the fabric. For the plain colors it won’t matter, but be careful with the print. You can pin the interfacing down if you like.

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Cover the fabric and interfacing with something else. I used an clean kitchen towel. You want to make sure you have this in between the iron and the interfacing, to prevent adhesive from sticking anywhere it oughtn’t.

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Press down firmly in one spot at a time until you have covered the entire circle. Don’t shift the iron around on the towel because it can ruin the interfacing below—make sure you pick up the iron each time you move it, and set it down firmly in its new spot. After a moment or two, your fabric will be properly interfaced. Do this will all of your fabric and interfacing circles.

Step Three:

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Take the two pieces of fabric that will be the back panel of the purse, and make a little interfacing sandwich. Pin the circles together so that they can be sewn. You have to remove each pin before the needle on the sewing machine reaches it, but this added step will help ensure that your pieces don’t shift.

Do the same thing with the two pieces that will be the front panel of the purse.

Step Four:

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Follow the instructions that come with your iron-on or decal. Ours recommended that it be ironed on a hard surface, such as a kitchen counter, and not an ironing board. Make sure that your image lines up properly within the seam you just created by sewing your circles together—you don’t want to accidentally iron the design onto a seam. I chose to pair the shield with the cream-colored fabric, because then I didn’t have to worry about a darker color being seen through the white parts of the iron-on. Be very careful with this step, because you only have one iron-on, and one shot to get it right!

Step Five:

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Your front and back panels are now complete! But to connect them into a purse, you need a long strip of fabric to serve as the bottom and sides. Create another paper pattern for this step. It should be as wide as you want the purse to be (so this depends on how much you want to be able to fit in it), and long enough to create sides. For length, measure around the circle to see how far up you want the sides to go. Don’t forget to add in a seam allowance! When the paper pattern is cut, pin it to the fabric of your choice and cut out 2 strips.

Follow steps two and three to add in your interfacing and sew the strips together.

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Pin the strip to the front panel of the purse. This is done most efficiently by laying the panel face up, and the strip on top of it. Line up the seam allowances to the best of your ability, and pin at the bottom. As you work your way around the sides, you can move the strip so that it is no longer laying flat, as pictured above. This may take a few tries to get it right, so be patient.

When everything in pinned where you want it, sew your seam. Repeat the process with the back panel. Be sure that you have the Avengers print facing outward, because you’re going to turn the whole thing inside out when you’re done sewing the back panel to the strip. Sew your second seam—this one may prove more challenging than the first, so go slowly.

Turn the purse inside out; Cap’s shield should now be on the outside, with the Avengers print on the inside of the back panel.

Finishing Touches:

Clean up the purse by getting rid of the unsightly seam that will be left at the top edges where the panels were not sewn to the strip. You can do this by sewing them flat, or by using fabric glue to carefully fold them down. I chose the latter because I didn’t want to sew on top of the iron-on. (If I had this to do over again, I would have sewn that portion down prior to ironing on the decal, but it turned out fine in the end.)

Add on a strap that is the same width as the bottom and sides of the purse. My strap was made precisely to Diva’s cross-body measurements, and consists of one strip of fabric that I folded in half, sewed, and then turned inside out to hide the seam. You can attach this to the raw edges of the sides of the purse by either sewing it on, or using snaps or buttons. You can also create a button clasp to close the top of the purse.

And voila! You have your own mini-shield.

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Until next time,

The Collected Mutineer

P.S. Helpful Tips:

  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • Don’t forget to backstitch!
  • Pre-wash your fabric prior to cutting and sewing.
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