Friday, February 6, 2015

Look! Up in the air! It's a shirt! It's a book bag!

...It's a SuperCape!

Our library recently received a wonderful surprise donation of book bags made from recycled t-shirts. The book bags were provided by students at Wake Robin Elementary School here in Bellevue.  Their club, the K-Kids, is led by teacher Shannon Stover and is sponsored by the Bellevue/Offutt Kiwanis Club.

Basically, the book bag is made by cutting off the neckline and sleeves of a t-shirt.  The shirt can be turned inside out or left as is. Cuts are made along the bottom of the shirt and then the strips are tied together.  The shirt can then function as a bag, with the arm holes acting as the handles.

I immediately loved the idea, but my mind kept thinking about other ways to use the bags. Just in time for Summer Reading Program 2015 ("Every Hero Has a Story") I came up with 

Step 1:
Select a shirt for this project.  I found that ones with writing or a design on the front AND the back are not as usable.  Cut off the collar and the sleeves.

Step 2:
Lay the shirt out flat and begin making short cuts along the bottom seam.  Continue making parallel cuts until you have small strips cut all the way across the hem.

Step 3: Tie each strip on the front to a corresponding strip on the back.

Step 4:
Use permanent markers, glitter glue, puff paints, etc. to decorate the shirt with words, symbols and pictures reminiscent of superheroes.  [Hint: If you can't think of designs, try doing a Google image search for "Superhero Words".  There are countless suggestions!]

Step 5: Affix 2 sticky-back Velcro® fasteners (1 hook and 1 loop) to the neckline so that the edges overlap to fasten around the neck.

[Note: Do NOT use heavy duty-grade Velcro. This could present a choking hazard. Standard Velcro should keep the cape on your child, but will release easily if the cape gets caught on something.  As parents and teachers, always use common sense - and child supervision when you think it is warranted.]

As an alternative, you could put 2 sticky-back Velcro® loop pieces on the shoulders of your child's shirt.  Add 2 hook pieces to the cape so that the Velco® pieces line up and fasten.

Step 6: Now you are ready for your child to try on their SuperCape!

Step 7:
Be certain that the SuperCape fits well! Heroes can't be slowed down by ill-fitting attire. Have your hero take a spin around the house just to make sure there will be no unexpected wardrobe malfunctions.  Heroes have been known to lose valuable seconds while adjusting their cape or straightening their mask!

Step 8: Let your child wear their cape proudly to the library. When selections have been made and it's time to check out, your child can whisk off their Supercape and... voilĂ !  A terrific book bag for the trip back home!

If your super hero would prefer something other than the fringed look, you can make a straight edged bottom by sewing the hem instead of cutting the edge into strips.  For the sewing-impaired (yep, that's me!) you can run a generous ribbon of hot glue along the bottom edge, then go along the edge, pressing the fabric together using a pencil or similar tool.  This photo shows what it might look like using hot glue.

I'd love to hear from you if you like this idea, have any design alterations you might suggest, and/or how you might use this for SRP 2015: "Every Hero Has a Story"!

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