A lot of questions I’ve gotten lately keep coming back to stretchy fabrics and how to work with them. This is a quick overview of some of the common stretchy materials used for costuming and tip on how to work with them.
The important thing to remember is that all of the materials come in weights/thicknesses. The thicker the weight the more support it will give you. If you have a thick enough material you can forgo spanx or a body shaper( I love those things they give such nice support and create lovely silhouettes no mater what your size is).
Be sure to get four-way stretch material. Two-way stretch is not the best option if you are looking to make a bodysuit of some kind. Also, try and find a cheap material in the same thickness and stretchiness of the desired material you plan to work with. This can be used to make a mock up/ tester of your pattern. Once Latex is set or vinyl is sewn it can’t be undone or altered without risk of messing up your material.
Kwiksew has several dancewear patterns that are usefull for modifying into superhero suits or sailor scout suits. Here is a wonderful leotard pattern to work as the spring board for many different costumes: LEOTARD PATTERN
Also, make sure you get some fabric tape to help hold parts of your costume together while sewing. This is especially useful when putting in a zipper while sewing a slippery stretchy material or making something like gloves. To be honest, I use this to help put in zippers even when I’m working with non-stretchy material. This is the kind I use:
A few notes about Latex
It is very difficult to work with.You don’t actually sew latex, there is a weird fusion process that is used to connect pieces (basically you glue it). It takes time to set so you can’t really try it on for a fitting without waiting a day.Please be aware that it does not breath at all! You will sweat while you ware it and that sweat will have no where to go, so is just puddles in your shoes. Price wise you are looking at around $10-20 a yard depending on the thickness of the material.
Here is a super awesome website about making latex clothing and has some helpful tutorials that cover everything form latex care to crafting your own clothing: LINK
Also this is a link to a suppler in the US who also offers workshops on making latex clothing:LINK
Vinyl/PVC is similar in price and can even be a little cheaper.The good news is it can be sewn!
MJThreads,com is a suppler of both vinyl/pvc and latex. Here is a link to one of their video of how to work with vinyl/pvc and get your presser foot on your sewing machine to glide across the fabric: LINK
Spandex is one of the more affordable option, it averages around $10 a yard cost wise. Also, It will breath and it does come in a multitude of colors and isn’t as difficult to work with as latex or vinyl.
Here is some useful tips for working with Spandex: LINK
Spandex World comes highly recommended and they carry a lot of unusual styles of spandex too: LINK
Stretch Cotton is probable the most affordable of all these options. It’s available at most fabric stores and if you are having trouble finding the right shade you can dye it easily.
This is one of the most helpful video tutorial I’ve seen explaining how to work with stretchy fabric, especially if you don’t have a serger: LINK
When you first put on your cosplay:
By the end of the day: