A few days ago, I was at my local fabric shop looking for spandex materials for some of my new cosplays. Of course, I usually cosplay comic book superheroes and we all know spandex is a favorite of superheroes, they’ve gotta be able to move in their costumes. Not to mention, spandex is a great material to work with because it leaves room for error since it stretches. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the materials I needed or the variety I was looking for. Hero costumes are usually very bright and shiny but most fabric stores only carry spandex fabric that has a dull sheen. Luckily Spandex World was there for me and I cannot praise their customer service enough. They are a fabric company based in New York that have some of the greatest spandex fabrics I have ever seen. They also send you 10 free swatches on your choice of fabrics so you can tell if what you think you want to buy is what you really want to buy.
This is a picture of some of the swatches I was looking at for my upcoming Huntress costume. I realized that, like me, a lot of people don’t know the difference in certain spandex fabrics. In order to not waste your 10 swatches, I will explain the difference between some of the major spandex fabrics used in costuming. Starting from the left of the picture to the right of the picture the swatch materials are;
1. White 4-way stretch spandex
2. Matte Polyvinyl 2-way stretch spandex
3. Shiny Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex
4. Magenta 4-way stretch spandex
5. Shiny Purple Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex
6: Black Pleather 4-way stretch spandex
7: Black Matte Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex
8: Black Shiny Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex
2-Way stretch: Fabric that can stretch up and down but not side to side
4-Way Stretch: Fabric that stretches horizontally and vertically
Polyvinyl Fabric: Fabric that is made of plastic and is easy to manipulate, pleather is plastic that has a leather texture, plastic fabrics are difficult to breathe in because they are not very porous
All these fabrics are as stretchy as regular spandex, so they’re all fairly easy to manipulate if you make a mistake on them. The polyvinyl fabrics, may not look like it, but are really stretchy and a little hard to breathe in because of the plastic covering that covers the spandex material and prevents air from coming through. Matte polyvinyl materials that are usually just called vinyl fabrics have a very dull sheen, even less so than regular spandex. Shiny vinyl is very shiny and indeed a costume fabric, be careful when working with this fabric as it can tend to shed when used under a heavy duty sewing machine. Regular spandex fabrics are stretchy, porous but vary in sheen. While vinyl can make your costume pop, keep in mind that working with new fabrics like vinyls can be time-consuming and hard to wear for long periods of time.
I hope this helps those of you who’d like a breakdown of fabrics that aren’t readily available to you. Comment if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer!