For many cosplay, fabric pretty important. Right?
Even if you do more cosplay armor. Chances are that you'll need (at least a little) fabric anyway (for a cloak , a scarf, a sash…).
And understanding fabrics is pretty much a must in my opinion.
- It'll make your shopping easier (especially online… when you can't touch).
- But it will also make it easier to make your next project (I've already told you, knowing your materials well, that's essential).
- And above all, it'll make easier to understand your next readings on my blog. Yep. Because I often talk about fabrics. What can I say. I like fabric.
The fabrics, their names, the difference between weaving and knitting, the advantages of the different fibers, their characteristics… Honestly, I could talk to you about it for 3 days. But I will try to go to the essential.
First of all, you have the fibers: natural or manufactured . There is no right or wrong fiber. It mostly depends on what you want to do.
Natural fibers tend to breathe better, whereas manufactured fibers, which are essentially plastic, breathe as much as your artificial office plant. However, those fibers are often cheaper and really versatile.
You have natural plant fibers (like cotton and linen), which are super light but wrinkle like there's not tomorrow. And you also have natural animal fibers (like wool) which have great isothermal properties (they keep you warm in winter, but also cool in summer). However, they are not cheap.
In manufactured fibers, you have 2 categories: synthetic and chemical cellulosic. Synthetic fibers (such as polyester and nylon) are generally stronger. While cellulosic chemical fibers (like acetate and viscose), are less resistant, but tent to be inexpensive.
In any case, we often mix manufactured fibers with natural fibers to reduce costs, improve strength, reduce wrinkling, etc.
This is why it's important to rembember some of those carateristics to better know your fabric. If will influence the comfort and maintenance of your costume.
The construction method
The fiber is spun into a thread. And the threads are mounted so as to create a fabric. You mainly have 4 construction methods: woven , knit , openwork and non-woven .
📌 Woven is the most common: weft threads crossing warp threads. There are different ways of crossing the threads. We call it the fabric weave. This is what gives different effects from one fabric to another.
Woven fabrics are generally the strongest. This is the kind of fabric you want for a fairly structured project.
📌 Knitting is like your scarf or your sweater made by Grandma, but (usually) thinner… The main characteristic of knits is that they are stretchy.
But beware: not all stretch fabrics are knits. The spandex fiber gives fabric stretch too. Your stretchy and super comfy jeans: woven. Your t-shirt: knit. If you look closely at the fabric, you'll see the difference.
It's important to know that difference, because it doesn't give the same fall to your fabric. And that changes a lot of things in the final look of your project.
📌 Openwork fabrics are fabrics contructed in a way they're full of holes. We usually talk about lace, but also tulle and netting.
Those aren't really strong fabrics. We're talking about rather delicate stuff. And often decorative.
📌 Nonwovens are the only fabrics that are not mounted from thread, but directly from the fibers which are kinda bunched up together to create the fabric.
Again, not so solid as a material. But nonwovens are still very useful. We will find them more often hidden in the garment (as interfacing or interlining), to give thickness, insulation, stability and more.
I made a super guide with description for a lot of diferent type of fabric. Unfortunately, it's only available in French... for now. But I'm working on translating it for you.
Remember that fabrics are more than just "thin or thick" and "matt or shiny".
Talk to you soon.
Until then… Keep on crafting!