Posts Tagged: fabric



Every now and then I get the urge to impart wisdom that no one has asked for. So, for my fellow cosplayers, some tips for the novice on giving your cosplays a little more of that IT factor we love. 

  • Iron. Iron your tissue/paper/fabric pattern. Iron your seams, and your fabric if it’s wrinkled before you cut. Invest in a decent iron and some ironing hams/sleeves. It’s a really easy way to improve the look of your pieces and give it a polished look.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut your own bias binding. It’s simple, a little time consuming, but 100% worth it. There are loads of tutorials on how to do this, and being able to match your binding to other elements in your costume is really helpful. Bias binding, if you don’t know, is cut so that it is able to curve around your edges and meet at points, so that the point on Anna’s coronation bodice is so sharp you can stab Hans with it. 
  • If your hems tend to get a little wonky (and mine do) use horsehair braid. It gives you an even, beautiful hem that works on straight or curved hems. That circle skirt you made today? Horsehair braid will give it an edge so beautiful your grandma will cry over it. I use it on everything- knits, cottons, satins, etc. It will also give your skirts a beautiful curve at the hem and make you look like a master at what you do.
  • Transfer paper is your friend. Cheap and plentiful, you can embroidery or sew anything you want without having to draw directly on your fabric. It’s chalked paper and will brush away as you work. 
  • "Inappropriate fabric" can be perfect, too. Right color/texture, but too light? Flatline that baby. You can use organza, muslin, silk, just about anything to adjust the weight.
  • Keep a journal/diary of your work. I’m nearing the end of my first costume journal, but I started it in August 2010. Inside is nearly everything I’ve sewn since then, many with detailed notes about measurements, fabric, construction, and so on. I want to make another corset like the one I wore to TRF in 2011? I can look it up, go through my notes, and make it better since my skill has grown since then. It’s nostalgic, but extremely helpful sometimes. 
  • Ask for help. I’m here, ready and willing to teach you what I can. And I’m not the only one. Ask me about technique, how I did something, where I found a reference- anything. So many cosplayers are willing and eager to help you get better. The more we all help each other, the more our craft grows. We’re here for each other.

(via learning-to-sew)

Source: curiousthimble



**This method works best with a smart phone!**

So you wanna make cosplay and eat food too huh?  Well tough luck kid cosplay is EXPENSIVE so- Oh wait you’re buying from Jo-Anns*?  Well then you just might get that tulle AND those tacos.  
Listen up, there are four main steps to saving money!!

1. Sales
2. JoAnn’s Coupons
3. Competitor Coupons
4. Organization

Which forms the clever acronym SJCO!  Wait that’s not really anything but ANYWAYS…

1. Sales

JoAnns frequently puts items, especially fabrics on sale!  You can check your paper mailer or the website to find out in advance what will be on sale!  Holidays are an especially prime time for sales (Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, they do sales for everything!)  Sometimes it’s worth waiting a week or two until a big sale hits. (But be prepared for a crowded store!)
A word of caution on sale items, you CANNOT use a percent off item coupon on them!  An item can only be discounted once!

2. JoAnn’s Coupons

THIS, is where you can save the big $$$ with a bit of legwork!
JoAnns releases coupons on four main platforms:

-Paper mailer
-Smartphone App (iphone and android, titled Jo-Ann)

Pick the one easiest for you right?  WRONG.  You can use coupons from ALL FOUR AT THE SAME TIME.  As long as your coupons have different serial codes you’re good to go!  SO SIGN UP FOR THEM ALL ASAP!  Also don’t forget to fill in your birthday month (or whatever month you want a 20% off total purchase coupon!)
Phone (text) coupons are also an option, but they’re infrequent and I’ve never gotten much use out of them personally.  Also sometimes there are flyers for future sales laying around in store, grab them when you can!

!!Also in store you can sign up for a student discount card with a valid student id that is good for 10% off total purchase, which is reusable!!

3. Competitor Coupons

JoAnns accepts (percent off item) coupons from Hanncock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels.  These can easily be found on their websites, and additionally you can sign up for their email programs/apps!  The same policy on differing barcodes applies (I believe HobLob only puts out one code at a time).

4. Organization

So you’ve got a LOT of coupons by now!  And most of them aren’t even paper.  Do you know what will make you cashier furious, and less likely to work with you?***  Trying to find and load them all at the register while a line grows behind you.  
Avoid this by screen capping everything with your handy dandy smart phone the night before!  The cashier just needs to be able to see and scan the coupon off your phone, it doesn’t actually have to be in the app/site/email.

Now you’re going to go one step further and sort your coupons!  Sort by:

Type!  Some coupons are for fabric or craft only, these go first
Amount!  You want to use the biggest amounts first (typically 50% off)
Source! JoAnns coupons should always be used before competitor’s.
Kind!  Use your item coupons before percent off total!  ONLY ONE PERCENT OFF TOTAL COUPON CAN BE USED.  If you don’t have one don’t forget about your student discount card!

Congrats you’re now an extreme (craft) couponer!  And believe me the savings can be extreme!


57% savings! (Regular price total would have been $197.26)

*I encourage you to try and coupon and save w/ anything you buy for cosplay, but this guide was written for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores specifically.

**You may consider making a separate email for coupons, JoAnns sends emails ever other day, and you can also use the same email to sign up for coupons from Hobby Lobby, Hanncock, and Michaels!

***Remember you are asking your cashier to do a lot more work and take a lot more time on your transaction!  Please be kind and polite to them, it will make everything go smoother. <3

P.S. Some stores may have their own policies (my methods should work at most!), never hesitate to ask a manager about what you can and can’t do!

P. P. S. I am not a JoAnns employee, just a cosplayer w/ limited funds!

(via youcancosplay21)

Source: chubcakes


Many of my students come into class professing how much they hate to iron and I get it, I really do. I, on the other hand,  love  to iron. The trick to happy ironing lies in having the right tools. Here are just a couple of things you can keep in your studio to make ironing easier and more effective:

You can’t sew without an iron and you can’t iron without water. Heat is all well and good but it is the water molecules (as steam) that penetrate the fibers on a molecular level and “change the memory” of the fabric: ie, setting the folds or flattening out wrinkles. Most irons come with a water reserve and can be set to steam automatically. Unfortunately, the rubber seal that keeps the water inside household irons… breaks down with water. (??? That’s just bad planning.) I find it helpful to empty my iron at the end of my work sessions into a cup* or preempt the problem entirely by keeping water in a squirt bottle instead. When ironing, you can spritz your fabric and iron directly to achieve steam.  

Most professional studios use distilled water in their irons: the extra minerals in tap water can build up on your iron over time and eventually smoodge on your fabric. If you don’t want to bother with distilled, though, just keep on eye on how clean your iron is and keep a bottle of Iron-Off handy.

*Note: leaving a cup of water near your iron is also excellent for watering your studio cat.

Vinegar Water
Ratio 1:1, used to remove persistent wrinkles
Instructions:  Fill a squirt bottle with the mixture and apply liberally to obnoxious wrinkles. Iron until dry.
Warning: may cause uncontrollable cravings for fish and chips.

Vodka Water
Ratio 1:1, used to remove odors from fabric.
This is a particularly good trick for garments. (BO is kind of a problem in theater.) Like with the vinegar, mix liquids in a squirt bottle and spray on stinky fabric. Iron until dry.
Warning: keeping vodka in your studio can be tempting. Sewing drunk may lead to excessive seam ripping.

Happy ironing!

(via inmysewingbox)

Source: fiberistanora
  • Question: Where do you get your fabrics? - Anonymous
  • Answer:


    Hi Anon!

    I wish I could answer this better for you, but we get fabric from everywhere. When we go into the store it’s usually JoAnn’s because there are several nearby. We also check Hobby Lobby sometimes but they have a bit of a weird selection. :) Hopefully we’ll get a chance to head down to a fabric warehouse near Chicago that I know about because we need some really specialized fabrics for some of our next projects! 

    MOST of our fabric shopping happens online though - It’s much easier to get the color/weight you want in my opinion. We’re addicted to swatches so that we can see and touch the fabric before ordering yards and yards of it, so unless it’s a last minute costume, we do some shopping around. :) 

    Here are a few of the pages we’ve bought fabric from/gotten swatches/maybe I was just looking at things there and we didn’t actually buy anything but I would in the future given the opportunity:

    Also Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy have a lot of unique fabrics, too! Don’t count them out! 

    I hope this kinda helped? We’re kinda all over the board for fabric shopping. :) 

Source: learning-to-sew


What Is Grain?

Fabric has a grain. What does this mean? Well, like many other things, such as hair, wood, fingernails, and even meat, there is a certain structure within a substance called a grain, and knowing how to use it can help you a lot. For instance, cutting meat perpendicular to the grain creates sharper blockier pieces instead of globby bits. You don’t usually brush UP your hair because there are little scales that grow DOWN your hair. And people may tell you that you should file your nails or sand a piece of wood in the same direction instead of back and forth because it’s more productive and less damaging.

Even meat has a grain!

Grain Lines In Fabric

A fabric grain is created by the fibers itself. In virtually all fabrics (and there are exceptions), fibers are woven perpendicular to each other, like a grid. There are vertical and horizontal lines. On most fabrics you can find a selvage: this is the finished edge of the fabric, where it cannot unravel, and can be identified by having a different texture, and sometimes different color. There may be words or letters printed here, and oftentimes little dots appear as well. The selvage is a very very important guide when it comes to knowing the grain of the fabric. The selvage is always vertical, or is the length of the fabric. Perpedicular to it are the horizontal fibers, and that is the width. The fabric cannot be wider than the selvage to selvage- that is the width that remains constant for that fabric. Fabrics come in many widths. However, the length is your yardage- when you order three yards of fabric, that’s three yards in fabric length, plus the however many inches in width that the fabric comes in.


The fibers that run the length of the fabric are called warp. The fibers that run the width and are perpendicular to the selvage is called the weft or filling. If you go diagonally on the fabric, that is the bias. A true or perfect bias is half way between the warp and the weft, or is at a 45 degree angle.

Why Do Grain Lines Matter? 

Now, you may be asking yourself, why does any of this matter? It’s just a bunch of mumbo jumbo, I just want to cut my fabric, it looks the same in every direction. Hold your horses, even if it looks the same, it most certainly is not the same in every direction. For some fabrics that have obvious patterns or textures, if you lay your pattern pieces and cut in any way you wish then when you put it together, the patterns may not line up. If you’re making a pinstripe jacket, for example, you wouldn’t want your sleeve to have horizontal stripes and your jacket to have vertical ones. Unless it is supposed to be that way, but usually that isn’t the case, and you’d still have to think about that before cutting the fabric.

Cutting on the Grain Lines

On your storebought pattern pieces there are straight lines with arrows called grainlines. This should nearly always be placed perpendicular to the selvage when cutting fabric unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise. Here’s the meat and potatoes folks, if you do NOT do this you are going to risk giving yourself some major headaches later on. Some fabrics that have two way stretch, such as certain denims are best used if you make sure the stretch goes horizontally on the leg to make movement and fit more comfortable. Similarly, if you mix up your stretch direction and cut jacket pieces in varying grain lines, when you sew, some pieces may stretch and not line up when the corresponding piece does not stretch, making it difficult to match pieces correctly. Most storebought patterns will give you a guide, based on the width of your fabric, in which you can arrange your pieces so as to waste as little space/fabric as possible.


Utilizing the Bias Cut

And the bias cut? Oh the bias cut. On almost all fabrics, the bias cut stretches. It has the most give, and the most stretch. Try it on a non-stretch fabric- pull it vertically, horizontally, and then diagonally. The weave should stretch only on the diagonal, either slightly or quite a bit actually. While cutting ont he bias can mess you up if you’re trying to make a simple blouse or jacket, this can be very helpful for certain garments and is used a lot in haute couture to improve the garment fit and drape. It reduces drag lines and also makes a more comfortable fit, but since you’re cutting the piece diagonally, it tends to take up more space and thus more fabric. Some full length dresses need TWICE as much fabric than they would if they were cut lengthwise, equalling several yards needed in fabric, up to 6 or even 9.

There’s also a magical thing called bias tape. You can buy this at most sewing stores, and also make your own, and as the name implies, it is cut on the bias.


While I don’t expect everyone to mind their grain lines (even I cheat sometimes if it’s urgent), it helps a lot to know, especially if you are using a fabric with a more visual grain, such as stripes, or with a certain print or texture. So if you were anything like me, back when I would cut off the ugly selvage, and totally ignore the grain lines and just try to fit as many pattern pieces together like tetris blocks that I could, now you know how to use those things to your sewing and cosplaying advantage!

(via learning-to-sew)

Source: momokurumi


Have you ever seen a fabric in a weird width and not known how much to buy?

Fabrics come in standard widths but there are times when you’ll find a lovely fabric in an odd width. Vintage fabrics, for example, are often quite narrow.

Instead of purchasing too little fabric or passing it by because you can’t figure out the right amount, we suggest printing out this handy yardage conversion chart. Or, keep a copy of this image or something siilar on your phone. Keep it with you when you’re shopping for fabric. It’s not foolproof, since every pattern is laid out differently, but it’s a pretty reliable way to estimate.

Sewing with slippery or sheer fabric can be daunting if you’ve never tried it. Just like anything, though, all it takes is a bit of know-how and practice to get it just right. Here are a few pointers we’ve put together to help you out.
  • Use a spray stabilizer or starch to stiffen the fabric before cutting.
  • Heavy pattern weights spread across the fabric will keep it from slipping around.
  • Place tissue paper beneath the fabric to help keep slipping at a minimum.
  • Silk pins are the best pins for the job. They have thin shafts and very sharp points which keep them from snagging the woven threads.
  • Pin frequently along a seam.
  • Sew using the correct type of needle and thread for the job. You’ll most likely need a thin needle and an all-purpose thread.
  • French seams are the best for sheer fabrics as they encompass the raw edges and look professional.
  • Sew a simple hem with the fabric folded over twice and stitched in place, or a rolled hem, which is perfect for thin, sheer fabrics.

Linen, made from flax fibers, has been used for centuries. Because it has a looser weave, pure linens allow air to pass quickly through the natural fibers and helps keep the skin cool. Moisture also evaporates quickly from linen garments, making it an ideal material for summer clothing. Lightweight linens often have a lovely drape and are more free flowing than cotton, but it is also notorious for wrinkling easily. If this is bothersome, look for a polyester blend. The synthetic fibers will resist wrinkling better and add some stability to the natural flax fiber.

Fine linens are quite smooth in texture, while poor quality linen will have a lumpy texture and irregular bumps. Be sure to test the drape and hand-feel of the fabric to ensure you purchase the correct weight for your garment. Lightweight linen works best for blouses and dresses. Medium to heavy weight linens are better from skirts, pants, jackets and some dresses.