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Elrowiel: For the Love of Fabric! Part 1

We all love fabric as costumers but sometimes it can be difficult deciding just which fabric to use. Elrowiel of Green Jello Cosplay is here to help! She had so much to say on fabric that I making this a two part feature! Check back for part two next week!

Elrowiel as Princess Zelda in the front cosplaying with
Renna Mira as Midna. - Twilight Princess video game
Photo by VFire
Elrowiel is a very talented seamstress and has some gorgeous dresses and cosplays. I like to think of her as the Queen of Fabric! Some of her dresses get pretty near to having about 100 yards fabric and of hard work put into them. Her attention to detail really shows and her knowledge of fabric is certainly extensive. Please enjoy part one of her advice on fabrics and their uses!

Places you can find Elrowiel

Interview with Elrowiel on Fabric

When did you first learn how to sew?
My family is a long line of seamstresses, but I didn't really start to sew for myself until I was about 16. I took a sewing class in high school. I learned the basics, but didn't have a ton of interests in it until I found cosplay.

Time Witch Yuuko: XXXHolic - Photo by Tenshi 18 yards of cream 200 thread count combed cotton sateen for ruffles 15 yards of fleece back satin for upper fabric 15 yards black poly lining material 35 yards goldish colored ribbon 3 yards gold heavy decorator fabric for applique 3 1/2 yards gold faux silk for bows 24 yards steele boning for the bustles under dress 19 yards canvas for bustles / corset/ underlining 17 yards white organdy for pettticoat 10 yards white crinoline for under petticoat
When it comes to planning and making a cosplay, fabric choices are always what set me back. Many costumers get caught up on that, especially newcomers. How do you choose your fabrics? What are the differences between one fabric and another?

I try to start by thinking about what the character would be in real life. These were real people, they wore real clothes, and it’s my job to make a museum replica of that clothing. I also think about the effects the fabric needs to do. Does it need to drape and move in a specific way? I try to narrow it down with those questions first.

Take Princess Serenity for example. Her dress is very flowy. It has a very specific drape and flow as you move. I needed a wet/heavy look that still flowed when you walked/ran. It needed to flutter. So, It takes a large amount of fabric to totally accomplish that. Fabric wise, Chiffon is going to be the best match. It's smooth, and sheer, and drapes really beautifully. Now, if you tried to make that in a heavier fabric like Satin, it wouldn't flow the same way.

Different Fabrics: Part 1
Time Witch Yuuko: XXXHolic - Photo by Muzo Gul

15 yards Black Stretch Satin (very low sheen)

5 yards white Satin Peau de Soie (for applique)

15 yards purple matte satin (reverse side used)
5 yards Craft fuse for Applique
3 yards canvas for foundation piece
15 yards petticoat netting for underlining
1 1/2 yards high performance knit for boots
1 yard flesh tone polyester interlock for leggings
Can you give a summary of common fabrics and their uses?

Fabric can be broken down into two categories: Content and Weave. For example, you can get a satin weave but it can be made of Polyester, Silk, and even Cotton (usually referred to as Cotton Sateen). So, it's important to know the difference between them.

In special occasion fabrics you will typically find Satin, Taffeta, Organza (or Organdy,) tulle, Crepe Back Satin, Stretch Satin, Crepe, Chiffon and Georgette. In most fabric stores you are going to find them in a combination of Polyester, Acetate and Nylon; with Polyester being the most prevalent. Not all poly satins are created equal. It ranges from Costume satin (super shinny and light) to Peau De Soie (matte and heavy), with everything in between.

Each fabric will have a weight and drape difference. You may be making a ball gown, but depending on how you want it to look, move and drape, you may pick a different fabric. Satin is what I consider a mid-heavy drape. Dull Satin (sold in Joann's Casa Collection and Hancock's BFF collection), is a mid-weight fabric. It comes in lots of colors and can be lined for weight (something I do quite a lot).

Cardinal Caterina Sforza: Trinity Blood - Photo by Nivi 18 yards Red Faux Silk (used a lining as well as top fabric) 5 Yards Gold Faux Silk for all applique 4 yards plush cotton Velvet 5 yards Satin Peau de Soie for skirt 30 yards or various venice laces 3 yards organdy for white underlayer of Cloak 10 yards Supple Canvas for underlining 6 yards Craft Fuse interfacing for applique 1 1/2 yards satin peau de soie for corset 1 1/2 canvas for corset lining 1 1/2 yards cotton muslin for corset lining
Crepe Back Satin is a more liquid drape and it is heavier. One side is shiny and the other is pebbly in texture. I personally prefer the Hancock version of this as Joann's variation has a very cheap looking shine on both sides.

Stretch Satin, which seems to be hit or miss when it comes to stock, is heavy and very liquidy. It's made in polyester with 3% spandex. One side is shiny; the other is sort of shimmery.
Satin Peau de Soie is usually what these chains will sell as their Bridal weight fabric (typically around $14.99 in store). Most stores will have them in old white and some variations of cream. Its drape is a lot thicker/stiffer and I have only needed it on occasion.

Red Butterfly C.C.: Code Geass - Photo by Epic Pix 15 yards dull satin 1 1/2 yards poly lining 1 1/2 twill for underlining 1 yard flesh tone polyester interlock
With Taffeta, most places will carry two varieties: Regular or Stretch. I've loved both for different reasons. Taffeta is light and fairly starchy feeling. The stretch variety has more weight to it (as the spandex in it weights down the light poly weave).

Organza and Organdy are very similar. I prefer Organdy over the two, as it is usually a little more on the matte side and stiffer. I use that mostly for underlining (the layer inside, between fabric and lining, to add body to a piece) and for making petticoats. However it can be used as overlays, and decorative pieces. It's sheer with body to it and usually made in Polyester or Nylon. It can be smooth or have lines running through it depending on the make and differences in the weave style.

TO BE CONTINUED... Check back next week for Part Two of "For the Love of Fabric" to read about Cottons, Voile, Micro-suede and more! As always thanks for reading and a special thank to Elrowiel for giving so much time to this post. Thank you!

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