Recommend me a fabric to making a mockup that'll be similar to Lycra

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#1 nathancarter on 1 year ago

As usual, I'm biting off way more than I can chew with this project, but learning a lot as I go.

I'm working on a robot armor suit, and the armor plates are coming along very well. After a week of work, the major parts for my right leg are patterned, cut, shaped, and ready for hardware and paint, and the parts for the left leg are cut out and prepared for shaping.

For the undersuit, I'm planning to do this: [url][/url]

In short, use Spoonflower to print robot textures on the fabric parts that I need for a leggings, shirt, and balaclava. I have some of the in-game texture files, and a fair amount of graphic design skill to fill in what those files don't give me.

I think I'm leaning towards their Sport Lycra, so that it's sturdy and breathable: [url][/url]

Before ordering, I need to (1) make a mockup that fits me properly, (2) put on the armor and mark reference points, (3) disassemble the mockup and take pictures of it, (4) use Photoshop to fill those shapes with robot textures, (5) prepare the file to send off to Spoonflower for printing.

So, the questions:
A) What off-the-shelf fabric can I use for the mockup, that will stretch and drape similarly to that Sport Lycra? Spoonflower says 88% poly and 12% Lycra, with 50% vertical stretch and 75% horizontal stretch.
... but it's $25/yd before coupons, ouch :(

... I'm hesitant to buy fabric sight-unseen, but it might be just fine for a fit test.

B) Is the Sport Lycra even an appropriate selection for this project? I'm a little concerned about: (1) scuffing and pilling where the armor plates rub it; (2) unwanted stretch where the armor plates are attached (though they're pretty lightweight, and the bigger pieces will be supported by my belt and shoulders); (3) overall durability, armor attachment points tearing out, etc. Other possibilities would be Spoonflower's Modern Jersey or Performance Knit, though those two are much lighter weight and probably not as tough.

#2 CapsuleCorp on 1 year ago

The fundamental problem is, Lycra fibers have their own unique (branded) degree of stretch so finding "Lycra but not $20/yard" will not happen. Anything with Lycra or generic spandex in it is presently astronomically expensive and I can't explain why. However, when it comes to a bodysuit mockup, all you need is something with a comparative degree of stretch. Bargain-bin knits might be fine.

I wouldn't buy one of Joann's regular knits though. They have a bad sag problem so any mockup you make will immediately cease fitting you the minute you take it off you. I'm wearing some right now and I've already re-fitted this sweatshirt twice, looking at my sleeves I'm going to have to do it again. If there's nothing in the bargain bin that works, try an online clearing house like fashionfabricsclub or something. Online shops should at least list the degree of stretch, while if you're shopping in person you can test it yourself: bring a card that has a line drawn on it, similar to the one on the back of patterns for stretch knit clothing, that says "4 inches of fabric should stretch from HERE (at rest) to HERE (stretched out)." It'll take a little math to determine what, for example, 75% stretch should be, but it's possible to do.

#3 nathancarter on 1 year ago

Thanks, that makes sense. The math is easy for me, but I'm still a novice at fabric/blend selection.

#4 nathancarter on 1 year ago

Followup and update.

I used the white Payless Fabrics brand 4-way stretch, that I linked in the first post. $24 for 3 yards. It's heavy and sturdy - heavier than the Spoonflower lycra - and was very usable for this mockup. The white made it easy to draw reference marks and details that I could later translate into my Photoshop designs.

I made the mistake of washing the test fabric before cutting - it rolled A LOT on the edges, even without going into the dryer. Won't do that again.

I'm pretty happy with my Photoshop design.
HOWEVER! huge mistake on my part: due to time constraints and overconfidence, I didn't do a test print on the Spoonflower fabric, and my print came back WAY TOO dark. You can kinda see the details if you look closely for them, but in photographs and videos it just looks like a plain black undersuit. Super disappointing, but I've learned for next time.