You can use many different materials to create superhero costumes, but here’s a bit about the materials I like to use, which I’ve also written tutorials on. I also talk about each material in more detail at the beginning of my tutorial on each one.
To make a good supersuit, you need a good stretchy fabric. There are all kinds of stretch fabrics that differ in construction, thickness, and fiber content that are good for different types of projects. The best types of fabrics for tight-fitting superhero clothing are spandex fabrics with a very high percentage of spandex. even knit fabrics that contain some spandex, such as the fabric used for cotton leggings, will not have enough stretch and may end up sagging after several uses.
The fabrics I use in my supersuit tutorial are all variations of 4-way stretch spandex that you can find at most fabric stores. this is the best material for super suits and it’s actually surprisingly easy to sew on a home sewing machine. Contrary to popular opinion, you really don’t need an overlocker to sew spandex, and we’ll learn some great stitches and techniques to help you sew spandex on your home machine.
spandex also comes in an incredible variety of colors, textures, weights, and finishes, from crazy holographic patterns and gorgeous ombres, to cat prints that shoot lasers out of their eyes… there’s something for every kind of mutant at spandex world… (although I think spandex house is actually the best place to buy spandex 🙂
eva foam, also known as craft foam, is a material that was widely used for all sorts of applications like padding and buoyancy before it was discovered by the crafting and cosplay community. Eva is a great material for building costumes and accessories because it’s lightweight, inexpensive, and can be easily cut, carved, and even heat molded to create interesting shapes. when finished and painted, it is relatively durable and can be made to mimic many different materials including metal, wood, leather, and plastic.
eva foam comes in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses which gives it a lot of versatility. it’s excellent for creating large, light shapes in costumes, but not so good for creating details. For this reason, it can be, and often is, combined with many other materials such as worbla to create beautiful costumes, armor, and accessories. while it’s inexpensive and relatively easy to cut and shape, the gluing and sealing process can be a bit tedious, but it’s still a great material to have in your tool belt of costume skills.
worbla is an amazing and relatively new non-toxic thermoplastic material made partially from wood pulp. is an amazingly otherworldly material that allows you to quickly create durable, sculptural costume pieces and accessories with minimal tools, drying time, or toxic chemicals. It has become extremely popular in the cosplay community due to its versatility and ability to mimic materials such as metal.
worbla softens at 194 degrees fahrenheit (90 degrees celsius), which means you can usually mold it with your hands and feel like a superhero. in heated state it sticks to itself like crazy, so you don’t need any kind of glue to work with it. when hardened it is extremely strong and can be easily painted and finished. it can also be reheated and formed infinitely, so you never have to waste anything! just heat up your leftovers and reshred them. fantastic.
There are a few different types of worbla that are good for different applications. in my tutorial, i used the standard type, which is officially called “worbla best art”. other worbla variations are designed to create finer detail, stronger structure, or transparency. they work the same way as the standard variety, so feel free to experiment with them once you’ve got the basics down.
worbla comes in different sized sheets that are 2mm thick and can be layered or combined with thin eva foam to create thickness. the only drawback of this material is that it is quite expensive. For the headdress project I am creating in this class, you will need a medium sheet. If you’re feeling budget-conscious and adventurous, you can also try making your own worbla by following this instructable from The Plastic Apprentice.
glues, sealants, paints and finishes
you will need glue to assemble your eva foam pieces. The strongest and most effective type of glue for EVA foam is DAP Welded Wood Contact Cement. however, it is a bit tricky to work with and has a long curing time. You will need a ventilated area and at least 24 hours to let it settle before you can move on to sealing. Other potential adhesives are barge, spray adhesives, and hot glue, which is good for gluing foam edge-to-edge, but not for lamination.
Both eva foam and worbla need to be sealed or primed before they can be effectively painted. there are a few different options for sealing each depending on the type of finish you are looking for.
In this class I will use plastidip to seal eva foam. plastidip is a great material because it prepares the surface of the foam for painting and makes everything stronger and less likely to rip. for certain types of designs, it can be an impressive finish on its own without even adding paint.
worbla, especially the original type, has a bit of a grainy texture that really needs to be smoothed out with a primer before painting. the smoothing compound we will use in this class is flexbond. It’s very similar to wood glue, but it gives even faster and better coverage. It’s not a harmful chemical, so it can be applied anywhere and dries pretty quickly.
Once your foam and worbla creations are sealed and primed, you can paint them in a variety of ways. I like to use acrylic paints, but spray paint as a base coat can also be a good option. To create metallic effects, I prefer to use metallic pigment powders mixed with an acrylic medium. choose something you’d like to experiment with and do some testing.
After you paint the pieces, you can give them more shine or durability by adding a coat of some type of clear sealer or finish. The most durable top coat for EVA foam is a roofing sealant called Through the Roof. this will really give your piece a shiny look and lots of protection, but it’s a pretty nasty thing to do, so if you’re looking for something a little less intense, you can use mod poge or another acrylic finish.