If you gathered (ha!) from this month’s crinoline tutorial, I have a penchant for costuming. I’m a fashion school graduate with a design degree; I’ve worked in stage costuming for both theater and film; I’ve even designed commercial sewing patterns. And while I do love the occasionally Pinterest-y craft project or making my own “regular day” clothing here and there, costume design is my true passion.
After being a seamstress for so many years, I’ve compiled quite the list of online sources for costuming supplies. JoAnns and Michaels work in a pinch for the basics, but being from the Midwest, my selection of quality fabric stores is pretty slim. I could drive over an hour to get to a specialty fabric store, but usually I only do so for “fun” trips, rather than sourcing. I have a pretty hectic schedule, so it’s just more convenient to order online instead of sacrificing the time to drive somewhere in hope of finding what I need.
For the vast majority of us who aren’t lucky enough to live near the L.A. and New York fashion districts, here’s my masterlist of online costuming suppliers. It includes fabric, notions, footwear, and much more! (Hint: If you’re looking for something specific, use CTRL+F to search the page!) These are all supplies that I have personally worked with and order from on a consistent basis.
I’ll update it as I come across new suppliers, so be sure to check back regularly! (Last Updated: 8/21/2017)
DISCLAIMER: None of these links are affiliate. Should this change, I will make note of it. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Fabric & Notions
- Fabric.com: It seems predictable, I know, but Fabric.com is a great source for basic fabrics like broadcloths, linens, cottons, and more. Their selection of faux fur is also impressive. The quality can vary, though, so be sure to swatch!
- Spandex World: My go-to for spandex fabrics. I highly recommend their moleskin and milliskin for superhero projects! (Keep in mind, shipping is pricey and there’s a minimum order threshold of $20. Best to buy in bulk or as a group!)
- Dharma Trading: This is my first stop for silk. I adore Dharma Trading; their silks have wonderful fibers and they take to acid dye so beautifully. Personal favorites are their silk charmeuse, chiffon, and crepe de chine. Speaking of acid dye, I love Dharma’s own brand of it; the color payoff is so impressive and they’re easy to mix.
- SYFabrics: As the name implies, this is a great source for synthetic fabrics. They have a great selection of faux fur and vinyl, which can effectively substitute the use of animal products. I love using their clothing PVC in place of real leather!
- Mendel’s: If SYFabrics doesn’t have the fur I’m looking for, I check Mendel’s. (They’re a staple of the puppetry community, hence the variety of “muppet” fur in their selection.)
- MJTrends: They’re not a favorite source of mine, per say, but I’ve lucked out and found a few rare fabrics here that I couldn’t find anywhere else, such as matte dark purple stretch pleather. Like Fabric.com, their quality can fluctuate, so get samples to verify you’re ordering a high-quality product.
- SilkBaron: If I need a unique color of silk, I always check SilkBaron first if it’ll save me the task of dyeing it myself. Their silks are handmade and hand-dyed, and the craftsmanship shows. Their dupioni silks are some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever worked with, and the colors are simply to die for! (I could have chosen to make a “dye” pun there, but I resisted. You’re welcome.)
- NY Designer Fabrics: For couture garments or any “go big or go home” projects, I order straight from the same sources as NYC’s top designers. The price tags are alarming if you’re not used to them, but the quality is worth every penny. If you’re looking for something like double-faced silk satin, brocades, or taffeta that doesn’t suck, consider splurging a bit. Working with couture fabrics is a luxury, but if you can afford it every once in a while, it’s so worth it!
- Online Fabric Store: I’ve ordered from them a few times and had similar experiences to MJTrends in that some stuff is great, while other cuts have been lousy. But you can find some unique fabrics hidden in their selection, especially when it comes to tulle and organza.
- Tutu.com: Did someone say tulle? If you’re working on a project that involves tons of netting, tulle, organza, or other sheer materials, consider ordering from Tutu.com! I’ve used their fabrics for a handful of ballet costumes before and only have good things to say about the quality, selection, and customer service. (Off-topic, but if you’re looking to get into tutu-making, I highly recommend their seminars!)
- Etsy: If I can’t find what I need from a dedicated fabric supplier, I resort to Etsy. Note: I say “resort,” but not in a negative way! I’ve had some fantastic luck finding the perfect fabric from Etsy sellers. Just be careful, because (a) you can’t order swatches most of the time; (b) supplies may be limited; and (c) scammers may use inaccurate product photos. Check the seller’s reviews and ask questions to be safe!
- Spoonflower: I love using Spoonflower to create my own custom fabrics! If you’re looking for a unique pattern and simply can’t find it anywhere else, you can upload your own design and have it printed on a huge variety of fabric types. For non-stretch garments, I love working with their organic cotton sateen.
- Leather Unlimited: I try to avoid using real animal products, and though this site carries real leather, it has a fantastic range of vinyls that can substitute real leather.
- Corset Making: Surprise, this site is all about making corsets! They have twill, busks, boning, everything you need to make a corset or bodice — including patterns if you don’t want to draft your own!
- Truly Victorian: A historical costumer’s paradise. Patterns, crinoline supplies, and so much more!
- Amazon Dry Goods: Another incredible source for historical patterns.
Tip: Always swatch your fabric before ordering online! Colors can appear drastically different on our computer monitors, especially if your monitor isn’t calibrated. Order a swatch or “sample” from the online seller prior to dropping mad cash on a bunch of yardage. This way, you can be sure you’re ordering exactly what you want!
Beadwork & Buttons
- Fire Mountain Gems & Beads: Their selection is, honestly, unbeatable. They also have quantity discounts so you can save a bit on those humungous beading projects that require thousands of the same bead.
- Doreen Beads: Great prices and selection, although shipping can take a bit long since their products come directly from China. (But worldwide shipping is also free, so can we really complain?)
- The Button Baron: If you’re a historical costumer, make sure this site is bookmarked! They have notions from 1840-1940.
- Etsy: Again, if a large beading supplier doesn’t have what I need, or I want something truly unique (particularly for vintage/historical costumes), Etsy is a lifesaver.
Tip: Double-check bead sizes before ordering! Some sellers don’t include comparisons like coins or human hands in product photos to demonstrate the size of the bead, so break out a ruler and make sure that the given millimeter dimensions are the size you want for the bead in question.
Shoes & Footwear
- Arda Plastics: Thermoplastics are frequently used in the costuming subcategories of “cosplay” and “LARP,” especially for making armor and props. Arda carries both Worbla and Thibra. They also have other unique products like Tomei Clay and UV Resin for accessories and detail work to armor and prop builds.
- Super Bright LEDs: If you need LEDs for a project, you can’t get more straight-forward than this!
- Arduino/AdaFruit Industries: For more complex lighting projects, AdaFruit has the technology.
- Blicks: A great source for molding/casting products, resin, inks, Mod Podge, and more. They also have physical retail locations, and trust me, if you’re even the slightest bit artistic, walking into Blicks is like walking into heaven.
- Evike: If you need a firearm replica, Evike is the largest airsoft retailer. (Make sure to invest in a carrying case for it, too, if you’ll be transporting it in public!)
Undergarments, Shapewear, & Accessories
- Underworks & T-Kingdom: Two excellent sources for binders and other shapewear garments.
- Discount Dance Supply & Dancewear Solutions: For shapewear, dance tights, and other foundation garments.
- WeLoveColors: For plain/basic leotards, unitards, tights, leggings, gloves, and more.
- Sock Dreams: Every type of socks, tights, thigh-highs, knee-highs, and leggings you can imagine! They also have things like gloves, scarves, suspenders, and garters. (Not to mention they’re body-positive and they have the most fantastic customer service.)
- Angel’s Bridal Shop: If you want to avoid the stress of sewing your own crinoline, they have a super-affordable selection of hoopskirts and petticoats.
- Arda Wigs: Some of the highest-quality and most affordable wigs on the market. They have a huge range of colors and styles, and their fibers are specifically designed for both easy and complicated styling techniques. Not to mention, it feels good to support a US-based company founded by women (!).
- Lucaille: These wigs are designed more for specific characters, but who’s to say you can’t get one and modify it for an original design? The fibers can be a tad shiny, but I’ve loved working with their longer wigs as they’re very tangle-resistant.
- Diva’s Wigs: Gorgeous lace-fronts and human hair wigs for more natural and historical costuming.
Bias Disclaimer: I have personally worked with wigs from Epic Cosplay and WigIsFashion. While these are two common names within many costuming communities, I can’t recommend their products based on my personal experiences. I’ve found Epic Cosplay wigs to be horribly shiny and difficult to style due to the slick nature of their fibers, and I’ve never had a WigIsFashion product that hasn’t turned into a tangled, knotted mess after 2-3 wears, no matter what technique I’ve tried to prevent that from happening.
Contacts & Circle Lenses
Caution: Pinky Paradise has sold “dud lenses” to consumers that have caused eye damage. Please be careful when ordering contacts online, and always check with an eye doctor prior to doing so.
Makeup & SFX Supplies
Misc. Costuming Supplies
- Angelus Direct: Leather and suede paints, dyes, and material care.
- Rainbow Feather Company: Again, not always a fan of using animal products, but this is a good source for real feathers. (That being said, if your project allows for it, consider making faux feathers.)
- WireTronic Inc.: A variety of wholesale wire products.
Do you have a favorite costuming supplier that isn’t on this list? Let me know about them in the comments, or write me a letter! I’ll give them a try on a future project and let you know what I think. They’ll join the masterlist if I have a good experience!