I first found Afc-Express several years ago when I was costuming “Grease”. In my pre-show prep, I thought that I would most likely be either making or upgrading petticoats . . probably LOTS of petticoats. In the process of my online search for tutorials and information, I found this website. At the time, I ordered some sample rolls of pre-cut strips for petticoats (they have organza and nylon chiffon . . in many colors!) and a ruffler for my sewing machine. As it turned out, I ended up purchasing petticoats and so the box of petticoat supplies sat on my shelf, and if you follow my blog you know I learned how to use my ruffler when I made bum pads this year.
So, the week before the show this year, as I was making a last-minute embellished and upgraded hoop for Ella to wear to the ball I remembered my rolls of pre-cut nylon chiffon in the basement. One of these, ruffled along with some pre-gathered lace trim and stitched to the hoop, finished the costume and Ella was ready for the ball–super easy and super effective (I won’t say super-quick because I thought I would shoot myself before I had it all sewn on–it didn’t help I was sick at the time–all in the life of a costumer!)
When it came time to submit my bills for costumes, I needed to find out the price of the roll of nylon chiffon. I looked, and googled, and searched and input every word I could possibly think of to find this company again. It was not easy, but, eventually I did (I think by looking for the tutorial, and not the fabric). Imagine my delight when my newly re-aquainted “friend” actually offered a wide variety of costume fabrics! Including some that I would have LOVED to have found earlier in my search for fabrics for costumes for Cinderella. I was super excited because, now having costumed “Cinderella”, I have a list of upgrades and adaptations I want to try. Call me crazy, but my idea of summer fun is to try remaking and improving on the transforming costumes. Some of these new fabrics looked like they will work perfectly . . . and I really can’t wait to get started.
I place my order, and received my shipment promptly, buuuuuuut . . . my real life has been intruding on my fun. I had to finish cleaning up from the musical. I had to clean my house (put off for about 24 months . . it was bad!). I have a Graduation party to plan for and do MORE cleaning. Work has been crazy busy and I have been picking up lots of extra shifts. Then spring yard work started. I have at least three more weeks before I am even allowed to touch anything in my sewing room. But, I did want to share this company for any of you that will be working on summer musicals . . . it is worth a look AND they have a clearance section (my favorite place in the world to shop–I love a good sale!).
So, instead of having some really fun pictures of costumes I made using my really fun fabrics, I will just show the fabrics to you and trust that your imaginations can fill in the possibilities!
I spent quite a bit of time online last fall looking for a reasonably priced fabric that could be used to create chain mail for the Knights. I really wanted a chain mail print. I found one. It was $20+/yard. Too pricey for me. In the end, I ordered the costumes, and later actually saw chain mail print in a commercial costume, and it didn’t show up on stage. However, the metallic fabric used in the Knight costumes was quite effective and I would suggest going that route for Knight costumes. Afc-express has a couple of interesting options (descriptions are BELOW the pictures):
This is “metal knit” in a black/silver combo. It was $6.66/yard, 60″ wide. It is a soft knit that looks very versatile. It is not as silver looking as the picture on the website, which is a bit disappointing, but I imagine that has a lot to do with lighting and flash.
This is “Black Magic” at $14.43/yard, 52″ wide. This is a medium weight knit and I LOVE it. I wish, wish, wish I could actually see this on stage. It is more expensive, but for sleeves, or a main character, it looks like it would be wonderful.
This is “Illusionary” in Silver and Gold at $7.22/yard. It is quite lightweight. The base fabric is similar to a petticoat chiffon. It would make great decorative strips or appliques. King Midas? Ella’s gold dress? Be Our Guest? Armor? I haven’t had the chance to work with this, or try to sew it, but, I like it.
I also am interested in working on a better transforming ballgown for Ella. When I did our Marie transformation the upcycled dress I used had a very soft, crushable mesh skirt. This worked great for squishing . . much better than the satin we used for Ella. I am looking for soft sparkly white fabric to create something similar for Ella. I ordered some sample possibilities:
This is “Gossamer Sparkle Chiffon” at $6.22/yd 58″ wide. It is more of a mesh with a silver sparkle. I have not tried to wash it. It does look like it might easily catch on things and pull. However, it is very crushable It might be good for sleeves, or as a top layer for a bodice, or trim. Pending “playing” with it, it might be good for an overskirt. Time will tell 🙂
This is “Sparkle Crepe” at $4.50/yd, 45″ wide shown in Antique Gold. It is a sheer fabric with a nice drape. It does have a sparkly sheen. Again, I really wish I could see it under stage lights.
You can also buy the 54″ wide nylon chiffon by the yard. Right now it is $2.20. It is very soft, does not fray, and would make a gorgeously flowy skirt, especially since you could probably afford a larger piece. I have a piece of this from “Grease” that I want to experiment with as well. The pre-cut strips are not inexpensive, but, time has value as well, and unless you have someone interested in cutting 90 yards of 3″ strips . . . they are worth a consideration.
From the Clearance section:
I found this “sparkle braid”. It comes in single and double widths and lots of colors. It was 36 yards for $3.99 & $4.99. It seems washable. I cut a chunk off and soaked it in water for several days and it still looked great. It is like mylar ribbon woven into a braid.
You’ll notice I have cut out the packing slip and marked my packages. I am planning on making a binder with some snips of these specialty fabrics and sources for my future reference. I know down the road I will never remember which one is which. This will also help me keep track of my own stock and know how much to charge for supplies of my own that I use to make costumes. One of the challenges in ordering fabrics is trying to figure out what they are called and the keywords associated with them. An example of this is the tulle used for commercial dresses. This fabric is often called “mesh” or “soft mesh” or even “soft mesh tulle”. It is a softer, more durable fabric than the tulle you buy on 6″ rolls, which is different from the large-hole tulle/nylon net you can find in stores, or the stiff “petticoat net” used for underskirts. Sometimes you really can’t tell from the descriptions and pictures what you are getting.
I do wish the pictures on Afc-Express were a bit bigger, and included a sizing gauge for prints. I also find some of the descriptions rather brief. They also list alternate colors available, however they do not show pictures of the colors which is unfortunate, especially if you are trying to coordinate or match colors. Several of the descriptions offer samples, so it may be possible to get them, however, I have not personally asked for any (see screenshot below).
I have not had a reason to use their customer service or to make a return so I cannot address those topics. As with all of the suppliers I blog about, I have no relationship with this company other than as a satisfied consumer.
I hope you enjoy drooling over some of their specialty fabrics as much as I do!