What is the best fabric for dancewear?

For many of us, the costume completes the transition between the rehearsal process and the performance on stage. But the elements that make a costume "good" can vary widely.

How to design a custom dance wear: fabrics explained.

You've selected an illustrated concept for a dance costume. Now it's time to choose the fabrics!

Whatever you want to look like, spandex is the best fabric for dance costumes. This ensures that the well-fitting garment can move with you as you dance. The choice of fabric depends heavily on the concept of the costume: do you want something avant-garde and futuristic (think holograms!) or something light and elegant (think sheer knit!). 

Below are the fabric options offered by most costume manufacturers. There are many new and special fabrics that you can use to create amazing costumes, but here are some basic fabrics that will work for any dance costume!

Explanation of fabrics for dance costumes

Knitted fabric

Ideal for: A basic solid color fabric that can be used for anything!

Description: Knitwear is the quintessential solid-color fabric! It is pronounced "Tree-coh" with a silent T. This fabric has a slight sheen (Tricot Gloss), but some colors are also available with a matte finish. Because of the wide range of colors and superior elastic properties, tricot is the most commonly used fabric for dance costumes! 

TIP: Knit is the best fabric for long-term use: the elasticity is optimal and it is free of special finishes that can fade over time! 


Description: knitwear is a transparent, light, and flowing fabric that can be used for almost anything! Create a sense of ease with a knit skirt or a bold look with knits - it's one of the most versatile fabrics out there. There's also a wide variety of textures, from soft micro-knits to oversized pop knits and chunky knits. 

TIP: Be careful when pairing a textured knit fabric with sequin fabric. The sequins can stick to the knit fabric and cause holes. So be strategic when combining these fabrics on your dress to keep them separate and not rubbing together. 

The most common types of mesh fabrics are

Micro-Mesh - A solid color, lightweight, basic knit fabric with micro holes in the weave of the fabric. 

Fog Mesh - A micro-mesh with an aluminum foil-like finish that adds shine and a bit of iridescence. Fog Mesh is ideal for creating a metallic look. Note, however, that it is not stretchy like Micro Mesh and that the finish can wear off with extended wear.

Tula Mesh - A micro-mesh with random holographic sequins that add a subtle shine.

Pop Mesh - A textured mesh with larger holes that are approximately 1/4" wide. Pop Mesh has a puffy texture and resembles the scale of a fishing net. 

Wide Hole Mesh - A wide, textured mesh with enlarged holes that are approximately 1/2" wide. 

Holograms and Leaves

Great for: Sparkling accents!

Description: Holograms have a similar finish to aluminum foil applied to a knit fabric - perfect for making your floor sparkle! We recommend using these fancy fabrics primarily as accents on the dress, such as trim, collars, or belts. When used as an overall fabric, they create a shiny, wet look, which (to be honest) is not always the most flattering! 

TIP: Watch out for these fabrics if you plan on wearing the costume for many years. The shine of myst, holograms, and sequins will fade and dull over time, especially in high abrasion areas like under the arms. With proper care, this problem can be minimized and the costume will stay fresh for years! 

Holograms are available in a variety of styles :

Activator - Micro hologram dots for a dimensional shine.

Sequins - Small holographic dots provide a glittery look up close and a wet look from a distance. 

Broken Glass - Small hologram dots create a textured or "broken glass" appearance. 

Myst - Micro-foil dots create a "wet" appearance. Black Myst is perfect for


Ideal for: Sparkling!

Description: Sequin fabrics can add a touch of sparkle to your costume and provide the ultimate shine from afar! However, there are some drawbacks to this sparkle: It's more expensive and doesn't stretch as well as knit fabrics. This means your clothes may be a bit tighter, which is something to consider when choosing your size. 

TIP: Dresses made from sequin fabric can also be itchy, on the back of the fabric and in places where it can rub against the skin, such as under the armpits or on the sleeves. This means that it may be necessary to line the costume with fabric or cut it off at the edges, which can add extra cost. So make sure your budget allows for this when choosing sequin fabrics! 

Also, sequins can fade over time, especially when exposed to chemicals like hairspray or dry cleaning products. Keep in mind that glitter will peel off over time, but you won't notice it from a distance. Check out our blog for tips on how to properly wash your dance costume to extend the life of your sequined costume! 

Here are some types of sequined fabric:

Zsa Zsa - A sequin-treated fabric that has metallic sequins sewn directly onto the fabric in a squiggly pattern. This pattern allows for better stretch than sequins sewn directly on! (Pronounced "yes-yes")

Zsa Spa - Just like Zsa Zsa, but with hologrammed sequins! 

Showstopper - Regular rows of sequins are applied to this fabric with an adhesive, creating a polka dot look. The glued sequins are more stretchy than the sewn ones! This fabric can create a sparkly "wet look" when used as the overall fabric of the costume. 


Description: lace is one of the most popular fantasy fabrics! The romantic look is all the rage, so this sheer, delicate and feminine fabric is in abundance. However, not all lace is created equal: make sure it's stretchy and strong enough so the dance costume can move with you without tearing.   

TIP: Even the best quality lace can be delicate, so keep that in mind when designing your costume! Avoid lace near sequins (it will tear) or in high-wear areas like the knees (it will tear). You may also need to double up on lace because it is transparent, which can increase the cost.

The two most common types of lace are

Plain stretch lace - Available in a variety of floral and scalloped patterns. 

Sequined lace or Charlize lace - Lace with sequins sewn into it. This adds a touch of glamour to this timeless fabric!


Ideal for: More depth and opulence!

Description: Velvet is a fabric with a soft, dense surface pile that creates a luxurious look. Velvet is all the rage right now, and for good reason! Velvet can be used to achieve deep, rich hues that are not normally achieved with other fabrics. 

TIP: The appearance of velvet can change depending on how you look at it! This is due to the "pile", which is the direction of the soft fiber pile. In one direction it can have a mirror-like sheen, in the other direction it can be deep and rich. In addition, velvet absorbs light, which gives the impression of a slimmer silhouette! 

What to consider when choosing fabrics?

DURABILITY - How long will I wear the garment? Will I need to reorder my garment in the coming years?

If you plan to wear the garment for more than a year, keep the following in mind:

Delicate fabrics wear out easily over time! Lace and knits can easily show holes, especially at the knees and under the armpits. Holographic and Myst fabrics may fade over time, especially in areas subject to heavy abrasions, such as underarms or legs. You can use limited amounts or avoid these fabrics if you wear the garment for more than two years. 

Special fabrics are often discontinued, making it difficult to accurately replicate your costume for future orders. If you want to use a special fabric, consider ordering extra yards so you have something in reserve for next year's orders, or go with stock fabrics to avoid this dilemma!

COSTUME MAINTENANCE - How often do I need to wash my costumes or how do I care for them?

Some fabrics and colors are easier to care for than others. Some aspects to consider when it comes to wear and tear:

White is a popular fabric because it is clean and looks good on everyone, but it can also fade with time and use. This means that if you wear white uniforms often, you may need to order new clothes every year. 

White is also subject to color fading. This is the transfer of dye from one dark or light color to another (think of a red sock turning an entire set of white clothes pink in the washing machine, for example). Keep this in mind when designing a white dress: White next to red, black or another bright color means you need to pay more attention to washing the dress. 

For more information on dress care, check out our dress care page! 

Fit and Flexibility - Do I need to worry about the fit and flexibility of the suit?

Elasticity in dance costumes is essential! You want your costume to move with you and allow you to perform your best. Some materials are more elastic than others:

Choose a 4-way stretch fabric to ensure the best flexibility for your dancers. This means that the fabric stretches in 4 directions (up and down, left and right) instead of just two (up and down). Knits are a great choice because they stretch in four directions and contain a high percentage of spandex (the substance that makes them stretchy) - perfect for dance costumes!

Some special fabrics, like sequins and lace, are less stretchy. This means they are not as "stretchy" and can fit tighter. Keep this in mind when designing a costume (using a fabric that stretches can limit your design) and choosing sizes (so everyone feels comfortable in their costume)!

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