I got my daughter a store-bought Halloween costume that was made from a surprisingly nice lamé spandex material: the only problem was that some of the edges were unfinished, and some of those got stretched a lot (especially the mask and the top of the cape), and where it got stretched, the fabric pulled apart. It didn’t rip, but it lost its shape, so the holes in the mask were completely distorted, and the top edge of the cape looked in places like stockings running.
I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to iron the material without melting it, but I went to find some kind of stabilizer thing anyway.
So I went to a big-chain fabric store (which will remain nameless, except to say that it lived down to the online comments about its service). I wandered up and down most of the aisles before I asked for help. What I was told when I finally got someone to answer a question was: There’s no such thing as stretchy stabilizer, you must be crazy. And: We don’t have any pre-packaged stabilizer, everything we have is here on rolls on these shelves, so I couldn’t possibly tell you what aisle you might check.
It turned out they had half an aisle of pre-packaged stabilizer. (Did I use the wrong word? Is this not “stabilizer” but “backing”? Would I have gotten the information I’d wanted if I’d known what I was talking about? No. The manufacturer describes it as “stabilizer,” itself.) I ended up using a very nice smooth, stretchy iron-on thing that was right there on the shelf. All they had was a 9-yard roll, for 17 dollars. That ought to last me a while. Later I checked the manufacturer’s website, and they not only sell one-yard lengths, their suggested price for the 9-yard roll is less than $15.
The product is marked as being for lingerie or spandex (you can probably find it by searching for “iron-on stabilizer for lingerie or spandex”), and it looks like exactly the stuff that’s on the inside of my daughter’s embroidered store-bought tops. Which is good to know, too, because sometimes I find these backings have come off in the laundry. It stretches side-to-side but not up-and-down, and it’s very light-weight and is supposed to not change the “hand” of the fabric. You’re supposed to use the “wool” setting on the iron to fuse it, which is pretty high.
It does seem to have worked, though. I gradually increased the iron setting until something happened, but the “nylon” setting, the highest setting without steam, seemed to work fine. At that temperature, I could press the creases out of the material, as well as get the fusible backing to set. I added a second layer in the opposite direction over the most damaged bits of the mask, to keep the shape from distorting.
So far so good. If the mask and cape hadn’t started to rip, I probably would have assumed I couldn’t safely iron the shiny fabric at all, and my daughter would be a creased superhero.