Rubber Clothing

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Contents

This will be a very abbreviated primer on making rubber clothing. There are several people (including myself) that teach classes on making clothes from latex.


What you need:

  • A pattern - See Pattern Making for more information
  • Rubber cement - Rubber cement has a latex base binder: Best-Test works well
  • Heptane solvent - I recommend Bestine cement thinner
  • Acetone - for cleaning needs to be used in a well ventilated area and is flammable
  • Daubers or brushes to apply the diluted rubber cement.
  • A container to mix the rubber cement and solvent one-to-one just before use.
  • A well ventilated area - An extra fan to blow fumes away from you is a very good idea

The "Good Stuff"

If you wish to make a dress, blouse, pants, etc, you should buy a pattern from a local fabric store. Since you want the garment to fit skin tight, you should plan on using a pattern two sizes smaller than the size you usually wear.

Lay the latex out on a large flat table and then put the paper pattern on top of the latex.

Use a rotating fabric knife to cut the latex according to your pattern.

Clean both areas of the proposed seam (about 1/2" or more) with acetone.

Apply the one-to-one rubber cement mixture to both pieces where the seams will overlap, allowing it to air dry for about two to five minutes. The two pieces will be ready to join when the cement loses it sheen.

Applying rubber cement will swell the surface of the rubber causing the rubber to curl. Unfortunately, the cements that don't cause curling are not strong enough to allow bonding.

After you join the seam, use a narrow roller, such as a nylon or wooden ink brayer, to roll the seam under high pressure to ensure a good strong joint.


A couple of caveats:

  • Don't work around open flames. Heptane and Acetone are inflammable, but not explosively so.
  • Heptane and Acetone are not toxic. However they replace oxygen in the air and will cause hypoxia. Work in an open area with a fan behind you to blow fumes away from you.

A final word:

Placing rubber cement on latex will cause curling. If you are going to make several pieces, I find it best to build a pair clamping jigs several inches longer than the seams I will be working with. The jigs can be made of wood or aluminum or anything else which will hold the latex under compression.
Place the latex flat and clamp one end of the seam, stretching it slightly and close the other end of the jig. Do the same with the other piece of latex to be joined. and cement the pieces together as I said above.
The nice thing about using the jigs is that they will hold the latex flat while bonding them together.
(Another thing: they are reusable!)

Glue

Various Rubber Cements can be used to glue sheets of latex together. Some brands are:

  • Best Test Rubber Cement
  • Bostik 3851

Each rubber cement will have an associated thinner with it which you can use to remove glue from areas and to clean the surface before gluing.

A good way to apply the glue to a latex sheet is to use a credit card and spread it out on both surfaces. Let it dry for about 15 minutes and then attach the two surfaces together. Go over the seam with a roller and it will finish the seam.


Latex sheeting

Latex sheeting is used for making latex clothing. Latex sheeting is cut according to your pattern, and the parts glued together. It's just the same way you manufacture regular clothing. Gluing latex is an expensive and time consuming process, but the fit is much better! Quality, color and thickness can be customized to the individual.

Clothing made from latex sheeting is repairable. If it gets a rip or the lining fractures, that can't be done with the molded latex.

Alphabetic list of latex sheeting suppliers

Chlorination

Also see the page [ Latex Care ] for information on use chlorine to reduce "stickiness"


Also see the page [ Between The Rubber Sheets ]



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