The Making Of A Leotard

I’m headed back to Hawaii for a bit this week and whilst there I’ll be taking class again. I’m a bit sad that I can’t wear my new Yumiko, but I expected to be taking class here, in the winter. When I got sick plans changed and it’ll be a while before I can wear it. A leotard with long sleeves, in 80 degree weather, in an un-airconditioned studio just seems risky health wise. So I’m stuck with my stupid boring So Danca camisole leo (that admittedly fits better than all the others but the quality is seriously lacking, and again- it’s boring). I do have a really pretty Gaynor Minden one, so I’ll probably make the most use of that one and keep the So Danca as backup. There is a small problem with my Gaynor Minden leo, and it’s something others have complained about as well. But I’m going to tell you how to fix it!

This is my pretty leotard.



If you click on the picture it’ll take you to Discount Dance. I first saw this there but they didn’t have my size in store and I didn’t want to buy it online. So when I was in NYC I stopped into their boutique and bought it in person. The ladies there are lovely and I highly recommend stopping in to try stuff on if you’re in the area (pointe shoe fittings are by appointment though!). 

I really love this leotard, but can you spot the problem? Yeah, it’s low cut (like so many leotards) but the stretch lace is, well… Stretch lace, and it stretches- a lot. By the end of class, with all the sweating, it has a tendency to sag dangerously low. And unless you’re looking to do an entirely different form of dance, you need something to wear underneath it. Even then, I still feel compelled to yank it up because I don’t want to be flashing everyone my entire bra. I had planned to sew those ugly plastic straps into it. I had some (came with a strapless bra) but tossed them when I was cleaning out my closet cause I was never going to use them. I’m glad I did cause while I planned to buy more but got lazy and that gave me time to find a better solution. 

I was watching First Position and noticed the straps on Miko’s competition dress (Don Quixote Kitri variation) blended in really nicely with her skin. Much better than those clear straps, which lets be honest, are obvious. Upon closer inspection I realized they were made of fold over elastic (or FOE). If you’re not familiar FOE is the stuff those fashiony headbands and hair ties are made out of. You can buy it on Etsy, Ebay, and at most sewing stores. I just so happened to have some black FOE laying about for another project that was sidelined. It’s basic, Dritz, and seems better quality than the stuff they make those hair ties out of. 


I held some up behind the lace and it blended really well. I cut the pieces and plan to hand sew them on after my son goes to bed. Hopefully it hold up well but I won’t know until after I wear it to a class. Obviously I won’t jinx it and go braless, but if it goes well I probably could. I do wish Gaynor Minden thought about doing something like this in the first place though. It’s gets a fairly high rating on DDS but the sagging is a known issue. It seems like more of a ballet inspired piece than something that was intended to wear in class. They do actually show the model wearing it with jeans and say it works great to go from the studio to dinner. But I don’t know who does class, gets all hot, sweaty, dusty, then just tosses on a pair of jeans and goes out to a restaurant. I think it’s unrealistic. 


The last thing I was going to talk about today is making leotards. There’s almost nothing online about actually sewing your own leotards. Which is weird because you can find way too much about pretty much anything else you ever wanted to know about but there’s nothing on this. So I’m going to try and help fill the void. 

I’ve already prepared the paper I’m using for my pattern pieces and traced my leotard. Despite my loathing for my So Danca one it is the one I used to make the pattern with. I mean it’s a good basic leotard, it fits really well and is reasonably flattering. However the dye still runs on it. One drop of sweat and my tights are covered in black dye, I’m sick of that stupid leo ruining them. And despite treating it like glass (hand washing it in stone cold water the second I get home and letting it air dry) it’s loosing it’s stretch. It was not worth what I paid for it, but if I can successfully use it as a pattern then as far as I’m concerned it’s redeemed itself. And it’s basic shape will enable me to modify it to make a few different styles quite easily. Also it’s long enough, I have a hard time finding leos that are long enough. My Yumiko is, but only just, and it’s difficult to gauge with the GM one due to the lace issue. I have a couple of cotton ones that were but for some reason they shrank. I hand washed them in cold and drip dried but they still shrank a ton. I’d say I just gained weight, but I didn’t get taller. It was like every time I washed them I lost another inch or two and eventually it couldn’t stretch enough. 😦

So I told Chicken Little we’re probably going to take a field trip to the fabric store tomorrow. Assuming I actually get out there I hope to make at least one leotard before I fly out. I have a 50% off coupon so it makes sense to at least buy the fabric. If I can make it in the next two days then I’ll be able to test drive it during class and let everyone know how it goes. I’ll take photos and try to get a tutorial up before then though. I’ve already taken photos of the pattern making process. Assuming all goes well I plan to try and branch out into some of the more exciting stuff. Spandex World has an epic selection and I’d love to have at least one or two leotards that incorporate that patterned mesh like in Eleve Dancewear leotards. I like the fabrics they use but I’m not really a fan of most of their styles so I can’t see myself buying from them. I might also want to have a leotard with long sleeves, not just 3/4. And if I want them long enough then I’m either going to have to make it myself or commission it on Etsy and I rather just do it myself.

So here’s to hoping I get to the fabric store tomorrow!


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