I did it, I’ve sewn my first leotard! It went really well, and I’m a bit surprised. I’d never worked with stretch fabrics before, let alone something as crazy as spandex. But it was easier than I thought it would be and I can’t wait to make my next one. I hope to try out a few different styles, the first one was pretty basic. I want to just start by saying this isn’t a very detailed tutorial. I just didn’t take enough photos for that and I’m not always great about remembering all the details of my sewing projects as I tend to make things up as I go. But I hope this can help people out since there’s really nothing about making your own leotards online. Especially ballet ones. There are some skating costume and gymnastics outfit tutorials, but for ballet I’ve only found one. I hope to make more of these and I’ll try to take photos of the process with those if I make a different style. Just to sort of ensure something’s out there for people who want to sew their own. The first thing I did was make a paper pattern. To do that I needed to prepare my paper. I could buy paper, but why when Amazon is happy to send me that stuff for free. 🙂
This is the packing paper Amazon sends in their boxes. It’s a great size, thin enough to pin through easily, and of course you can draw on it. Also I don’t worry about messing up and “wasting it” because it was free and they’re only too happy to send me more, lol. It does usually show up pretty wrinkled but I just iron it on medium high heat, no steam. You may still see a few wrinkles in the photos but I promise you this was 100% flat.
After I ironed it I laid my best fitting leotard onto it and traced the shape.
The front part gave me a bit more trouble cause I couldn’t fold the rear fabric out of the way to do the crotch. So I laid a scrap piece over the front and used my finger nail to press a line into it around the edge of the crotch. Then I marked the beginning and the end, cut it out, and laid it over the pattern I was making and traced the line. Presto! Perfect pattern lines without the hassle.
After I cut out my pattern I cut two front pieces (it was a smidge sheer), and a back piece. I used a rotary cutter to cut out my fabric, I would never have tried this with regular scissors the fabric was too slippery for that and the likely hood of error was too high. After I had my pieces I hand basted the two front pieces together and then basted the front to the back. At this point I tried it on and it fit well. I had already made a practice one with plain jersey so I suspected it would fit, but this fabric didn’t have as much stretch and when you double it up it can make it stretch even less though this particular fabric seemed to still function fine.
I decided to use FOE on the leg openings. I liked it and it looked really pretty, but I felt like there was too much room in the rear so instead of grabbing my seam ripper, pulling it off, and cutting down the openings I decided to just fold it over.
As you can see (seam on the left) it looks fine and fits much better. Though I’ll be making adjustments to the leg openings in the future it fits okay. I just forgot that my butt is flat and my leotard had a bit too much room in that area before I made the pattern. It’s okay though, those adjustments are easy.
Here it is, the finished garment. The crotch looks weird because I didn’t bother to move my dress form’s pole, it looks better on me. 😉 I used FOE for the straps and I like the way it looks.
As you can see I used the FOE to bind the back as well. I could have just hemmed it but I thought this looked better. It was also much easier.
All in all there’s a lot I’d change in the future. I dislike the top of the front it didn’t come out well, and I don’t like how the straps are attached. But for my first attempt at something I’ve never made, with a fabric I’ve never used, I think it’s pretty good to get a wearable garment. I wore it to class today and it was very comfortable, I felt like I was wearing nothing. I’m very happy with that, I want to be focused on my dancing not some rubbing seam or loose strap.
I did order a bunch of swatches from Spandex World and despite a small hiccup I hope to have them by next week. The next one I make will be a solid color with contrasting straps. The fabric I got for this came from JoAnnes and I really like it. It’s “Performance Spandex” and wasn’t labeled as being for dance but it works very well for it. It was very fast drying and comfortable, but it was also thinner. I would use it again.