Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you’re at it, with this free pattern & tutorial!
I’m so excited about today’s DIY because it’s so cute, fun and functional! My girls LOVE leotards, whether they’re jumping on the trampoline, doing gymnastics & dance classes or just dressing up. The only problem is, if you want anything other than plain black, they’re ridiculously expensive!
After making swimsuits for the girls last year, I decided it couldn’t be all that hard to make my own leotards. And turns out, it isn’t! Really! The best part is that you can give your little girl as much coverage as you’d like.
Read on for the full tutorial and free pattern!
NOTE: the pattern fits about a size 6, but scaling it up or down is not too difficult. It’s designed for a little girl with a crotch-shoulder measurement of about 36″ (loop a measuring tape from one shoulder, down your model’s front, between her legs and up the back to the same shoulder). You’ll just need to add or subtract inches from the center of the leotard in order to go up or down a few sizes.
If going up or down more than 2 sizes, you’ll also need to add/subtract a bit of length in the shoulder straps. Performance fabric is super stretchy though, so it’s very forgiving! You might try laying a swimsuit that fits your little girl on top of the pattern and seeing where you need to make adjustments.
*Printed copy of the free pattern (download here – make sure your printer’s set to “do not scale” or “print at 100%” before printing! Overlap short edge of each page with the next without trimming & tape together)
*1/2 – 1 yard of performance lycra or spandex blend (i.e. swimsuit fabric) My favorite source for cute prints is The Fabric Fairy!
*1.5 – 2 yards clear elastic (like this kind)
STEP 1: Cut out the paper pattern and decide whether you want to do any color blocking or stripes. For Kira’s leotard here, I decided I wanted two diagonal stripes (black and pink) running across the front. I drew the stripes where I wanted them on the pattern, then cut out a center panel of the pattern piece.
I cut out the top and bottom of the leotard front out of the floral fabric, and then used the center strips I cut out from the pattern to cut black and pink strips. NOTE: you’ll always need to add a seam allowance (I used 1 cm) where you’ll be sewing these pieces together. For example, I added an extra 1 cm to the top and bottom of both the pink and black stripes before cutting and sewing them to each other and then to the top and bottom floral pieces.
Also cut 1 leotard back and 1 gusset out of matching or coordinating fabric.
STEP 2: Sew front and back pieces, right sides together, along the shoulders and side seams, leaving the crotch unsewn for now.
STEP 3: Sew gusset to inside front of leotard (wrong sides together), matching up one short end of gusset with raw edge of leotard front. Sew along this short edge and both sides of gusset (leaving the other short end loose). Then match up the leotard back and front crotch and sew, right sides together.
STEP 4: Here comes the only tricky part! Measure your model around her shoulders and upper thigh, where you want the edge of the leotard to sit. Keep the measuring tape taut, but not too tight. Then cut a piece of elastic about 2 cm SHORTER than this measurement, for all 4 openings (2 arms and 2 legs). Do the same for the neckline, for a total of 5 pieces of elastic. Be sure to not mix them up!
STEP 5: Stitch the elastic to the edge of each opening using a zig zag stitch, stretching slightly as you go so that the elastic fits the opening. I overlap it a teensy bit where the elastic edges meet. (This is a good time to try leotard on your model and adjust opening if necessary!)
Then fold the raw edge under to hide the elastic and topstitch close to the fold, again using a zig zag stitch. Repeat for all openings.
**If you have trouble getting any of the openings to fit correctly, you can also try basting the elastic in place and then trying it on your little one. After you do it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it!
Voila! Aren’t you so proud of your mad skills?? Now go whip up 3 more and make all the little girls in your life squeal with joy! (and save yourselve oodles of dough.)