How to Make Leotards

Updated March 21, 2017

Dancers and gymnasts often wear leotards as part of their costumes or uniforms. Store-bought leotards can be expensive and can even be uncomfortable if they do not fit the wearer exactly. With a little sewing knowledge and a few materials, individuals can make leotards for themselves or for friends and family members. Making a sleeveless, legless leotard is uncomplicated, especially if one has prior knowledge or experience with working with sewing patterns and sewing machines.

Measure the person who you are making the leotard for. Take shoulder, neck, arm length, leg length, torso length and waist measurements using the measuring tape. Write the measurements down so that you do not forget or confuse them.

Select a leotard pattern, preferably one that is marked as "easy" or "moderately easy" if you have little or no sewing experience. Check the back of the pattern package and make sure that the measurements you took match the measurements on the package. If you cannot find an exact match, choose a pattern that has measurements a little larger than what you need; it is always easier to take in an outfit that is too big than to let out one that is too small.

Select fabric for your leotard. The pattern package should say how many yards of fabric you will need for the size you have chosen. Choose from fabrics such as Lycra that has 70 per cent four-way stretch so that the finished product will be flexible.

Open the pattern package and remove the pattern sections. Set your iron to a very low setting and iron the sections so that all the wrinkles and creases are gone. If you wish, you can place cloth over the pattern before ironing to prevent damage to the sections.

Examine your pattern sections. For a sleeveless, legless leotard you should have only two pattern sections, a back section and a front one. Line up your fabric so that the grain lines all match. Grain lines are denoted by the direction in which the fabric was woven together.

Lay out the fabric and place the pattern sections on top of it, smoothing it all out evenly. Secure the pattern sections to the fabric using pins so that they do not separate from one another easily. With the scissors, cut out the fabric and pattern sections according to the directions.

Follow the pattern instructions for stitching up the leotard. If you're using a sewing machine, do not sew over the pins, but remove the pins from each section as you sew. If the legs of the leotard call for elastic, make a zigzag stitch before adding the elastic according to the directions on the pattern.

Try on the leotard, or, if you are making it for someone else, have them try it on. If the finished product is too large in some places, mark the spots that need to be taken in by folding the cloth where it is too large and adding pins to keep the fold in place. Flip the leotard inside out and stitch along were the pins were to take in the garment.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Leotard fabric
  • Thread
  • Elastic
  • Iron
  • Sewing pattern
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
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About the Author

Tessa Holmes has been writing professionally since 2007. Her short stories and articles have been published on and in the "Cypress Dome." She has worked with the "Florida Review." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.