A vinyl catsuit is the most necessary component of several types of costumes, including the famous villain Catwoman. While it is impractical to make a catsuit out of standard vinyl because of the lack of flexibility in that fabric, stretch PVC and vinyl fabric can be purchased in either two-way or four-way stretch. This stretchy, shiny fabric gives you the look of vinyl or patent leather with the stretch necessary to get in and out of the catsuit. Combine choice fabric with a customised pattern, and you can create a catsuit with the perfect fit.
Take measurements of your arm length, forearm and bicep circumference, shoulder circumference, shoulder width, torso length from shoulder to hip, torso length from collarbone to crotch, back length from shoulder to thigh, chest and waist circumference, outer seam and inseam lengths, hip circumference, thigh, knee, ankle and calf circumference. Also measure from seam to seam across your chest. Write down all measurements.
Draw out the torso and leg portion of your pattern on either newspaper or tracing paper. Draw a front panel with your decided neckline and to fit the measurements you took, and the back to fit the measurements but not to reflect the neckline. Make the panels one continuous piece from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the leg. Add a 5/8 inch seam allowance all around the edges.
Draw a sleeve pattern on the paper so that the seam of the arm will meet the side seam of the rest of the suit. Draw it to fit all your arm measurements. Add a 5/8 inch seam allowance on all the edges.
Cut out the pattern from the paper and pin it to the wrong side of the stretch PVC fabric with straight pins. Cut out one of each of the front and back body panels and two of the arm piece. Remove the pins and store the pattern for later use.
Pin the seams of the front and back panels together with the wrong sides of the fabric facing out. Sew along the line made by the pins down the sides using a straight stitch, leaving the arm holes open, and along the inseams.
Locate the centre of the back panel and draw a vertical line from the back of the neck to the middle of the back. This is where you will insert the zipper. Cut along the line as straight as possible. Your zipper is 24 inches long, so make sure your line is no longer than 23 inches, or the zipper will not be long enough.
Turn the suit so that the zipper opens it at t he top, with the rest of the suit falling below it. Pin the zipper to one side of the opening with the right side of both the zipper and the fabric facing each other. Repeat on the other side. This will make it so there is no cut edge showing on the outside of the suit next to the zipper.
Sew along the line made by the pins to attach the zipper to the suit. Follow any instructions the zipper may have for finishing the bottom and top edges.
Pin the arm pieces to the body of the suit, then pin the bottom seam of the arm shut. Make sure the bottom arm seam lines up with the side seams of the body. Sew along the line made by the pins to secure the sleeves, then remove all pins from the suit.
Pin all the rough edges at the ends of the sleeves, legs and neck into a small hem. Sew them with a straight stitch, making sure not to sew the zipper opening shut. Turn the suit right side out and check all the seams to make sure they are secure.
Put on the suit to check the fit. If you want the suit to be very form fitting, add small pintuck gathers at the curvier points of the body suit, such as the sides of the breasts and buttocks. To do a pintuck gather, use a straight pin to tuck a small line of fabric in from the right side. Pin the gather on the wrong side and sew with a straight stitch along the line.
You can adjust the neck line, sleeve and leg length any way you want to using this method. Make several suits with different sleeve and leg lengths, as well as different neck lines for an extensive selection. If you do not feel up to making your own pattern, patterns from Kwik-Sew and Jalie for ballet leotards can be adjusted to fit your needs.
Check the stretch of your fabric before you being sewing it together, as some fabric only stretches two ways and can make a very uncomfortable suit if the stretch is not going the right way. With two way stretch fabric, it is best for the stretch to go horizontally, as a vertical stretch could lead to the suit pulling down toward the legs.
Tips and warnings
- You can adjust the neck line, sleeve and leg length any way you want to using this method. Make several suits with different sleeve and leg lengths, as well as different neck lines for an extensive selection.
- If you do not feel up to making your own pattern, patterns from Kwik-Sew and Jalie for ballet leotards can be adjusted to fit your needs.
- Check the stretch of your fabric before you being sewing it together, as some fabric only stretches two ways and can make a very uncomfortable suit if the stretch is not going the right way. With two way stretch fabric, it is best for the stretch to go horizontally, as a vertical stretch could lead to the suit pulling down toward the legs.
Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Newspaper or tracing paper
- Straight pins
- Stretch PVC or vinyl fabric
- Sewing machine
- Colour coordinated thread
- 24 inch invisible zipper (colour coordinated)