This leotard is the first complex sewing project I've ever done, so it's definitely good for beginners.
Save Money on Kids' Dance Clothes by Sewing a DIY Leotard
My oldest daughter, Phoebe, began dance classes recently, and I had the hardest time finding her dance clothes and shoes. She has small feet, so I knew I would have to order her shoes online, but she's a little chunk, so I wasn't expecting to have such a hard time finding a simple pink or black leotard. She currently wears between 18 months and 2t, depending on the brand. Even so, I checked multiple stores, and I couldn't even find a 2t leotard! I ended up having to find one online (which was a challenge all in itself).
So, I figured, how hard could it be to make one? I was walking around Wal-Mart and stumbled upon a rack of tank tops for $1.68! I grabbed a few, went home, put the kids down for a nap, and got to work!
Disclaimer: This is the first thing that I have ever sewed, minus pillows. And I'm not going to lie to you: This project took me about five hours total to complete, but I was more or less figuring things out as I went along—which, in my opinion, is the best way to learn! So if you're a beginner, you've come to the right place.
Step 1: Fix the Straps
As you can see in the photo above, I began with a simple black tank top, size 4-5. As I said before, Phoebe wears between a 18 month and a 2t. I just threw the tank over her clothes in the store and made sure that it could close between her legs.
Cut or Seam-Rip the Straps
I figured that the easiest way to start would be fixing up the straps. If you want to be all fancy, use a seam ripper. Otherwise, just cut the strap at the base on the back of the tank.
Cross the Straps and Sew Them Back On
All done? Great! Now you get to sew them back on! To be honest, I didn't actually measure the straps; I just crossed them and sewed them back down. But, much to my dismay, they were way too long, so I had to cut them again and sew them down again again.
If you have a measuring tape, you can use that or just throw the top back on your child and eyeball it. Guess which one I did.
Step 2: Create the Bottom
Now that your straps are strapped down, it's time to move to the booty.
You can either measure your kid with your measuring tape or just use an appropriately sized leotard as a template. I didn't want to goof up on my $1.68 tank top with my wonky measuring abilities, so I used the latter method.
Trim the Back and Sides
Cut the back of the leotard first and work your way up the sides. I didn't trim the sides the first time and had rip out my seams and start over.
Once you finish trimming the sides, fold the leotard side-to-side and trim the . . . I feel uncomfortable saying this, but trim the crotch. Grow up.
Step 3: Pin and Sew
Now it's time to break out the sewing machine! Turn your leotard inside out, pin the edges for a neat line, and sew your seams.
I sewed down the sides and then across the bottom.
Step 4: Add Elastic to the Leg Holes
Adding elastic to the leg holes is the next step. This part is a little tricky just because you are sewing in a circle and not a straight line.
Measure and Glue the Elastic Into a Circle (Optional)
Using your template leotard or measuring tape, cut the appropriate length of elastic for the hole. I decided to make my life a little easier by hot gluing the elastic into a circle before I began to sew. Be careful, though! Too much glue can cause your sewing needle to get stuck!
Sew the Elastic Into the Leg Hole
The easiest way to sew the leg hole is to almost force the fabric into a straight line by rotating it. Refer to the video below if you need help.
Step 5 (Optional): Embellish With Ribbons and a Skirt
Once you finish the leg holes, you're all done! I decided to embellish my leotard with a little fuzzy-ball-ribbon and a skirt, but it's cute enough by itself! See my other articles to learn more!
P.s. Ignore my daughter's face. She had just finished her dance camp class and was hungry, tired, and didn't want to leave.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 29, 2018:
Absolutely adorable! I love it. Thanks for sharing!