How to Make a Leotard Out of a Tanktop

Updated on July 27, 2018

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 5 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.

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!

As you can see, 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.

I figured that the easiest way to start wold 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.

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 to 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.

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 later method.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.


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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      22 months ago from Fresno CA

      Absolutely adorable! I love it. Thanks for sharing!




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