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Posts Tagged ‘lycra’

What single pattern could possibly be more useful to a committed costumer than the catsuit (bodysuit)? A catsuit is a costume in itself, and with a few minor alterations or props, you can suddenly make maybe almost every superhero costume, every anime pilot costume, every ninja, and hot-crime-fighting heroine costume out there. A with the right materials, a body suit does not have to be form fitting either, though that is a huge advantage to its design. But with a heavy enough lycra you can make it flare at the leg or in the sleeves. Knowledge of how to construct a catsuit is invaluable knowledge for a cosplayer.

I have worn a catsuit before, but this is my first time making one, and I would like to put together a little tutorial for beginners to let them know what they should expect from the project.

First off, we need a pattern. I used Kew Sew’s #3052, but you can find many different style body-suits, leotards, and swimwear at sewingpatterns.com. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, or want to make a form-fitting garment from scratch, you should visit the pattern school. And if you don’t want to make a pattern yourself, and you don’t want to pay for one, then you should check out the free patterns at burdastyle.com. They have a limited selection of free swimwear. And because it is free, they have a great lack of directions….so only go this route if you already know how to sew.

Okay! After you have your pattern, its time to select a fabric. I have done a lot of reading about what types of fabrics to use, but everything out there is either confusing, or intimidating! It basically boils down to this: the more lycra or spandex in the fabric, the more it will stretch. If your pattern is for swim or dance wear, then buy swim or dance wear fabric. The pattern that I am using calls for a 2-way stretch swimwear pattern that has a stretch of 75%. How do you know if your fabric is stretchy enough? There will be a guide on the back of the pattern. It shall be a long rectangle, and it will say “fabric this length (with a mark to show how long) should stretch to here (with a mark to show how long). Check your fabric against the back of the pattern before you start sewing to make sure it is stretchy enough. It’s okay to be a little too stretchy, but you do not want to be lacking in stretch.

pattern main body.

Now, what’s the difference between 2-way stretch and 4-way stretch? Well 2-way stretch only stretches along the horizontal: only two ways. But four way stretch goes both vertical and horizontal: stretching in four directions. I am using a 4-way stretch even though the pattern calls for 2-way, but you MUST NEVER use a 2-way when a pattern calls for 4-way. Remember, its always better to have too much than too little!!

pattern cut out in fabric.

The next thing to consider when choosing a lycra to work with–I am going to assume you are using lycra, because that’s what’s in the title, and that’s what I’m using, sorry if you’re not—is the weight of the fabric. Lycra comes in three weights: light, medium, and heavy. The heavier the weight, the thicker and more substantial the fabric. Makes sense. Thin lycra gives lycra a bad rap because it is very hard to feed through a sewing machine–if you don’t know what you’re doing. It tends to curl in on itself and can get stuck on the feeder-feet on the machine. Heavier weights will be easier to work with, but they will be hotter to wear. Slightly. I choose a heavyweight because I don’t want to look like I am in a leotard when I am in my costume; I want it to look more substantial than that while still being very form-fitting. Heavy-weight lycra will also help hide undergarments!!

Next is the actual sewing parts. Cut out your pattern pieces with SHARP scissors, it will be easier and cleaner, and the fabric will slip around less if your have the right tools.

close up on the stretch overlock stitch.

Okay, to start with, READ YOUR SEWING MACHINE’S MANUAL TO SEE HOW TO SET IT UP FOR STRETCH FABRICS. With my machine, I am using an over-locking stitch on the stretch setting, but those settings are different on every machine and so you need to read what it is you have to change before you begin. An overlock stretch stitch is cool because it will stretch with the fabric, making all of your seams stretchy and your finished garment easier to move in. You should also be using a stretch needle because it avoids skipped stitches. If you do these two things, sewing the lycra should be easy.

But if you are still having trouble with the way the fabric is fed through the presser foot, you can pin the lycra to a sheet of tracing aper or tissue paper along the seam. Put the tissue paper under the lycra so that the feeding-feet only need to move the rigid paper. Once the seam is complete, tear the paper away from the seam.

tracing paper pinned to the under side of the lycra.

That’s all I have on sewing lycra for now. Just follow the patterns instructions and you should be fine. Just don’t be intimidated. Working with a heavyweight lycra is 100 times easier than I thought it would be.

You can look forward on more on this topic once I complete the suit. I still have to work on the zipper and attaching the sleeves!

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