Sew What: Assembling the Sleeveless Leotard, Pattern 1322
One of my more popular patterns is the Sleeveless Leotard Pattern (Pattern 1322), extremely useful for anyone who wants to a sleek and aesthetic suit to be a superhero in! Whether you're kicking butt, or dancing gracefully, this pattern is the perfect look for various active costumes. And it's not only useful for just cosplay, so if you have other ideas, I would love to see what projects you end up making with it!
Purchase the Sleeveless Leotard Pattern Here:
With most of my sewing patterns, I like to do video tutorials, because it is much easier for me to show you while I'm explaining my process, but for those that prefer written instructions, I'll be offering them on my site here as blog posts as a supplement to the videos. Here is the link to the video if you'd like to use both forms of tutorial together:
If there's any step you don't understand or need help on, let me know and I'll be happy to assist explaining anything here in more depth! I know I'm not the best at explaining things in words, but I try my best nonetheless! Email me at email@example.com if you would like additional assistance, and I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able to.
After downloading and printing out your patterns, you'll have to cut your pattern pieces out. Because some of the leotard pieces are too big to fit on home printing paper, I have arranged them with matching circles for your convenience.
Once you have assembled your patterns by taping them together, you'll begin cutting your fabric on the fold, and once that's all done, you'll be ready to move to the sewing machines! Remember, white fabric can often lack opacity, so you may want to line your suit if you're using white fabrics, or double up on the fabric. I usually self-line my magical girl leotards, meaning, I use the same fabric on the outside as the inside. This makes for a nice bright white suit that shines as bright as the moon herself!
Connecting Your Lining to Your Face Pieces
After cutting all pieces out in the face fabric and lining fabric, match each piece of lining to its face (a total of 8 pieces, matching up to make 4 pairs) and baste all individual lining pieces together with the corresponding face fabric. Stitch at 5mm on edges, 1/8" away from edges.
The baste stitch will keep things together as you sew, it is not meant to be seen in the finished garment. You may find that some stretch fabrics are a bit slippery to work with and shift while you sew them, so my sewing teachers taught me that if I start from the center of a garment, like the center of the neckline, and then work my way outwards, I can keep better control of the pieces. Whatever works best for you, just make sure you can hold it steady! If you're having too much trouble with this, you can also hand baste for this step.
Your basted pieces, as viewed from the right side (the face), and the wrong side (the lining):
Sewing the Underbust Seam
For every step, you'll want to sew right sides together. To begin, I like to start with the underbust seam. Sew underbust lines on the top front + top bottom and the back top + back bottom panels. You may find that sewing the underbust seam on the front panels to be somewhat challenging because of the point and curves. Try to manipulate your fabric as you're sewing to be as straight as possible when working it through the machine. "Trick" the machine into sewing a straight line, in a sense! You can also start at the center front point and work your way to the edge, and repeat for the other half of the seam, if that helps.
Sewing the Side Seams and Shoulder Seams
Next, I like to move on to the side seams. Remember, sew with your right sides together! While this seam is usually fairly easy, it is challenging to get the seams to match perfectly where the underbust seams intersect the side seam. You can once again use basting, this time by hand, to hold that problem area in place until you secure it with a sewing machine stitch. After you complete the side seams, finish up each shoulder. After you complete those four stitches, you should stop here to try on your suit to check your fit. Better to fix it now if there are any fit issues that need addressing.
Don't forget to make mock-ups or do test fits while sewing your suit! Oh, by the way, this leotard is an older style, and does not use the exact same pattern as what I use today.
Finishing and Hemming Your Suit Edges
To finish up the leotard, you will next want to hem the neckline, the armholes (you can choose to wait on the arm holes if you plan to install sleeves for your suit), the bikini line, and the crotch flap. We are not going to sew the crotch seam together because I prefer to have it attach from front to back with snaps and pant hooks, that way you can put the suit on over your head, like a t-shirt. Also makes it have easy access for using the bathroom- no need to remove your entire costume! ;3
To hem these areas, I serge around each edge with my serger/overlock machine. If you do not have a serger, your sewing machine might have a similar stitch. If it does not, you can technically skip this step, as spandexes generally don't fray. Just make sure the edges are neat and trimmed appropriately if there's any funky areas. After that, you'll fold the edge of the fabric over once, about 3/8" towards the inside, and then top stitch at a distance of 1/4" from the edge of the folded hem.
If you plan to install elastic into the bikini line of your leotard, make sure to do so using whatever method works best for you. I prefer to sew a sort of "tunnel" for the elastic, and then thread the elastic strap through with a safety pin. Not everyone might need or want elastic in this area, so that's why I didn't include it, but for those that find it gives them a better fit in the bum area, I recommend to try this! Generally, for my elastic, I follow the length of the finished bikini line, and subtract 2 inches. Make sure to anchor the elastic on either side so that it doesn't come loose inside the seam!
Adding Snaps to Your Suit
I generally use about 14 or so snaps (sometimes more, sometimes less, depends on the size and strength of what I have on hand) but more or less, this is the diagram my suits follow. It's important to remember, if you want all of your magical girl accessories to be compatible with the same base suit, they must also have matching corresponding snaps. That's how I'm able to cosplay all of my Sailor Moon characters by using only just a few shared leotards!
There will be four snaps at the center front neckline. Two small ones are for the sailor collar. Two slightly larger ones are for your front Glamour Bow to snap on. The skirt uses the most snaps: two in the center front, one on each side seam, and four in the back. One larger snap will connect to the back of the hip roll above the waistband- this keeps the back bow from making the hip roll look droopy in this area, since I make my bows snap onto the hip roll.
Notice in the diagram below, the waistband snaps for the skirt are all at different levels. You should adjust the height of these based on your body and personal preference, but more or less, the front is the deepest point, then the back is slightly above that level, and the side seam snaps are the highest points. This is what keeps the dramatic V shape in the skirt in place!
The last snaps will be at the crotch. The number may vary here usually from 2-5, depending on your preference. Generally, I use four, two on each side of the flap, and then in the center, I add a pants hook. The pants hook serves as a backup for if the snaps become unlatched from performing too much activity. The snaps unlatch by being pulled apart, while the pants hook unlatches by being pushed together, so similarly, if the pant hook fails, then the snaps should back up the pants hook!
The crotch parts are made to overlap slightly so if you determine it is slightly too long (some people have a shallower crotch depth than others), some length can be taken off to accommodate a better fit! As always, make sure to do several test fits throughout your construction process so that you're not surprised at the end at any fit errors.
Coming Soon: Magical Girl Sleeves Tutorial!
Adding sleeves will be continued in a separate tutorial! In it I will discuss five different sleeve styles: the sleeve rolls, Saturn's spiky petal sleeves, the sheer petal sleeve as seen on the Supers uniform, the three-tiered petal sleeves as seen on Super Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon, and the puffy sleeves as seen on the Eternal uniform. Look forward to it!
Congratulations! Other than any other accessories or details you may want to add, you're now done with your magical girl leotard!
As mentioned prior, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to let me know by leaving a comment, emailing me, etc. Also feel free to share with me your progress photos and finished projects, I really do enjoy seeing them!
And one last thing, YES more sizes of leotards are coming in 2020! I've been able to come by a patterning software that I can borrow, but I don't have access to it 24/7, so it may take some time for me to develop the grading rules and additional sizes, but I will work my tail off so that everyone can find as close of a size that works for them and partake in cosplaying from this beloved anime!