How to Make a Bodysuit

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You can make a full bodysuit from any type of stretch material to achieve the look you want.
You can make a full bodysuit from any type of stretch material to achieve the look you want. (Image: anime girl on the floor image by Mikhail Malyshev from Fotolia.com)

Bodysuits, also known as catsuits or unitards, are stretchy, tight-fitted garments with long sleeve and leg pieces. Bodysuits are most often used as dancewear or costume pieces, but can also be part of surfsuits and other athletic clothing. Although commercial bodysuits come in many different colors and styles, the specific designs and fit needed for dance and costume pieces are often difficult to find. You can make your own bodysuit that is custom fitted to your body, in the colors and fabric of your liking.

Things You'll Need

  • Large paper
  • Marker
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Four-way stretch Lycra
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Thread
  • Home sewing machine
  • Zipper

Create the Bodysuit Pattern

Lay out a sheet of large paper, such as brown kraft paper. Lay down on top of the paper so that the upper half of your body and one arm are on the paper. Hold your arm slightly away from your body.

Have a friend help you trace your body and arm, starting at the neck. Trace loosely. When finished, draw a line down the center of the body.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for the lower half of your body. Tape the lower tracing to the upper tracing, matching the lines.

Cut along your drawn lines, including the center vertical line, so that you have half of a full-body drawing. Draw a curved line at the shoulder, and cut along this line to separate the arm from the body.

Pin your paper patterns for your arm and body to a double layer of the Lycra fabric. Cut around the patterns, 1 inch away from all edges. This extra inch will provide seam allowances. You should have two arm pieces and 2 half-body pieces.

Pin the paper patterns for the arm and body to another double layer of fabric. Line up the center line of the body pattern with the folded edge of the fabric. Cut 1 inch away from all edges except the folded edge. You should have two more arm pieces and one full-body piece.

Piece the Bodysuit Together

Take the full-body piece and lay it out on a flat surface. This will be the front piece of your bodysuit. Take the two half-body pieces, which will be the back pieces of your bodysuit, and lay them on top of the front piece. Match the side edges together.

Pin the back pieces to the front piece along the sides of the neck and top of the shoulder. Also pin the pieces along the sides of the torso and legs. Leave the armholes, neck edge, inside leg edge, and ankle edges open.

Sew the pinned edges together, 1 inch away from the edges, using a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. You can also use an overlock machine or serger.

Pin the center back edges of the body together at the bottom, closing up 5 inches. Sew the edges together, 1 inch away. Lay the body out flat again.

Pin the inside leg edges together, then sew them closed, 1 inch away from the edges.

Finish the Bodysuit

Test the fit of the bodysuit on your body. If you need to make the suit bigger in any areas, tear out the problem stitching with a seam ripper and expand the suit into the seam allowances.

Fold the neck and ankle edges under 1 inch and sew them in place. Take the arm pieces and put them into pairs. Pin the side and top edges together, then sew 1 inch away from the edges.

Fold the wrist edges under 1 inch and sew them in place. Turn the arm pieces right side out and insert them into the armholes of the bodysuit. Pin the armhole edges together, then sew 1 inch away from the edges.

Fold the remaining edges of the center back under 1 inch. Pin the zipper tape of a zipper to each side of the center back, then sew it down.

Test the fit of the bodysuit again and make any necessary adjustments. Trim the seam allowances and serge or zigzag stitch the edges.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you would prefer to use a commercial pattern to make your bodysuit, simply skip Steps 1 through 4 and start with your pattern.

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