Dance: Getting Fabric, working with fabric, and watching that fabric move!

As we continue on our week long look at Dance and Gymnastics patterns, I figured this would be a great time to give you some resources for where to source great fabrics.

  • #1 on everyone's list is Spandex World - this is your one stop shop for all your fabric needs.  Make sure that you get a medium weight for Ballet: Cotton/Lycra with a 4 way stretch and at least 8% lycra will work well.  Milliskin is great for dance and gymnastics and comes in both matte and shiny finishes.  But seriously, this store has EVERYTHING spandex.
  • Girl Charlee carries a variety of scuba knits, milliskin, and nylon spandex that are great for all your active sewing.  With low prices, this is a great way to try out different types of fabric.
  • Want to see some crazy cool fabrics (and some crazy prices to match!!!), check out NY Fashion Center .  They have incredible one of a kind fabrics - so if you are making a special dance costume, this is where you want to look!
  • If you are in Australia - you can't do any better for awesome spandex than BOO! Designs.  They carry high quality fabrics in amazing prints - you wont be disappointed!!!  And if you are state side, they do ship to the states - the price just gets a bit steeper with the international shipping.

All right - now that you have your fabric world opened up for you, here is Marnie showing off an adorable Gymnastics Leotard  from Jalie and some great tips for working with these slippery fabrics.



Every Friday morning I am woken by a little hand tapping me quite firmly asking “is it gymnastics today?” Friday morning is indeed gymnastics day for Zoe after we take the boys to school and it’s the highlight of her week. I’m sure this little miss will be doing gymnastics for at least a few years yet, so its great to get some practice in on learning to sew leotards now whilst she is too small to notice all my imperfections.

I’ve sewn up the Lillie Gymnastics Leotard from Jalie patterns and I’m sharing it with you today. I love Jalie patterns - the fit is sensational, the pattern pieces are easy to put together, and it represents serious value for money, with little girls all the way up to women included in their patterns. I would highly highly recommend this pattern. The instructions are minimal, which i actually prefer, but I think it is more suited to advanced beginner/intermediate sewers for that reason.

I found this to be a very fast, easy sew. The only modification I did was to shorten the sleeve - the pattern included long sleeve and sleeveless - but we are at the end of winter and the weather is becoming spring like very very quickly (yay), so a long sleeve leotard is no longer needed. I simply just chopped off the sleeve.  This pattern is perfect for using all the scraps you’ve got lying around. I used some pink and silver sparkly scraps that I had lying around, and combined it with some super cool colourful fabric that I purchased from the Boo! Designs store. The curved lines are really flattering on little pot bellies, and I’m sure would be considered rather trendy by older girls.

Zoe was more than happy to model for me, but kept trying to do all these gymnastics moves (3 years old of course, only a mother could tell they were gymnastics moves) - all done with a very serious face, and quite a bit of tongue twisting as well. And that scooter. If she sees it, she insists on it being part of the photo. For anyone who has an active little daughter like mine, this is a fast and straightforward sew and I love the end result!

I know some sewers are really scared to tackle projects with slippery materials like this, but it is honestly not hard. Here are my top tips for sewing with the stretchy stuff

  1. Choose your fabric well - you really get what you pay for with stretchy fabrics. Whilst it may seem like a bargain at the time, more expensive fabrics tend to sew better, look better and last longer

  2. All machines handle knits differently - especially fabrics often used for leotards and swimsuits. Get to understand how your machine handles this fabric by practicing on scraps.

  3. I use a ballpoint needle for cotton lycra, but for the shiny swimwear and leotard fabrics, I use a stretch needle. Using the right needle really helps.

  4. Play around with the different stitches on your machine. You may find one for stretch that you like a little better than the one in the manual says to use.

  5. If you are having trouble sewing through the fabric, wooly nylon in your bobbin, or in the loopers of your overlocker, or your coverstitch machine can really help.

  6. I find google far more informative for help than randomly posting in someone’s facebook group and hoping you’ll get the answer you are after. There are wonderful blog posts and videos everywhere

  7. Do not expect perfection, especially with elastic and binding. Whilst you will improve dramatically as you sew, without an industrial coverstitch machine it is very difficult to get the exact same finishes, though you can get pretty close to it. Dont be too hard on yourself and instead be thrilled with the fact that you have learned to sew something new.

Go on, give it a go and thanks for reading along,