Lisa here from Not Sew Selfish, with my take on the new Dandelions & Dungarees Scoop Back Leo. This pattern is available for both girls and women, and I decided to make one for myself, even though I’m not a dancer. One of the best things about sewing for yourself (or for your kids) is that you can take a pattern and your ideas, and make it your own - play with the style or the look to suit your own lifestyle and personality. I love sewing with lace, and wearing things with a touch of lace - I have a Pinterest board full of ideas of how I want to add lace to things I sew for myself. So as soon as I saw this pattern, the look that came to mind was a black bodysuit with a lace feature - something to wear as a close fitted top with jeans, skirts or shorts.
I’m relatively inexperienced with swimwear and leotards - I’ve made one swimsuit for myself, and one for each of my girls, and every time I’m a little surprised that it all comes together in the end, so I always approach this kind of sewing with a little trepidation (and in this case leave it right to the last minute of the deadline for a review!). But once again, it came together beautifully.
The most helpful part of this pattern (especially if you’re nervous about this type of sewing) is a series of links to video tutorials, which take you through the trickier parts - attaching and top stitching the elastic, working with the sweetheart neckline - all shown in great detail and with some fun and humor. Even if you don’t watch the full length of the video, noting that the video for working with the sweetheart neckline takes 9 minutes is a good reminder that you need to work really slowly and carefully with this kind of detail to get a professional looking result.
The other great thing about this pattern is that it shows you how to make the entire leotard using a sewing machine - you don’t need to have a serger to make this. I’d suggest that even with all these instructions, this is still an intermediate level pattern, and one you need to take your time with - although if you’re an adventurous beginner, jump in and have a go anyway (that’s what I’ve always done!). You might need to get to know your sewing machine, and the options for stretch stitches (zig zag or triple stitch) - it often comes down to your fabric and sewing machine combination for what will work best, so have a practice on some scraps first.
This leotard has some really beautiful features - it has a sweetheart neckline with a high neck yoke, and a lovely low scoop back. I’ve chosen to make my scoop back out of stretch lace and use the front shelf bra option (which has elastic under the bust and power mesh for support). Wearing it as a bodysuit with a skirt at my natural waist, the effect is a full lace back, which I’m very happy with. With jeans or a skirt worn at the hips, you’d be able to show off the curve of the base of the back. I’ve also chosen to use fold over elastic for the neck and arm bands (and I trimmed the pieces down ¼” to allow for this), but the pattern instructions show you how to use regular elastic here. I’ve made the sleeveless version, but there is also the option for cap sleeves.
The elastic around the legs is sewn on flat at the front, and all the stretch/gathering is around the bottom at the back, which gives a really nice smooth, flattering look on the front. If you know what you’re doing, you could easily modify the leg elastic and add snaps to the crotch if you wanted that feature in a bodysuit.
You need 4 way stretch fabric for the main part of the leotard, and I’ve used a heavyweight supplex here, which was one of the fabric suggestions. This was my first time sewing with supplex, but it won’t be the last - it’s easy to work with, and if you want to make this for yourself, this is a great fabric choice - it’s very flattering in a way that is fitted without being too clingy!
I love the different looks we’ve been able to get with this pattern for this post - you’ll see the lovely girls versions we’ve made with lighter and more colourful designs, and the inspiration pics and videos in the pattern show off just how many fabulous (shiny, glittery, printed, plain) fabrics there are to work with. You can use a 2-way stretch for the yoke, which gives you the option to work with mesh for that part. I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for making one for a little girl in your life (or to have a go and make one for yourself - even if you’re not a dancer).
Spandex from Mabel Madison.