Sewing with spandex for the little gymnast

by Dana on January 16, 2013

Lucy has been begging me for months to make her a gymnastics leotard.
Well, actually, she’s been begging me to buy one of the cool sparkly and velvet ones they sell at her gym.  But for $40 I just can’t do it.  Especially when I know I can make one.

So this weekend I finally got started with bright purple Lycra and deep pink Elastic.  Ghastly right?  Perfect.

Now this is sort of a work in progress.  In fact, I hope to share a full tutorial with you down the road with a cooler fabric but I’m still working out the kinks.

If you’re new to sewing with knits, elastic, sewing swimsuits, etc. here are a few tutorials to get you started:

I started by tracing one of Lucy’s recent swimsuits to get a perfect fit.  I first made two rough pattern pieces.  Then after sewing the entire leotard went back and retraced, making adjustments where needed. I always label each pattern piece with a “version” number and the date to keep everything orderly.

Then I cut out the pieces from Spandex/Lycra fabric.
• You can purchase spandex in some fabric stores.  My favorite sources are the online shop Spandex World and the in-store shop Michael Levine (when I’m in LA)
• You can read details about the fabric in my book Fabrics A to Z.
• But in a nutshell….Spandex is a very stretchy knit fabric (sometimes sold under the trade name Lycra) that works perfectly for swimsuits and leotards.
• It’s important to determine the direction of the stretch before cutting.  Some spandex has 4-way stretch which means it stretches vertically and horizontally, some only has 2 way stretch (like the purple fabric below).  Use your hands to stretch it both horizontally and vertically.  You want the stretch to go horizontally across the body so it can stretch with your tummy.

Now comes the part where I admit something I should have done 10 years ago….
I used FOLD OVER ELASTIC! (or F.O.E.)   What?!  Where have I been…or not been?  Why has it taken me so long?
It’s changing my life.

You see, I’ve made swimsuits in the past (here and here) where I created a casing for the elastic and strung it through.  But unless you have a fancy Coverstitch machine (I don’t personally know anyone that does) it’s very difficult to get the elastic perfect.  Enter Fold Over Elastic.  You sew it to the outside of the fabric using the small line down the middle where it folds as your marker.  So first sew it to the wrong side of the fabric, then fold it over the fabric edge and sew it to the right side of the fabric.  And….
New leotard!

And FOE comes in tons of colors, even some prints.  Just doing an etsy search I came up with a bazillion options.  If you have a favorite shop for FOE leave it in the comments!

Now since I was making things up as I went along I totally forgot to add extra padding in the crotch area and when Lucy tried it on, well….it definitely needed it.  So I patched it up by cutting and sewing an extra piece down there.  Next time I’ll sew it in before adding elastic.

My little gymnast was quite pleased with the results.  She even pointed out “Mom, I love these little triangles you sewed all over the pink elastic!”  That would be a zigzag stitch and I love that she appreciates the tiny details.

So with Version 1 Leotard finished, we tried it on and she showed me some moves….

(sort of).  You can tell I know nothing about gymnastics…other than watching them during the Olympics.
And, the leotard totally works for baton twirling as well!

Lucy was intrigued.

And gave it a whirl.

Then yesterday we really tried out the new routine at her Gymnastics class.
Her friends were excited to see her wearing something other than her old ballet leotard.

There she goes.

And that’s a Leo wrap.
For round 1, I’d say it’s a success.  More versions to come….

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{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leigh Anne January 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Awesome job! I am always impressed that you made a swimsuit…..and now a leo… great! I just need to get over my fears and go for it, eh? What do I have to loose, some lycra & time? And thanks for the hint on the FOE. I have some but haven’t used it for this (obviously), just using it for baby headbands :)


2 Jenny E January 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I have bought fold-over elastic at JoAnn’s! It’s in the aisle with the baby hats and onesies and such. It doesn’t come in a huge variety of colors, and I have no idea how the prices compare, but I have enjoyed working with it! I used it to make some itty-bitty newborn circle skirts for my neice and they turned out adorable and comfy. Now to actually make some things for my own kiddos!


3 Hayley January 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I haven’t used it, but isn’t FOE what those awesome hair bands from Anthropologie are made out of? Someone could make a killing off that…just sayin’.


4 Holly January 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Awesome!! I’ve got a pile of fold over elastic, and some lycra that I’ve been wanting to make myself a one-piece with… I didn’t think to put the two together. Thank you!!!


5 Julie January 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Excellent job for a first try! I love the colors. I am scared to try this fabric…I’ll wait for your tutorial and then make a leotard for my 5 year old daughter. Thanks for sharing ;)


6 Leslie January 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Adorable. I, too, have been wanting to make my daughter one. Thanks for the inspiration!


7 Lauralee January 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME! I love it! Your tutorials always make it seem so easy that even I could do it…. :)


8 Laurin January 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm

ohmuhgaw…cutest thing ever. I want to make one – you make it look so easy.


9 lindsey January 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

This is so cute! you did a great job! Maybe someday I will be brave enough to try this. Do you have an elastic tutorial? I am going to look right now. I have been teaching myself to sew for about 8 months and made PJ pants for my 5 kids for christmas. My machine wouldn’t sew through the elastic though. Just kept bunching up and making a knotty mess. I ended up sewing the elastic by hand.


10 dawn January 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

It’s really cute, and your girl looks soooo happy!!!


11 Lindsay January 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm

This is great! I was gymnast for a really long time growing up (age 4-18), and was so excited when my mom started making my leotards. They were way more unique than the ones the gym sold, and fit so much better (I had a crazy long torso). And, since they were so cheap to make, I got to have so many. It was the best. Lucy is one lucky gal! :-)


12 Jackie January 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

So cute! I had wondered if you would know how to do something like that. I used to teach gymnastics and absolutely loved all of it and the leo’s are expensive. I was thinking of getting my little girl into gymnastics last year and if I would have the talent myself to make her leo’s instead of buying one. Looking forward to getting more information from you about that. Currently she does a little tumble/fun thing through her daycare. I may get her into a dance class this summer after she turns 3.


13 Heather January 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

ahh i love it! i’ve only used the fold over elastic to make obnoxious baby head bands. Nice to see it used how it’s probably intended.


14 Stephanie January 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thank you so much for this! I have been mind boggled about this my daughter really wanted me to make her one for Ballet and I couldn’t figure out how to do the stretch around the legs!!! You’re the best DAna.


15 Joy January 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Next up for me: buy some FOE. I have no idea what I’d use it on as I am way too nervous to try making a leotard (or swimsuit), but I am so intrigued! You’re amazing!


16 bdaiss January 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

CUTE! Color me (sparkly purple) impressed! Looking forward to future developments. (Pssst – not dismount. That’s present! As in presentation. So says the mom with 2 kids in gymnastics. Tonight is class night even!)


17 marsi January 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

fits her perfect! i’ll have to pick up some of that fold over elastic to have on hand too. clever!


18 Mònica January 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Dana, you did a really nice leotard!
It is not difficult to sew FOE you just need to learn the technique and a lot of sewing. I sew it in one step using zig-zag stitch, you must pull the elastic a little bit but never the fabric…
I hope it helps.


19 Rachel January 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm

So so cute!! It looks fantastic! Ha I love that she noticed the “tiny triangles.” She’s adorable.


20 Sarah January 16, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I just starting using FOE for the first time this week too. I used it to finish the cuffs and bottom of a fleece jacket and it worked great. I was looking at your website for advice on how to sew it beforehand and couldn’t find anything…how funny that you posted about it today!


21 kristin January 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Oh geez that’s cute. Em is growing out of her ballet leotard and I totally want to try making her next one. It just needs to be a stretchy jersey knit, though, not even shiny spandex! Ha. Thanks for the FOE tip, too! Looks like Lucy loves it!


22 Jamie January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm

So cute :) And I LOVE gymnastics! Hopefully, one day I can use your tutorials to make lots of leos for my own little gymnasts!


23 Anna Jordan January 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Love the leotard! My little gymnast would adore one, I’ll have to try it out- I’ve just started sewing with knits. I have ordered FOE from, they have every color imaginable, even glitter elastics! Their prices are great, (as low as $.50/yd).
-Anna (in TN)


24 Melissa January 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Your are so impressive! I have learned so much about sewing just from your blog posts. I am amazed that you are so able to look at an item of clothing and know how to make it yourself. For waaay less money. And I am stoked to try out fold over elastic! As usual, thanks for the inspiration!


25 Jessica @ Jessabells January 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I really have no idea what fold over fabric is. I’m going to have to buy your book. lol. You did a great job. Where were you when you took those pics of Lucy? What were you standing on? It looks like an overhead photo. I think that looks cool.


26 Marnie Durbidge January 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Such a cute leotard. I love FOE and use it quite a bit – it works well on the legs of your diaper cover pattern actually, and you can ruffle it easily to make some simple but cute ruffles to match on the back. I use it also on kids clothing when I’m looking for some cute colour (mind the spelling, I’m Australian, it’s how we spell colour) binding and I am too lazy to make some. I’ve used it with a straight stich along the edge when I am sewing it onto a non stretchy fabric. In Sydney we get totally ripped off with everything compared to America, it is hard to find here and costs around $2 per metre, which is way too expensive. I order it off etsy, and like marysupplies and I got some really cute chevron stuff the other day from isakayboutique.


27 Julie H. January 16, 2013 at 6:37 pm

You have an amazing talent for making things look so easy to do! I absolutely love this and I had never heard of fold over elastic. Yes, that would make the process MUCH faster/easier. I can’t wait to see the other color combos you make as you perfect the pattern!


28 Susannah January 16, 2013 at 7:15 pm

That leotard is adorable! I love the ability to make sometime for tons less than it would be to buy it!


29 Dkb January 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

We have a fleece zip front hoodie from LAnds End and for some reason the foe around the cuff was ridiculously tight for my 7yo. I picked it off and replace the matching velvet foe with shiny gray foe. My daughter will finally wear the jacket now that cuffs fit properly


30 Lisa January 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm

What is it with girls and that sparkly lycra. My daughter does rhythmic gymnastics and loves those leotards. I made her a few leotards in various sparkly fabric using a pattern from etsy. The seller is Mountain ash designs and it worked out really well. She specialises in ballet and gymnastics designs and the pattern is sent via pdf. Very detailed instructions and discussion on negative ease.


31 Michelle January 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm

This is so great! My daughter is 7 and in gymnastics too. She has been asking me to make her a unitard (I think that is what they are called)- a one peice leotard with the shorts legs that are attached.
I would love a tutorial on that!
You did a fantastic job (as usual). Thanks for sharing!


32 Laura. January 16, 2013 at 10:10 pm

FOE is great! But did you know that you don’t *have* to sew it twice? It is often used in cloth diaper making, and all we do is just slide the fabric in and three-point zig-zag all around!


33 Delia January 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Oh Lucy is so cute! Great job, even for just your first attempt.


34 Tessa January 16, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I’m impressed with the butt coverage you were able to achieve! My first attempt ended with a wedgie prone leotard. I love FOE. I use it in cloth diaper sewing and for headbands. For some crazy reason, I didn’t even think to use it for the leotard (even though I had it on hand!). This has inspired me to try version 2 of my own. Any tips on booty coverage would be greatly appreciated!


35 Cami January 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I want to make one now… for ME! Seeing those adorable pictures of Lucy is launching flashbacks of my gymnastics days. Feels like yesterday! Isn’t it crazy how fast we go from being the crazy, care-free kids to HAVING the crazy kids?! Thanks for both the sewing inspiration and the childhood memories!


36 mauri January 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

wowzers! Nice work! Lucy is one lucky little girl to have such a talented momma! (and Owen and baby girl, too!) I’m always impressed with what you come up with (like twinkles wardrobe- so much fun!)


37 Lizzie January 16, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I’m a sixteen year old gymnast and I just bought a $50 leo. And it doesn’t even fit properly and It would cost even more money to send it back, So I’ll deal with it. I love that you’re making Lucy one of her own! I’m totally going to make myself some!


38 Mikea January 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Dana! So upset with you!! Chevron FOE! Im putting in an order now. Im already working on my daughters 1st birthday which is in june and part of the theme is chevron.
She also started swim yesterday and i told her, her next bathing suit i will make. So i took a look at the website above and im definately ordering some more fabric. I dont need to but this fabric addiction is hard to shake! And i will be going to Michael Levine’s next week! I live so close but cant stand to be downtown.
Lucy is sooo adorable!


39 Becky T January 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

Awesome job girl! I’m very initimdated about sewing on knits. I bought a fab border print at Hancock last weekend and just trying it out now. I can tell I need some ball point pins. I have a serger and I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to sew the facing to the neckline with a serger. I want a coverstitch machine and there’s a Brother on Amazon for less than $400. Reading all the reviews, I’m about to slurge I think. But you sew knits so much, how about you do it first – totally worth it for all your sewing, and then let us know how it goes! :)


40 Katie January 17, 2013 at 10:51 am

I bought some awesome zebra striped hot pink and black fabric for a swim suit last year to make a swim suit for my daughter. I’m ashamed to admit that it terrified me and I ended up not making it. But you simplified it so beautifully, I think I’ll be able to do it this year! Thank you!

I’ve seen some cute prints of FOE at Jo-Ann Fabrics. They’re with the snaps, and diy cloth diapers.


41 Collette January 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

Lyla saw the picture of Lucy in the leotard and said “gymnaskicks!” So, you have the approval of a 2.5 year old. It looks great. I would think it would be hard to make one without it looking like just a swimsuit, but you did it.


42 ira lee January 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

speaking of- thats brings up a good point. why can’t they just wear swimsuits?!?! lol


43 ira lee January 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

love the leo! and they are crazy expensive! so you did a great job! and its super cute! i’ve bought FOE to try on a lightweight fabric skirt, or a make it yourself slip but i haven’t gotton around to it!


44 Cindy January 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

This is so great! I started sewing with spandex a few years ago, and actually own a coverstitch machine now because I was sewing so much with it for my business. I now sew most of my girls’ swimsuits because they fit SO much better than the storebought ones, and cover them where they need to be covered.

A few things:

I’ve seen FOE at Walmart in lots of bright colors. And yes, they make excellent headbands. I’ve also seen it at Joanns.

I would not regularly use FOE at the leg openings because those tend to need to be a bit more snug. FOE will stretch out over time. I’d do the method where you sew the elastic (with zig zag) onto the inside of the leg opening, then turn and top stitch it (again with zig zag) to enclose it. No casing. 1/4 or 3/8 elastic is good for this and will ensure a nice snug bum hugging for her leotard.

If people don’t want to trace their current pattern, or if they are looking for variety, my favorite pattern company that is always spot on for sizing with spandex is . They have many swimsuit, gymnastic, as well as ice skating patterns that could all be modified for unique looks.

Don’t you feel a sense of smug accomplishment beating the system by making something for a fraction of the cost? And that is way cuter to boot? Great job!


45 Sara January 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Good work! I made my daughter’s first ballet costume recently it feels really good to make something sparkly and oh so far from your own idea of fashion!


46 Danita Courtney January 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Awesome! I wish my mom knew how to sew when I was a gymnyst! I got the yucky leftovers or hand-me-downs! Your’s is perfectly pretty!!!


47 Felicity @ Our Little Beehive January 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Adorable! Now for sewing on ten thousand sequins ;)


48 Melissa Shultz January 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

So cute! The Leo and your daughter. My mom used to always say, “I could make that at a faction of the cost”. But the problem was that she never got around to making it. LOL! I love that you see it and put the plan into action with fantastic results. I give you a gold medal! :o)


49 Jenny January 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Awesome! I sooo need to learn to make my own leotards – they are so expensive (as you pointed out)! Cannot wait for a future tutorial!


50 Missy January 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Good for you! And I loved reading everyone’s tips!


51 janae king January 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Have you ever worked with a double needle on your sewing machine? It makes sewing on elastic a dream. On my blog I have photos of the stitch it makes. Check it out :)


52 Iryna January 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm

This is a such cool post! I bought some nice pink lycra for my kiddo, to sew her a pretty leotard, but never had enough confidence to make it. I do have fold-over elastic though! I might give it a try. Thank you for encouraging!
DO you have any tips for sewing with lycra?
Thank you


53 Jessica @ A Humble Creation January 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Looks great! And I love the colors. What perfect timing. Just yesterday at gymnastics my MIL wanted to buy my daughter a leotard (which she did at $38!), and I kept saying I think I can just make one much cheaper. But I was a little nervous to sew with lycra or spandex so I’m pinning this post for future reference. Thanks!


54 Rachel Smith January 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I love that you continue to strive for improvements. You could have just made one and been done, but you strive to improve and help us! It’s why I check in on you so often. Thank you for all you share with us:)


55 louise January 18, 2013 at 1:05 am

Very nice! My son loved gymnsatics, not so much now, but I loved watching the excitement the little girls have about thier gymnastics outfits!!


56 Jana January 18, 2013 at 4:13 am

Awesome!! I’m a gymnastics coach with a ten-month old daughter (who thinks she owns the gym…). I’ll definitely make a tiny, little leo for her first birthday! Thank you so much!


57 Jill January 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

FOE is fantastic for diapers and diaper covers too! I’ve tried a few sources for my diaper business. When needed, I can get it locally at JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby. However my favorite source is online at Diaper Sewing Supplies. DSS has more options including anti-pill FOE – a must for diapers with velcro!!/groups/418757574813809/


58 Sarah K. January 19, 2013 at 3:05 am

I love how proud she looks in her new leotard. Well done, Mom!


59 dstitchgal January 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Wish I would have had this last Sept. Made Olympic Gymnist costume for granddaughter. Used clear elastic, folded to back and then topstitched with double needle. Turned out pretty well, but love the idea of fold over. She was thrilled so that was what counts. Thanks for great tips.


60 Kim d. January 20, 2013 at 9:30 am

Dana, super cute leo! Thanks for inspiring so many people to try their hand at making one, they are sooo expensive and not too hard to make.
I have made boat loads of leos for my daughter and I have a couple of tips if you want to hear.
1. You *really* need to use a fabric with a 4 way stretch, not just 2 way. As your daughter starts doing back bends and anything where she stretches her body, a 2 way stretch will make this very difficult.
2. You can use cotton Lycra with a 4 way stretch. It won’t be shiny and sparkly, but there are tons of cute prints. I often times combine cotton Lycra with a shiny dancewear knit to get the best of both worlds.
3. Make sure the fabric isn’t transparent before you spend all the time sewing it. You can line transparent fabric but make sure to adjust the size. Leos are so form fitting that when a lining is added the size you would normally wear can be a bit snug. Personally, I think lining is a pita.
4. FOE looks really nice but it varies in quality. It will look very worn out quickly if you don’t use good quality. Sometimes I use FOE just around the neck or just around the neck and arms.
5. Instead of FOE, I sew in 3/8″ elastic with my serger and turn and top stitch. I either zigzag or double needle the top stitching. Contrast thread is excellent here!
6. Decorative elastic makes a super cute embellishment….even decorative FOE left unfolded is a great embellishment. I might sew it zig zagging across the whole front and back or do a more simple and neat line across the chest.
7. Appliqués and fabric piecing really make the leo unique. Make sure to include your MADE tag….all the other girls are going to be jealous and want to know what brand of Leo it is!
Ok, I think that is enough, this is such a long comment! Have a great day and happy leo


61 Kim d. January 20, 2013 at 9:31 am

Meant to say happy leo making!


62 Nicole January 20, 2013 at 11:59 pm

So cute! I used to put a stitch across a little length of elastic just at the center base of the back for all my daughter’s leos and suits. Then the coach could see her form and hips better for dance and gymnastics. And there was no gaping peeky hole through the top center back or an armpit.


63 wes January 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I just ordered a bunch of FOE from Elastic by the Yard off of etsy. Tons of colors at a really reasonable price! I needed some headbands to keep my hair under control during yoga and zumba!


64 Jenn January 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

There’s an online shop called FOE Your Diaper. The website is She has a large selection of solids and prints in some various sizes. Her shipping is FAST and she is awesome! I have always had great luck with her.


65 Emily January 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Mary not Martha, about $0.45/yd. She will put together custom listings for you if you want more of one color.


66 Lucia January 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hi Dana!
You’re amazing! I really have to thank you, because, after reading your posts about sewing knits and similar, I felt reassured and I started to try many things that used to scare me before.
Your very coloured blog always makes me happy! It gives me inspiration, and make me feel like I can do more things than I use to think…
Thank you! ;)
It’s so difficult to find good shops in Italy, or shops online in italian… I wish I had a better english to do my shopping everywhere! I absolutely had no idea of what a FOE could be before reading and looking at your post! Actually, I don’t think I know how to call it in italian either! ;)
Anyway… nice job!


67 Nathalie @ Angelina's Dream Parties January 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Lovely! Thanks for the tutorial, can’t wait for my little one to start gymnastics class so I can make these.


68 Valerie January 24, 2013 at 5:47 am

You are amazing! What a great tip, foe, I never heard of it either. I attempted to make my daughter a swim suit and did research before making it and never came up with fold over elastic. That is way easier than what I did. Thank you so much for always coming up with brilliant, simple ideas and tips to get the job done so nicely. Lucy looks great in her new leotard! Bravo!


69 nath January 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I have the exact same little girl at home (and same baton)… Showed your pics to her and she said ‘that little girl is very good!!’


70 Jodi January 25, 2013 at 12:03 am

hi Dana,
yes FOE is wonderful I found it when I was making my own diapers. Its great for quick hems on shorts and toddler pants, Yo just stretch it where you need the elastic and use like bias tape on regular hems great stuff. Super fast and easy!


71 alex January 25, 2013 at 2:12 am

this is great, i wanna try it on my own, one of my friends referred me to, they sell a unique patterns, it would be great to use this tutorial with one of them


72 Mary Ann January 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm

This is great to see! Both my grand daughters go to a preschool gymnastics school. They go in, take off their shoes and sox and run around in their leos and bare feet all day! Where did you get the fold over elastic, I’ve never seen it… does Joanne’s carry it?


73 naana January 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Isn’t that what they use for those emi-jay ponytail holders? anyways, thanks for the tip about FOE!


74 Adva January 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Amazing job!


75 Connie February 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Oh, where was FOE when I was making leotards for my daughter “umpteen” years ago?? I used the Stretch N Sew patterns and my daughter loved her unique look. Quick, easy and inexpensive!


76 Bethany March 24, 2013 at 9:23 am

I Love this! My girls are into track and have a track camp coming up in early summer. They want those matching shirt/skirt sets but the prie tag OUCH! I have the perfect fabric, I may try to adapt this. Wish me luck!


77 anshu June 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm
78 Manuela Pooch June 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

Hansaplatz zum Zoo. Bagger kommt
sine Vigilum


79 Rochelle June 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

my fave source for FOE is
When I first started using it I purchased some from the diaper making supply aisle, and it was much too thick and bulky. My 15 year old daughter is a ballerina in training, and I make her chiffon wrap skirts with FOE as the waistband, and I’ve started making her leos since she has become enamoured with these….
I just don’t use the FOE around the leg holes, those I just use the old stitch and turn method with the elastic.


80 Liz July 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Dana – love your site! I’m a beginner sewer with big dreams:) I’ve done some nice pieces for bedding and kids clothes but I really want to do a leo for daughter’s birthday. I’ve never worked with Lycra and it’s proving a huge challenge for my beginner knowledge. I cannot for the life of me get the tension setting right! My thread keeps gathering underneath into a huge knotted ball. I’ve tried loosening the tension on my bobbin case and on my machine. I’m using a stretch needle and I’ve tried straight stich, stretch stich and zig zag with no luck. Help Please! What am I doing wrong? Thanks!!!!


81 Mary Davis September 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Where did you buy Spandex at?


82 Laura February 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Just made a Leo for my 10 month old using your tutorial as a guide. I had some trouble with the FOE. Any tips on helping it lay flat? Yours links so good in the picture! The results were great regardless. We’re excited for her to start her first mommy and me class in just a few weeks!


83 Becky Thompson March 6, 2014 at 6:22 am

6 Mar 14 – As I travelled my fave blogs this AM, I stopped by and saw yesterday’s post with images of the little girl in the purple leotard and thought, “Hey! That looks like Lucy! Is it? Yes! Wait a min…Did someone plagiarize Dana’s work?” No – the author of the post linked to you. :) I recall reading the post a while ago.
Still love the tute. Awesome job!

Dedicated Defender of Dana Willard’s Intellectual Property


84 Sarah Helene March 8, 2014 at 11:06 am

AWESOME leotard for Lucy! Shows your LOVE sewn into it. I love the colors! Your photo shoot is also AWESOME! Dana, you are so thorough in your tutorial and text as well. You have so many comments, which reveals that you have so many followers, right? Deservedly so!
I’m a new follower & “bookmarked” your blog. Sarah Helene in Minneapolis


85 Amanda July 12, 2014 at 7:30 am

Propper leotard fabric weather stretch cotton or spandex always has 4 way stretch. Its nice but not really a true leotard given only 2 way stretch. However I am sure made your little one very happy which is ultimate goal right so it certainly works. Now one day you will give in and buy that $40 lleotard but for now this is good solution for you.


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what if you added something to possibly get folk’s attention? I
mean Sewing with spandex for the little gymnast | MADE is kinda
plain. You ought to look at Yahoo’s front page and see how they create post titles to grab viewers to click.
You might add a related video or a pic or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve written. In my
opinion, it could make your website a little bit more interesting.


87 Kara Herring March 17, 2015 at 2:57 am

Hello. I love your tutorials. I could really use the follow up for the tutorial on this gem of a leo. I am hoping for a 2-3 T :). I noticed that this was from quite a while ago and was wondering if you will be posting the tutorial soon? Hopefully it will come with a video! I find them very helpful for beginner sewers. They have inspired to me to wash the dust off my fabric as I type.



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