Black and Gold


Today’s costume is influenced by the song Black and Gold, by Sam Sparrow. There was really no set idea behind this leotard other than I wanted a high neckline with a deep plunging ‘V’… and of course lots of panels, making sure the leotard looks the best when on the body and stage. Oh and of course that it be black and gold.

For this blog I’m going to take you behind the drafting process that I usually proceed through when designing my leotards and give you some little hints that I’ve learnt along the way.

When starting off I generally have just a basic idea in head of where I’ll be heading with a particular leotard… and I mean basic!!! Mostly at the start I only have structural features floating around, form necklines, asymmetrical, and to how a skirt will be cut to suit.

This is all I have if I start from scratch, otherwise I might have pictures to influence design or past leotards design too.

Why I say that I have a very basic idea is because sometime I just don’t like the idea of where the costume was going once the shell of the costume had been constructed. I have even scrapped a whole costume idea just because it wasn’t doing it for me!

So starting off I will quickly draw down a small design, and generally I draw quite small it’s just something at I’ve always done, I’m not one that draws boldly! Once you have developed and refined the basic structure it’s time to start patterning

A note to be for the drafting that I’m about to show you below. This is not a generic size pattern shape; this pattern is structured for person that does have a natural waist/ generic body measurements! People that are classified as straight up and down or brick shape persona can fit in to a generic pattern as lycra stretches, but you will see that the seam threads will start to pull. It is also a ladies leotard and therefore will have bust structure for support.

I start my drafting on a piece of semi translucent paper (baking paper works wonders for this!), first off you start with you outline and fill in and modify the overall structure and design. (N.B the reason behind panels in lycra is exactly that same as dress making. Panels give more shape and can also give the appearance of slimming.)

Now the reason why I use translucent paper is to make sure that everything matches up … ie.strap thickness.

As you will see I don’t continue the panels all the way down, you may ask why? And to be completely honest I actually don’t know the real reason behind this but I’ll tell you opinion!

  • For aesthetic reasons

  • If you want a bold colour on the bottom, different to the top

  • Easy of adding skirt, especially if you put the inside the seam.

  • However on training leotard the panels are extended to the leg bands!

Once the drafting process is finished it is time to create that pattern that you will use to when cutting the lycra. What you need to be aware of is that the pattern doesn’t allow for seam allowances, and if you cut it straight from the draft the top half would be smaller than the bottom (Crutch) meaning that you would have to cut the bottom have down to size. Or add the seam allowance when doing the pattern, which is what I do. This is also dependent on how much your seam allowance is.

Apart of the drafting process, you also have to figure out how you are going to join the fabric together. This can be dependent on the type of material, what machines you own and your own confidence level.

So for example with this leotard I’m using a heavily sequin based lycra, one which is difficult to cut and two doesn’t get the cleanest seam through the overlocker because of the bulkiness. As it is the centre panel and I want clean edge, therefore I will zigzag stitch the next panel on top of the centre panel. This also means when I draw out my pattern I need a larger seam allowance and the panel that goes on top doesn’t need seam allowance for that particular edge.

A little bit of a longer blog for this week but hopefully it gives you and insight in to the world of drafting patterns. I will be doing a part two for this blog later on to show you how the leotard comes together!

xx