Designing Leotards

Designing for stretch dancewear demands a knowledge of close fitting patterning as well as an understanding of working with a fabric whose character is both loose, fluid and elastic. It is also about how one divides the human body into sections that accent a torso’s physique. The work is complex yet minimal and the seams used are very important. There are countless possibilities, therefore countless quick sketches...

My quick sketches are translated into pen and ink, then I scan those into the appropriate application for coloring and finishing the renderings. I will usually work up many more than needed, from there, it is a process of elimination but always a collaborative one.

1 of 3 Designs. Trying out an idea for color gradation, but the coloring is not set yet, most likely it will change. At this point I can start collaborating with my patternmaker Marilyn Burbank, of Entr’acte Dancewear, on the build. I will be dyeing these after the fact. If you click on the rendering above you will be taken to The Entr'acte Costumes website.

Here are the fabric prototypes for the first design. A combination of solid nylon lycra stretch with a foiled sheer mesh and metallic foil trim.

2 of 3 Designs. Variation on a theme.

Worked up in fabrics. We go back and forth to revise proportions as well as lines and curves.

The mesh unitard will be worn over the leotards. The neckline mirrors the neckline of the leotard, but 1” up, which causes headaches to the patternmaker as they are working with a fabric that has a different stretch ratio than the leotard underneath.

Third design. Yet another variation.

The third design worked up in fabric. Next step will be to vat dye them into a selected color palette.


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