We asked one of the teachers, and she said that it was okay to have a solid color that wasn't black. Annabeth decided she wanted bright red. She chose fabric from JoAnn Fabrics swim-and-dance knits section.
I considered getting a Kwik Sew pattern to make the leotard, having browsed their catalog online, but when I went to JoAnn Fabrics they had a very skimpy collection of Kwik Sew patterns (I've since figured out that Hancock Fabrics keeps more of the Kwik Sew patterns in stock, so if I'd gone there I might have had better luck). I ended up ordering a Jalie pattern, #2792.
By the time the pattern arrived at our house we were on a compressed time frame to get the leotard done. I traced view B. Annabeth's girth is a size P, but her width is a smaller size. I decided to make it narrower by laying the front and back a bit over the fold of the fabric -- not the best way to alter, but spandex on a skinny kid is forgiving of fitting quirks. As I worked I realized that the pattern has enough negative ease that I could've just made a straight size P without fiddling with trying to make it even smaller.
The biggest problem I had with the pattern was attaching the bands around the neck and the back. When I read that I should baste them I assumed I needed to use a long straight stitch, so I kept sewing in little wrinkles at every straight pin. I tried to fix that by putting in even MORE straight pins, figuring ... well, I don't know why I thought that would help. It didn't -- I just ended up with more wrinkles. Eventually I caught on that I needed to baste the bands on with a wide zigzag. It's moments like this that I know I'm not a very advanced seamstress, you know?
I got it all sewed up, having attached the bands, picked the bands back off, re-attached them, etc., and Annabeth tried it on. Oh, oops, the fabric was way too sheer. But, aha, I had purchased extra fabric. I cut out a new front and back, took those off of the yoke, and sewed them back together (noticing that I had forgotten to tweak how I laid it on the fold line, so the lining was bigger than the outer shell, but I just whacked off any extra because at this point we were on Day 1 of the dance intensive). I simply held the lining plus shell together, zigzagged around the edges to baste them together, then treated them as one piece. I left off the crotch lining piece, figuring we had enough layers, flipping the seams so the crotch seam is totally incased by the lining.
I left the yoke a single layer.
If you look closely you can see some of the zigzag basting showing on the main body just underneath the yoke. I try not to think about it.
The back hook is sort of mashed into place in a very inelegant way. By the time I got to that bit I was DONE with this project -- she needed it right away, plus I had a boatload of Shakespeare costumes to make. It's workable, but could be much nicer.
Actually, "workable but could be much nicer" is sort of a summary of the project. It's a simple pattern, assuming you don't make the sorts of mistakes I did. It looks nice when complete, fits comfortably, she's very happy with it, the other dancers liked it and asked if they could have one (no, I"m not going into business).
I've already used the pattern again to morph into a swimsuit. More about that in a future post.