Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sewing a figure skating undergarment from a swimsuit pattern

If you read this, I have to swear you to silence. Ice Girl won’t like the idea that people are reading about her undergarment. Swear? Good.

I had such trouble finding Ice Girl a leotard-like undergarment for underneath her figure skating dresses. She’s a modest girl and likes to be covered. I get it. But, she’s tried on every flesh-colored undergarment between here and Milwaukee with no success.

After searching patterns, I decided that the closest thing to what Ice Girl wanted was Kwik Sew 3503, view A. View A is a strapless swimsuit, but I added strap loops and clear straps to it. I offered to lower the back into a deep scoop or replace a bunch of the fabric in the back with flesh-colored athletic mesh, but she didn’t want that. Whatever. You could modify the pattern very easily to accomplish both of those suggestions.

The pattern includes a front lining with a shelf bra and it sews together in an afternoon or less (just five pattern pieces). I was worried about the gathers on the side and in the front lining, but they’re virtually unnoticeable and disappear under a figure skating dress.

Ice Girl loves her undergarment. Here’s what I did:

  1. Fabric. Flesh-colored spandex that matches her skin color.
    High-cut legs. The pattern has options for both low-cut and high cut leg openings. I used the high-cut option because I didn’t want the garment sticking out Ice Girl’s figure skating dress’s leg openings.

  2. Straps. Clear straps made from clear plastic elastic, clear swimsuit hooks on both ends, and a clear slider. I melted the two layers of elastic together instead of sewing them (I used my BeJeweler with the nailhead attachment.) You can buy clear straps, too, but Ice Girl loses them so often that I thought it would be good to have the replacement parts on hand.

  3. Strap loops. I added flesh-colored ribbon loops, spaced evenly around the top of the garment to accommodate the straps in all sorts of configurations.

  4. Fortuitous mistake. I didn’t have the 3/4” elastic for the top of the garment. I used my standard 3/8” elastic instead and zig-zagged the lining close to the elastic. This worked great, actually, because I eventually removed the lining’s top stitching to add a bra insert.

  5. Sew-in bra. Ice Girl didn’t like the minimal support from the shelf bra, so I used my mistake to my advantage. I.G. tried on the undergarment over a clean, but worn, flesh-colored bra. I used my tailor’s chalk to outline the bra on the outside of the garment, pinned it, cut off the bra’s straps and back, tore out the lining’s stitching, repinned the bra, and then basted it all in place. One more fitting before I stitched it permanently and ripped out the basting. It looks good and the bra and stitching are hidden in the lining. We had investigated the bra inserts at the fabric store, but they’re weird. Some models are gel-filled, some are push-up, and some are paper cones. I think using her own bra makes her feel more confident, too.
I was really worried about making this undergarment because Ice Girl is notoriously picky about them – she tried on dozens and didn’t find one she liked. The garment went together quickly, and fit well, so I didn’t end up wasting my Saturday afternoon at the sewing machine for nothing. When Ice Girl needs another undergarment, this is what I’m going to make – with 3/8” elastic at the top, too!

But, we've never had this conversation. You don't know anything about what Ice Girl might or might not be wearing under her figure skating dress. Silence, folks. Remember, you promised.

Is it O.K. to let the undergarment show or not? Let's discuss. How does your teen/preteen feel or how do you feel about flesh-colored garments showing through keyhole openings in figure skating dresses? You know - the kinds of dresses that show a lot in the back or front? Is it O.K. or is it tacky?


DanceGirl said...

Making or choosing anything that will be seen under a skating outfit is tacky- in dance you lose points for having undergarments show, and I think most skating judges and coaches would rather observe technique that be distracted by straps, a low legline or high back.

Also- did you try dance stores such as Bloch and energiks?they make great bodysuits designed to go under leos or costumes.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't want your bra strap showing even if it were flesh colored and that's how I feel about the leotards. Make sure it CAN'T be seen. The last thing you want is for your child to train all those hours only to be unfairly judged down for appearance. Trust your gut its tacky.

Ice Mom said...

Hi, DanceGirl and Anony. I'm with you: straps are tacky. Thank you for your voices of reason. Sometimes Ice Mom's voice doesn't carry much weight with Ice Girl. :)

I'm not sure which brands Ice Girl tried on, but she tried on every one in a 90-mile radius. Very boring.

It's much more satisfying for me to just make the undergarment. At least I can listen to music while I sew.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
minie said...

finally - someone else with 'mom homemaker' talent !!! for my first attempt 3 years ago I made a strapless undergarment in flesh (powernet & lycra)with figure flattening panels and flesh bra insert.I undid the seams of the dance costume laid it flat under the material for identical fit and I used a bodycon paneled swimsuit cut up for the pattern for the insert. Cut the patterns, re-sewed it all together and it fell inside like a second skin - i must admit it was pretty darn good!

PS - have been making my daughters and friends costumes for years and progressed from upbeating plain unitards & leotards to buying different patterns and joining different bits together - now I work off paper patterns and other patterns cut from unique outfits that I find out and about. I have a website now of my costume gallery so here is a toast to you no matter what the others say in their comments - well done !!! at least you had the guts to make it yourself !!! at least you CAN SEW !!!