A Handmade Ballet Leotard: Jalie Jade Pattern

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

This is one of those things I still can’t quite believe I successfully made. I’m not sure why it intimidated me so much, I have actually hacked some basic leotards into fancier ones before, but learning to add the elastic for some reason had me nervous about making them from scratch.

BUT, I have conquered the ballet leotard! Let me say right off the bat, there is no question when it comes to activewear patterns, Jalie dominates the market with good reason. I am not an affiliate with Jalie, I just love them so much, I have to spread the word. More about why I love Jalie further down, but here is my 14-year-old ballerina’s finished leotard!

Sewing ballet leotards with Jalie patterns || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

At my girls’ dance studio, they wear black leotards to class, any design. Natalie likes things with a high neckline and she loves a pretty back design, so when Jalie released this new Jade Leotard pattern recently, it was a no brainer. It went together perfectly and she absolutely loves it. The fabric is nylon spandex from Hobby Lobby, part of their new activewear fabric line and it’s to-die-for. Use the 40% off coupon and you can get it for less than $8 a yard. I also used this lining from Spandex World.

Sewing ballet leotards with Jalie patterns || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Ok, here are the reasons why Jalie patterns can’t be beat.

  • Their sizing is spot on. When I was teaching sewing to kids, we made pajama shorts with this Jalie pattern and I took measurements of each student. Every pair of shorts fit perfectly. When you buy a pattern from Jalie, it comes with all the sizes, from children to adult and the sizing chart is right every time. I definitely cannot say that about most patterns, Big 4 or Indie. There’s usually some trial and error involved to find your size with other brands.

  • They teach professional techniques. I learned so much from using this pattern, especially about how to apply the elastic and finishes. They even include instructions for those who don’t have a serger!

  • They have great variety and modern designs. Jalie keeps up with the trends and goes beyond basic designs. I’m always excited to see what they’ll release next! They have patterns for all kinds of sports, including water sports, gymnastics and figure skating, plus designs for everyday clothing.

Now that I’ve learned these skills, we’re excited to design and make more leotards! I also have the basic leotard pattern, which will be easy to hack into other designs. I saved the following photo from Dancewear Solutions’ Instagram stories this morning. I love the twisted back, so clever with the two colors! They are allowed to wear colorful leotards to jazz and modern, so maybe I’ll some in colors too. (I should add, Dancewear Solutions is my favorite for ordering leotards if I’m not making them. They have the best prices I’ve found.)

Sewing for ballet, inspiration

I think one of the biggest hurdles to breaking out and trying other genres of sewing are gathering the supplies. Once I had the right fabric, some lining, the right elastic, the right needles, and the pattern, I was good to jump in. Half the battle is sourcing the more unique materials.

Next on my “learning new things” list, is a coat! But one thing at a time, ha!

I’d be happy to have you follow along with my sewing adventures on Instagram!

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Sewing Activewear: Simplicity 8634 & 8631

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

A few seasons ago, Simplicity came out with these slightly ridiculous superhero activewear patterns. Because of the outlandish novelty fabrics, I’m not sure many people really gave them more than a glance, but the designs themselves are actually pretty great.

I’ve been on a quest to conquer activewear (see some tips and what I’ve learned so far in this post) and used these Simplicity patterns to make Layla some more clothes for Crossfit Kids this summer. We love how her new activewear outfit turned out and it was really fun and easy to sew!

Sewing activewear: Simplicity 8634 & 8631 || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

All of these great fabrics are from Hobby Lobby. I can’t decide if I like the pants or the top more, thy both have such great details. The lines on the pants are perfection, I’m going to make a pair for myself, probably in navy. But the BEST part of the pants, is that they have deep pockets!! My phone could fit in there when I run and that is something lacking in most store bought active pants, I’ve noticed. They give you the tiniest pocket ever, big enough for one house key, I guess. The pattern for these leggings is Simplicity 8634. These patterns use the novelty elastic for the waistbands, but we don’t like that, so I used the waistband piece from Simplicity 8424.

Sewing activewear, running leggings pattern: Simplicity 8634

Then there’s the top, which is equally cool and I also want my own version of! I love the back ties, so cute! She loves this top and it’s perfect for Crossfit because it stays put. The neckline and armhole pieces for this pattern are drafted perfectly. I used my serger to apply them, and also serged all the seams. I serged the hem edges before turning and hemming with a stretch stitch on my regular machine. With knits, turning them twice and hemming never looks as neat. The pattern for the top is Simplicity 8631.

Sewing activewear, tie-back workout top: Simplicity 8631 || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

I definitely have more activewear in the cue! I can’t wait to take photos of the ballet leotard I made my daughter and I bought some swimsuit fabrics on my trip to Denver last week that I have big plans for, can’t wait! I feel like now that I’ve learned some good techniques for these tricky fabrics, the world is at my fingertips. I’m thinking of ordering this book. It’s author, Melissa Fehr, seems to be quite the queen of activewear sewing, not to mention a very inspiring person in general. It’s worth spending some time on her website.

I talked about this in my last activewear post, but a few essential tools for activewear are definitely some stretch needles and a walking foot. And while you can do without these things, a serger will absolutely make your life in activewear sewing so much faster and easier and give you sturdier results. I also do almost all my cutting out with a rotary cutter, on a large mat. It really saves my hands, which become tired with scissor cutting. At first I thought free handing with a rotary cutter would be risky, I thought it was a quilting tool only, but once I tried it, I never went back!


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Adventures in Activewear Sewing

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I made a goal TWO YEARS AGO to learn to sew dancewear and activewear in a way that holds up and looks professional. I put it off for two reasons: 1. I was intimidated and 2. Trying to source the fabrics and supplies felt expensive and overwhelming.

But I’ve done it, y’all! Activewear sewing has become a thing in the sewing world over the last few years, probably because more and more people are wearing these kinds of clothes for more than just the gym. My daughter Layla especially prefers activewear over jeans any day. SO, imagine our delight when Hobby Lobby seriously amped up their fabric department recently and added a section of beautiful nylon spandex fabrics for active leggings! More about the fabric in a minute.

First, let me just show you the leggings I made Layla.

Sewing activewear: Simplicity 8424 || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I already had the pattern, Simplicity 8424 and I’ve actually made three of the four items on this pattern, so that’s a win in my book.

Sewing Activewear

I’ve made these leggings for Natalie in the past, with a cotton spandex, but they weren’t quite up to the job of serious activewear. This time I wanted to make them function like true active leggings. Let me tell you, the Hobby Lobby fabric is truly incredible. It’s not see through at all, which was my number one criteria. It’s soft, and seems like it’s going to hold up well for a long time. Comparable fabric at JoAnn is crazy expensive even when it’s on sale, and that’s what was so prohibitive to me for such a long time, but this fabric at Hobby Lobby is $12.99 a yard and I used my 40% off coupon. I bought two yards and have already made these leggings, a ballet leotard (details coming soon!) and I still have enough for either some active shorts or another leotard. That’s a ton for less than $18 of fabric!!

I’ll try to round up the most helpful articles for you soon in another post, but for now, here are my two must-knows to get started.

1. Use a stretch needle. If you sew with knits, you already know this, but a stretch needle (also called a ball point needle) is an absolute must for sewing activewear.

2. Use the stretch stitch on your machine. My method for strong, but stretchy seams is to first serge them, then use my stretch stitch to top stitch. A lot of people use a zig-zag, but this looks more homemade to me. The stretch stitch looks like a lightening bolt and it allows the fabric to still stretch. I top stitch the side seams and the crotch seams.

Sewing active leggings: Simplicity 8424 || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I have a few more resources for you now, but I’m still digging in and learning, so I know I’ll have more to share later. For fabrics, if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby, you can order their activewear fabrics online (this is the black one I used). I’ve used three different ones as of today and all have been incredible. Also, I’ve ordered from Spandexworld.com in the past and had a good experience. The prices are good and I like how they add the thickness of the fabrics to the description. I also ordered power mesh and lining there for dancewear. A yard of each will last me a super long time.

Patterns won’t be hard to find, since activewear sewing is coming up in the world. Simplicity patterns were on sale last week, so i grabbed this one, this one and this one (try to see past the novelty fabrics to the line drawings). I already made Layla another pair of leggings using one of these and we got fabric to make a top from another.

However, I can’t say enough how much you can learn from Jalie patterns when it comes to sewing knits. They’re drafted to perfection and just know what they’re doing when writing instructions for these clothes, which are intended to be put to the test in all kinds of sports. More about Jalie will be in that upcoming ballet leotard post. Jalie even tells you how to sew their patterns if you don’t own a serger!

Layla wore her leggings to crossfit kids and got a compliment from her instructor :) She loves these leggings!

Tips for sewing activewear: Simplicity 8424 || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Have you sewn activewear? I’d love your best tips! I’m not sure why this felt so impossible to me for so long, but now that I’ve learned some tricks, I’m so excited to sew more!

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