A Handmade Ballet Leotard: Jalie Jade Pattern

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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!


Sewing and Ballet

My oldest daughter Natalie got her first pair of pointe shoes a few weeks ago. Kind of a big deal to a dancer!! My knowledge of dance is minimal, but I do know sewing and am fascinated by how the two relate to each other. 


Pointe shoes are not something you go in a just pick up off a shelf. The fitting process takes some time and the ladies who helped us find the right shoes were meticulous and made the appointment so much fun. The shoes have to fit perfectly -- there is no buying a size to big so she can grow into them, since a dancer could get injured if they don't fit just right. 

Then you have to sew on the elastic and ribbons. I got the needle and thread out and directed her to YouTube and made her do that part herself ;) 


She had her first pointe class on Thursday. I so wish I could have gone in there with my camera as all the girls learned to put their shoes on for the first time! But, that's not allowed. Booooooooo. 

Natalie also auditioned for the Nutcracker yesterday and got a part! She'll be a candy cane and she's so excited. I'm not sure how excited either of us will be when I drive her to rehearsals at 7 a.m. every Saturday morning, though, ha! As a seamstress, I love looking at costumes. Costume sewing (for Halloween) tops my list of favorite things to sew, but I know costumes for ballet are a whole 'nother thing. 

I have no idea what her candy cane costume will look like, but I'm enjoying looking at these beauties! Also, poor Clara's nightgown in this photo is a corset. Sounds comfy, haha. 

Sharni Spencer as a Mirliton and Jessica Fyfe as Clara in the Australian Ballet's Nutcracker. Photography by Jeff Busby

Sharni Spencer as a Mirliton and Jessica Fyfe as Clara in the Australian Ballet's Nutcracker. Photography by Jeff Busby

Mirlitons: Eloise Fryer and Jill Ogai in Sir Peter Wright's The Nutcracker. Photography Jeff Busby

Mirlitons: Eloise Fryer and Jill Ogai in Sir Peter Wright's The Nutcracker. Photography Jeff Busby

I love being involved in dance productions and sewing is the way I know how to do that.  I do have to join "a committee" for this Nutcracker production. Not sure what that entails. But if there's a costume committee, I'm there. Just don't give me the snack bar committee. Haha! 

While on the subject, out of curiosity, I was researching how pointe shoes are made and found this video. I love how the ballerina calls the makers artists and their craft an art form that enables their very livelihood. It really is a cool industry! And now I know why they cost so much, ha! 

During the hour of jazz she has on Thursday nights, I always go to the library nearby. I picked up a few kids' ballet books, including this one

Natalie read it and said it was really good, so I read it too. Did you know that the brothers responsible for bringing The Nutcracker to America were from small town Utah? It's super interesting. I got a kick out of this page, of course: 

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