This is not the first bodysuit I’ve sewn. It was a year and a half ago that I made Heather Lou’s The Nettie. Like Allegra, it was backless and was made with white and cream lace. With long sleeves, it could be worn as innerwear, but I saw most other sewists make outerwear versions. I wore mine with boyfriend jeans. My girl Lola rocked an ombre Nettie and my bra making muse, Amy, channeled her inner Marilyn with a simple black Nettie. Even after Nettie and Allegra, I’m still on the fence about bodysuits, which I will get to below. First, the deets.
Fabric + Trims
Front and back (body): cream, textured lycra from Fleishman Fabrics underlined with power net from Bra Makers Supply. I used temporary spray adhesive to spray baste fabrics together prior to cutting. I treated the layers as one going forward.
Crotch Lining: white cotton jersey from Fleishman Fabrics
3/8” white plush/picot elastic for underarm and center back edges from Bra Making Supplies by Arte Crafts
1/8” white elastic for front neck edges (clean finished with underlining – see photos) from Bra Makers Supply
1/4” cream stretch grosgrain strap elastic from Pacific Trimming
3/8” gold rings and sliders from Bra Makers Supply (ran out of 1/4”)
I’ve been getting a heck of a lot better at dyeing. It’s easy to achieve a dark color – you just add a ton of dye. You can’t really add too much because your fabric and trims will only take a certain amount, and at that point, it’s exactly what you want – opaque. Achieving a lighter color, however, is difficult. Getting the hang of dyeing light colors is like getting the hang of sewing elastic. At first, you want to stretch the heck of out elastic. It’s takes many tries to realize that you need only apply the slightest tension, if any at all. Same goes for dyeing. For my first attempts, I added a lot of dye and I stuck to colors such as black, navy blue and bright yellow. I have since scaled back on the amount of dye and now, I barely use any. To get this color, an off white, I used about a half a spoonful of acid dye (color is ecru), which I bought from a local art store.
More so than bras, patterns for bodysuits are few and far between. Obviously, there’s the Nettie, but what else? Well, there are Jalie patterns that can be transformed from figure skating and gymnastics to lingerie, and there’s Ohhh Lulu’s patterns, but not much else. Keeping in line with Dakota and Sierra, I turned to RTW for Allegra by taking apart a store bought bodysuit, creating a pattern, and then modifying it heavily to get the silhouette I wanted.
Sewing was super simple, and it took about 2 hours to cut and sew. That was mostly because during my recent Popecation, when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia and literally shut the city down – more on that later this week, I made 3 trial versions before this one.
Bodysuits have been languishing in purgatory. Timeless fashion or passing fad? I still don’t know. It might just be me who thinks this, but it seems like bodysuits have made their way back to the fashion forefront recently. Whether you are a fan or not, Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian are are known to wear one, and during her recent tour, Beyoncé wore Versace. For the love of Jay, damn can she can pull off a onesie!
Bodysuits are one of the hardest and the easiest pieces to wear. Worn underneath clothing, it’s considered innerwear, but worn with jeans or a skirt, it’s considered outerwear. It has great layering capabilities, which is why I’m made this bodysuit. I plan to wear it as a warmer foundation to wear under dresses during fall. Bodysuits also have shapewear qualities, their spandex fabrication providing a slimming effect. All of these are a plus, but then comes the bathroom issue. Without a snap crotch, the whole thing must come off, unless you’re the type of person who scoots it to the side. You get my drift? Last, the VPL issue. Yes, bodysuits can be a one-piece combo that eliminates constant tucking in, but that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to wear full bottoms with tight pants. If that’s the case, find a thong bodysuit please.
Trends come and go with an ever-changing list of zeitgeists, but only few trends have had longevity like bodysuits. Sure, bodysuits haven’t been tooted like DVF’s wrap dress, but there must be a reason why they’ve been around so long. Ava Gardner wore a Dior leopard suit in the 40s. I’m not sure what husband she was married to the time; she had quite the checkered marital history. While not technically a bodysuit, Rudi Gernreich’s monokini struck the same chord. And then in 1985, Donna Karan, unveiled her 7 Easy Pieces. That famous show opened with eight models dressed only in black bodysuits and tights, and they began to slowly add wrap skirts, pull-on knit pants, tailored jackets and more. Karan was quoted as saying about that show – “So many women find assembling the right clothes bewildering today… They’ve discovered fast ways to put food on the table, but they do not know how to get their wardrobes together easily.” Her collection was based on the idea that fashion should not be more complicated than one’s life and with the right basics, a woman could accomplish anything. Well said Karan.
Swift, Kardashian, Gardner, Karan… even with so many women rooting for bodysuits, I’m ambiguous. Might have to make a few more to really make a decision. Cutout?
Wait, what? Maddie wears clothing? Yep! I don’t prance around in my undies all day long. For those who think bodysuits are not wearable or for those who don’t know how to wear bodysuits, this is how I’ve been wearing Allegra. I’m lucky in that I work in a creative environment and don’t have to wear traditional corporate garb. The jacket is from Urban Outfitters and the dress and shoes are from Free People. The bodysuit peeks out along the neckline, which is okay when I am at work. Also, this is how you’d probably find me – texting and walking. I know, I know… so dangerous. I live living life on the edge y’all.