1. Now that you have completed the open back and sweetheart neckline, you ready to apply elastic to the leg openings.

    This technique can be used for leg openings or any closed, round opening (neck, ankle, wrist...).

    Overlap the elastic ends and stitch. We like sewing a little square like this. Then, fold the elastic in half (at the seam) to mark the half and join the half marks to find quarters.

    Your elastic is now divided into fourths (seam + 3 marks). Now divide your leg opening into fourths, starting at the side seam (find the half first, then join the marks to find quarters).

    Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the opening, matching marks. The elastic seam (0) should be at the half (1/2) mark of the opening (crotch lining). 4 pins, that's it!

    Sew a first zigzag along the EDGE of the elastic (not down the middle). Always "zig" on the elastic, "zag" in the air (off the fabric). This creates a much cleaner look, with no raw edge showing. You will have to stretch the elastic between the pins so it lays flat against the fabric. DO NOT stretch the fabric.

    Fold the elastic to the wrong side (the edge of the elastic should be against the crease) and sew with another zigzag or topstitch with your cover stitch. Stretch the elastic so the fabric is nice and flat (not stretched out) as you sew.

    Easy, isn't it? If you are still not 100% confident, take a look at our video tutorial "How to Sew Elastics" on YouTube.

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  2. You can now put the front and back aside while you work on the bust pieces.

    Bust Lining

    Cut two of the bust linings as shown below. This will create an opening for shapers/cups insertion. We like to finish the edge with the serger to give it a bit more body.

    Pin the wrong side of the cut pieces on the right side of the full pieces and baste with a zigzag. Pin the lining pocket to the wrong side of the Bust piece (A) and baste all around. Make sure you line up all the notches.

    Once both lining pockets are sewn to the but pieces, pin them together at center front.

    Strap and neckline

    Using your elastic as a guide, trace a along center front, from the notch to the bottom edge. Stitch on the line, starting at the bottom. When you reach the end of the line (notch), keep your needle down, pivot, stitch downwards. This will make the end of your stitch much stronger (you want the bust pieces to stay together!).

    Pin the shiny (finished) side of your strap to the right side of the bust piece. Stitch across (a few times, you don't want them to fly off!) and flip them up like this so the seam allowance is folded against the lining:

    Pin the neckline elastic under the strap seam allowance and to the wrong side of center front seam allowance (be careful to pin only one bust piece, not both). Baste along the edge of the elastic ("zig" on the elastic, "zag" in the air).

    Baste the elastic to the other bust piece.

    Fold the elastic to the wrong side and topstitch. Make sure you fold the elastic over the strap so the strap edge is as close as possible to the crease (not far away from the folded edge).

    Sew a "square-U-shaped" gathering stitch at the bottom of the bust pieces, between the notches.

    The "square U technique:
    1. Pull some thread out (so it is easier to pull later)
    2. Start at one notch, sew long straight stitches up to the second notch very close to the edge. 
    3. Needle down
    4. Pivot and sew two stitches upwards
    5. Pivot again and go back towards the first notch, sewing about 1/8" away from the stitch 
    With this technique way the gathers will remain very tight at the end of the stitch and you will have more control than if the two rows were open at both ends. Pull the bobbin thread to gather (we will adjust it later).

    Contrast band

    Fold the band wrong sides together and baste the raw edges together. Pin the basted band to the top of the front, matching centers and notches.

    Now you are ready to sew the bust pieces to the front.

    Pin the notches together and adjust your gathers evenly between the notches. Pull the bobbin threads until the gathers fit the band like this:

    Sew the underbust seam 1 cm (3/8") from edge, from one side seam to the other. We like to finish this seam on the serger afterwards.

    Bring the seam allowance towards the front and topstitch.

    Put the contrast band back into place, pin and baste at side seam.

    Pin front to back at side seams, matching all the notches, and stitch.


    Pin the armhole/back elastic to the wrong side of the fabric, under the strap seam allowance and at center back.

    Sew you first zigzag, fold the elastic to the wrong side and sew another zigzag. Notice how the strap is covered by the elastic at the tip of the bust piece.

    Fold center back (RIGHT) to the wrong side by 1 cm and sew back and forth to create a loop. Insert the LEFT end in the hook and stitch.

    Locate the strap placement mark / clip on the upper back seam allowance, pin the end of the strap (adjust) and sew on the elastic. Go back and forth a few times to make sure the strap won't go anywhere :)

    Insert swim shapers/cups through the bust lining openings

    Apply the elastics to the leg openings (separate post) and head to the beach to show off your new swimsuit!


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  3. For the first step, we will show you the technique for the regular sewing machine. On all other steps, we will use a serger whenever it's possible.

    Center Back Seam

    Pin Lower Back pieces (G) together at center back seam, matching the double notch. Then sew with a zigzag along the edge ("zig" on the fabric, "zag" in the air) WITHOUT stretching the fabric:

    Sew with a straight stitch, 6 mm (1/4") from edge, stretching your fabric gently. Sew another straight stitch.

    Now you have a sturdy, stretchy center back seam!

    Back Elastics

    Upper Back

    Place the Upper Back pieces (F) as shown, with the notch towards the bottom to identify the correct location for the elastic. Pin the elastic (at both ends) and sew a first zigzag (medium-large), stretching the elastic so it lays against the flat fabric (do not stretch the fabric).

    Turn the elastic to the wrong side (the elastic nice and snug against the crease - you don't was any space between the elastic and fabric) and sew a slightly smaller zigzag (or use your cover stitch) for a nice finish on the right side.

    Lower Back

    Fold the lower back elastic in half and mark its center. Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the lower back curve, at ends and center (matched with center back seam).

    When sewing your elastic, remember to pull just enough to have the elastic against the flat fabric. Do not stretch the fabric. If you do, the sewn elastic will not fully recover and the piece will not be flat when you are done.

    After your first zigzag, fold the elastic and topstitch.

    Pin Upper Back (F) over Lower Back (G), matching the side seam notch and baste together with a zigzag stitch.

    Sewing the front to the back

    Pin right side of Front (E) to right side of Lower Back (G) at crotch seam, matching centers, and baste with a zigzag.

    Pin right side of Front lining to wrong side of Back and stitch. We always baste with a zigzag before sewing on the serger. It keeps the layers together and is much easier to undo if the layers slip.

    IF YOU ARE MAKING A GATHERED FRONT (we will add illustrations in view B post): 
    • Sew gathering stitches within the side seam allowances on your front main fabric pieces, starting and stopping about one inch (2,5 to 3 cm) from top and bottom corners.
    • Gather the side seams so they become the same length as the lining piece.

    Flip the lining to the wrong side of the front and pin the layers together, matching center fronts and notches.

    Baste with a zigzag all around.

    Congratulations! You are now ready to work on the bust pieces.


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  4. Now that we have our pattern pieces traced/cut and altered, we are now ready to cut the fabric.

    Sweetheart Swimsuit (View A)

    We will be making view A in a feline print with a black contrast band in adult size S. We have all our fabric and supplies ready, along with our tablet with the PDF instructions.

    As you can see in the photo above, we decided to use bra straps for this one (with a kit purchased from Sew Sassy).

    We will cut:

    • In main fabric (print): Bust X2  (A), Front X1 (E), Upper back X2 (F) and lower back X2 (G)
    • In contrast fabric (black): Contrast band X1 (C)
    • In lining: Bust X4 (A), Front X1 (E)

    Main fabric

    Here is the cutting layout for our main fabric:

    As you can see, with the 60 cm (5/8 yard), you can actually make two swimsuits if you fold the fabric as shown in the picture. You fold it to have enough space for all your pieces and then measure to make sure your fabric is folded parallel to the selvage (the three orange lines are the same length).

    Many people like to use weights and rotary cutter, but we prefer pins and scissors. Good scissors. We found these Kai Shears 10 years ago and never used anything else since then!

    Pin close to the edge of your piece, taking just a little bit of fabric to keep everything nice and flat. Then cut along the edge of the paper, making sure you cut all notches carefully.

    On the Upper Back piece (F), clip at strap placement mark:

    On Front piece (E), clip the fold to mark center front (always do that when you have a piece cut on the fold):

    Contrast fabric

    We only need the small contrast band in black, so we fold the fabric to the width of the piece to use as little fabric as possible:

    We mark center fold and make sure all notches are precisely cut. They will be very important when we adjust the bust gathers later on.

    Clip the fold to mark center front at the top and bottom edges of the piece


    Because we do not have two paper pieces for the bust piece and need to cut 4, we traced a dotted line around the edge with a fabric marker, pinned the fabric layers together and moved the piece so we can cut everything we need at the same time:

    A dotted line is easier to do and works great for curves!

    The last step is to cut the elastics to the length indicated in the charts printed on the paper pattern and included in the PDF instructions.

    We marked the wrong side of the lining and black pieces because both sides are very similar and we want to make sure we always have our mirror pieces (not two left or two right). We used the fabric marker and chalk, but you could use little stickers or tape. Always mark the wrong side, not the right side in case your mark leaves a trace.

    Twist-front Swimsuit

    For the twist-front style, we will be using a nice border print for the bust and straps, and black spandex for the front and back. We could not find our Power Net (our sewing and fabric rooms are being renovated and our fabrics are stored all over the house!) so we will be using regular swimwear lining.

    We will cut:

    • In contrast fabric (print): Bust X2  (B), Straps X2 (I) - cut J if you want adjustable straps
    • In main fabric (black): Front X1 (E) and Back (H) X2
    • In lining: Bust X4 (B), Front X1 (E)

    Contrast fabric

    Because we want the border print horizontal at the bust, we will have to cheat a little for this one and cut the bust pieces square with the grain rather than along the grain. Since the fabric has the same stretch both ways, it will work great!

    If you want adjustable straps, you will need piece J, but we will go with a fixed strap for this swimsuit and therefore will not cut the little rectangular piece. As we said earlier, we use pins and scissors and cut carefully around every notch as they are all important for an easy construction.

    VERY IMPORTANT: When cutting the Bust piece (B), make sure you clip at center front marks:

    Main fabric

    You fold it to have enough space for all your pieces and then measure to make sure your fabric is folded parallel to the selvage (the three orange lines are the same length).

    Clip center front (the fabric fold) on Front piece (E)

    and strap placement marks on the Back piece (H)


    Because we do not have two paper pieces for the bust piece and need to cut 4, we traced a dotted line around the edge with a fabric marker, pinned the fabric layers together and moved the piece so we can cut everything we need at the same time:

    We were able to cut the lining from the remant piece of our sweetheart swimsuit:

    Clip center front (the fabric fold) on piece E and remove the paper and pins:

    The last step is to cut the elastics to the length indicated in the charts printed on the paper pattern and included in the PDF instructions.

    We marked the wrong side of the lining and black pieces because both sides are very similar and we want to make sure we always have our mirror pieces (not two left or two right). We used the fabric marker and chalk, but you could use little stickers or tape. Always mark the wrong side, not the right side in case your mark leaves a trace.

    We are now ready to sew! Stay tuned for our first sewing photos.

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  5. Whenever you see a minimum stretch requirement on one of our sewing patterns, it is very important that you measure your fabric stretch both in the length and in the width.

    Fabric stretch is not written on the fabric content label at the fabric store, but some online store now include it in the description.

    How to see if your fabric has enough stretch

    Across the grain (in the width)

    • Fold you fabric square with the finished edge of the fabric (selvage), away from the cut edge
    • Hold the pleat over the ruler printed on the back of the pattern
    • Stretch the fold to reach the end of the ruler (where is says "up to here"):

    Along the grain (in the length):

    • Fold you fabric parallel with the finished edge of the fabric (selvage), away from the edge
    • Hold the pleat over the ruler printed on the back of the pattern
    • Stretch the fold to reach the end of the ruler (where is says "up to here")

    How to measure the fabric stretch

    If you do not have the back of the pattern on hand or if you want a percentage, stretch over a ruler to find out the exact stretch factor.

    Metric ruler (easiest)

    • Hold the fabric as shown above with your left fingers at "0", right fingers above "10 cm". 
    • Stretch until you feel resistance and look at the number.
    • If it stretches to 16, it means you have 60% stretch, if it stretches to 12, it means you have 20% stretch.

    Imperial ruler (requires you to do a little math)

    • Hold the fabric as shown above with your left fingers at "0", right fingers above "5 inches". 
    • Stretch until you feel resistance and look at the number.
    • Calculate "stretched measurement" minus 5: _______
    • Divide that number by 5 and multiply by 100
    • For example, if it stretches from 5 to 8 inches: 
      • 8-5=3
      • 3/5=0.6
      • 0.6 x 100 = 60%
    • Cheat Sheet:
      • If it stretches from 5" to 5 1/2" = 10%
      • If it stretches from 5" to 6" = 20%
      • If it stretches from 5" to 7" = 40%
      • If it stretches from 5" to 8" = 60%


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    • Now that you have your fabric, pattern and notions, let's talk about the sizing and pattern.


      First, take a look at our one-piece swimsuit measurement chart. There are many sizes in that chart, so you can be sure we have the perfect one for you!

      Forget about your ready-to-wear size or size you use in other patterns. Take your tape measure and measure (or have someone help you with that):
      • Full bust
      • Waist (smallest part)
      • Hips (fullest part)
      • Torso (center of your shoulder, over the fullest part of your bust, down between your legs and back up to the shoulder).
      If you are lucky, all measurements will fall in the same column (or only 1 size up/down, in which case go with the middle size).

      My measurements are all over the chart! What do I do?

      Find the size that corresponds to your bust measurement. If your bust measurement is more than 2 sizes bigger or smaller than the waist/hips, use the bust to select the bust and contrast band pieces size and the waist/hips for the other pieces.

      For example, you can sew a size V bust to a S swimsuit without any problem. From there you have two options:
      1. You can stretch the smaller piece to make it fit with the larger one when assembling 
      2. You trace the front (E) and back (F or H) and copy the bust size line at the top of your piece  (I prefer this technique to avoid stretching or extra gathers where the two sections meet. 
        • For example, if you are making S swimsuit with V bust:
          • Trace size S as is
          • Move your piece up so the center front corner matches size V center front corner
          • Trace size V bust seam line
          • Redraw the side seam
          • You now have a size S swimsuit with size V bust and bust seam. This means you have to trace size V for the contrast band.

      For more sizing combinations, challenges and alterations, please read our sizing 101 blog post that features real-life example

      I have a long / short torso

      If your torso is different from the torso measurement for the size you are using, please use this little formula to shorten / lengthen your bodice pieces

      Try to lengthen/shorten close to waist level:

      Gathered front pattern alteration

      If you like the gathered front style, slice the front piece (E) above and below the waist notch and lengthen to double the length of the front side seam:

      Keep a copy of the unaltered front piece because you will need when cutting the front lining.

      Maternity swimsuit alteration

      Maternity one-piece swimsuits patterns are pretty much inexistant in the market. A one-piece style can be tricky because the baby bump grows so much (and you don't want too much fabric at the beginning or too little towards the end...).  Here are two posts that I really like and I think would be worth a try:


      After you have saved your swimsuit PDF pattern to your computer, print it at 100%, measure the test square and assemble the tiles as instructed in our How-to guide. Indiesew also has a great post that shows you how to assemble a digital pattern.

      We grouped the pieces by style so you have as little pages to tape together as possible:

      PDF pattern grouped by piece / view

      Then you can trace or cut your pattern. 


      After a few days of stalking the mailman, you have your paper pattern - yeah! You can now cut it or trace if you want to save it (because you know your daughter/niece/sister/neighbour will want one too :))

      Inside Jalie 3350 paper pattern

      There are many blog posts and tutorials online showing you how to trace a pattern. Donna and Rachel's blog post shows you the different alternatives. I'm really happy that they show my favorite technique: taping the pattern to a large window / patio door. This not only gives you great lighting, but it keeps your kitchen table free (and the pattern cannot be reached by those little hands who want to "help" you).
      Funny little Jalie story 
      Imagine... early morning, early 80's... mom had been working all night (she would make prototypes during the night so I could try them first thing in the morning). She was looking for a tiny polo shirt collar stand piece. You know, the pattern piece shape that often accidentally makes it way to the garbage with other paper scraps. The piece had disappeared! And it was the original draft. She was tired and I assume she did NOT feel like drafting another one. Then she realized I was under the table playing with my Barbies. A mother's instinct... She said "open your mouth". I'm not joking. The piece had fallen off the table and for some weird reason, I decided that it would be breakfast... Yep, I would eat Jalie patterns for breakfast :) I don't remember her grounding me... She kept working with a chewed-up pattern piece... Ahhh the joys of sewing with kids around!
      If you do not have a large window and don't have a crafts store nearby, get a roll of plastic sheeting at your local hardware store and grab a Sharpie. It works very well and you see our beautiful full-color pattern lines lines much better! You can read more about this technique on The Hapless Seamstress blog.


      • View A (sweetheart): You need pieces A + D + E
      • View B (twist): You need pieces B + C + E
      • View A (open back): You need pieces F + G
      • View B (closed back): You need piece H
      • Fixed straps : You only need piece I
      • Adjustable straps: You will need pieces I + J


      Just like a recipe, it's always a good idea to quickly go over the instructions to have an idea of how the garment will be constructed. I strongly recommend you print the instructions or save them on your tablet. I love reading instructions on my tablet because I can zoom in on smaller illustrations, I save paper and I never lose them! 

      In the next post, we will cut the fabric, lining and elastic.

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    • Welcome to the 3350 Photo Tutorial!

      Starting next week, we soon show you how to make a stunning one-piece swimsuit from A to Z. Instead of doing a sew along that would last a few weeks, we want to post everything within a few days so you can finish this project quickly or take it slowly if you can only work on it a little bit every day. 

      If you get stuck, post your question in the comments section and we will gladly help you. 

      Jalie 3350 Swimsuit - A (sweetheart) front with A (open) back

      While we are getting ready for photos and sewing, I thought it would be a good idea to start with some useful information and inspiration photos so you can gather your supplies before we start posting tutorial photos next week.


      We will show you in detail how to make a 3350 one-piece swimsuit. The pattern is available in both paper and PDF formats.

      This pattern includes 27 sizes (yes, all in one enveloppe!) and we worked very hard at adjusting the style (leg openings, cup coverage) so it fits beautifully, from toddlers to plus sizes.


      A front: sweetheart with contrast band (EASIEST)
      A back: open back with G-hook closure (EASY, REQUIRES A G-HOOK, A FEW EXTRA STEPS)
      B back: closed front (with optional tummy-control front lining) (QUICKEST, BUT CAN BE A BIT HOT IN THE SUN)

      Jalie 3350 Swimsuit - B (twist) front with A (open) back
      Jalie 3350 Swimsuit -  B (twist) front with A (open) back

      Extra variation: We will show you how to alter the lower front pattern piece for a gathered front.


      Main fabric

      You will need a good quality lycra with nice stretch and recovery both in the length and in the width. When shopping for your swimwear fabrics, look for nylon/spandex or nylon/lycra. If you plan on making a tummy-control version (full back, powernet lining), you want to avoid the beautiful poly/spandex prints for the bottom part of your swimsuit as they are thinner / have less body and don't look as beautiful when stretched out.

      You can find great swimwear fabrics online:


      You can find swimwear lining at all three stores listed above. We often see beige lining, but we prefer going with black or white, whatever compliments the fabric best. For a tummy-control swimsuit, you can use PowerNet (a mesh with limited stretch) for the lower front. You will still need regular lining for the bust.

      Please refer to the back of the pattern for yardage. If you would like to gathers at lower front, please add 1/3 yard (30 cm) to the lower front fabric yardage. 



      With the sweetheart, you can use one, two or three different fabrics. Your fabric choice will help you enhance your body's best assets. It looks great in solids, stripes, florals... You can also use the straps if you want to add a little pop of color too.

      • To enhance, use a lighter or bright color or go with an eye-catching print.
      • To minimize, go with a darker color for the bottom piece or more subtle print.
      • To emphasize curves, pick a print that creates a cut-out or princess seam effect.

      TWIST FRONT (view B)

      The twist front looks best in a solid or print that will make the twist detail stand out. With some florals, the twist becomes less visible. You can use the same fabric all over, or go with contrast twist front or straps. There is no contrast band on this one.


      In addition to your fabric and lining, you will need:
      • 1 cm (3/8") Elastic 
        • Knit elastic: That is what we have always used on swimsuits because it is very easy to sew and has great stretch and recovery without being too stiff. It always had a great lifespan too. It is also easy to find in most fabric stores. Do not use braided or woven elastic. We explain why in our How to Sew Elastics video.
        • Rubber: Our favorite is by far FILPAR rubber elastic
        • Requirements (error in elastic yardage on the back of the pattern) please use these quantities:
          • Young children (sizes F-K): 3 m (3 1/4 yd)
          • Teens (sizes L-O): 3,5 m (3 7/8 yd)
          • Women (bust 31" to 36"): 4 m (3 1/4 yd)
          • Women (bust 37" to 50"): 5 m (5 1/2 yd)
      • Rings and sliders
        • Only if you want adjustable straps
        • You can find them at Sew Sassy and Bra-Makers
        • If you plan to spend more time in the sun than in the water, you can use bra strapping for your swimsuit straps. They will save you some time and will look just as good (but do not resist as well to chlorine or salt water)! Sew Sassy sells strap kits that includes the straps, rings and sliders. 
      • G Hook
        • For open back only (great to minimize tanning lines!)
        • Available at Bra-Makers Supply and Sew Sassy
        • If you cannot find one, don't worry. You can still make the open-back style, but the top section will simply sewn at center back.
      • Cups (optional)
        • You can steal cups from another swimsuit / bikini you no longer wear or find some at lingerie stores or online


      We have been using Schmetz Stretch needles on all our projects since 1983, on both our regular machine and serger.


      You can make the 3350 swimsuit with a regular sewing machine. If you have a serger, you can use it for construction seams and for a clean finish. In the assembly post, we will show how to get great results with both. Meanwhile, you can take a look at our sewing technique for stretch fabrics using a regular sewing machine on YouTube:


        You will need the usual:
        • tape measure
        • pins
        • good scissors (I strongly recommend you put this pair of Kai scissors on your Christmas or birthday list!)
        • fabric marker / tailor's chalk
        • thread (we use 100% polyester thread on both our regular machine and serger)
        • tape (for PDF pattern assembly)
        • tracing paper + pencil/pen or plastic sheeting + Sharpie (my personal favorite)

        I think that will be enough for today :) Gather your fabric, order your pattern through our website or your favorite Jalie retailer and free up some time in your schedule next week for your fabulous swimsuit project!

        The next post about sizing and pattern alteration.

        If you have any questions about the design, fabric or notions, please write them in the comments.

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      • Éléonore grows up so fast that all her sweetheart and twist front swimsuit prototypes are now too small. Summer has finally arrived in Quebec and she needs new ones!

        We wanted a quick project and thought it would be a great timing to see how 3354 would look as a swimsuit. She already has soooo many asymmetrical gym leotard prototypes with the wide strap, we opted for view B (spaghetti strap) with girly ruffles!

        Asymmetrical Leotard Pattern

        Éléonore picked a fun printed spandex in the fabric room and we found a bright fuschia solid that was a perfect match.

        Little Miss Jalie is verrrry tiny (her bust measurement between size F(2) and G(3)) and because swimwear fabric does stretch a bit more than mystique (especially when wet), we decided to go with size F, which happens to match her torso measurement. Her hips are smaller than F so we did a Small Hips Adjustment (shown here on 3138 pattern pieces) to make sure it would be nice and snug.

        We had Éléonore try on the bathing suit once the leg elastic were sewn to make sure the fit was tight enough at the bust / underarm and at the waist (we needed to take it in a little). 

        The ruffle was very easy to do:
        1. Cut a 2" wide strip of fabric that was 3 times the neckline binding piece length. 
        2. Gathered one edge (we used the serger, but you can use the "gathering stitch" method with your regular machine)
        3. Sew the ruffle to the edge of  the neckline opening (right side) with a zigzag stitch
        4. Apply the binding as shown in the instructions (steps 1, 2, 3, 4 below)

        Then we made a strap (only one instead of three since there is a lot going on), sewed it to the front, pulled it and pinned in place at final fitting and sewed it to the back. Éléonore was so happy with it that she ran outside right away to test it! 

        She is only 3 and takes her pattern tester job very seriously!
        Éléonore, quite happy to win against Henri (who is wearing his 2563 trunks Grand-maman made last summer)
        I just love this perfectly timed photo :) 

        As you can see in the photos, the fit is spot on and the suit stayed nicely in place after a whole afternoon of running and sliding! 

        In conclusion, if your child is between sizes, go with the smaller one and make sure the size you pick is the correct length otherwise the suit will grow when wet and the fit will be odd. Do not hesitate to take it in at the waist to have a nice, fitted dry swimsuit. If it's too big when dry, it will look huge when wet!


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      • In our latest collection, we used our ballet leotard pattern to make a cute cropped top for our circle skirts pattern cover. For the ready-to-wear crop top style, we simply cut the front and back pieces to the desired length (measure at side seam and add 1" for hemming), turned it under and topstitched. It's as simple as that!

        We often receive requests for cheer patterns, so here is some inspiration for fun long-sleeved cheer crop tops you can make with pattern you might already own.

        Scoop Neck cropped top

        To make a top like this, simply use our ballet leotard pattern (#3349 View A). Cut it to the desired length, adding an allowance for a wide elastic at the bottom (technique explained in our crop tops pattern instructions).

        Off-the-Shoulder Cheer Top

        The off-the-shoulder style is very popular in cheerleading! Our skating dress pattern 2913 is an easy way to achieve this look. You can position the straps any way you want or even add a halter top (#3247 - View B) underneath the long sleeve top.

        Asymmetrical Cheer Top

        The one-sleeved style definitely grabs the attention! Did you know you can use only one layer of the 3136 leotard (View B) to make this? Simply add a band to the opening to make sure it stays in place and add your elastic or band at the bottom.

        V-Neck Cropped Top

        You can make this basic style using our V-neck leotard pattern (#3136 View A). Simply fold the upper bodice piece at the center front notch and cut the new folded piece on the fold to create a V neckline The tops in this example have a separate band, which you could make using the technique we use for our skirt waistbands

        Zip-Front Cheer Top

        A not-so-basic top with a little cowgirl / western twist. For a solid top, you could use our zip-front skating dress pattern (#2800 - View A), but for a two-tone top, go with our horsemanship bodysuit pattern (#2677)

        Happy sewing!


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      • SIZING 101

        There are plenty of sites where you find advice on choosing the right size for tops or bottoms, but fitting a leotard is a bit trickier since there is less room for error. If a t-shirt is too long, you can easily shorten it at the hem. When a leotard is too long... not that simple.

        This blog post is a summary of tons of emails I answered over the years. If those moms and seamstresses emailed me for help, I'm sure there are thousands of people out there who will be happy to learn how to pick the right size on the back of the Jalie pattern :)

        Common fitting issues

        Too big (width)

        • You see the nude mesh floating away from the body
        • Sleeves are loose
        • Leg openings are not tight, the briefs do not stay in place (because there is too much fabric).

        What happened?

        • You picked a size based on age (a size 8 garment for an 8-year-old who is as thin as a 4-year-old)
        • The child was not available for measurement or the mom sent you "estimates"...
        • You picked a size based on the bigger torso measurement only
        • You picked a size based on age or ready-to-wear size

        Too long

        • Everything is too low armhole, waist, neckline, bodice (in sweetheart leotards) - beware of wardrobe malfunctions when using sheer fabric for upper bodice!)
        • Baggy briefs (ok at the hips, but baggy at the bottom)
        • Lots of pleats at center back

        What happened?

        • You picked the size based on width measurements only 
        • The customers wants growing room
        • Growing room is ok to make sure the dress/leotard lasts until the end of the season. Making a dress that will fit like a glove from 6 to 8 years old is impossible. 
        • You would not buy pants that are two sizes bigger and way too long for a child... why do it for a leotard/dress that you can make again in the fabric scraps once the first one is too small?

        Too small

        • Can't put it on / Can't breath
        • Sleeves too tight

        What happened?

        • You picked a size based on a short torso measurement only
        • You picked a size based on age or ready-to-wear size
        • Your fabric did not have enough stretch in the width (different topic I will cover in another post)

        Too short

        • Neckline pulling down
        • "Wedgie"
        • Leg opening stretched upwards (think 90's swimsuit leg) - this can also be caused by a few sizes too big at the hips (leotard not staying in place)

        What happened?

          • You picked a size based on small bust/waist/hips measurement only
          • You picked a size based on age or ready-to-wear size 
          • Your fabric did not have enough stretch in the length (different topic I will cover in another post)


          You should always, ALWAYS, use recent body measurements (that you take yourself - if possible) AND work with the measurement chart on the back of the pattern (you can download our iPhone app to always have all backs of patterns with you, everywhere :))

          We use letters instead of numbers so that people don't automatically cut their size according to what they used with another company. If you follow a few simple rules, your leotard should fit just as well as the leotard on the pattern cover.

          RULE OF THUMB WHEN CHOOSING A LEOTARD SIZE: You want to stay away from sleeve/armhole/crotch alterations as much as possible! Lengthening at the waist is the easiest way to go.

          These three steps will save you a lot of work and headaches: 
          1. Pick a size that is the best match for B/W/H measurements
          2. Compare the actual torso measurement (body) to the torso measurement for the size you are using
          3. Lengthen or shorten by half the difference
            • Front and back bodice pieces (around waist level)
            • Sleeves (around elbow level) - don't alter if you are making a short or cap sleeve


          Making your daughter's gymnastics leotard was so easy and so much fun that you volunteered to make outfits for the whole club... You measure the girls and unlike your daughter, their bust/waist/hips/torso measurements don't fall in the same Jalie size column.

          Take a deep breath! It will be all right.

          Here are examples based on real measurements and stories we received from customers over the years. If after reading this you are still unsure about which size you should use, please email us through our contact form and we will gladly give you some advice.

          Rachel: LONG TORSO and/or SMALL FRAME

          Rachel is 8 and her mom says her size 5 t-shirts would still fit but are all wayyy too short. She always comes to the gym with leotards that are loose-fitting, but that seem to pull in the length. This means her torso probably corresponds to a larger size than her B/W/H. Let's see:


          • It is easy to take it at the waist at fitting, so we will remove the waist measurement (size H) from our sizing puzzle. You can take in at the waist when tracing or at fitting.
          • Since Rachel is still growing, you want to go with size J (only 1 size bigger at the hips, which is ok)


          • Size J is designed for 41 1/2" torso, but Rachel's torso is 45 inches.
          • You are missing 3 1/2" (45 - 41 1/2) total
          • Divide that by two and you get 1 3/4". This is what you need to add to both the front and back pieces (around waist level)

          Louisa: SHORT TORSO and/or HUSKY/PLUS SIZE

          Louisa is a short 8 year-old but her mom has to buy her teen clothing. The clothes fit nicely around the body, but are always too long. Louisa is used to wearing leotards that are always too long for her, but you want to make her one that will fit her like a second skin! Let's take a look at her measurements:


          • Louisa's measurements are a size P, but you will have to trace out to size Q at the waist to give her a little more room.


          • Size P is designed for 53" torso, but Louisa's torso is only 49 inches.
          • Size P is 4" (53 - 49) too long overall.
          • Divide that by two and you get -2". Because you have a negative number, you need to REMOVE that amount to both the front and back pieces (around waist level).


          Every person is unique and so are their measurements. Don't worry, this happens all the time. You are not alone!

          If this scares you a little, pick a time when you are not too tired to play with numbers and do minor alterations on the pattern and keep on reading.

          Donna: Bust is way off (bigger or smaller)

          Donna is an artistic gymnast with very strong upper body and is more developed than her teammates. Her bust measurement is much bigger than her other measurements:


          • Louisa's bust measurement is size Q. Because she is very muscular, she would probably need size Q for sleeves to (it's easier to take in than to let out anyway). This means for a yoke of the upper bodice (where the armhole is) you need size Q, but will have to trace down to size N towards the waist
          • Her hips are much smaller so you trace a paper piece for size M at leg opening, going towards size N at the waist.

          TORSO and SLEEVES

          • The pieces you are using are both below and above her measured torso. 
          • Align the crotch line of your bottom piece with size O crotch line. Align the top edge with size O top edge and tape your two paper pieces together. You have a new, custom leotard pattern!
          • If making a long sleeve, you will have to shorten it by 2" as per our little formula (55-51 divided by 2).

          Michelle: Hips are way off (bigger or smaller)

          All of Michelle's measurements are within 1 size of size L - yeah! But wait... the hips are 4 sizes down!!!?! You need to alter the pattern otherwise the leotard will be very, very baggy!


          • Trace a size L (you can trace outwards at the waist to match size M if you are a perfectionnist) as is.


          • If you make the leotard as is, the hips will be way to big. This means that the leg opening will look higher than it should and nothing will stay in place (and will look baggy).
          • I'm sure you would be tempted to simply take in at the sides. If you do that, you will lower the  leg opening and it might cut across the top of the thigh, which is not what you want either.
          • Here is how to remove the extra width at the hips while keeping the leg opening shape:
          1) Cut your pattern pieces close to the waist notch, cut the bottom section as shown
          2) Pivot the outer piece to match the size corresponding to the girls' hips measurement.
          3) Redraw the leg opening.

          Harvey: Altering patterns for men

          The coach would like to have a custom jacket for the competition but Jalie does not have one... Guess what? You can use the magic formula to make a great 2795 jacket or zip-front hoodie ! The torso measurement is not in the 2795 measurement chart, but you can use your leotard pattern as a reference (our chart is the same for all patterns). 


          • Harvey's chest measurement is 40"
          • Trace a size Y for all the pieces
          • There will be extra room at the waist and hips, which is ok for a jacket.


          • Size Y is designed for 64 1/2" torso, but Harvey's torso is 69 1/2".
          • You are missing 5" (69 1/2 - 64 1/2) total
          • Divide that by two and you get 2 1/2". This is what you need to add to front and back pieces (around waist level) and sleeves (around elbow level).


          The great thing about skating dresses is that they often have a waist seam, which allows you to use different size for bottom (brief and skirt) and bodice.  It all works well when the top and bottom are only 1-2 sizes apart but can get a bit complicated when measurements are all over the chart.

          Jessica: Thin girl wants a beautiful princess skating dress

          Jessica is a thin 11-year-old skating who has a tiny waist and muscular buttocks and legs (typical skater shape). Her dresses are often too big because she has to go a few sizes up for the dresses to be long enough for her torso. With our huge range size, you will be able to make a princess dress that will fit her like a glove!


          • Because the dress has a waist seam, you can trace size K for the bodice and sleeve
          • Because her waist is smaller, you might have to take it a little at the waist at fitting
          • Size L will be perfect for the briefs and skirt.
          • No need to lengthen the short sleeve. Make size K as is.


          • Because you are using K and L, your pattern torso is for approximately 44" but you need 51" total
          • 51"- 44" = 7", divided by two is 3 1/2"  : 3 1/2" would be a lot for the bodice pieces only. We will spread it above and below waist level
            • lengthen the bodice pieces by 2 1/4"
            • lengthen the briefs pieces by 1 1/4"
            • you can lengthen the skirt by 1 1/2", but since she is still growing, you could add up to 2" to both skirt pieces

          Jenny: A fun sizing challenge

          Jenny wants a strapless illusion skating dress, but usually her dresses area always too long in the bodice because she has to dresses made for older girls to fit her in the bust and waist. As I explained earlier, using the correct length pattern is very important whenever there is a seam above the bust line (strapless/sweetheart illusion). 


          • Her bust (31") and hips (33") are a size P, but her waist is 6 size bigger at V.
          • The waist seam being lower than the natural waist, it means that you can go in between for the waist seam (it goes gradually from V at navel  (U, T, S, R, Q) to P at full hips). Size S at the seam would be reasonable.
          • With the recommended fabric having 70% stretch, it will stretch easily from 28 (size S) to 31 (size V).
          • For the bodice, you will need P in the width but O in the length. Because Jenny is only 8 years old and because the extra stretching at the waist will make the dress a bit shorter, I would leave the length as is, one size extra will not be too long for her.
          • For the panties, trace P, widening to S at the waist.
          • For the skirt, you will need S waist with O length.


          • Trace bodice pieces going from size P (in green) to size S (black) at waist seam
          • Same thing for briefs
          • For the skirt, apply size O (green) skirt length to size S (black) skirt waist and redraw the curve (red)


          All of these calculations and tips are 100% useless if your fabric does not have the recommended stretch. I know, sometimes you find THE perfect fabric in THE perfect color at the perfect price, hoping it wouldn't really matter if the stretch is not exactly what is recommended on the back of the pattern.

          IT DOES MATTER. A LOT.

          Some people call it 2-way (width and length), others call it 4-way (up, down, left, right). Your fabric has to stretch around the body AND in the length (otherwise your garment will feel wayyy to short - will not be wearable).

          Keep your one-way stretch fabrics for skirts or ruffles. Make sure all the fabrics you use for skating dress (from muslins/testers to final dresses) stretch both ways.

          If you are buying online, take the time to order a swatch to see if the stretch and recovery are what you need. More and more stores give more details about stretch, but not all of them. Sometimes the information can be incorrect as well... 

          Better check twice, order once :)

          Happy sewing!

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