Catsuits and Dancewear

Marta has long been interested in dance, and, when I met her, she was a keen oriental dancer, which is basically the smart name for bellydancing, as I understand it. All veils and shimmying and so forth. It was this which inspired me to make Marta a bustle skirt;

Bustle Skirt

This, with some tweaks to the original design, gave birth to this skirt(link to our Etsy page) which was made after someone saw Marta wearing hers casually, just over jeans, and literally ran over and asked her where she got it (with the benefit of hindsight, this story may have been made up by Marta for the benefit of my ego). Anyway, streams of consciousness aside, the idea behind the skirt was that it would really pick up on the hip movement that is so important in this particular dance style, and it also turned out to be pretty good for casual wear.

Since then, Marta has turned to a more traditional dance format, incorporating several styles, and, for rehearsals at least, she needed a one piece catsuit (Or mono as it is called in Spanish, which interestingly means monkey). This was just after I had bought my new sewing machine, with all it’s zig-zag capabilities, so I got right on it, and made her two, one from a lovely feeling, but horrible to work with cotton lycra mix, very stretchy, and the second from a pure, or as pure as lycra ever is, lycra.

Interestingly, I was sort of scared of working with stretch fabrics before this. I didn’t have a sewing machine that could sew them properly, my armless, legless dress form was not really suited to the business of templating, and I assumed that calculating for stretch would be hideously difficult. As it turns out, I know love stretchy fabrics! I have a bunch of projects to make finish right now, including a silk cocktail dress for my mother to wear to a ball in two weeks, but I am most looking forward to receiving the measurements of a client who wants a catsuit, so I can once more get my stretch on. (That last sentence marks the first time I have referred to myself as having a “client”. I feel terribly grown up!)

A further irony that has stemmed from the advent of the stretch era is that my way of making has no apparent relation to commercial methods; I recently saw a website where you could order a bespoke leather catsuit for around $900. Commercially, they are available, un-bespoke, for around $200-300. Naturally my methods mean that every garment I make is made individually, but it is weird that while I could make a bespoke leather catsuit (and for a lot less than $900, if anyone fancies one!), I have no idea how I would make a non bespoke suit.

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