Creating a Latin costume


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I'm strongly considering making myself a latin dress...I've read a whole bunch of the topics on dressmaking, but I have a few questions.

I'm looking to make something vaguely like this:

1) I'm guessing the best way to deal with those cutouts is elastic around the edges? Is it more complicated than that? Can I just make a normal leotard and then cut holes in it? I've looked for the Kwik Sew Activewear and Swimwear book, but it seems to be out of print, and I keep losing the eBay auctions for it. Are there any modern/easily obtainable alternatives?

2) How would you go about hemming those lovely ruffles? Rolled hem? Horsehair? would you attach them, too? I'll probably just end up experimenting with my experimental dress form (duct tape!)

And some more general questions...

3) Is lycra seriously $30/m!? All of the fabric stores around my area don't start any cheaper than that. I've had a look online, and it's a much better price there. Is there any particular type I should be looking for (2-way, 4-way stretch?)

4) I've got my basic sewing machine, I can borrow an overlocker, and I've got somewhere in mind for the stones. Is there anything else I haven't thought of? Do I need to learn to use elastic thread or anything complicated like that?

I can't wait to order my fabric and start's such a beautiful dress, and it shows just enough skin so I don't look gross :D

Thanks :)


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I think most dancewear (and other activewear) is 4-way stretch. And yeah, while $30/meter sounds a titch high, it won't be cheap.

SERGER. When I had a light tulle skirt that needed hemming, thank goodness I was still at the Skating Club and one of the coaches mentioned her mother had one--she was able to hem a very fussy, stiff hem that would have shredded.

I would not try cutting out pieces of a leotard (unless you do it while it's stretched on a dress form and even then you might have problems.) You're going to have a very hard time keeping the shape as it's meant to be stretched and the fabric was originally cut intended to stretch one way. It would probably be a lot easier to start from the fabric.

Can you borrow/get a look at a dress with cutouts to examine the edges? I don't sew (clothes, anyway) but my mother does and she really likes when she can get a look at a finished version before starting hers.


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If you haven't sewn on stretch fabric before, see if you can find someone (friend, relative, friend or relative of a friend or relative, etc) who has that will show you how in person. It's really different from sewing on non-stretch fabric. You also might consider doing a practice dress first to get experience with the fabric and getting it to fit the way you want.

Also some of the online places will send you swatches for free or for a small fee. It is a good way to see if the fabric is really what you want (color, weight, amount of stretch, etc).

Good luck!


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Be glad that you shouldn't need much fabric for it :p
The ruffles are probably serged or rolled-hem circles. Similar to spiral floats, but sewn onto a skirt instead. What about a nude leotard made of less-expensive stretch material, and then cover the naughty bits with the expensive stuff? You'd need to line it anyway. That way you'll have a foundation to pin the colored parts to and figure out which parts you're willing to expose. I don't think you can even wear fishnets with something cut that low... :eek:


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@DOI...In that case, I'll make a pattern from scratch with the cutouts, instead of just trying to hem more stretchy edges.

@raindance...I found someone online that sends fabric swatches...unfortunately they're US-based, and postage here is $15...ok for the fabric, not so great for just samples.

@nikitta...nude leotard could work...but then how would you go about just attaching coloured fabric to some of it?

From a lining POV...thinking two same-shaped pieces of with built-in undies, and one to go over the top and attach to the ruffles.


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Kwik Sew Bathing Suit Pattern 3608 is very similar to the "cutouts" and style your looking at.
Available on e-bay or through
Also, the ruffles are "rolled" which can be done by using a serger machine as it cuts off the extra fabric when it moves through the feeder.
You can do a "rolled" hemline on a regular sewing machine. Go to You Tube for tutorials on how to accomplish this with the smooth fabric choice.
Add the the stiff ruffle LAST to your rolled hemline. If your not going to add the net ruffle which also looks like it too has a rolled hemline, Tule or Crinoline comes in a variety of widths so be careful with your choice, if the width is too much you will not get the hipline actions you want to show off - instead you'll end up with a weighted hem and that will not do on the dancefloor, unless you want that.
Make the split on the bodice mid-chest last. after you have the body suit done. Chalk it out with eyeliner white pencil chalk or even tailor chalk to see what it will look like and accomplish that on a body form that has your measurements or close to it. You may find that your appliques and stonework along the split will do just fine and you might chose not to split the front.
Lastly, keep in mind,,,,you must change your sewing needles for the correct fabric. It's probably the biggest single mistake a person will make - using the same needle on a variety of fabrics - which can cause, snags, pulls, holes too big, the bobbin seizes up, the thread breaks, etc etc.


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yup, definitely take care to use the correct needles for lightweight chiffon-y fabric vs. lycra. Otherwise I guarantee you will come back here cursing a blue streak about the experience.

re: attaching the colored part to the nude bodysuit, when you have the bodysuit on you or your dressform, the areas that need shaping or darts to lay nicely will be more obvious. Like, boobs :cool:. I'm not an accomplished seamstress, but zigzag stitch on the edges to attach it should work fine, and/or that iron-on fusible stuff between the fabrics. But check that it's compatible with your fabrics and that they won't melt when ironed :eek:. And much of the stitching can be covered in stones. As pictured, they used a black binding on the edges too.


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Great hints all.
Also Lioness, if you find that your soft smooth chiffon or satin or such fabric slips around on the feeding plate of the sewing machine and becomes difficult to manage, you can put very lightweight interfacing fabric or tissue paper under the fabric so the stitch has something to grab and it will allow you to feed the fabric between the plate and the needle without the fabric doing a slip slide on the feeder plate. Have fun, looks like a great latin idea.

oh, when done seaming, pull the interfacing or tissue paper away from the new stitches, pretty easy to do when working with lightweight fabrics.


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Thanks all!

I've found a cheap fabric shop that will send me swatches, and I'm getting a rhinestone chart from Elite Crystals. I just assumed the under-ruffles was chiffon, which should be fairly light. When I have a day off work, I'll start up a blog and post my design and stuff on there. I'm really hoping to find a beautiful green fabric for it.

Will be getting my wonderful BF to wrap me in duct tape tomorrow, and I'll base my measurements off of that.

Edit: I saw that kwik sew pattern you mentioned, 3wishes. Looks very useful, and I'll see if I can get a hold of it.


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Add the the stiff ruffle LAST to your rolled hemline. If your not going to add the net ruffle
I'm not seeing a net ruffle. What I see is a georgette ruffle that's just a smidge longer than the (charmeuse?) top ruffle, not attached to the hemline of the top ruffle, but probably co-stitched with the top ruffle.


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Ok...rough bang-up of a front and back design, seeing as I don't have one for the original picture. It's modified a little to have a halter neck, and hopefully to not look too revealing from the back. The halterneck will provide some extra support for the ladies, too :D

It's really fricking hard to draw ruffles on Paintshop, but you get the idea :)


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Just a note - I have a regular sewing machine with a rolled hem foot, and I found trying to use that with slippery fabric was an exercise in futility. More experienced seamstresses may be able to do that, but i ended up giving up and just sewing on some horsehair. Hopefully it will be easier for you, but use a serger if you can!


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So, the fabric store got back to me with samples...

The cotton lycra definitely isn't what I want...but there's not a whole lot of colour variation in the nylon lycra...from what I've read, nylon is cooler to wear than cotton, and I think that's pretty important.

But I'm in love with some glitter chiffon they's just gorgeous.

So now I'm considering a black lycra base with aqua/turquoise stoning, chiffon ruffles, and arm bands...would that stand out enough on the floor? I'm worried it'd look a bit weird. Otherwise I might have to go find another fabric shop. I can always use the cotton for a practise go, though.


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Bring up a color wheel on the web, or even go to a paint store. Look at the color wheel, I personally like the aqua/turquoise stoning, although if your using Black as the foundational color of your costume, throw in some rather large bright sew on stones for arm bands or bangles as well as on the appliques. You'll find yourself changing things as you move along in the process.

color wheels are great for creating opposing color schemes regardless what your using the color wheel for, or adjacent colors that compliment each other. I have one handy right now as I'm trying to recreate a hotel room I fell in love with, tee hee. Have Fun with it.


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I've had a look at the online swarovski colour wheel...I already have some cool stoning ideas...just have to make myself make the dress first, lol!


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Pictures when it's done! :D (I wish I could sew, but I had a breakdown just doing a "Sew Simple" skirt pattern. Mom finally gave up on me and finished it (hand-sewed the waist and put in the zipper.) I do better with piecing quilts.


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Definitely pictures! I emailed Elite Crystals last week, and received a colour chart today...not a bad postage time for halfway across the world!

All I'm waiting on now is my practise fabric...I've got to get out if the habit of ordering things on Friday nights...then they don't post them until Monday and I'm already impatient! :-D

Oh, and DP's GF, otherwise known as dance buddy and costume friend, has given me the ok on how revealing I make it..."of course you don't need a back on the dress! I love backless Latin dresses! It's the one excuse you get to dress like a skank, so take it!"
Well I guess I'm having a backless dress then, lol.

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