Notes: This technique suits ladies, bust sizes between 80cm and 94cm only. Children’s dancewear is covered separately. This particular block is designed for use with 75% two-way stretch nylon lycra blend. Cheap or inappropriate fabrics will cause problems.
Coming from a specifically swimwear background, I’m often asked if there is a difference between swimwear and dancewear. I hear that dancewear people get the same question in reverse. But it’s just a close fitting garment and they can be made from the same fabrics so why should they be different? Well they are and for not so obvious reasons.
Unless you are doing competitive or synchronised swimming then the average swimmer will be very unlikely to over-extend their body in anyway. There it is folks … the key difference. Stop and think about it for a minute. OK, enough with the confused look. A beach or pool swimsuit is as much a fashion item as it is a garment for a casual swim. It is much closer fitting with less built in tolerance than a competitive swimsuit or dancewear. I use as much as 12% negative ease on a high fashion swimsuit. There is no way a dancewear item could tolerate that sort of ease without riding up or moving all over the place when the wearer over extends. And for synchronised swimmers its worse … they have the hardest time of all … it’s literally dancing in the water with even more over extension.
To put this into perspective further, the sport with the greatest amount of over extension (at least the one wearing a swimsuit) is body building. You might not think they move very fast or hard but what we are really talking about is the greatest change in body measurements from one position to another. A stretch fit garment is a tension garment. Unlike a baggy T-shirt, it does not tolerate dimension changes without consequenses. If you think the thong back posing suit of the eighties was all about showing more flesh then you’d be very wrong … it was about trying to get low tech stretch fabrics to fit as closely as possible … the legline in their case being the hardest area to stay put, so they got rid of it, literally.
The point I’m trying to make with all this is that designing for dance wear is a much different perspective to swimwear. Dance (and synchronised swimming) is firstly about function, while swimwear is firstly about fashion. Once we agree on that we can start modifying the one piece swimwear block for use as a dancewear block. Below, I will write all the step by step instructions for the one piece dancewear block. They will look very similar in method to the swimwear block but you should notice two key differences.
The first is the amount of ease. Instead of 12% horizontal negative ease, I recommend dropping it to 8%, and also adding 4% vertical negative ease. So instead of 12/0% you now have 8/4%. This is not the same as changing sizes … it’s a completely different shape for the same size, and unfortunately it also affects how you grade between sizes (but that’s later). Adding vertical negative ease stabalises the garment. Most leotards have shoulders and can tolerate this quite well. The consequence of adding vertical negative ease however means that we need to remove some of the horizontal ease or the garment will lock. Bringing it down to 8% is usually enough to allow the wearer to twist her torso and have all the movment go into the waist rather than pull down on the bust. It also means there is less tension around the hips while still having the same overall tension in the garment, which helps point two below.
The second difference is the leg line. High cut doesn’t stay put unless its part of a thongback (think 80′s aerobic leotards). There are ways to make a high cut leotard stay in place but that’s not part of this discussion. The leotard leg line is much lower and squarer and relies on elastic tension under the cheeks (rather than across the cheeks) to hold the garment in place. The leg hole is actualy smaller on a leotard than a swimsuit. If you want a more conservative leg line for your swimsuit you might consider using this as your swimsuit block, but don’t forget to change the ease back.
There is normally a third difference which is the arm hole. I, however, use the same armhole technique for both leotard blocks and swimwear blocks as many swimsuits in the tropics now have sleeves due to skin cancer risks. Remember we’re still talking blocks here not patterns! You can use the same instructions for the swimsuit sleeve block to make the leotard sleeve, just remember to change the ease.
|1-2||Square down nape to waist measurement x 0.96 (4% vertical negative ease). Square across the page from points 1 and 2.|
|2-3||Square down waist to crotch x 0.96 (4% vertical negative ease). Square across the page from 3.|
|1-4||Square down 2cm to point 4. Square across the page from 4.|
|3-5||Square down half gusset measurement x 0.96 (4% vertical negative ease) to point 5. Square across 9.5cm to point 6.|
|3-7||1/4 natural hip. Square up to point 8. The hip measurement is not reduced by 8% as the swimsuit does not wrap around the leg.|
|3-9||3/16th natural hip.|
|2-10||1/4 waist measurement x 0.92 (reduction of 8%). Join point 7 to point 10. Mark point 11 one quarter of the way up this line. Create a gentle curve to connect points 6 to 9 and 11.|
|7-12||1/4 natural hip (same as 3-7). Square up to points 13 and 14.|
|12-15||Square across 4cm from point 12 to 15.|
|12-16||Square down 9.5cm from point 12 to 16. +/- 0.25cm per size from size 10|
|16-17||Square across 9.5cm from point 16 to 17.|
|14-18||1/4 waist measurement x 0.92 (reduction of 8%). Join point 7 to point 18. Mark point 19 one quarter of the way up this line.|
|19-20||Square across from point 19. Mark point 20 at 2/3rd along this line. Create a curve to connect Points 17, 15, 20 and 19. Once the block is cut out, the leg curves can be trued up. Leg curves are purely a style choice and can be moved once you know what you’re doing.|
|13-21||1/4 bust x 0.92 + 1.5cm. Square down to waist line. The 1.5cm is added to the front block and removed from the back block to move the side seam more toward its natural position. If you are designing for a larger cup size on the block you may want to move the side seam back a little more. 1.5cm is about right for a 10B/C.|
|1-22||1/4 bust x 0.92 – 1.5cm. Square down to waist line.|
|14-23||Waist to bust x 0.96 (4% vertical negative ease). Square across from point 23 to point 24. Join point 18 to point 24.|
|23-BP||½ Bust separation x 0.92. Draw a line from Bust Point to point 25 which is square to line 18-24. This is the bust dart position.|
|24-26||Mark point 26 2.8cm up from point 24. Square across block and mark in point 27. Join point 10 to point 27.|
|13-28||1/6th neck measurement.|
|13-29||1/6th neck measurement. Draw in front neck curve. Joint point 29 to BP.|
|29-30||Draw a line shoulder width x 0.92 to meet a line squared across from point 4. Mark the intersection as Point 30. Trace the line shown in red onto a new sheet of paper.|
|29-31||Draw in point 31 the dart width from point 29.|
|1-32||1/6th neck measurement. Draw in back neck curve. Draw a line shoulder width x 0.92 to meet the line squared across from point 4. Mark the intersection as point 33. Draw down a line square to line 32-33 from point 33.|
Rotate the traced section as shown. Draw down a line square to line 31-30 from point 30. Draw in armhole curves as shown. The armholes curves can be trued up after the block is cut out. Draw in side seams as smooth curves.
Rotate the front shoulder section shown in red back to the neckline so as to re-open the bust dart at the side seam. The rotation should be centered on the bust point. Mark in the bust line position on the back block by measuring up from the waist line, along the side seam to the bottom of the bust dart. If you’re wondering why the front and back armholes have ended up a different length take a look at the section on making the sleeve block.
Remove unnecessary guidelines, points and numbers. Cut out or retrace the front and back blocks and true up all curves. Make sure you clearly label your block with a title, panel name, size, date, author’s name and version number. Do not add seam allowance to the block!