"Seamless" Body Suit

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Introduction: "Seamless" Body Suit

About: We have cats. I like to costume and make fun things.

This instructable is a 'how-to' on making a body suit for a costume appear to be seamless.  One of the things I hate about doing body paint was that it was expensive and rubbed off, or it was time-consuming to apply, or there's paint brush marks, or any number of other issues.  Using a bodysuit restricts needing paint to only my hands, feet, face, chest and neck - ideal if I'm not competing in a costume contest.

I made a few of my own bodysuits to take the place of paint, but I hated that there was a seam along the side of my body and/or legs. This is fine for Spiderman or another character who wears a tight-fitting suit super hero suit, but a couple of my characters have skin tone that is not flesh tone, and a simple body suit was a quick solution when I want to wear say, Midna, but didn't feel like spending 2-3 hours on make up.  

This suit would also be good for Avatars, Shiva from Final Fantasy, Night Elves and any other number of revealingly dressed characters.

The motivation of creating this tutorial is to help you make a body suit even if you don't have a firm grounding in using a sewing machine.  You only need a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch for a wide neck suit.  If your suit needs to be closer fitting at the neck than Midna, you may need either a zipper, snaps or possibly just an elastic band or velco in the back, if your back will not be visible while in costume.  If your back will be visible and you need a close fitting neck, you're stuck with a zipper, but you do have a few placement options depending on the character - You might luck out and be able to put a seam on one side under clothing or put it in the lower back to leave the upper back zipper free .  For the truly hard core, you can put the zipper along the *ahem* derriere, assuming that that is the only place that won't be visible.  This is even doable if making an Avatar, since you'd have a tail  - it's just a matter of how dedicated you are to having as few seams visible as possible. (I have not done one of these)

This tutorial will only be covering a basic bodysuit - no hands or feet - for beginners who just want some smooth lines.  Personally, I'm rather anit-covering hands and feet because gloves and a single toe foot covering just break the illusion that much more.  These suits are all about maintaining as much of the illusion as possible.  

With Midna, I studied a number of screencaps and finally determined that she is actually topless.  Her only clothing is a skirt and cloak, and her skin is dual-toned - both black and pale blue.  Her skin is actually more black than blue, but starting lighter and painting darker will work for you better than starting with black fabric and painting light on top of it.  I didn't saturate the black as much as I could have on the body, because I think it adds to the look of having dual-tone skin.

Since my body suit ended up 2 colors, I'll cover painting later on, but you may not need it.

if you need to dye your fabric, do so first, before cutting.  I was lucky enough to find this fabric on ebay, in the color I needed.  Rit dyes and Jaquard acid dyes work equally well.  

Needed for this project:
Sewing machine
Four way stretch fabric - Lycra, spandex or in that family
Scissors or Pinking Shears
Measuring tape
Matching thread
Knit or medium weight machine needle
Chalk

May need:
Lots of paper
Pen
Fabric INK (not paint)
paintbrushes
Sharpies of your color choice
Fabric dye


Pros:
Bodysuits are more flattering than bare skin, can give you a better waistline, smooth curves and it allows you to wear shapewear underneath ::cough:: should you feel the need to do so.  It's even possible to make a fake bellybutton.  They're fast and easy to get on, and it's simply a matter of matching paint to your skin.  Additionally, you can wear a push-up bra or other bra under a bodysuit.   Pasties do nothing for support, just sayin'.  A suit makes it easier to cross play - a male cosplayer can have fake boobs with little extra effort and a female can bind securely and the suit can still be nice and smooth.

Cons: no matter what you do, it will not look like real skin - but it can still look great in photos - and looks a lot better than smudged or fading paint.  In my case, I don't mind the extra 'help' smoothing out my curves.  Another con is that if you snag part of your suit, you have to either repair it or replace the entire suit to maintain the "seamless" look.  One good sized frayed snag will ruin the illusion.  Another disadvantage comes with bladder control.  You must have it for most bodysuits.  I can go 5-8 hours in this and not need to pee, as long as I don't drink anything.

Step 1: Why I Made a Seamless Suit

The image pretty much says it all.

The side seams aren't always visible, but when they are, they REALLY REALLY are.

When I decided to make a new bodysuit I went with a full shoulder to ankle suit to make the leg/hip area more believable.  Depending on what you need one for, a leg-less suit could work fine- Even if your legs don't show, making a swimsuit type body suit rather than just a top will still help with smoothing, and help avoid loose fabric around the waist.   If you have a mid-driff baring character in pants and a skimpy top, a swim type leotard or suit will go a long way to improving confidence and keep you from wondering if the bottom edge of the modesty top is still tucked in.

This is especially helpful if your character would otherwise need assistance getting your back painted - if nothing else, it's good backup should your find yourself short on paint or painting help with a convention fast coming up.

Step 2: Patterns! - Don't Panic!

In preparation for cutting your super stretchy fabric, you can do this one of two ways.

The lazy way, which will take longer to sew, but much less preparation time.  I made my first suit the lazy way, and it actually worked out pretty well, despite having to take in my seams several times.

OR: The exacting way .  Either way, you will need to take measurements.

Break out your measuring tape and take the following measurements - or take out your list if you already have this written down and add or compare.

Shoulder length
Hip
Bust
Natural waist
Inseam
Lower thigh
Upper thigh
Knee
Calf
Ankle
Back
Shoulder to waist
Arm hole size-where arm meets the shoulder

Lazy:

Using measurements, make marks in chalk at the thigh, hip, calf, knee, etc - then join the marks in a trace out an outline this exact size.  All of these are laid out flat, which is why the pattern looks especially wide.  Because the fabric has stretch, making them this exact size will be too large, but you can take them in after the first pass. 

Cut the fabric along the trace, folded over along the center front.

The crotch area is tricky.  You will end up with a seam here, but where you want to place it is up to you.  Keep in mind the center bottom of the pattern is where the seam will begin - my character is wearing a skirt, so this area was not important to keep it seamleass.  If you are making an Avatar, you would want the seam to be under your loincloth (front) and have a more form fitting behind seam that joins in the center and goes along the back.

Pattern one is what I used for Midna - there is a center back panel because this was my first attempt at a body suit and I wasn't sure how the curves would work along the hips if I made a single central seam.  The narrow back panel is invisible because of the cloak I wear with the character.  This has a v-neck.

The Exacting Way:

Take all of your measurements and multiply them by the percentage the fabric stretches and reduce your overall pattern size by this much.  If the fabric stretches more in one direction than the other, you will have to use a calculator accordingly.  Always leave 5/8 inch seam allowance.  I was too paranoid that I would cut off too much fabric and ruin the very large single cut of fabric that I had, so I stitched the legs and back once, tried it on, then took them in, one seam at a time.

Both ways:

With the ankles, I did not turn under the hem because I wanted it to lay as flat as possible, so the arm holes and ankle edges are not hemmed.

The back top edge does not come all the way up to my neck with this pattern so that I could get in and out of it through the neck hole.  The deep v-shape makes this easier as well.  Your character may require a higher neck, in which case you may be looking at adding a zipper.  If you must have a tighter fitting neck, I'd recommend leaving it unhemmed as well, trim with regular scissors rather than pinking shears.  Please don't use a turtleneck.  I hate seeing bodysuits with turtlenecks, it's always very obvious- if you really really want to cover the neck rather than paint it, make the neck long enough to end right under the chin, so you can blend the edge better by hiding it under a natural feature.

One of the reasons I do not use footies on my bodysuits is that I think a natural, painted foot (and hand) looks a lot better than an attached footie.   You CAN go to the trouble of making toes and feet, but I'm not covering that here.  You can usually disguise the edges of fabric at the ankle and wrist (if you make arms) with jewelry or armor.

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    22 Discussions

    0
    Monkeyjb1988
    Monkeyjb1988

    2 years ago

    Looks cool. I'll let you know how it works, but I'm gonna try and sew a Power Rangers suit using these instructions. Thank you :)

    0
    NadineQ2
    NadineQ2

    3 years ago

    Love this tutorial! Would you see any way of adding press/stud buttons in the crotch area to make bathroom trips easier?

    0
    LoganD27
    LoganD27

    3 years ago

    Is there anyway I can have the PDF emailed?

    0
    Batmanthony
    Batmanthony

    6 years ago on Step 2

    so how would you go about making a faceless hood in it ?

    0
    cismael
    cismael

    6 years ago

    I'm so sorry I've never sewn in my life!

    0
    cismael
    cismael

    6 years ago

    I'm so lost! Is the first picture of the pattern for the lazy way or the exacting way? Also could you show me a picture of how I could transfer my measurements to a pattern I can use?

    0
    arkhamite
    arkhamite

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm going to try this for my White Violin cosplay. I used a leotard and stockings last time, but want to up my game. Thanks for being awesome.

    0
    Zanaji
    Zanaji

    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesome, and I think i'm going to use it with one of my more revealing bellydance costumes.

    0
    fluffydragon
    fluffydragon

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    thank you !

    You can totally do just the top part too, for your belly dance - it's easier to eliminate side seams when you don't have to do the full leg. If you don't already have something for it, you could get some dangly jewelry and have it hang down along the back seam to make it harder to see.

    0
    fluffydragon
    fluffydragon

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    ^_^ shes my favorite to cosplay too. Though my Aayla is coming in at a strong second.

    0
    jonikam
    jonikam

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Most excellent costume and construction. I too make cosplay costumes for my kids and their friends and a few have been unitards.The ones I've made are side seamed and have a single back seam but the leg seam is on the inside of the leg and joins at the crotch front (hope you understood that). It also provides no side seams but is a pain to alter the girth (measurement around shoulder down through the crotch, torso length if you like) Where did you get your pattern, are you one of these lucky people that can create their own? I can alter commercial patterns to suit my needs, but that's about it. This is the most recent cosplays Glados and Ladypool http://snowboardingtaco.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d486ane
    and Ladypool, Headpool and Dogpool http://snowboardingtaco.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d486b3m
    If you could provide info on your pattern, I'd greatly appreciate it as one costumer to another ;-) Jonikam

    0
    normalicy
    normalicy

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Wish I had seen this last year. Had to try to make a bodysuit for a pair of Tron costumes & these had seams down the front & rear. Didn't like the outcome. Not for the feint of heart.

    0
    Mechanic2011
    Mechanic2011

    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is a very good and informative instructable.
    Thanks.
    I have looked at your other ones also ,very nice .
    You know I forgot all about the hook and loop closures like used on Braziers and corsets.
    I don' think that I would want them to be in the crotch area though as it would be too bulky and uncomfortable to walk with and may also pinch.

    Depending on the costume a body suit would probably be a good idea if the costume incorporated a lot of Chain Mail .It would help to keep from getting your skin pinched all the time.I don't know how it would hold up to the snagging from the metal Chain Mail though as they are just metal rings pinched together and woven.

    My costume is pictured with my name above.
    The vest is laced together on the sides and the front to give it the authentic look of the renaissance period.
    It has a full length cape as I am 6' tall.

    Me next project is ti find a way the make the fairy wings articulated via motors and such so that they could actually fold up just like the real wings of a butterfly. I would incorporate some strings of tiny little LED's within the wings themselves that are made of the cellophane type of see through plastic so that would be visible from either side. The battery pack would be located in the center of the back where the wings mount along with the motors and transmissions. I am trying to keep the weight of it all down to say 5-7 Lbs. so its not too heavy to wear all day.
    It should really neat when its done.
    The LED'S I'm using would be cannibalized from those LED garland ribbons you now see in the stores in the Christmas decoration stuff.
    I seen them at Mills Fleet Farm stores here in Minn.
    Open the garland ribbon up and pull out the led string.
    Be careful of the very fragile tiny wires .
    They run on 3 Volts DC so you won't need the power adapter that comes with them ,just a battery holder.
    Same thing goes for the battery powered LED Christmas light strings you see at Wal Mart right now. They are the smallest ones that I have been able to find right now and are easy to hide the tiny wires.
    Christmas is the best time of year to find custom costume stuff ,I think.
    Halloween is the second best.

    0
    Mechanic2011
    Mechanic2011

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Such a costume would be great for some venues such as Halloween and Renaissance Festivals and the characters would be winged fairies ,elves , belly dancers and such.
    I have never seen a body suit up close.
    Are any made with the seams on the INSIDES of the legs where they are less visible??
    For a tight fitting neck :
    You were saying something about using an "entry" seam in the lower back or more so down and underneath?
    Could something be made loosely based on the old time long underwear with the trap door on the back for using the toilet but with just a single seam?
    How about an entry / exit seam that starts just above the buttocks and wraps down , through and underneath to the front side?
    Most of the time , costumes would have this area covered by something else to give the appearance of covering the , err , unmentionable body parts ?
    Yes , with such a costume you would need to be very agile and flexible to get into and out of it but you WOULD have the option of using the toilet if needed.
    This is kind of how scuba divers get into and out of their one piece dry suits only their zipper starts at the neck in the back and down , around and back up to the neck in front.
    They need help with the zipper , however due to the bulk of the suit.
    What do you think??

    0
    fluffydragon
    fluffydragon

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You can adapt the pattern to have them on the inside. mine are not because my inner, mostly non visible leg is sometimes visible, if I have a photo taken from the side with the open skirt.

    All you have to do is move your inner leg seams closer together and the outer leg seam further away - just measure around from the front of your leg to the back middle, and that's where your new 'center' is. It might even work better than having the seams in the back, depending on what your character is. it'll use more fabric because it'll be more of a rectangle than a square piece. You'll get a bigger 'V' shape along your butt that will look more like a panty line. With seams straight up the back of the leg, those seams will continue straight up and in until they meet or are stitched to the back where it comes together to make a middle seam.

    0
    fluffydragon
    fluffydragon

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Oh and as for the trap door idea, yes - absolutely, assuming you are using each body suit for one costume only, just position your opening where it will not be visible - the butt area usually is not visible, making it the 'safest' place to have the most seams and a zipper or other type of opening. Heck, Velco would probably work just fine too, or a bra/ corset type closure with hooks and eyes.

    I haven't done one this way yet, but it would be an enormous help at conventions. I've been known to wear my costume for 8 hours at a time with no pee breaks, because I really can't. I just don't drink anything while in costume, and for a few hours before.

    Very interesting technique, thanks for the info. I would love to see a picture of the finished crotch area or a drawing of how it's assembled for clarity, that seems as though it would be the trickiest area.

    0
    fluffydragon
    fluffydragon

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    It really is, there isn't a good way to avoid seams in the lower back, unfortunately. But hopefully no one will be staring at the crotch. You basically end up with a \ / seam like an unfinished panty line in front for just a few inches, and the two seam lines wrap around under and back and should blend in with the natural leg/crotch line. The back area is very tricky. I ended up having to sew in an extra 2 inch tall x 4 inch long panel across the small of the back on this one - if my back were visible, I'd have to redo the whole thing, which would be a huge disadvantage. I've hopefully updated the pattern suggestion to reflect it.