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Although I describe three styles here, I consider the main style to be the two panel suit because I feel it's the one that relates most directly to the measurements you'll have taken. I'll start with that one, therefore, and describe the other two in comparison.

Two panel style

Makes a catsuit with a centre front and centre back seam, and an inside leg seam. Good for zips, not so good for raglan sleeves. Not sure how good it is for people with a bust.

The pattern

  1. Take a piece of paper as long as your measurements need, and draw a straight line along its rough centre. Best way to do this is to line its cut edge up with the edge of your table and use a T-square to mark the rough centre along it in such a way that you can join the dots. You may want to sticky-tape the paper to the table, to make sure it doesn't move while you're working on it. If it's not your table, ask first. :)
  2. Starting at one end of the paper, plot the length of the circumference you measured for your ankle, half on either side of the long centre line you drew.
  3. Measure along the long centre line from your ankle line to the next circumference, and plot that too, half on either side the long centre line. Repeat this until you reach the top of your leg.
  4. At the top of your leg, you will have measured around one leg, and at the same height, around both legs at the same time. This latter starts the set of body measurements. Body measurements are plotted a quarter to either side of the line. Plot the measurement of both legs together on the same line as the single leg measurement; since you're plotting two quarters, it should be smaller than the two halves of the single leg.
  5. Plot the rest of the body measurements in much the same way as you plotted the 'both legs' measurement, remembering to plot a quarter to either side, rather than half.
  6. When you've reached and plotted the underarms, carefully draw a smooth curve joining the ends of the lines you've plotted for the leg and for the body. Note that there will be a discontinuity where the half-leg measures meet the quarter-body measures.
  7. Where the body measures and leg measures outlines reach the top of the legs, draw a curve starting at and parallel to the body's outline about halfway between the hips and the top of leg line, and curve it until it's parallel with and ends at the end of the top of leg line.
  8. If you're not sure about that curve, err on the side of it being flatter and starting higher - you can always trim it sharper.
  9. You should end up with something looking like the figure to the right, although this is based on my measurements.
  10. The finished garment will fit better if you take the fact that your rump protrudes more than your front into account. To do that you will have to have taken the half-circumferences mentioned in the measurements page.
  11. Add notches at knee, hip, and waist.

Sewing

With suitable account taken of sleeves and zips:

  1. Cut two pieces, wrong sides together.
  2. Pin the centre front seam from neck to crotch point with right sides together, and sew.
  3. Pin the centre back seam from neck to crotch point with right sides together, and sew.
  4. Bring the two crotch points together, pin the inseams with right sides together, and sew.

I notice that my commercially bought cycleshorts' crotch point is twisted 45 degrees, compared to my pattern. I'm not sure why that's better, but I plan to try it to find out what difference it makes.

One panel style

This makes a catsuit with a centre back seam and an inside leg seam. Good for... um, not having a centre front seam. I like this pattern - it satisfied my craving for a minimal-seams garment.

The pattern

  1. Draft the two-panel suit from your body's narrowest circumference (probably your waist) down to your legs, here represented by the green bit. (As expanded upon above, that's a long straight line representing the side of your body, with shorter straight lines drawn symmetrically perpendicular to it which are in total the length of half-circumferences of your body and full circumferences of your leg at each height. If you were to wrap this shape around yourself now, it would look like half a pair of trousers.)
  2. Taking the top circumference line (the narrowest body circumference), plot a new line from one of its ends, parallel to the original line (a). This is the centre-front fold line; you'll want to draw it up to where your underarms would be, and down to where it cuts across the crotch curve.
  3. Now plot the half-circumferences of your body above the narrowest circumference. Draw them perpendicular to the centre-front fold line (a), but plot them starting on the line itself (instead of making them symmetric).
  4. Draw smooth curves based on the ends of these perpendicular lines (don't follow them slavishly, but be fairly accurate). Make the curve along the leg and the one along the body meet at right angles (90 degrees) at the crotch point, and fold your tissue paper along the original long line to copy the leg curve from one side to the other, to make sure the legs are symmetrical.
  5. The centre front fold line cuts off a roughly triangular bit of the crotch (the dark green bit in the diagram). Slide it across (b), twisting it a bit (c) so it fits on along the leg from the crotch, then cut the pointy top (blue) off so the curve of the back continues through this piece, ending in a new right-angle (90 degrees).
  6. Now draft a slash up from where that piece was cut off for its new length (d), so when you pin or sew the two sides of the leg together, they match. In fact, you should remove a small triangular bit here (purple, but only 5mm wide) to spread the stress of what would otherwise be a sharp point.

Sewing

With suitable account taken of sleeves and zips:

  1. Cut one piece, aligned on the fold.
  2. Pin the back seam with right sides together, and sew.
  3. Tack about an inch on either side of the apex of the leg inseam, and/or push a thread through the lowest bit of the fold, and use that to pull the apex of the crotch into the path of the needles while you're sewing the next step.
  4. Pin the leg inseam with right sides together, and sew.
  5. Unpick the tacking, if you did any.

Conventional gusset

A fairly obvious progression of the one-panel transformation is to cut the protruding bit off entirely, so the crotch is a separate part. This results in a slightly less accurate fit because most of the shaping curves have gone, but the elasticity of the lycra takes care of that in a pleasantly snug way, and the modification is interesting for styling - you can use it in a front/back panel mode with only side-seams - and remains fairly comfortable (except that the seams are more obvious to the wearer than the centre-back seam, for instance). It's also potentially useful if you're using 45" cloth rather than 60", because it'll reduce the width of the pieces.

Four panel style

Makes a catsuit with a front and back centre seam, an inside leg seam, and side seams from ankle to armpit. Good for zips, good for fit.

Generally, the more panels you have, the better the fit of the garment. This is why cheap spandex jogging shorts only have two panels, and expensive cycling shorts have lots. So while I don't use this pattern myself, It's here for completeness.

The pattern

  1. Start by drawing the central line, as in the two-panel pattern construction.
  2. Plot the leg measurements to the top of the leg, much as in the two-panel pattern, but a quarter of the circumference to each side of the centre line, not half and half, as in the two-panel pattern.
  3. At the top of the leg, choose one end of the half-circumference line and measure from that end along it, for a quarter of the circumference of the crotch-body measurement at that height.
  4. From that point, construct a vertical line, parallel to the central line.
  5. Now plot quarter-circumferences along this new vertical line for the body.
  6. Along the outside of the body, there should be a smooth curve from armpit to ankle, but on the other side, where the top of the leg meets the centre front, there should be a step. Draw a curve that starts halfway between the hips and the crotch, and starts vertical, and swings to reach horizontal when it joins the horizontal leg semi-circumference. (Again, remember to cut the curve shallow - you can always trim away.)
  7. Note that as I mention on the measurements page, the back and front pieces should be different, because unless you're particularly strange, your bum should stick out more than whatever you have at the front, and your chest than the back. It's worth trying to work those differences into this pattern.
  8. Add notches at knee, hip, and waist.

Sewing

With suitable account taken of sleeves and zips:

  1. Cut four pieces.
  2. Pin the centre back seam from neck to crotch point with right sides together, and sew.
  3. Pin the centre front seam from neck to crotch point with right sides together, and sew.
  4. Pin the side seams from armpit/sleeve to ankle with right sides together, and sew.
  5. Bring the two crotch points together, pin the inseams with right sides together, and sew.

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