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Link to better zentai instructions (update of site in progress)

Zentai refers to a bodysuit with hood, gloves, and feet attached for full coverage. 'Zentai taitsu' apparently means 'whole body tights' in Japanese where it supposedly started. (If you're curious about Zentai, take a look at Ayus Zentai for a gentle introduction - they're very friendly and safely on the other side of the glass.)

It's simple and obvious to replace a catsuit's mock turtleneck neckline with a hood with gloves and feet to make a zentai. Most such suits have two zips: a short one down from the top of the hood to the nape of the neck, and one up the back.

This page presents a way to make a zipless zentai suit - someone's suggested calling it an 'Origami Zentai'. The benefit is that there's no zip making the back seam stiff and non-stretchy, and no need to contort to struggle to reach right between your shoulderblades for a tiny zip key (although there's still a little contortion needed). Unlike a shoulder-zip zentai (which also eliminates the back zip), the shoulder-seams aren't itchy and won't pucker. The disadvantage is that it pulls up under the armpits, much like the surplice neckline, which can be uncomfortable if your elastic is too strong.

(I've been using 1" wide elastic, which is too strong. I'd suggest trying 1/2" elastic.)

See also 'failures' below.

Pattern

This pattern is based on the normal raglan sleeve construction, but has a novel overlap of the whole shoulder region to make a closure formed of fabric and elastic instead of a zip or buttons: the back of the suit continues over the shoulders for a short distance down the chest (with some short inner sleeves to hold it in position), while the front of the suit continues with the real outer sleeves over the shoulders for a short distance down the back.

Sewing

Wearing

It's fairly easy to put this on, but make sure you don't need to 'go' before you try this for the first few times:

Taking this off is only a little harder than putting it on:

Failures

I've been pondering alternatives to this method of entry, and recently tried making a suit with an overlap on the back - a V shape extending from coccyx to shoulders. Overall, it works fairly well, but it was very hard to work out how to sew the bottom ends of the V to make it lay flat (still not solved properly) and the edges of the V tend to try to spread to expose the lower spine, an effect that was exacerbated when I moved the top ends of the V higher (to make the suit easier to put on) and in the process made its top narrower.

Since I deliberately made this suit less taut than normal - only 85% scaling - the spreading V needs further thought: I could use hooks-and-eyes, perhaps, or introduce extra seams across the top of the legs, to spread the bottom of the V out.


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