When I found out Wild Ginger fashion design software had a pattern choice for a body suit, I was so stoked! Being a geek and nerd, you can just imagine how many cosplays I have at my disposal being able to make body suits. I can even make some for girls! However, it was the practical thought of having superhero body suits to run in that was most appealing to me! Why run around in boring running clothes, and not great ones at that for a little 5’2″ 108 lb guy like me, when you can do it in a chic superhero outfit? I’ve had the same thing running clothes for about 15 years cause it’s so hard to find stuff that fits, or can be tailored properly to avoid causing chafing or wardrobe malfunctions. Besides, the streets could use a little livening up if superheroes and villains were running around them.
For my first body suit prototype, I made it out of some cheap knit I had that was like brown snakeskin. It looked cool up close. However, from that from not too far away, I looked like a naked dark skinned teenager running around (see below). Not quite the pic I was trying to convey, as it was a selfie (my first ever) from my apartment, but probably better that I didn’t have said pic I saw of myself in store windows from across the street as I ran.
I was smart enough to adjust the default pattern Wild Ginger got me before making that first suit, measuring circumferences of my legs and arms and trimming down the pattern. It seems Wild Ginger thought a body suit was something prisoners wore, not something superheroes wore. I had chosen the super stretchy fabric option from the Wild Ginger options, to produce the smallest pattern. However, I’d need to have been on more steroids than Roger Clemens to fill out their default garment properly. The default pattern I generated can be found here in case you want to try and draft one to fit your body. You’ve got the initial shape there. It’s just sizing the rest of the way, and knits and spandex have a lot of give so you can err. But count on making two for a great looking one adjusted from your first try.
The initial adjustment I did was pretty close to perfect. Shoulder seams and a few things were a bit off, but it was sufficient to produce a garment I ran a fast 7.5 miles in without any problems. The run was definitely fast, cause it didn’t feel right to just be jogging along casually in a sleek body suit! I’ll have to limit myself to how often I wear these things cause I do need to have slow run days in my training unless I want to run myself into the hospital!
For my second bodysuit, and first proper one, I chose the outfit by Nightwing (good profile, not picture I want to share). See my Pinterest Nightwing cosplay board to see what inspired me. Nightwing is basically Robin after he got sick of being Batman’s sidekick, but I just loved the blue and black outfit. I loved it, but I think essentially, it chose me. You see, it was one day I saw just the right shiny black spandex, and a tad of light blue, that it occurred to me I had found what I needed. I wasn’t just about to blow a ton of money just to make the Nightwing outfit.
With the right spandex, and a second go at the body suit, I learned to put spandex on spandex, and lined it up for serging so there’d be no wardrobe malfunctions.
It was a challenge, but basically, stretch almost to maximum limit as I sewed, and serged, to maintain the stretch after sewing. Nothing wrinkled on me. I didn’t do zig zag stitch like I had heard I should have. That makes things look messy and not very sharp. I used a long stitch (4.0 mm), but regular serging settings. I always baste stitch 0.5″ in before I serge, then get the cutter to go half way between the edge and that seam. The serged seam overlaps it so, in effect, I have 5 threads on the serge. Nope. The thing ain’t coming apart at the seams, that’s for sure.
The basting also holds the fabrics in place as I serge. Pinning just doesn’t cut it as you have to pull out the pins, and the layers could still easily slip between the cutter and needles on the serger.
As for lining up elements, make sure it lines up just past the basting line where you expect the serged seam edge to be. If not, then sew in before serging, past the serged thread edge. It’s easy to take apart and do it again correctly (sewing), if you don’t get it right. When you serge, the edge won’t come that far, though it should be very close, that you won’t notice the difference. The serged seam will also take all the pressure so that your sewed part sticking out should neither look awkward, nor rip easily.
One thing I did learn the hard way, though. The stripes on the arm. They do not work being a stripe down the middle of the sleeve, as you can see with black elbows from the side view. If you want a look as elegant from many angles as the comic drawings of that stripe looking like it’s down the middle, make something like a knife blade swoosh, asymmetrically, with the point towards the wrist. I got someone to draw with chalk on my arm while looking at a mirror, to know what that swoosh would look like for me. You’ll have to do the same if you tried. Then I traced it back again on tracing paper for the next time I want a stripe down the arm that looks good from many angles, not just the side.
So far, the suit has been a thrill to run in. I fly through this city like a superhero running to a crime scene. A few people recognize it for Nightwing’s outfit, but a lot of people just either think it’s cool, or wince at the site of a guy in a body suit running around, hahaha. I bet you that I 5’2″ 108 lbs, the pedophiles just LOVE seeing me run by, hahahaha!
The suit is only partially good for my training, though. You see, I don’t feel it’s right to just jog along in this thing. So I go hard and pretty much the whole run (7.5 miles or longer). But I can’t do that every day, or every run. I’d run myself into the ground with injuries! I guess I’ll just have to make some more pansy looking running gear for alternate days. Watch for them to come!
Knowing how to make a body suit now, I can tell you it won’t be long before I have the best running wardrobe in Nova Scotia, if not even further. I’ve got other superhero costumes in the planning. I’ve got galaxy spandex, silver snakeskin, skulls and crossbones, tattoos, etc. I can also make long running tights, short running tights, swimming trunks or God forbid Speedo length(!), muscle shirts (no sleeves), body shirt (with sleeves of varying lengths), weightlifting style suits for track workouts, swimwear… all from the one pattern chopped off at various places! With all those options, I think everybody should learn to make a body suit, if they’re bold enough to wear it.
And I’ll also be making a practical geek wardrobe, taking clothing ideas from geek stuff and translating it to practical clothing. I already have my Matrix raincoat, which I have never posted due to lack of photos. But you get the idea, I think.
p.s. I’m going to be giving all the stuff I make a one word name for reference. So this one is NIGHTWING, as seen in the title in caps.