Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oh me, oh my, oh Maillot!

While cleaning out the basement, a few days ago, I came across an old undergarment belonging to my mother made of stretch lace. My first inclination was to make another item of lingerie (which I did), but the idea was to create a bodysuit that could be slipped on without the need for Velcro, snaps or other closures. This led me to the "maillot."

In layman's terms, a maillot is a one-piece bathing suit / bodysuit. This tiny garment requires very little fabric. My original idea, in fact, was to create the garment directly on the doll. But then I realized this is such a useful basic garment, I'd probably want to cut more than one and using different types of stretch fabrics. So I sacrificed an extra bit of lace to drape the garment and then used a fresh bit of lace for the final bodysuit. In addition, I used the foot of a man's sock for the navy blue bathing suit.

The lace in this garment (which you can also find in the stores) has 2-way stretch, but you'll need to figure out which direction has less stretch to determine the "straight grain of the fabric." In other words, you'll want everything to stretch more horizontally than vertically.

Steps a, b, c, d
As with the drapes for the slopers, I place the fabric over the doll and tape it to her chest and back to hold it in place (a). I stretch the lace a bit, pinning it in place at the sides (b). Then I cut away fabric over her thighs and pin the front to the back lace panels at the doll's crotch (c). Once that's done, I can cut a better shape over the thighs of the doll (d).
Steps e - f

Cut away the excess at each side (e). Use a soft piece of chalk or pencil to mark the seams where the pins are (f). Remove the pattern from the doll (g) then trace the markings onto tissue paper (h). Fold the front tissue paper pattern in half (i), making slight corrections to the one side so that the pattern will fall symmetrically on the body. Then trace off to the other side. Be sure to check to make sure the side seams of the front and back line up. If not, adjust so that they line up. Also, check to make sure the bottom seams match up as well.

Steps g - h
Next, I have given you two options. You can join the two patterns at the crotch (bottom) so that you cut the bathing suit in one piece. OR...You can leave them separate, adding seam allowance to the crotch and eventually adding a bit of Velcro to "snap" it shut. The more things you add at the top of the maillot (straps or other decorative details), the more you will need the pattern with the crotch closure.

Step i

You could sew this by hand. However if you decide to machine sew lace or any other delicate fabric, you will need tissue paper to keep the machine from gobbling up your maillot. Place enough tissue paper under the fabric to line the entire seam, then stitch. Simply tear away the tissue paper and you're finished. I turned the edges over and hand stitched. However, if you have stretch lace or elastic, pin it in place while stretching slightly and hand stitch it in place.

You can use non-stretch lace over the legs but not at the top because it will no longer stretch over the doll's hips. You can add straps at the top and fasten them to the inside of the back using dots of Velcro.

In short, this is a very basic garment that can be worn under jeans, a sarong OR as the foundation for limitless creativity!

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