Hi, do you know where you can find good customizable leotards for cosplay purposes? I'm planning to use one of my own gymnastics leos for a Justin Bailey Samus cosplay, but I'm looking for a resource with leotards that can easily be altered, re-stitched, or re-painted. (what's the best method for recoloring a gymnastics leotard? I'm thinking not paint or fabric dye, but I don't know what would work instead.)
I unfortunately don’t have a good resource on customizable leotards in terms of leotards that can be custom-printed, done in custom colors, or otherwise. If anyone has any resources, feel free to comment.
As for leotards that can be easily altered, pretty much any leotard that you don’t mind changing significantly or permanently can be altered or re-sewn, though if you are trying to change the cut or the fit of the leotard, be sure that the fabric that is there allows for the type of alteration you are trying to do. For example, changing the legline to be higher would probably work, or making a lower neckline, though it may not contour as closely to the body if you try to make it into, for example, a boatneck, since that’s not how the fabric was originally cut.
I’m not sure what kind of recoloring you are trying to do here – are you trying to change the color of the entire leotard? If so, dye would be your best bet. Fabric paint would be too stiff, too sticky, too shiny, and not what you are looking for. Aside from fabric dye, which penetrates into the fibers to change the color and shouldn’t change the texture, you don’t have many more options. If you are trying to create a specific pattern (such as adding her Chozo mark to this design), paint would work well, or you can commission a patch that you sew on for a small area, or you can applique or colorblock for larger designs. If painting on a design, be sure to stretch the leotard as much as it’ll be stretched when wearing, whether on your body (with a bit of plastic wrap underneath to prevent the paint from getting on your skin) or on a form. For changing the entire color, dye is about the only option.
Since most leotards are going to be some type of nylon/spandex blend, you have to be careful in dyeing. Dyes like Rit will work on nylon (and actually work quite well on things like dance tights), though the high heat needed to get it to set on nylon may be an issue with the spandex, since spandex fibers can be damaged in high heat. Acid dyes are great for bright colors on nylon (far more vivid than Rit or the likes), and aren’t very hard to use (you can heat set them in the microwave in a ziplock bag), but again require heat, so be sure to use the lowest heat required to set the dye. You can also use a disperse dye meant for synthetics (like iDye Poly or Rit Dyemore), but you may run into the heat issue again, since these typically require even higher heat.
If the leotard is mostly plant-based fibers like cotton blended with spandex, you can use your standard dyes, or you can use fiber-reactive dyes, which do not require heat, but do require a lot of extra steps and chemicals aside from the dye itself.
Honestly I’d just throw a white leotard into a bath of Rit or Rit Dyemore if I were trying to do this (well, I have done this, but I made my leotard from scratch) and couldn’t find an appropriately pink leotard somewhere.
Also keep in mind that any sort of dyeing or alterations are going to be permanent, so don’t use a leotard that you may want to use again in its original form.
If you have any more specific questions about what you are trying to accomplish with this cosplay, such as the exact alternations you have in mine, feel free to send another ask. :] I hope this helps!