Sewing and making your own lycra costumes is dead-easy. I should know. Despite what you may see on these pages, I am not some sort of sewing genius. In fact, prior to last July I hadn't so much as touched a sewing machine since Home Economics back in the 7th grade. Trust me on this: if you can drive a car, you can work a sewing machine. Here are some tips to get started (derived from a presentation I made at Spandexpo '96 on May 11, 1996).
Sewing Machine (anything that can do a zig-zag
Scissors (these are never used to cut anything but cloth)
Cloth tape measure
Pattern Tracing Material
Matching Zipper (at least 22")
Matching Thread (100% polyester, "Gütermann" is a good brand.)
To make a basic catsuit, I recommend using Kwik-Sew Pattern #2108. This is very easy to use and can be adapted for a lot of uses (Note: this makes a female suit, but a little modification in obvious places would make it suitable for males). Some people have reported trouble finding Kwik-Sew patterns at their local fabric stores. If you find this to be the case, you can write to them directly at: Kwik Sew Pattern Co, Inc., 3000 Washington Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55411-1169, USA.
Buying fabric. Lycra is sold under a lot of names at fabric stores: spandex, "stretch material," or "swim wear." It may be two-way stretch, or four-way stretch. It will also be sold either in 48" or 60" widths. The 60" is better and more suited for the patterns (but the 48" stuff will work too). Check the stretch with the guide on the back of the pattern.
On a table or other large area to work with, open up all the patterns and determine (using the directions) which one(s) you'll be using. Never cut these patterns. Instead, using Pattern Tracing Material, trace the pattern outline, then pin the tracing material to the fabric to cut it out.
Start sewing according to the directions. Use a "stretch" stitch on your sewing machine for all seams (except on gloves and zipper).
To modify the pattern to make a full-body suit, try the following:
Gloves: these can be combined with the Kwik-Sew pattern for sleeves to make a one-piece arm that goes all the way to the fingers. I have made up a pattern for this using Kwik-Sews sleeve pattern and I'll send a copy to anyone who sends me a self-addressed stamped envelope (e-mail me for details.) It wouldn't hurt to have an actual glove for an example. The fine work on the fingers is very tedious and easy to mess up. Be patient with this. You need to use a straight stitch when sewing these and don't be afraid to have to redo parts. The only way to get better at gloves is to just do them and gain experience.
Boots: Basically, add sock-like extensions to the legs. At some point your seam will have to "turn" in order to do this.
Hoods: These can come in a variety of patterns, with the seams in different places depending on what you want. A hood can be attached to the neck area of a bodysuit with a zipper running up the back and onto the hood.
Good luck! And don't be afraid to experiment. Sewing isn't rocket science. With a little patient you'll be amazed what you can accomplish.
Check out this site for more info on catsuit patterns: www.stretchy.org.