Saturday, 11 January 2014

Completed: A Bombshell Swimsuit... in January

Yep, I just finished a bathing suit in the middle of winter. A watermelon print bathing suit no less.

But you know what? I don't even care that it's the middle of winter. I MADE A BATHING SUIT. You have no idea how happy I was when I tried this thing on and it fit. (And yes, I'm posting pictures of myself in it on the internet. Yikes.)

Practically speaking, I actually wear a bathing suit more often in the winter than in the summer because I'm not really a water person. I prefer my feet on solid ground. But... we do have a hot tub, which I use quite a bit during the winter. So perfect timing, really.



The pattern is, of course, the Bombshell Swimsuit by Heather Lou of Closet Case Files. I won't say all that much about the pattern itself because I feel like it's all been said already, but it's a great pattern and was EXACTLY what I was looking for when I wanted to sew a bathing suit last summer.



This was my first time working with a PDF pattern, but my dad has access to a large-scale printer, so I didn't have to assemble a million sheets of paper, which was great. I also actually cut the pattern pieces for once (usually I trace everything) but I figured since I have the file I can always print it again if I change size. Of course, I lost the files when my computer's hard drive failed (mentioned here), so I guess I can't change size now. 

I made a size 4, grading to a size 6 at the hips. I took pictures of the process but lost them too. If you're interested in what I did to grade it, I remembered after the fact that Tasia did a post on grading it here. I checked it out and realized we did the exact same thing!

The fabric is from The Fabric Fairy - it was my first time ordering fabric online, but I'm really happy with it. It was a great price (although I had it shipped to a mailbox in the States because shipping to Canada was $20 more...), and the quality seems good. If you like knits, they have a great selection of novelty print knits. The lining I bought locally.

Speaking of knits, have I ever mentioned how much I hate sewing with them? This was no exception. Admittedly, the fabric wasn't as bad to work with as a jersey knit, but this bathing suit is a bit of a mess on the inside.

Everything went smoothly enough (lost most of my construction photos, sorry), until I tried it on after putting the elastic in and realized that it had some serious fitting issues. The whole crotch area (I don't know a politer way to say it) was waaaay too big. I guess I'm a size 6 at the hips by my measurements, but not by my shape. The elastic openings  around the legs were way too big, and it rode up quite a bit. Looking back, I probably should have actually tested to see if the elastic was actually the right size for my legs.

I also decided not to stretch the elastic at the bust (which is optional), because I always have a problem with bathing suits (and bras) being too tight along the top of the bust. The only problem is that the fabric stretched as I sewed it. I just snapped a picture on my phone but you get the idea:



Um, yeah. That wasn't really the look I was going for. I really didn't want to rip out all that stitching, so I improvised. This sewing was done after my computer died, so be prepared for a photo overload.

I decided to tackle to bust first. I tried it on, and then pinned the excess out of the sides. I measured the amount I needed to take out and then drew a line from that point to the dart in chalk.



Obviously, the front part had a lot more fabric than the back part, so I sewed some gathering stitches along the line.



I gathered it up, matched the edges, and tried to pin it in place. An experienced seamstress would probably cringe at this because it twisted awkwardly and was really a mess.



I basted it by hand, then by machine. I tried it on, and it seemed to fit, so I went ahead and serged it off.



It's definitely not ideal because the lining is gathered and the serging doesn't lie very flat at the top, although it's better since I stitched it down by hand. 

I went ahead and did the same thing for the other side, and...



Oops. I don't really know how this happened - I could have sworn that they matched up when I basted it. There was nothing to do but rip out the serging. Then, I stitched the lining and outer layers together.



I gathered it, but I couldn't gather it enough for it to match. 



I ended up just basting it in by hand, and gathering it even more as I went. It worked out, but looked pretty ugly on the inside after serging it.



I did the same thing on the bottom as a quick fix, rather than ripping it all out and shortening the elastic. Without all the annoying gathering, it was much more straightforward.

I went and tried it on, and after realizing that IT FIT, I did a little happy dance around my room for few minutes.

Incidentally, after I had been jumping around for five minutes (or so...), it was still in place so I figure I could have totally left it strapless. However, I wanted it to be a little more practical so I sewed the straps on anyways.


I don't know what I'm looking at here... 
In these photos, the elastic flips forward a bit, but since taking them, I stitched them by hand to the straps so they don't anymore. (Also, I hadn't taken out all my visible basting stitches when I took these photos. Not going to lie, I still haven't.)



Another little construction detail: I did sew in some bra cups, but they weren't ones meant for bathing suits, or even for sewing in at all. My mom had a pair from the fabric store in her stash, but they were completely the wrong shape. The ones I ended up using were from a sports bra, but I usually don't wear cups in sports bras and I have a bunch more pairs anyways. The support in the suit is decent - I wouldn't want to run a marathon in it, but for using in my hot tub and the couple other times a year when I'll wear a bathing suit, it's fine.

If I made this again, I'd do a few things differently:

1. Increase the seam allowance. I found working with a 1/4" seam allowance really difficult, especially with swimsuit fabric. Pretty much all my basting stitches are showing. I actually thought of this beforehand, but forgot when I cut it out.

2. Grade back down to a size 4 after the widest part of the hips. I think this would probably solve most of the problems with it being too big there.

3. Use a smaller length of elastic around the leg openings. This would probably solve the rest of those problems.

4. Stretch the elastic at the bust. There's no way I'm going through all that again.

5. Shorten it. I'm shorter than average but I haven't had to shorten anything I've made recently, so I figured I could probably get away without shortening it. It ended up a little too long, but it's not noticeable because of all the ruching.

6. Sew a line of elastic under the bust. I was going to do this, but then I realized that you'd probably get much better support from it if it were sewn into the side seams and I'd already sewn them up. Next time though, I'll add it.

Overall, I LOVE this swimsuit. It's cute and flattering without being skimpy like so many bathing suits are. I feel like I could actually go to the beach confidently with this on. Sure, it's not super pretty inside, but I forgive myself because a) it's made with a knit and b) I MADE A SWIMSUIT. 


I was laughing in this photo because I had been trying to come up with things to do with my hands and they were becoming more and more silly and random.

36 comments:

  1. Your Bombshell ia so sweet I love the fabric choice. I really was surprised about this pattern. It was fun to sew and looks fabulous on so many.

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    1. Thanks! I agree, it seems to be universally flattering.

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  2. Great job - love the fabric you've chosen!

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  3. Woot woot! That is one fine bathing suit! I decided a couple of weeks ago that I want to make one my self, and now I am shure! I bet this bathing suite is great for someone whit a little extra going on around the waist;)
    You can really be proud of this one! :)

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    1. Thank you! Good luck with yours. And yes, it really is such a flattering style!

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  4. Your swimsuit looks great :) and that fabric is awesome!

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  5. Awww, this is so cool!!! I have wanted to make a swimsuit for the longest time, but it seems so difficult and I'm too scared! haha. It's definitely my plan to make one this year though, and this has inspired me because even if I don't get it perfect first time around I might be able to fix it like you did! :)

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    1. Go for it! It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, it was just difficult to tweak the fit but that happens when sewing anything else too. I would just suggest increasing the seam allowance if you're worried, because that would make it a little easier to deal with.

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  6. the bombshell swimsuit ist awesome and the melone print perfect :)

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  7. You look great and I could not love that print more! I'm going to pin this to my Bombshell page but shoot me an email if you would prefer I didn't (closetcasefiles @ gmail dot com). Good to know about the seam allowances - I may have to enlarge them if I do another swimsuit pattern.

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    1. Thanks, and no problem. As for the seam allowances, I seem to be the only one who found them tricky to work with but that's probably just because I'm not very good at working with knits. I actually meant to increase them but forgot when I cut it out. Overall the pattern is fabulous!

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  8. It looks great, and thank you for being so honest about the inside. I was beginning to think that I was the only stitcher that made mistakes. You look fab in it.

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    1. Definitely not! Usually I try to do a better job of fixing my mistakes but I had made so many that I just wanted to finish it. And thanks!

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  9. Wow, it looks great. I've thought about trying to make that suit, but I'm intimidated. You did a very nice job.

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    1. Thank you! It really wasn't too difficult to make - I would just recommend NOT leaving to fitting to the last minute, like I did.

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  10. Wow, it looks amazing! I'm really excited that I've found a seamstress of my own age! I look forward to seeing what you make next :)

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    1. Thanks! And yeah, there definitely aren't very many of us this age that sew, let alone blog about it. I checked out your blog and you have some great projects!

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  11. What an amazing swimsuit! I love the print as well - and of course it looks great on you! I'm sorry you had so many problems, but you seem to have figured it out so it works perfectly!!

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  12. You are just adorable and your swimsuit is perfection!

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  13. I just nominated you for a Liebster award. Information is on my blog: http://kaitlynssimplyvintage.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/liebster-award.html

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    1. Wow, thanks! I'll try to get my answers together soon!

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  14. You are so talented!! That swim suit is perfection

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  15. You look adorable!!!

    Love the watermelons

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  16. Awesome! Really, truly amazing :)

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