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...|
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.|