Swimwear: baring all for the greater good.

Swimwear: this is a new one for me.  As you know, I don’t mind a bit of stretch but swimwear takes sewing in stretch to a whole new level.  Nervous is an understatement.

I had a deadline so no holding back, I had to plough on. I was off to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays and my favourite swimsuit was barely holding up, one big wave and it could all be over.

The Pattern

Choosing a pattern was easy, I have loved the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Patterns forever. I really like the slimming panel options and I have loved seeing the amazing versions online.  Just check out the #sophieswimsuit hashtag on Instagram.

Nerves-a-jangling, I decided I needed some hand holding, so I chose to buy my pattern with a video sew-along.  Best decision ever.  It is so well produced and easy to follow and actually at a sewable pace.  I particularly liked the fact that we had the same machine, that made it super easy.  I think the sew-along is worth the investment, especially for first timers to swimwear.

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Image: Closet Case Patterns

I love this design, I initially thought I would make the swimsuit but I threw caution to the wind and went for the bikini option.  I don’t think I have worn a bikini since the early 80’s.

The Fabric

I was quite stuck when it came to supplies as I didn’t want to go to multiple shops across Sydney. I was given a tip and tried Metro Fabrics. Wow, this place is a treasure trove of stretch fabric and accessories.  I ‘popped’ in, then stayed for hours!

I found some super cheap multicoloured stretch in the bargain bin to make my toile.  For the final piece,  I found some lovely dark purple, grey and black leopard print and contrasting black for the outer panels.

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Loving the fabric here, it’s a good quality stretch

You need lots of bits and bobs.  The kind of bits and bobs that I don’t have in my stash.  I bought what I needed, I should have bought multiple items.  Not sure why, possibly a little overwhelmed by the options.  It’s worth it though, the service is excellent.

The Make

The true test of friendship is stripping down to your underwear and asking your friend to measure you.  Thankfully I have such a friend, thanks Emily!

The sizing is really good and not at all what I imagined.  I was quite thrown by my final measurements.  I ended up with a size 12 bottom half and a size 6 top half with a size 5 cup.  We measured twice as it seemed completely wrong.  I am fairly flat chested so the largest cup size seemed strange and I couldn’t quite get my head round the size difference between top and bottom.  I was sure that the toile would throw up any issues.

The toile did throw up some issues, but not anything to do with the sizing.  It all fit perfectly.  Hi5 to Heather Lou , she clearly knows her onions. What it did do was show me that even in swimwear I have a short body and need to adjust it accordingly.

Here’s a shot of the version unaltered and a shot of the bottoms folded over to where I would like them to sit.  You can see they are very high in the first photo. I altered the pattern accordingly by removing 5cm (measuring about 8cm down from the top on each piece) and then truing up the pattern.

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The only other alteration I made was by not making the foam cups. In this case I actually bought ready-made, sculptured cups as you can see here.

It’s a bit cheaty and actually I had to do a bit of trimming in order to get them to fit the fabric cups I made.  I like this option though, they are fairly sturdy and give the cups the illusion that there is something actually in there (there isn’t). I also think they hold there shape really well.

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Aren’t you loving this fabric?  I can’t go past a bit of leopard print.

Making swimwear isn’t exactly difficult but it’s certainly a time consuming and fiddly project.  I was using things I hadn’t worked with much, like elastic and foam cups. I really enjoyed the sew-along.  It makes all the difference and I would highly recommend it.

So here’s the finished project….

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I really like the contrasting black panels here
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The cups really hold there shape
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Nothing falling out with a brisk walk up the beach!

Can I just say here that this is possibly the most embarrassing and difficult photoshoot yet.  It has taken me much soul searching to decide whether to write this blog post.  I love my bikini, but like many women, I really don’t love my body.  Some of the photos taken during this shoot were really confronting and I had to ask my husband if this was actually me (and not in a positive way).  But I decided to be a grown up and just go with it.  I have had 3 children, I do little exercise and I eat way too much chocolate so the only person who can change that body is me.  I think the big issue is my head, embracing my body would be far more constructive, don’t you think?

Final photo now, putting my bikini through the ultimate work out.  This was the first time I had ever done Stand Up Paddle Boarding and I LOVED it!  I only fell off once, when my friends decided to ram into me with there kayak. I did a proper comedy fall into the water.  Lets just say, there wasn’t a bikini malfunction in sight!

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31 thoughts

  1. Embrace and love your body for all it can do. It’s an amazing thing and worthy of your love. And you look beautiful! Love your bikini and appreciate the angst. Been there! I love this pattern and your rendition is the bomb. So the sewalong had some good tips?

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  2. I love your bikini! I haven’t posted my swimswim make for this exact reason! I love and am proud of my bod for successfully birthing two healthy babies but it doesn’t look what I think it looks like!

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  3. These togs are awesome! I also love this pattern and have toiled it up with plans to make the real thing this summer. Even before starting I removed length from the waist.. they looked ridiculously high for my short torso! I think this style of bikini is super flattering and besides, like everyone else says, your body is great whether or not it meets the crazy standards we place on ourselves.

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I have a short body too & feared these bottoms wouldn’t ‘work’. Hadn’t even occurred to me to shorten the top of them!
    ….I totally get the body stuff but truly, you look great, honest & real!

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  5. The bikini and you are both beautiful. I understand the feeling though; I also posed on the beach in my me-made swim suit only a week ago!

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  6. Looking good my studio buddy and friend! I may be tempted to make one for myself – love the SUB – I definitely want to give that a go this summer.

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  7. Oh I think I end every photo shoot with a glance through the images on the camera and a deep sigh at the grumpy faced, grey haired lady with her eyes shut that IS NOT ME. 🙂
    Photographing swimwear such such an “oh FFS” moment that it was actually funny!
    You’ve done the sewing community a great service by getting your kit off and writing such a thorough review of the pattern. I’m not sure the link to that fabric shop was a kindness though… 🙂 It sounds wonderful
    And of course, you look marvellous!

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  8. What a great suit! LOVE your fabric choices. And I agree the video course is a great investment- I made my Sophie with the video and it really breaks it down into manageable and understandable steps! I can’t wait to make another one this summer and your beautiful pics (beautiful body on a beautiful beach!) make me excited for the summer to come

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  9. Totally get the body issues as I have them in triplicate but girlfriend you us looking da bomb! Only just took time out from my holiday to read this and what a treat. You are very generous sharing your makes Kate. I tend to skirt around the bags and just vomit whatever is in my head into the page. You tally write very useful stuff and it’s all bookmarkable. Awesome as always X

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