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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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….
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!