I finally got around to making myself the swimsuit that I’d had on my list for a few weeks. Maybe it was nerves that made me keep choosing to pick up other projects, instead of the darling navy polka dot lycra that I chose specifically for this suit. I won the credit to the Fabric Fairy in the Sewvivor competition, and got all pumped up to take the plunge (pun intended) but something about making a bathing suit seemed so daunting. So I avoided it. It probably has to do with the bottoms. Homemade underwear seem sort of…well, ridiculous. And what are swimsuit bottoms if not okay-to-wear-in-public undies? Last Friday when Eliot was napping and Milo was chilling out for quiet time, I decided to just go for it. I told myself if I messed up, at least the fabric was free, so I can just get some more and try again! Great confidence, eh?
Amazingly, it was far easier than I expected! Once I got over the whole “I’m making myself a swimsuit” issue, I realized that the fabric was just like any other stretchy knit, and I sew with knits all the time! I was inspired by this ruffly j.crew suit, but I wanted mine to be a tankini, and I knew I needed straps. As I got ready to cut, I decided I’d do a single strap that could follow the diagonal of the ruffles. So, that’s what I did! I used a well-fitting one-piece to trace a pattern for the tankini top, and I used a pair of well-fitting underwear to trace a pattern for the bottoms. I would have used another pair of swimsuit bottoms, but I don’t have any that I love the fit of! I sewed all of the ruffles onto the top before adding the lining. Then of course once it was added I noticed two spots where I really wanted to add an additional ruffle, so there are some navy zig zag stitches coming through the nice white lining. That was luckily the only trouble I ran into. I was surprised by how easily the rest of it came together.
The suit took an entire yard of fabric. I kept thinking I would have some extra to make another top, or some shorties for the boys, but those ruffles took it all! I cut the ruffles on the fold like strips for a circle skirt, so they would have some flutter without tons of gathering. Then I gathered them slightly with the serger before zig zagging them on to the top. There wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason…just cover the whole top! Because it’s so ruffly, I didn’t feel like I need a shelf-bra or cup inserts, so I’ve yet to tackle some of the more technical aspects of swimsuit construction. I’ll definitely be making more, so I’ll get a chance to learn more about the fine art of bathing suit chest support!
I did add rubber elastic to the leg holes and waistband of the bottoms, and it keeps them snug even when the fabric is wet and heavy. They fit well, but I’ll plan on adding a quarter inch more of seam allowance on the next pair to keep the bum-squeezing at bay. I love the wide sidebands and the lower-cut legs, though. And they are comfortable, which is awesome.
Two summers ago I went through and purged almost all of my suits. Some I had been hanging on to since high school, and most weren’t as modest as I now appreciate. Last summer, I only needed a maternity suit. So, this year my closet is desperately lacking. I have such a hard time finding suits that are cute, modest, and affordable. I can always find two-out-of-three, but by making them myself I wont have to compromise anything. Now that I’ve gotten over the apprehension of bathing-suit sewing, I can’t wait to design and create some more!
I hope you have a fantastic weekend! You know I will…I’ll be with my boys at the pool!