summer swimmin’; or, what I learned in swimwear class

Okay, so this is all about the learning PROCESS, and how failures can also be successes. Or something. Anyway, I just finished taking a swimwear class with Portland Sewing, the great school where I took patternmaking. I learned a lot, including the following:
– why didn’t I know about the 3-step zigzag stitch before?
– have no fear!
– cutting through elastic is not advisable unless you use clear elastic, but that stuff is squirrely as heck
– you can say “crotch” as often as you like, and nobody will bat an eye
– there is a reason swimsuits are so expensive
So, in class we all used the same pattern. I made the one-piece suit shown here. I had spandex in my stash (yes, I have a spandex stash, and I am not ashamed), so that’s what I used, figuring this was going to be an experiment. The suit came out okay, but there are some fitting issues, ones I can fix for the next attempt:
– whoah, that crotch (see? I said crotch again!) panel is too wide!
– the pattern has some ruching in the bust area to accommodate the bust, but hey, I barely have a bust, so the ruching just looks like a bunch of extra bunched-up fabric
– while I do not have an ample bosom, I do have, you know, headlights, so some padding in that area would be nice. The pattern does have a bra shelf lining, but it is not padded
– the neckline is a bit lower than I would like
So now you may be wondering what the deal is with the bikini top, or perhaps you have given up and clicked away. Well, I got all antsy and inspired to try to draft my own bikini top, so I did. The problem is I kind of winged it. I also had several small pattern pieces, and I got kind of confused as to which side was up, the side, whatever. At one point I sewed the neck strap to the bottom of the top. Oops. I also didn’t really do the elastic correctly, since I did this before I learned the magic formula (measure the length of where you need elastic and subtract 2″). So, I don’t know that I can actually wear this bikini top. It is kind of bunchy in spots and just kind of ill fitting.
But look! I was pretty excited about these little inserts I put in. I got this great foam stuff at RCT Fabrics that is designed, I believe, for the padding in bicycle shorts. It’s foam on one side and sort of a terry on the other, and it is wicking. I cut these out and attached them to the lining using the 3-step zigzag, and I think it worked pretty well.
Now hopefully the weather will finally get nice (we have had record rainfall here in the City of Roses) enough that it will officially be swimwear season!

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9 Responses to summer swimmin’; or, what I learned in swimwear class

  1. melissa f. says:

    i have so many things to say about all of this. many, many, things to say.

  2. kat says:

    i think they both look great! im a bit sewing-challenged myself so im impressed! i think that top is so cute. even if you cant wear it you should be proud 🙂

  3. Alma says:

    I learn so much from your every post. Like, I’m never going to sew swimwear.

  4. carolyn says:

    i love how you are never demoralized by sewing that doesn’t work out right. (UNLIKE ME.)
    i want to hear frenchie’s comments.

  5. Seanna Lea says:

    I almost always wear sports swimming suits (from when I was a card carrying swimmer and wore a ton of speedo suits), so the first time I tried on a regular swim suit I almost died of shock. It was high cut and had no support and felt like the straps would just come undone. I wanted to know more than anything else how people would swim in them, and then realized that most of the people wearing suits would be sunning. I would have loved the skill to make my own suits and be able to swim as I pleased.

  6. monica says:

    crotch crotch crotch (uh oh – weirdos searching)

  7. Jennifer says:

    Who knew swimwear had so much to be considered!

  8. amy k. says:

    the 3 stitch zig-zag is my best friend.
    and thank you for that little gem equation of length minus 2″

  9. dude!!! sewing your own swim wear is like…. it’s like… dude!!!
    i just buy mine at garage sales. i am not proud.
    i also cover my suits with a full body lycra suit which protects me from the sun and from jelly fish. Maybe you should make a full body lycra suit next….

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