I was on a coach to Bristol recently, amusing myself reading sewing blogs and thinking about my upcoming holiday to Ibiza to while away the journey when I remembered that, way back in the beginning of my sewing days I had purchased a couple of Perfect Pattern Parcels - one of which included the Bombshell Swimsuit. With this idea starting to form, and the coach conveniently stopping right outside Fabricland - which had come in a spontaneous internet search as a supplier of swimsuit lining - my goal to sew swimwear was set.
Despite these plans having been made at least a month in advance of my trip, with all supplies sourced upfront, I ended up having only got the pieces cut and the back panels gathered up until the day before I was due to fly out (as is so often the way with holiday sewing - I had to abandon a test version I was going to make, as well as a plan for denim sailor-style shorts to take away).
Luckily for me, making a swimsuit actually isn’t really very arduous a task if you have a bit of experience sewing activewear- in fact, the gathering was perhaps the most time consuming bit (I think next time I will use straight stitches to make it faster - I did long zigzags because I was sewing with lycra, but obviously you don’t need zigzags for gathering stitches which are to be properly secured later, whoops). I have an overlocker which I used to neaten off the seams, but actually the majority of this was made up on my sewing machine.
I had a few issues attaching the swimsuit rubber elastic, and unfortunately it’s a bit visibly loopy on the bobbin side along the top edge, which also doesn't want to sit totally flat. I didn’t have time to re-do it but perhaps I might now that I’m back as it was visible to me at least when glancing down at my cleavage (which might also mean I need to make the elastic a little tighter for more stability along the top edge, as it does have a tendency to roll).
As my sewing machine is a Bernina Record from the ‘70s it’s a brilliant workhorse for so many things, but it did skip a few stitches attaching the elastic, and its widest zigzag is a little more slender than ideal for that purpose. Luckily most of the skipped stitches got covered up when folding over and topstitching, but there are even a few skips in the topstitching too, despite using a stretch needle. Hopefully next time with slower sewing (and better quality thread, as though mine was a perfect colour match it was prone to snap) I’ll make a more professional-looking suit.
Having said all this, I still managed to take a lovely-looking swimsuit away with me on holiday that held up to hours of swimming in the sea, sunbathing and even diving off the side of boats without mishap. This is View A, the maillot, and I did feel quite chic strolling along and lolling about in it, although the only downside of the design is that because of the extra layers on the front it does take a little longer to dry so if you’re swimming all day and it may not dry out completely overnight (an excuse to make two?). The lower front faux-skirt also makes it a little trickier to tuck into shorts - but I just about made it work as you can see here!
I made the size 12 which I think is a good fit, although I think I made mine a tiny bit tighter as I found it quite difficult to keep to the ¼” seam allowances and probably strayed into ⅜” on most of my seams, especially as there are so many processes to fit into that tiny space - two rows of gathering stitches (which as mentioned earlier I accidentally made wider than necessary by using zigzag instead of straight stitches), basting stitches, and the final seams. I have a habit of using bobbins with thread left over from previous projects for gathering and basting stitches so that I can free the bobbins up for the next thing, but this can backfire when those stitches end up being caught in the final seams and visible from the outside, which unfortunately was the case here - I did have a few floating red and yellow threads which I still need to trim off!
I'm pretty pleased with my first DIY swimsuit and plan to make the halter strap view B version next - if only I had another beach break coming up to wear it for! I'm also rather tempted to try the Sophie Swimsuit pattern as actually I prefer it, I just happened to have this in the stash, but how many swimsuits does a landlocked city girl really need?
I'll leave you with a couple more shots of the suit in action - I'm being surrounded by a swirl of circling fish in the shot below, see if you can spot them in the second pic.
How's your holiday (or otherwise) sewing coming along?