Vogue 9192
 

2017 is the year of the one-piece bathing suit for me.

To be quite honest, I’m over the teeny triangle bikini tops and swim bottoms that you need to hold onto when a big wave breaks in the ocean.  Maybe it’s that I’m older now and I just want to be comfortable in a fuss-free swimsuit at the beach and pool.

In preparation for our Florida vacation at the beginning of June, I started scouring the internet looking for one-piece swimsuits and had a hard time finding anything that wasn’t too frumpy or mumsy looking.  I ended up buying one from J.Crew that’s pretty cute, but it still wasn’t fitting the bill of what I wanted: a low back, some kind of print or pattern that looked slimming, and something “helpful” in the bust area that I’m severely lacking.  Fortunately, Vogue 9192 checks off just about all of those boxes.

 

Vogue 9192
 

This is an awesome pattern (I want to make the other one-piece from this pattern) but the fabric is really what’s making the suit – a border print with variegated stripes on both ends and black in the middle, found in a swimsuit remnant bin at Fabric Place Basement.  Playing around with the pattern placement, I placed the bodice pieces on the fabric so that the stripes ended right where the V stops and cut the bottom portion of the suit out of the solid black part of the spandex.  That way, the stripes would draw more attention upward, with some of the larger stripes going across the bust, and the bottom part of the suit in black would have a slimming effect.  My stripe placement isn’t perfect at the side seams, which you’ll see in other photos, but I’m pleased as punch with how the stripes match across the front and back bodice pieces!

 

Vogue 9192 5
(I got the worst sunburn on my chest the very first day, no way to color-correct that in Photoshop!  That’s what I get for not reapplying in time!)

 

Obviously, this is a verrrrrrry low cut swimsuit in the front (and the back) and I was worried that it might not be, ahem, that secure when I wore it in the pool.  To be quite honest, I felt really comfortable and confident wearing it and would be more concerned if I had a larger bust that something might slip!  The straps across the middle are designed to anchor everything in place across the two cups; I eliminated one of them since the second one seemed too long for me and bunched up in the middle, guess I didn’t need that extra security.  I also added in some small swim cups for modesty between the lining and the outer fabric and tacked them to the lining, an exercise that took quite a lot of fussing to get the cup placement just right.

 

Vogue 9192
 

If there’s one thing I’d change about this swimsuit, if I was to make it again, it would be the order of construction when turning the seam allowances with the elastic and attaching the straps etc.  It’s very “homemade” to turn and sew the elastic, and then go back over the original stitching to attach the shoulder straps and front bodice strap.  Fortunately with black fabric and black thread it’s not noticeable, but it would have been with a lighter colored fabric.  I believe the directions are written this way because it makes it easier to construct the suit, but if you’re really looking for a professional finish, it would be best to try to do everything in one step with one line of stitching.  Just nit-picking, but it’s something I wish I thought of earlier on when I was sewing.

This design is right on-trend and exactly what I was looking for in a one-piece swimsuit pattern – c’mon Vogue, give us some more!

 

Vogue 9192
 

Pattern: Vogue 9192, View B
Fabric: spandex remnant from Fabric Place Basement

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swimsuits

Last year, the whole online sewing community became more comfortable with sewing swimwear thanks to Heather of Closet Case Files and the launch of her Bombshell Swimsuit pattern.  I don’t know about you, but I have more confidence than ever now when it comes to sewing swimwear – heck, I made two new bikinis already this year!  They’re not as scary to sew as it seems, and it can be a lot cheaper than buying a new swimsuit off the rack at a department store…plus, you don’t get the “yuck” factor of trying on something a bunch of other ladies have squeezed into before you.

(Funny story – I used to be a merchandising manager for a department store, and would try on new swimsuits I liked as soon as they came off the truck before they hit the selling floor.  That way, no one else would have tried them on before me, they were fresh!  Once July 4 rolls around, the peak of swimsuit shopping season, I don’t recommend trying on swimsuits…if you catch my drift!)

Swimsuit sewing patterns are a lot cuter nowadays, and the styles are really on trend!  It’s easy to copy some of your favorite RTW suits for a fraction of the cost, as shown above.  Here’s the patterns:

1. Bombshell Swimsuit – two different versions, plus a high-waisted bikini bottom
2. McCall’s 5400 – also some cute bikini options
3. Kwik Sew 4003 – my go-to bikini pattern, you can leave off the ruffles
4. Simplicity 1426 – try converting the bra top into a retro bikini top!

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watermelon bikini 1


palm tree bikini 1

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4003
Fabric:
   Watermelon PrintFabric Fairy
   Palm Tree PrintSpandex House
   CoverupFabric Place Basement
Size: XS top, S bottom

Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

Ok – I can now say in 2014, I successfully made a swimsuit!  These bikinis were so quick and fun to make that I think that I’ll swear off buying swimsuits ever again.  I made each of these for roughly $20, less than the cost of a bikini at a department store, and the fit and booty coverage is better than I would have found in a current RTW bikini.  Plus, I got to pick out the fabric I wanted!


watermelon bikini 3

I was determined to try swimsuit sewing again after I didn’t get some things right on my Bombshell, and since I now have a serger, I thought it would be easier to get better-looking results.  Using some leftover spandex, I made a quick test bikini to check the fit, and it was spot on: my theory of going with my bust size sans bra resulted in a perfectly fitting bikini top.  Score!

I think these bikinis took about two hours each to make, including cutting out the fabric.  Using what I learned the first time I worked with spandex, I used a rotary cutter to get a more precise cut.  You may notice on the pattern envelope, the bikini top has pinked edges – I cut out two sets of the lining piece so I could have a plain bikini cup instead of piecing together three different bodice pieces with pinked edges.


palm tree bikini 2

Using my serger to attach the swim elastic to the leg holes, waist, and bikini top edges made a world of difference over using my regular sewing machine.  I had a problem last time when I used my sewing machine to attach the elastic, I got all sorts of fabric rippling because I can’t control the pressure of my presser foot on my machine.  Actually, I used a serger for sewing just about all of this bikini except for the top stitching!  I know it’s possible to make a swimsuit without a serger, but I don’t think I personally would have had results this nice without mine.

I also found some great, high-quality swim cups at Sil Thread in the NYC Garment District that I trimmed down to fit the bikini bodice, inserted them, and stitched the bodice pieces shut.  They give the bodice some shaping and coverage that I like in my swimsuits.


swimsuit coverup

At the last minute, I decided to make the coverup to go with the bikinis.  I found the most amazing Tahari cotton/poly net fabric from his resort collection, tried to make this with it, and ended up with a mess of fabric and a neckline that kept growing and stretching.  What a shame!  So, I settled for this jersey burnout fabric instead.  I would apply the neck band differently next time a la Jen’s Hemlock Tee, and I didn’t want to be bothered with finishing it the way I was supposed to according to the instructions, so I just left it raw and let the neckband roll.  Call it a “design element.”  I used a rolled hem stitch on my serger for the edges, but didn’t get the greatest results – I think it helped when I used the differential feed on my serger instead of the neutral setting, because on neutral the fabric kept bunching up.  Ehhh who cares, it’s just a coverup.


palm tree bikini 3

Bum coverage!  For my next bikini, I think I may try to do a rub-off of a bikini bottom I have that gives me nice coverage, but doesn’t have as high of a rise.  I like this, but they could be a wee bit smaller.


watermelon bikini 2

Here’s another thing I learned while sewing these: the quality of spandex, just like any other fabric, really varies.  I thought they were all the same, for some reason, but the quality of the palm tree print fabric is very different from the watermelon print, due to the fact that the palm tree fabric is yarn dyed and the watermelon print is printed on to the fabric.  The watermelon fabric is stiffer feeling, and when it stretches, you can see the white of the base fabric it’s printed on.  The hand of the palm tree fabric is much more fluid and soft, and I think the two suits look slightly different on and fit a little differently because of the nature of each fabric.  Plus, the palm tree fabric cost a lot more because it’s nice fabric!  Don’t get me wrong, I love both swimsuits very much, but I know now to look for these characteristics when I’m shopping for spandex.

What a shame that I have to wait until summer to wear these again!  Warm weather can’t come fast enough.

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vacation packing

If you’re wondering why it’s been a little quiet over here in the last week, it’s because I’ve been busy cranking out new stuff for vacation!  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen that I finished two bikinis, a coverup, and an Elisa-lotte dress in the last two weeks.  Sewing for warm weather has definitely helped me beat the winter-blahs lately, and I think when we get back from sunny Florida, I’m going to start to sew my spring wardrobe.  I’m SO over this cold and snow, enough already!  Hand me a margarita already and I’ll be good to go.

See you next week!
(PS: I’ll be posting pool-side pics on Insta this weekend fo’ sho’)

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bombshell swimsuit1

Pattern: Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files
Fabric: lycra spandex from The Fabric Fairy
Size: 6 graded to a 10?  I think?  I really don’t remember…

So yes, it’s a bitter 5 degrees outside today, and I woke up to a pile of snow that the latest and greatest winter storm just dumped on the Boston area.  The snow had me thinking about warm weather and beaches, the trip to Puerto Rico next month that I’m planning, and that it’s only January 3 and I’m sick of winter already.  My thoughts turned naturally to sewing, and I decided to post pictures of my Bombshell Swimsuit that I made in 2013 and never made it to the blog, mostly because I don’t deem it wearable for swimming or lounging in the sun (even though it does look pretty cute).

Don’t get me wrong – this is a great pattern and I have every intention of making it again, maybe before vacation in February.  I learned a lot: I never sewed with spandex before, or made a swimsuit for that matter, and there’s some things I want to do differently for the next go-round to get better results and a better fit.  Heather Lou, you rock for putting out such a well-drafted pattern and writing great instructions!  I felt like you were holding my hand the whole way through the sewing process.


bombshell swimsuit2

I wasn’t sure what size to pick for this pattern and went off of the measurements for the pattern, which I believe led me to picking out size 6 and grading out to a 10 at the hips – it was a little tricky.  I also chose the sweetheart neck view of the swimsuit since I thought it would be easier for small-chested moi to pull off.  Sadly, I had a devil of a time applying the swim elastic around the legs and it ended up all ripply (I blame the fact that I can’t adjust the pressure of my presser foot).  There’s also a ton of fabric around the bum and crotch area, so I learned that I should have gone down at least one size in the lower part of the swimsuit.


bombshell swimsuit4

This suit was also constructed pre-serger, so I’m sure using my serger next go-round will improve the overall quality of the swimsuit as well (I’m sure it’s possible to make a great looking suit with a regular machine, but it just didn’t work well for me).  I used the zig-zag stitch on my regular machine and you can really see the stitching and space between the stitches on the outside.  I wasn’t too keen about how the fabric looked when stretched over my hips; you could definitely tell the fabric was printed and not yarn dyed since the fabric looked white in the stretched red sections.  Good to know for next time…


bombshell swimsuit5

Which brings me to my biggest problem with the swimsuit – the bust.  I used cups for this suit, specifically gel padded sew-in cups, in the attempt to give the suit a more “bombshell” silhouette than I currently have (this gal’s got no curves, but whatever).  I think that was mistake #1 – the cups did nothing for support or feeling like I was “in” the suit, and may have distorted the fit of the neckline.  Plus, I felt a little cartoony when I put the suit on, hahaha.

There’s also major gap-age along the top, which is probably indicative that I picked a size too big.  What I should have done is go by my measurements without my usual padded bra on since that would be more true to how the suit would fit.  Yet again, I had the worst time sewing the elastic at the top – I think I ripped it out about five times and it still didn’t lay flat.  My solution was to make some tucks along the neckling to eliminate the buckling and get the suit to lay flat, but it didn’t turn out right.  I didn’t want to post a photo on here, but when I bend over, you can see down my suit – imagine the problem I’d have with  a wave coming along in the ocean!!


bombshell swimsuit3

I do love the back – the scooped lower back and the ruching all the way down is pretty flattering.  I also dig the bum coverage, too, even though mine was baggy because of my previously mentioned sizing error.


bombshell swimsuit6

Obligatory pin-up pose!

Yes, I will make this again with the knowledge I learned the first time around: I’m looking at this suit as a “muslin” before I make the awesome final version.  I think the halter version may work out better for my bust, and I’ll use regular swim cups instead of these looks-like-I-got-a-bewb-job cups.  Maybe I’ll do a solid cobalt blue color?  All I know is that the next time I’m back in New York, I’m hitting up Spandex House!

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