I felt heartbroken when I tried on a much anticipated swimsuit order and there was a 1 inch gap between my little girls and the bralette cups that were marked at size “A”. It’s frustrating not being able to find something that fits. I’m happy with my body, but my body’s small “features” are hard to fit. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just augment my body so I can actually buy a swimsuit and feel feminine in it. Of course that’s ridiculous. Sewing is way cheaper than plastic surgery. And I should embrace my body the way it is. I love this NY times article all about the small-chested.
One of the things I haven’t tackled with my sewing machine is the bathing suit. I haven’t been interested or confident enough to even think about it until I was on a complete sewing high in LA with some crazy talented ladies. Justine was actually the one to give me the boost I needed to take this on. We were in Michael Levine and I was asking her about swimwear and she showed me the “good stuff”. I couldn’t back down.
It’s fitting that I’m showcasing this swimsuit in her sewing the trends series, is it not?
I’m in love with the vintage bikini, the one that shows only a couple of inches of stomach. I’m in love with the bralette trend as well. The bralette isn’t a kind of look that I would wear on a day-to-day basis, but it’s perfect for swimwear. You can see all of my swim inspiration here.
This bathing suit cost just over $10 for materials. About $400 in my time, though. I often get asked if I’ll ever open an etsy shop and sell my sewn creations. I always say no. I’m the sole breadwinner now, and I couldn’t charge enough for my sewn creations to make ends meet. I would love to work with a clothing company to create a limited line of clothing. And maybe someday I’ll be part of the design process, but never the manufacturing process.
If this swimsuit basically cost me $410 in materials and time, why did I do it then? Why not just commission a girl like Bev to make one for me? It boils down to happiness. I love a challenge. We all need challenges to feel happy. Besides this being great blog content, I pushed myself so much farther on this project than any other one I’ve done to date. Drafting up that top, and sewing muslin after muslin took a lot of discipline. And that discipline paid off big time.
The bottoms fit me like a glove. Everything is fully lined. Do you see how smooth those bottoms are? The lining makes such a big difference.
I drafted everything from scratch. I had a ton (like 5 yards) of lining fabric, so I could mess up as much as I wanted on the muslins. It took 4 muslins to get the bottoms just perfect. 1 for the top. I totally winged the top based on a bra I was planning on using for support. When I fitted the muslin, it fit me perfectly so I opted for soft cup inserts instead.
I took the flat shapes I wanted for the bralette, and with the slash and spread method, I made them into pattern pieces that would form perfectly around my girls. It’s nothing short of a miracle that this fit on the first try. That NEVER happens.
I did mess up on the waistband of the bottoms, but it wasn’t too bad. They were really high waisted, so instead of unpicking the waistband, I just cut off the old one and put on a new one. Surprisingly not much time or material was wasted here.
I still can’t believe I made this swimsuit! It fits better than any swimsuit I’ve ever worn. We’ll see how it does at the pool today.
- swimsuit: handmade
- sunglasses: c/o BYUTV
- shoes: Ruche (seychelles)
I’ll see if I can come up with a tutorial on how to draft your own vintage bikini, but it’s kind of daunting to think of all of the steps I would have to explain.
I have found similar patterns available for download. Burdastyle has one and so does Oh Lulu.
The bottoms were easy enough with basically two pieces and a band. I just drafted them up from a pair of swim bottoms that fit me well enough, then I tweaked and tweaked until they were perfect.
I’m glad I used a print for the top. If you look closely you can tell where I wasn’t perfectly precise with the bralette, but it’s masked by the pattern. I thought I would need boning to keep the top in place, but so far it hasn’t been necessary. I can always add it on afterward.
You can see here the lining. Seriously, if you’re going to sew your own swimming suit, I can’t stress a high-quality lining enough! It makes all the difference!
Here’s the schedule for the Sewing the Trends series. There are some remarkable sewers in the line up, I’m thrilled to be part of it. Be sure to check them all out.
Fabric provided by Michael Levine’s LowPriceFabric.com.