Adventures in Swimwear

As the first couple of months went by this year, I realized that we hadn’t purchased any clothing and I was making everything for my daughter and myself. It was that moment I made a decision that we would purchase as little clothing as possible. With my daughter currently outgrowing everything she owns, and the currently weather shifting toward warmer temps, I knew swimwear was bound to be in my future.

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Sofiona Designs put out a tester call for their first swim pattern, Narwhal, a few of weeks ago, and the timing was perfect! My daughter already loves all of their other patterns we already own, so I knew she wouldn’t object. The Narwhal has options for a one piece or two piece. The coverage on this suit is perfect!

I learned a lot while sewing the 3 swimsuits I made during the past 2 weeks, and a lot had to do with the materials I was using. Not all 3 swimsuits were actually for testing, as I decided to make one for niece as well.

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For the first version, and test fit of the swim suit, I used leftovers of the Insane in the Membrane and some solid nylon/spandex tricot (color no longer in stock), along with black lining, as it was the only swim lining I had on hand. I also decided that since my daughter has been blessed early, to add powernet to between the exterior and the lining of the top (I also added the powernet to her final suit).

To be honest, I did not expect this sewing experience to go well. I’ve attempted to sew a swimsuit before, and it was anything but pleasant. I still have this ill-fitting, homemade looking two piece that was never finished, and after I started sewing the test suit, I knew why the one I tried to make years ago never turned out. There was no way that first swimsuit I attempted to make could ever have turned out looking as beautiful as I had imagined, it all came down to the materials I was using. My main fabric was thin and flimsy, and who knows what it was made of, as I got it off a remnants table at my local fabric store. I don’t know what I was even using for lining, it doesn’t look or feel anything like the lining of my Athleta swimsuits or Phee’s lining. I used a serger on my first swimsuit, but that didn’t matter, it could have been created with a sewing machine and still looked like crap, as it all came down to the materials I used.

Just before I began sewing my swimsuit journey, my serger decided to lock up and stop working, so it turns out these are sewn with my sewing machine and my coverstitch. I could have used my sewing machine for all of it, but when you get a coverstitch machine, you want to use it as often as possible.

For my daughter’s final swimsuit I let her pick out the fabric, and she chose Phee’s new Navy Tricot. I thought to myself, seriously, this is going to be pretty boring, a navy swimsuit, then the gears in my brain started turning, and I pulled a few things out of my stash, the White Wide Mesh and White Circular Knit. It never occurred to me to use circular knit on a swimsuit, but it meets the requirements for a swim fabric, so I went with it. I layered cut both navy and the mesh from the side panels on the bottoms and the center front on the top, and basted them together before starting with the pattern. I love the final look of this so much, that I’m now on the hunt for a pattern to do the same thing in a suit for myself!

For my niece, I wanted to use the new Cerise Tricot because the color is so fun, and I paired it with Insane in the Membrane.

I can’t get over how easy all of these came together, and I know it’s because of the quality of materials. I highly suggest choosing quality materials for your first swimsuit even if it’s just a test fit, as it will make a world of difference with your sewing experience.

A few things I learned along the way that are helpful with sewing your first swimsuit:

  • A matte nylon/spandex in a midweight will be easiest to sew, and since its matte it won’t slip around. Make sure it has 4-way stretch, as this is a must for swimwear! Phee’s tricot solids meet this requirement, and they are high quality you will love sewing with.
  • Line your suit in either the same fabric as your suit or a quality swim lining. You can also add powernet to any control areas such as the top for support or the tummy area for a smoothing belly.
  • One thing I did differently between these swimsuits and the one I made years ago, is that when I basted my layers together, I used a long zig zag stitch instead of regular basting stitch. I don’t know why I never thought to do that before, but it made it so much easier.
  • Use ballpoint pins and don’t be afraid to pin. Ballpoint pins won’t snag your fabric, and pinning often will keep things together. Once I basted all my layers I found I didn’t need nearly as many pins.
  • Stretch needles! Use them, you won’t have skipped stitches when you do, and you will love the outcome.

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