Swimwear Shenanigans And Escapades

Since I’ve decided that this is going to be the summer for swimwear sewing, I’m having fun combining and hacking my patterns to make some fun suits!  I like using all the fun colors of Tricot from Phee Fabrics, and always used their Powernet in my swimwear, bras and workout wear for extra support.  Phee fan pro tip: If you haven’t joined the Phee Fabrics Facebook Group yet, now is the perfect time to do so.  They are almost at 10,000 members, and are kicking off a celebration on June 26, 2019!

The 5 Out Of 4 Shenanigans Skort seemed like the perfect basis for a swim skirt.  Since the Escapade Top and Dress pattern has a drawstring front, I thought it would be fun to add drawstrings on the sides of the Shenanigans.  That way my booty could be covered while walking out to the beach, then I can shorten the skirt as much as I want while playing on the beach.

You can use the shorts included with the pattern, or your favorite briefs pattern for underneath.  If you use a different pattern for the briefs, make them first, without sewing the waistband.  Since my brief pattern has a lower rise, I traced the Sporty Spice length in my measured size for the skirt, and cut on the low rise line.  I didn’t want the sides to flare out too much, so I curved the side seam of the bottom of the skirt front in to the next smaller size.  When I lay the skirt front pattern on top of the brief pattern, you can see that the front waistline curve is the same, and that it’s a couple of inches wider than the brief.

Shen pattern FYou need that extra width to make your drawstring casing, and for your skirt to have a little bit of ease.  The skirt back should also match the curve of your briefs and have the same extra width.  Because I’m tall and have a booty, I added a little extra length to the center back of my skirt, tapering up to the side length.  It’s just enough to cover my bum when the skirt isn’t gathered up on the sides.  Sew the skirt front and back right sides together with a 1″ seam.  Make drawstrings by cutting four 1-1/2″ wide strips of  Phee Fabrics Tricot twice as long as the side seam of your skirt.  Fold each strip right sides together and using a stretch stitch sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Use a safety pin or bodkin to turn the strips right side out.

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Fold the skirt side seam allowances under 3/8″ and pin in place.  Stitch in place using a 1/2″ seam allowance to form the casings for your drawstrings.

Shen casingFold the bottom hem under 1/2″ and use a zig zig or other stretch stitch to hem.  On the right side of your skirt, make a small horizontal slit in each casing, about 3/8″ above the hem.  Thread a drawstring in each casing and tack the drawstring in place at the top.

Shen insert tiesAlign the center front, center back, and side seams of your brief and skirt and pin or clip in place.   Try it on to ensure everything feels comfortable and lines up nicely.  This is your opportunity to trim the rise a little bit if needed for better alignment.   Easing the skirt to fit the brief, baste them together.  Then sew on your waistband and elastic and you’ve got a new swim skirt!

I’ve hacked the 5oo4 Escapade into a workout top before, so I knew it would make a great bikini top.  I thought it would be cute to have a little cut-out in the back, although due to changes I made after basting the side seams and trying it on, the cut-out is smaller than I’d originally planned.  I used Tricot as the main and lining fabric, with a layer of powernet basted to my main tricot fabric so that it will end up sandwiched between the layers.  (Following the pattern tutorial and basting it to the lining fabric will save you from having to snip through two layers when making your opening for the drawstring!)

Because adding an underbust band to accomplish the cut-out added length to the top, I ended up shortening and altering my front and back pattern pieces to show a little more skin.  I wanted the back bodice to end up 3″ high, so my pattern piece ended up 3-3/4″ high, with a 3/8″ seam allowance at the top and bottom.  (I did not have my strap drawstring go through the bodice back.  If you want yours to go all the way through, add 3/8″ to the height, since the top will be folded under 3/4″ to form the casing per the pattern tutorial.)  Simply fold up the bottom corner of your pattern piece along the center back fold line to get the triangular cut-out.

Esc cutout back

I cut the front bodice on the C/D cutline, because according to the measurement chart, that’s where I should cut.  I definitely need the extra length in the center front, but not so much at the sides.  So I ended up tapering my bodice height starting 3-1/2″ away from the center front angling up to the necessary side height of 4-1/8″ to match up to my bodice back.

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To make the straps, you basically you cut your fabric four times the width of your elastic, (in this case 1-1/2″ wide).  Fold the straps in half right sides together.  Place the 3/8″ elastic flush with the cut edges, then zig-zag the elastic, right at the inner edge of the elastic.  Then turn your straps right side out.  Take your time when stitching on the elastic, and the straps will end up nice and flat.

Esc strap elasticSew the bodice front per the pattern tutorial until you reach the point where you are supposed to sew the front to the back at the side seams.  This is when I tacked my straps at the side seams, rather than having one long strap run through the entire top of the bodice.  Note: in the photo below, I had not yet made the tapered cut at the bottom sides of my top.

Esc bodice front

Lay the bodice backs right sides together, and stitch along the top using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Stitch along the triangle cut-out.  Sew elastic to these seam allowances, keeping the elastic taut, but not pulling on it.  This will give these seams stability, and help keep the top of your suit in place.  It might seem intimidating to sew elastic, but it’s not as scary as you may think.  In fact, 5 Out Of 4 Patterns has several blog post videos showing how to add elastic in their Sewing School series.  In the photo below, you can see where I added the elastic.  Note: The bottom of the back hadn’t been trimmed to it’s shorter height yet.

Esc back elasticYou’ll need to poke one side of the back through the narrow space at center back to turn the back right sides out.  Then it’s time to sew your side seams.  I hate bulky side seams, and with the straps, and elastic, and layers of tricot and powernet the seam could get bulky!  So I do it a little differently than you may have seen.  Since the front strap casing is folded down at the top front, my normal method of sewing the main front to main back, and lining front to lining back, lining up the top seam isn’t going to work.

So I folded the back bodice over the front bodice, aligning the seam with the top edge of the front bodice, making sure that the main fabric (tricot) front matched up with the main fabric back, and the two lining fabrics were together.  Stitch down 3/4″ until reaching the casing stitch line.  Then pin the main fabric (tricot) front to the main fabric back and the lining front to the lining back and stitch each of the pinned seams together.

Esc side topEsc side pin

Then clip the seam allowances so that you can press them open.  I also clip the top corner at an angle to help reduce the bulk.  Repeat these steps on the other side seam.

Esc side clip

Cut a band the same width as your bikini top, adding in a seam allowance.  If you use 3/4″ elastic, the band should be 2-1/4″ high (twice the width of the elastic plus the seam allowance).  Sew the short ends of your band together, and aligning the seam with one of the side seams, place the band over the bodice right sides together.  Pin the band to the bodice bottom, then stitch.

Use pins to mark the center front and back, along with the quarter points.  Overlapping the ends of your elastic 1″, zig zag  together, then mark the quarter points with pins.  With the band still folded up on the bodice, pin the elastic to the seam allowance, aligning the quarter point pins.  The edge of the elastic should line up with the seamline, and hang down below the bikini top.  Then wrap the band down around the elastic and overlapping up to the inside and pin in place.  Stitch around the bodice bottom using a zig zag set at 2.5 stitch length and 3.0 stitch width.  At the triangle cut-out opening, stitch across the band at the top and trim away the excess fabric.

You can either tie the straps at the neck halter style, or have someone help you pin them in a comfortable spot and tack the straps in place, cutting off the excess strap length.  Now you have a cute new swimsuit!  I love being able to adjust the drawstrings to make the skirt as short or long, and the top as high or low as I want.

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Because it’s boring and awkward to try and look sexy, I decided to have fun doing cartwheels instead.  🙂

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Being able to laugh at yourself and act silly keeps you young, right? 😉  There is no need to be afraid of sewing swimwear.  Have fun with it and mash and hack away!  It’s just another pattern and some colorful fabric, customized to fit YOU!  Does sewing your own swimwear give you super powers?  Maybe not.  But it does give you the confidence to see if you can still do cartwheels!  So sew away and then hit the pool, lake, or beach.

Free the Cheeks

Summer is my favorite time of year. It’s filled with cookouts, drinks, and the pool. But the worst part is finding a swimsuit. I haven’t gotten a new one since right after my daughter was born. It’s really cute but not super flattering on my body type. So for the last 2 years, I’ve been shoving my boobs into tops that are too small.

I knew I needed to make a swim suit out of the new khaki steel tricot that Phee Fabrics recently started stocking. It’s such a versatile color! You can match it with just about anything. I ended up going with the white circular knit for the binding. If you’re looking for great swim material, Phee has you covered! I made some sports bras, that I also wear in the pool, out of tricot and circular knit. I wear them constantly and they still look great.

I also used the cut and sew foam from Phee Fabrics. You can purchase that here

I’ve seen lots of cute swim patterns but they just aren’t flattering on me. Since I’m a whole 5’ tall, I need things that lengthen my torso. Not to mention how hard I’ve worked the last 2 years to get back to where I used to be. I’ve been working my butt off and it’s finally showing. I found Sew Swimmingly patterns and decided to give them a try. She has some really cute, very trendy patterns.

The Veronica pants are a free pattern. They are a cheeky cut and are reversible. I’ve made 3 pairs so far. They are super comfy but show lots of cheek. I don’t have a perfect fit but they are so comfy that I haven’t even bothered fixing it. Maybe the 4th pair😜. The directions are not easy to follow. There’s a video on her YouTube channel, but definitely have your seam ripper close by. It took me 3-4 tries, the first pair I made. I’ll try to explain it a little better below. Also, I may have developed an obsession with the tanga style after wearing these. Once you get that first leg done, you’re going to turn them right side out. Then at the hip seam, pull the liner piece down below it, like in the third picture down. Then you’re going to start clipping them right sides together, all the way around. Then sew or serge together with your elastic. Then the top seam. If you have a Turning tool, it will be easier. I do not. Turn them wrong side out. I like to fold those pieces down, right sides together at the top unfinished seam and secure with a clip or pin. Then you’re going to reach through the hole in your liner and pull that clip through. Keep the right side pieces together and clip it at the edges where the fold is. Then serge and add elastic. Hope that helps a little. Continue reading

Bottoms Up!!

No one likes to play favorites. Actually, some of us do. I don’t know about you but with a closet and dresser full of clothing (er, BURSTING with clothing) I still find myself going to those “faves.” You know what I mean: The only pair of jeans you look for in the stack, the “go-to” tank and that perfect dress!

They are the MVP’s of my wardrobe and I realized that this is true for my swimsuits. I love a simple black bikini , and in fact I have owned one that I always go back to since 2007!!! This might be because it was the same time I lost some weight as an adult and changed my lifestyle to keep it off (even now 🙂 )

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But everything has a season and this swimsuit has run it’s course. It was time to move on but this time I wanted to sew my own! I basically sew all of my clothing  (aside from socks – I own a pattern though of course, lol!) and I know that #memade will always fit better than RTW at this point. But there are SOOOOO many swimsuit patterns and I feel like every time a new one releases I want to buy it (most of the time I do 😉 )

Well the idea of making a ton of different sets was overwhelming, so I decided to start with the bottoms. I actually have a few different styles of RTW tops I like for now that will go with a plain black bottom. I wanted to try out a variety of styles and cuts to see which I liked best and here is what I found.

THE PATTERNS

Sew a Little Seam – Mairin Swimsuit – Low Waist, Mid Cut Leg – https://www.sewalittleseam.com/product/womens-mairin-swimsuit-pdf-pattern/

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Patterns for Pirates – Minute Maillot  – high cut leg (hacked for bottoms only) – https://www.patternsforpirates.com/product/minute-maillot/

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Swim Style – Celeste Bikini Bottoms (high cut mid cheeky) – http://swimstyle.com.au/product/celeste-bikini-pattern-women-xs-to-3xl

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Ellie and Mack – Oasis Swim Bottoms  – High Waist – https://www.ellieandmac.com/collections/adult-swimwear/products/womens-oasis-swimsuit-mix-match-pattern

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5 oo 4 – Ultimate Bikini Bottoms – Low-rise, High-Cut leg – https://5outof4.com/product/ultimate-bikini-bottoms/

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I used @pheefabrics Black ciruclar knit and swim lining for all of the bottoms except for the Ultimate Bikini Bottoms. For those I used the last scraps of my Navy Tricot that were left after last months sew here. The circular knit has great stretch and recovery as well as coverage. I honestly do not think you would need to line them, but I did in order to be consistent with the pattern instructions.

MY FINDINGS

All 5 patterns were written well, sew up in very little time, use minimal fabric and notions and fit true to size based on the charts and my measurements. Most had various rise and leg options as well as coordinating tops, if I decide to be brave and start on those soon! You really could make a drawer full of bikinis with just these patterns and a couple of yards of fabric, lining and a elastic – all available at here (affiliate).

So did I find a fave? Well, I think I figured out some styles I prefer. I have never owned a high leg cut suit but really love the way the P4P Minute Maillot bottoms cut on the legs. The waist needs a bit of tweaking, but I am not good at hacking patterns so this is something I can definitely work on. I also like the more cheeky cut of the Celeste but would not want to wear them if I was chasing a toddle at the pool or beach. However, these would be my “go-to” vacation bottoms. The 5oo4 Ultimate Bikini Bottoms and Sew a Little Seam Mairin were closest to my O.G. ready to wear and I can see why – they feel and fit like a classic bikini underwear does for me. Not too low, not too high  – just enough coverage to make me feel like I can run around or lounge and catch some sun.

Lastly, I know some swim fabric can be tricky to work with – it’s thin and slippery. Not the case with the circular knit from @pheefabrics! It is a great introductory fabric if you have never sewn swim, and while I have a serger and coverstitch machine, I sewed these patterns almost exclusively on my regular machine!

I hope that this helps show the variety of patterns and options out there and that you too can find your new “ride-or-die” bikini bottoms!

 

Out with the Winter, In with the Summer

Schools out for most and summer is fast approaching. Here in the high desert, we are already expecting temperatures in the 100s, and its barely June. My sewing room just got a fresh update with a fresh coat of paint and wood laminate flooring (previously carpet) and it feels good to say the least. The pool is going up in the back yard and that means I need a new swim suit. In comes Phee Fabrics Tricot! Ever since I got it, I have absolutely adored the Neon Coral Tricot. Its so vibrant in color, and such a soft material for swim suits or sports bras! Have you seen all of the new colors that have been stocked in the last couple months? That Berry Tricot is on my list for my next swim suit. For the first though, I will be sticking to my first Tricot love, Neon Coral.

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Now the hard part, finding the perfect pattern. I scrolled through my folder of patterns (not nearly as many are used as they should be) and came across the Riptide Reversible Shorties by 5 out of 4 Patterns. I had made these before, but skimped out on my effort level and didn’t actually put the side drawstrings in. The pattern itself has great coverage and has the option for reversible or not. I decided to challenge myself, and not take short cuts here (as I am really trying to do in my sewing these days-this will be a constant theme for these bottoms). Making them reversible I chose the Navy Tricot as my secondary color. IMG_0639.JPG

The pattern went together very well until I got to the dreaded ‘channels’ for the drawstrings. I marked them and then contemplated skipping them and just attaching the waist band. Luckily, I had the self discipline to just put the project down and come back to it when I felt like doing the channels. That turned out to be 2 days later. I marked the channels with a chalk line and sewed it with a straight stitch on my sewing machine. Afterwards, the pattern recommends to cut a hole in the channel, instead I just seam ripped between my two channels.

My turner made turning the ties easy, and also aided in pulling them through their channels! After putting all of the ties in and basting, it was time for the waist band. The pattern calls for wonder tape, but I don’t like wonder tape, so I didn’t have any to use. I went back and forth on hem tape, but decided to just pin it because that former sounded like a mess.

 

I started out with top stitching the top part of the waist band so that I would know where the inner seam should be. Then, I folded up the unsewn edge towards the inside of the waist band. I continued around and this this ‘false hem’ on the whole waist band. After that I folded the hem and band down and replaced the pins to pin this to the shorts (with the inner serged edge on the inside facing up. Then I was ready to top stitch and my shorties were done!

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I put together a Key West with the Navy Powernet as the inner bra for some added support. Now I am ready to hit the pool and cool down in the summer!

IMG_0658This post contains affiliated links. At no cost to you, I get an earning that helps support my hobby of sewing and blogging to show you my makes (= Thanks for your support! Links to fabric: Navy Powernet,Navy TricotNeon Coral Tricot

Tricot – It’s not tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky

A year ago I had never heard of Tricot – in fact I had not heard of most of the fabrics that @pheefabrics carries and what they are used for. Today, I would say I am a bit of a fabric snob. Sewing a garment takes time, and my time is worth money and I am not willing to use a poor quality fabric. Even the best of patterns are only as good as the fabric you use, IMO.

There has been a bunch of talk about Supplex, powernet and Rayon Spandex (my ride or die for everyday, everything for the whole family) from @pheefabrics but there is a new(ish) kid on the block and their name is Tricot!

So lets break it down. What is Tricot?

  • a nylon/spandex blend
  • moisture wicking
  • antimicrobial
  • 4 way stretch with a decent weight of 9.5oz -11.5oz
  • Iron on vinyl can be added to them
  • Fabrics are from the USA

Tricot reminds me of the feeling and look of swimsuits (check back next month to see what I made), but I wanted to show how versatile it can really be for everyday clothing I will wear all summer – day and night! Since @pheefabrics has so many beautiful colors to chose from, you are sure to find something for your next project.

Confession – I am not a huge fan of shorts. Years of having them ride up my thighs turned me off but I am coming to terms with it and when I made my first pair of Heat Wave Hot Pants from George + Ginger Patterns. You can say it was it was love at first wear! I just had to have a pair of them in the new Navy Tricot and they are summer nautical perfection! I used the tall waistband and pockets – yesssssss! These shorts sew up really quick and have a polished fit from the darts on the front and the back.

So what to wear them with? How about my fave Greenstyle Green Tee? This one is blue and white matte stripe nylon/spandex that @pheefabrics carried last year. I knotted it up to show off the high waist on the shorts and I can see wearing this outfit to the park or brunch any day.

 

I love the look of yellow and navy so I paired it with the top I used for my costume I wrote about on the blog last year. The yellow is also tricot from Phee but the color is no longer in stock. A few accessories and I am feeling all the retro vibes in this outfit ✌

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I still had some of the Navy Trciot left and I have been threatening to make the George + Ginger Road Trip Bodysuit since the pattern released but had not yet even cut my size let alone made one! I made a tiny change and cut a V-shape down the center to add a panel of Navy Powernet and my Pinspiration is brought to life.

Even with all of the bindings, the fabric was super easy to sew. It is a little slippery, yet it did not slip and slide on any of my machines. There really are not “tricks” to working with this high quality fabric! Just be prepared to fall in love with Tricot.

Happy sewing!

Liz

PS- If you love Phee Fabrics as much as I do, please use the  affiliate links in this blog to shop. I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) I can’t wait to keep sharing my adventures in sewing all of these incredible fabrics and look forward to hearing about yours!

 

Feeling Sassy? How to Modify a Jalie Rash Guard for Some Spunk

Hey there! Support Phee Fabrics and its amazing contributors by using the affiliate links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at zero extra cost to you!) so we can continue to create helpful and free tutorials.

What do you do when you can’t decide on a color to use?

USE THEM ALL!

That’s the only correct answer in this scenario, especially in regards to Phee’s new bouquet of nylon/spandex tricot.

From left to right, I have neon coral, cerise, and light pink. Phee’s nylon/spandex tricot collection is the perfect choice for your summer workout and swim attire. These fabrics are moisture wicking, lightweight and breathable.

I was able to play a lot of beach volleyball last year and my Phee-kinis were my go-to for such a rigorous sport. Y’all…I produce an embarrassing amount of sweat by just looking at the sun on a 50 degree day. Moisture wicking and quick drying are a must!

So that’s why I felt confident in making a raglan rash guard using my tricot trio. Usually, I wouldn’t even consider going out in the sun wearing sleeves and a high neckline. But, the fabric provides the functionality that I need. And rash guards are cute, so I couldn’t resist.

Since summer time is fast approaching, I decided to sass up my Jalie Valerie rash guard by opening up the back and capping the sleeves. If this is something you’d like to try out (especially since I’m sure you have bought all of the tricot by now), keep reading to see how I did it!

This is an alteration to Jalie’s Valerie rash guard pattern. I started with a size P.

Altering the Sleeves

Step 1 identify the shoulder line on the pattern. It’s a little off-center toward the garment’s front.

Step 2 connect your front and back notches with a straight line. Measure down 1″ from your notch line and draw a second line.

Step 3 draw a curved line starting at the lower line below the front notch. The curve should peak at the intersection between your vertical shoulder line and the horizontal notch line. It will end on the lower line below the back notch.

Step 4 draw in your seam or elastic allowance. I used a 3/8″ elastic allowance just in case I decided to insert elastic around the arm hole. But, I ended up simply applying an elasticized binding.

Altering the Back

Step 1 determine how short you want your crop to be. I decided to go even shorter than Jalie’s cropped version. Draw in your new crop line.

Step 2 Draw a line from the center back seam to the back sleeve notch. This line should be perpendicular to the center back seam. Then, mark a spot along the center back seam 1 3/4″ above that line.

Step 3 identify the midpoint along the side seam between the arm opening and the crop line. From that midpoint, use a French curve or hip curve to draw the open back line. Then, from that side seam midpoint, draw in your tie back tapering to 2″ on the center back seam.

Step 4 disregard the tie back pattern piece for a moment. Draw in the seam or elastic allowance on the new curve of your upper back piece.

Steps 5 and 6 extend the tie back pattern piece by at least 10″. Then, draw in your seam or elastic allowances along the upper and lower edges of the piece.

Put it all together and what do you get?

I used 3/8″ rubber elastic for the neon coral binding. I also bagged out the upper back piece and the tie piece, using 3/8″ rubber elastic along the seams. As with most of my swim and beach apparel, I created a built in shelf bra since I’m not too fond of inserts floating around.

Finale

I still struggle with making clean neckbands, but I guess that just means I need to make more Phee rash guards. I can’t wait to make matching swim bottoms and take this baby to the beach!

List of Materials

Let me know if this is an alteration that you’ll try out! At the very least, get the fabric because just staring at it arranged together will make you happy. Talk to you soon!

xo

Monica