Stitch Upon A Time Water Faery Twist & Swim Top

Summer has arrived, so it’s about time for me to get started on sewing up some swimwear!  When the Stitch Upon A Time Water Faery swim patterns were released, I eyed them closely, but put off buying a pattern because I couldn’t decide which one to buy.  The Retro One Piece has a dress option, which I love the look of!  But I never wear one piece swimsuits.  I finally settled on the Twist & Swim Top because I knew I would wear the sexy yet modest top and could play around with the pattern.

The swim top has the option of a plain or twisted front.  Since I was making the fun twisted front, I decided to follow the pattern exactly for my first version to see how it fit.  I made my measured size, using the green extended cut line for the bodice, since I have the noted 4.5″+ difference between bust and under bust, and followed the tutorial.  As I’ve come to expect from Stitch Upon A Time Patterns, the tutorial is well written, with lots of photos to help you visualize each step.  The elastic measurements are perfect, exactly the right length for support and comfort.

I had some swim fabric from JoAnn’s in my stash that was left over from a project I made last year.  There wasn’t quite enough fabric to make the straps the recommended width, so I made them as wide as possible, but had to omit the gathering on the straps.  As experience has taught me when making bras or tops that need support, I used powernet in the front and back bodice pieces, as well as the straps.  The resulting top is cute, and works great for walks on the beach, but had one small problem.

Knowing that my shoulder to bust apex measurement is longer than average, I should have taken that into account and lengthened the straps.  Since the straps are too short for my body, the top cuts into my armpits a bit.  Because the top is held firmly in place under the bust in front, the back is pulled forward and up, which keeps the back from laying properly.  Fortunately, it’s a simple fix.

TT p frontTT p back

I just added an inch to the strap length before cutting out my next version.  This time I used Tricot from Phee Fabrics.  I think the hardest part was narrowing down which colors to use, since it’s available in so many pretty colors!  Because I liked the way the narrower straps turned out, I decided to cut them at 3.5″ wide again.  I also decided to play around with the bottom band construction, to use one piece of 1.25″ wide elastic in the band, rather than elastic at the top and bottom seams of the band.

I made the top as directed until I got to the band.  I sewed the bands right sides together, along the bottom edge.  I marked the band at the midpoint, then marked the quarter point by folding one end over and 1/2″ past the center pin, to account for the 1/2″ seam allowance.  I also placed pins on either side of my center front pin to mark the V placement.  I stitched between the two outer pins, using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  (Note: I used a 3/8″ seam allowance on the top and bottom seams of my band so that I could use  1.25″ sport elastic.  You can also stick to the 1/2″ seam allowance and use 1″ wide elastic.)

TT band pin

Then I carefully cut down to, but not through the stitching at both ends of this V stitching, and turned the band right sides out.  Because I would need an opening to thread my elastic through the band after I attached it to the bodice, I had to carefully plan out stitching the short ends together.  Placing the short ends right sides together, I stitched from one side for 1/2″.  Then I stitched from the other side to just past the bottom seam.  This left me enough opening to thread my elastic through, but ensured that the side seam was completely sewn on the outer side.

TT band end

I turned the band right side out and basted the long edges together.  When sewing the band and bodice together, make sure that the opening for the elastic ends up on the inside of your top!

TT band

Then I matched up the center front, center back, and the quarter points of the band and bodice, right sides together.  Keep in mind that the quarter points may not exactly line up with the side seams, especially when you use the extended bodice cut lines.  Stitch the band and bodice together and insert the elastic.  Use the recommended underbust elastic length, and overlap and stitch the ends of the elastic together.  You can stitch the opening on the inside of the band closed if you want, but since tricot doesn’t fray, I didn’t bother.

Yay!  I had a perfectly fitting swim top!  Now for some bottoms.  I’ve owned the Scrundlewear 2.0 pattern for months, but had never made a pair.  Since everybody seems to love Scrundies, I figured they would make great swim bottoms.  I cut on the foldover waistband line, tapering in at the top following the side seam cutline to give me a high waisted look.  The front height was great, but the back was too high.  I tapered from 1-5/8″ down at center back over to the height of the front side seam.

The legs felt too low, so while wearing the bottom, I carefully pinned where I wanted the leg line to end.  I added in the 3/8″ seam allowance I was going to use for turning my swim elastic under, marked my pattern, and cut off the excess fabric.  The photo below shows how much fabric I cut off compared to my new higher leg cut line.

Scrundies leg

I also cut a front and back out of swim lining.  And as you can see, the swim lining from Phee Fabrics is nothing like the stuff I’ve bought from JoAnn’s.  It’s soft and lays smoothly.  The edges don’t curl up, and it’s super easy to sew with!  I also cut a front piece out of powernet.  Hello tummy control!  Not only is powernet great for bras and swim tops, it works fabulously to smooth out the tummy and hold everything in place.  Baste the powernet to the fabric front, and sew the front and back together at the side and bottom seams.  Sew the swim lining front and back together as well.  Place the swim lining layer inside the fabric layer wrong sides together, and baste at the leg and waist openings. Using a zig zag stitch, sew the elastic on the inside of the leg openings with the elastic lined up with the edge of the fabric.  Turn the fabric under and top stitch using a zig zag with the stitch length set to 2.5, and the stitch width set to 3.0.  This will give you a professional, even finish.

I used a strip of 2″ wide fabric to make my waistband.  I sewed the two short ends right sides together, then layered the swim bottoms and waistband, right sides together, with 3/4″ knit elastic on top.  I stitched through all three layers, using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  This was easier than anticipated, since all three layers were the same length.  I didn’t have to worry about stretching or pulling.  I flipped the waistband open, and carefully folded the waistband fabric around to the inside and pinned it in place.  Using the same zig zag settings, I topstitched the fabric in place just below the waistband.

scrundiesMy Scrundie swim bottoms were a success, and I have a cute new swimsuit!  I love that it’s modest enough, while still being sexy.  My husband definitely approves of my creation!

TT suit frontTT suit back

Since I seem to think that every bra or swim top can be made into a workout top, read the 5oo4 Escapade Experiment, Hack At It, and the GreenStyle Power Sports Bra Workout Top Hack as proof of my workout top obsession! 🙂  I decided to make the Water Faery Twist Top into a workout top too.  I made the Twist & Swim Top out of Tricot, per directions (with the narrower and longer straps out of Supplex) through to basting the completed bodice layers together along the bottom.  Then I got to work on the tank portion.  Supplex is my absolute favorite fabric for workout wear, so that’s what I used for the tank.  The pattern includes a tankini option, but since I was making a workout top rather than a swim top, I didn’t want the negative ease that the swim top has (to keep the tank from floating up while in the water).

If you have a well fitting tank pattern, you can use that, or you can just trace the tankini piece wider, with a gentle slope down to the bottom, rather than with the inwardly shaped waist curve of the original.  I thought it would be fun to color block a stripe down the center back, and add some pockets to the front for practicality and a pop of color.  I cut a strip of tricot 4.5″ wide by the length of the center back tank piece.  Then I folded my tank pattern piece in 1.5″ at the center back.  That way, when I cut out the two back halves (not on the fold), I would be missing 3″ from the center back.  Sewing the strip to each of the back pieces right sides together, with a 3/8″ seam allowance meant that the color-blocked back ended up the same size as my tank pattern piece.
TT wo back stripeI cut out two 4-3/4″ x 7-1/2″ rectangles for my front pockets.  I wanted them to be hidden seam pockets like the one I did on the GreenStyle Jillian Tank.  I laid the pocket pieces on the tank front and marked the 3/8″ seam line at the top and bottom of the pocket with a pin.  I flipped the pocket toward the center, and with right sides together, pinned the pocket to the tank, then stitched 3/8″ in from the pocket edge.

TT wo pocket pinI flipped the pockets back to the outside edges after stitching and basted them in place.

TT wo pockets.jpgAt this point, I should have been able to sew the tank front and back together, and sewn the bodice to the tank.  But I had made a couple of rookie errors. 😦  The first was that I had made the tank too wide at the top.  This was easily remedied by angling the tank in at the top so that it was the same width as the bodice (and the original tankini pattern piece.)  The second error was not considering the fact that I am tall, and should have added an inch to the length of the tank.  The problem was remedied easily enough by adding a band.  I cut out the band pieces, and sewed them onto the bodice per the pattern tutorial, except using a 3/8″ seam allowance, and spacing my bodice front center V only 1/2″ apart.  I don’t want to show too much skin at yoga class!

Because the 1.25″ wide sport elastic had worked so well on my swim top, I decided to use it for my workout top as well.  With the bands still folded up on the bodice, I used pins to mark the quarter points on the top, and a pencil to mark the quarter points on the elastic, and stretching to fit, stitched the elastic to the seam allowance.  I had the elastic lined up with the stitching line, and hanging down below the bodice.  Then I folded the inner band down, and stitched the elastic to the band.

TT wo elasticI brought the outer band down and basted it in place before attaching the tank portion.  I sewed on the tank, hemmed the bottom, and I’ve got a cute new workout top!

TT wo frontTT wo back

Everything stayed perfectly in place during a sweaty Vinyassa Flow class that included inversions.  Everyone in the lobby when I walked into the yoga studio commented on my top.  None of them could believe that I made it, including the instructor, who knows how to sew.  I went for a walk later in the evening, and the pockets worked great to hold my phone and house key.  It looks like I’ve got a great new swimwear and workout top pattern to add into my rotation!

*This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my links.  Because I value honesty and integrity, I only recommend products that I love and personally use for my makes.  Thank you for reading and sharing my blogpost, and love of sewing, patterns, pattern hacking, and high quality fabrics! 🙂

 

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

Wiggle and Essential Tank Hack

Down here in Sunny Florida our month long Winter just ended and it was brutal, I am talking 50’s haha! Now that it is warm I have swim on the brain! So when I found out Wide Mesh was the promo this month I was so excited because I finally had the excuse to make myself a new coverup with the amazing, wide mesh I had been hoarding since September!

I have been dying to make the Wiggle Dress from Patterns for Pirates into a coverup. I did not necessarily want it so form fitting and thought it would mesh nicely with the Essential tank.

I am so happy with the results that I think I am going to make one from Rayon Spandex to wear everyday. Especially after all the new color options that Phee just listed. I only purchase my Rayon Spandex from Phee Fabrics because it is so high quality and it does not pill. Yes, that is what I said, it does not pill! It is seriously the best!

Not only was I extremely happy with the pattern but I loved the wide mesh so much I had to make another coverup and decided on a pair of Brassie Joggers. I was not disappointed with these either!

Materials: All from Phee Fabrics

Wiggle/ Essential Tank Hack

I already had both the Wiggle and Essential Tank patterns cut in my size, so after laying the pattern pieces on top of one another, I began by tracing the wiggle dress on the top portion and graded at the skirt to blend into the essential tank. I wanted the dress to be less form fitting through the waist and hips and more fitted on the top portion.

The front piece was much easier and straight forward because both fronts are cut on the fold. The back however was more difficult due to the fact that the back of the Wiggle is 2 mirror cut pieces and the Essential Tank is again cut on a fold. I wanted both my new pieces to be cut on a fold.

For this I concentrated on lining up 3 points: the grainlines, the centerback and the armpit. Once these 3 points were matched up I traced the cut on fold line and graded the skirts to blend together gradually becoming more fitted the higher up the waist.

After I had my two pattern pieces, it was sewn according to the original Wiggle pattern directions, except I used binding instead of elastic. I also used binding to finish off the sleeves to give it a more finished look. The skirt was left raw. As Monica explains in her blog the other day the binding can seem intimidating but the trick is to take your time and pin!

*If I was using this hack with any other fabric besides the wide mesh I would not have used binding and used the elastic and hemmed my sleeves and skirt.

Review of Heiress Bikini

This was my first time sewing the Heiress Bikini from SwimStyle and it is honestly one of the best swim patterns I have used. The techniques used leave you with the most professionally finished pieces and the fit just feels amazing! It is not a beginner pattern but has great instructions that easily guide you along.

I wanted to make this with the adjustable straps and used the new metal ring and slider set Phee is carrying. I was beyond blown away with the quality of this hardware and it was honestly the part people pointed out when they were shocked I made my own swimsuit. I highly recommend it!

I also used Powernet as the liner in my top because who can’t use a little extra support? If you don’t have this stuff on hand I also highly recommend it because you never know when it will come in handy!

Review of the Brassie Jogger as a Coverup

I am in a long term love affair with the Brassie Joggers from Greenstyle, because who isn’t! I decided to use the wide mesh and make a coverup version. This was one of those projects that turned out way better than I had originally envisioned. I receive compliments on them every time I wear them and even sold a pair the last time I wore them!

Thanks for taking a peek at my projects!

Well, because boobs sag as we get older

I’m not a very well endowed person, I’d say I was average (36D on a good day) but as I get older my boobs aren’t as perky as they use to be, it sucks but it’s life.

Well I have the solution, it’s techsheen from Phee Fabrics. It’s life changing, or boob changing! I used the North Shore from Greenstyle Creations to create my vintage inspired suit. I also use tan swim lining and Raspberry Circular Knit from Phee as well, just cause her fabric is the greatest!

(The tan techsheen used for my suit is currently sold out, there is black and white or you could use two layers of tan powernet for the same support)

A little about my suit, I did the high waisted bottoms with the pullover top with tie front and less coverage for the cleavage. I didn’t include cups cause I didn’t need them with the techsheen.

I used swim lining in the back of the top and techsheen in the front (the clip shows the part with the techsheen)

For the bottoms I used techsheen in the front to help with belly coverage and make things smoother. I used swim lining for the back of the bottoms (the clip shows the techsheen)

The tan techsheen is thicker than other techsheen but they are all just as supportive!! It’s seriously life changing and helps keep our girls where they are meant to be not where gravity wants them to be!

Any questions just ask!

Alisha

My bikini making w/ foam cups- Jalie Gigi

Posted by Jenn Williams

My Bikini Making – The Jalie Gigi Bikini

Quick disclaimer – I am in no way affiliated with Jalie and I bought the pattern myself because I loved the look of it.

Overall my bikini came together really well but it wasn’t without struggles. I felt like the instructions/pictures were lacking desperately and I would call this an intermediate sew. However, with better instructions and pictures, it could definitely be completed by a confident beginner.So I’m going to try to help out with this post because it really is a great bikini with wonderful support for the twins!

The first thing I do when I begin a swim pattern is make sure I have a new rotary blade.You can use scissors and pins but swim fabric and lining is slippery, so a rotary cutter and mat is almost a must!

Look at the difference between an old blade versus a new blade!

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IMG_1777While you are cutting out your pieces, be sure to mark or cut all the notches shown on the pattern pieces. This is really critical for swimwear as a lot of the pieces stretch to fit each other so having notches to line up is really helpful.

You also want to make sure you have swim elastic.Swim elastic is made to withstand chlorine and saltwater.If you opt to not use swim elastic, your finished suit may not hold up through multiple seasons!

This bikini in particular has a princess seam in the front. Which means the two front pieces are going to need to be eased into each other. Easing in pieces doesn’t mean stretching, but manipulating the pieces to match. Use lots of pins or clips!IMG_1779

For my bikini top, I wanted to add techsheen, which is a really supportive, stronger version of a powernet.You can use it in between your lining fabric and main fabric for extra boobie support. I felt like this pattern did not do a great job of explaining how to assemble all of the top layers so here is what I did.I am starting with three top, front pieces as pictured below. Main, techsheen, and lining.IMG_1789

First, I attached my foam cups to my techsheen. I used an old bikini that I don’t wear anymore and took the cups from it.But you can find them at Joann’s or online.Just make sure they are made for swimwear so they will hold up!I attached them to the wrong side of my techsheen and used lots of pins to hold them in place. You want to kind of mash the cup down to get it to lay flat so you can pin it evenly.

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IMG_1796You then want to topstitch with a zig zag or stretch stitch all the way around the cups.

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IMG_1801The next thing I did was baste my lining to the techsheen, all the way around, wrong sides together. This piece will now be treated as one.

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So here I have pictured my basted together lining and tech sheen (above) that will be treated as one piece (I will refer to it as lining from here on out) and my main fabric (below).

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The next step is serging the arms and neckline and then attaching elastic to the arms and neck.I go through this in detail in this video.

You will serge the lining to the main fabric, right sides together and then attach the elastic. For the top, I used my sewing machine to attach the elastic because of the nature of the curves and v-neck.I find that I have the most control with my sewing machine instead of my serger.

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IMG_1843After the elastic is attached, you understitch. This may be new to some of you so let me explain. Understitching tacks the seam allowance to the lining so that the lining doesn’t play peek-a-boo while you are wearing the suit. This is also explained in my video.

You separate the main fabric and pull it out of the way. You then topstitch with a stretch or zigzag on the lining side catching your elastic and seam allowance underneath. You don’t want any stitching on the main fabric. In the photo below, you can see the seam allowance through the lining and my main fabric is out of the way.

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Once the elastic is attached to the arms and neck, you are ready to add your straps. I’m not going to go over construction of the straps because they are pretty easy.

The rest of the suit came together smoothly for me. The afore mentioned steps were where I struggled the most.

One nice thing about this suit is the straps are all plenty long enough to adjust per your preference. I tried it on several times with the straps basted in place so that I could see how I wanted it to fit.

For the finishing the back, in order to attach the swim clasp, you have to fold over the edges. Mine were folded over a lot. I also played with this several times before I really stitched it into place. So I was really able to achieve a perfect fit with where all the straps need to be.

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Overall I’m really really happy with how my top came out.However, this pattern does not come in bust sizes so I had a hard time picking what size to make.I want to make another one and give myself some more room in the bust.I don’t want to size up because I like where the all the pieces sit, I just need more volume in the cups.

I am also not writing about the construction of the bottoms because I feel that they are pretty standard. Although I do discuss attaching elastic with a serger in this video. I chose to do the high rise waist band option and I really like the fit.

All of the fabric I used is from Phee Fabrics. I have never worked with such amazing swim fabric.It was easy to sew (for swim) and it feels so nice!

It all started with a spray tan and a dream: Or How I Learned to Sew Swim Knit and Not Hate Myself; a photo diary.

Posted by Alyssa Moser

As of a week ago, I had never sewn swim wear. I mean not even repaired it. For the last five years my tankini has had a shoelace as a neck strap because I lost the real one…. That is how much I avoided swim knits.

Let me start by introducing my background. I’ve been sewing, practically forever. I’m 38 and learned to sew by hand in Brownies – probably around 7 or 8 years old. I would sew the buttons back on my school uniform blouses, and when I wasn’t stapling them back together, re-hemmed my uniform skirts. I was around 9 or 10 when my mother gave me a rudimentary lesson on her sewing machine. I was hooked. I have a very vivid memory of going to my grandmother’s house when I was about 10 and making my mom an apron for Christmas. It was green and white striped with lace. She still has it!

Fast forward to undergraduate – I went to UCSB as a theatre major! I was a playwright! (See this so isn’t my first foray into long windedness). As a theatre major one must be well rounded – meaning everyone had to take costume shop. I took mine the quarter of the musical – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! We were to spend 2 weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!) on a sampler…. I finished mine in about 25 minutes. But that 10 week quarter is when I began to learn about pattern drafting, sewing with various fabrics, and making fun things!!

After graduation I began to work in film. My dreams of working as a camera department PA were dashed after the last pre-production meeting where-in it was discovered I was the only female PA and wardrobe needed help…. Apparently men cannot touch clothes….. Well that job led me to several other wardrobe jobs, including the one that is the point of this rambling.

I got my first gig as a costume designer on a low-low- budget horror film set in the desert!! We are a week in, and the props department is having one hell of a time finding a tent that is burnable. See, in pyro, the stuff they burn has to qualify under a wide range of standards. Plus the director has to like it. Well the decision came down that it needed to be created, but the prop girls didn’t sew. So, I drafted a pattern and sewed up a tent out of a pyro approved canvas in a crappy motel room overnight! The next day, they burned it! Yay! Then the director realized…. They didn’t get the establishing shots they wanted…… and a wind storm was rolling in, so production was going to be halted for an hour or so anyway.

That day I spent an hour, outside, re-sewing a tent, in gusts up to 80 miles per hour.

This swimsuit intimidated me more than that tent! (I TOLD you there was a reason for the ramble…..)

But I decided it was time to just do it. So, I scoured the interwebs!! I saw some really cute option, but knew that bikinis were out – no one needs to see me in one. A skirt I wouldn’t wear, and I’m too flat chested for the cute ruffly ones – someone might mistake me for a toddler!

Then I found one!! It was perfect! It was rated Intermediate, but I’ve sewn formal wear, so I can do intermediate (she says as she crosses her fingers behind her back). Behold – The CKC Patterns Freya!!

Now, I am pretty familiar with several PDF pattern designers. Meaning I hoard them like a magpie hoards shiny baubles. I HAVE sewn a few, I promise, but I own WAAAAY more than I have sewn. This was my first foray into CKC Patterns. I was not disappointed.

As per CKCpatterns.com, The Fraya is a one piece retro style suit, with an optional ruched front body and optional hi low skirt. The neck options include cross straps or a halter. I chose to do the ruched body, no skirt, and a halter.

One of the great things that CKC does is give you a cut list for rectangular pieces! No pattern pieces to print, just measurements! How brill! Brought me back to my costume shop days. I got to play with my tailors chalk!

Ooh that reminds me – as this is a photo diary, I am going to show some hints and tips as well things I have picked up from the goddesses of the needle that I have encountered over the years. These are the brilliant women (and men, but mostly women) that have guided me through the craft over the many years I have been sewing.

For this project I used about 1 3/4 yards of black nylon spandex, and 1 yard of black swim lining from Phee Fabrics.

Let me talk about the fabric for a hot second. Prior to this project I have never sewn with swim knit nor swim lining, but I spent 13 or so years as a competitive swimmer and swim instructor, so I’m familiar with swim suit material. This sh*t is goooood! It isn’t see through, isn’t flimsy. It also isn’t too thick. The lining fabric is lovely quality as well! I have texture issues, and this didn’t rile them at all. So Phee Fabrics gets an A+ from this pool gal.

Here is where I broke a rule. I didn’t pre-wash. Pick your jaws up off the floor – I know!! It’s horrible 😉 I could pull out all the excuses, but I didn’t have time. I won’t be putting a swim suit in a tumble dryer EVER!!! If you do this – STOP. It is horrible for you swim suit and shortens the life span of it. If your suit is SPF rated, it reduces the SPF rating!!!

ON TO THE PROJECT!

First step – pattern prep! I always gather my supplies:

Snacks, iced tea, and my current binge of choice! My tip– if you are a PDF pattern virgin, figure out what you prefer – tape or a glue stick. I am messy as all hell, so I use tape 😀

I am currently binging HBO’s The Wire: Idris Alba, Michael B. Jordan (at like 16), and so many “wait, wasn’t that guy in…” actors. It’s amazing. Between this and my favorite podcasts (“Crime in Sports” and “Small Town Murder”) I keep my ears and brain going when I create!!

GET THAT PATTERN TOGETHER:

So – I have all my bits and bobs together, Omar and Jimmy are working with the DA’s office to bring one of Stringer’s mopes down, and all is right with the world. I start by checking my print.

Every PDF pattern has a little box to check the scale of your print to make certain it printed in the proper size and scale. Usually it is a 1 inch by 1 inch box. If it is an international pattern, it can be a 4 cm by 4 cm box. My tip – DO NOT measure with a tape measure. They stretch. Use a ruler, it will be most accurate!

Though my fat finger (with a cute mani left over from my little bro’s wedding) is covering the 1, my box measured properly.

Don’t short yourself and skip this step, because you might actually short yourself, and a pattern off just 1/8th of inch can compound and be off up to a size, depending on how many pattern pieces there are!!

AND POOF! THE PATTERN IS ASSEMBLED:

And Spiro is meeting with “The Greek” down by the wharf. This season was so stressful!!

Here is the first goddesses of the eeedle tip, from the genius stitchers I have learned from over the years: have paper scissors and fabric scissors. Paper will dull the hell out of your fabric scissors. Those orange and grey suckers I bought on Amazon for 2 for $4.75 or something. Yeh, I’m cheap. Or frugal….. more points in scrabble.

Now by this point you should know what size you need. I’m a red hot mess when it comes to sizing and I will fully admit it. I’m flat chested, but I’m chubby (technical term). I recently lost around 30 lbs, which just made the divide between my chest and hips/midsection more awkward. The upside of this pattern is that THAT’s OK!!! You pick a cup size and a body size! How rad is that?!?!?! When I first measured myself, I was between an XL and a 2XL, with a B cup. But because I am in mid-weight loss adventure, I decided to re-measure myself, because I was on the border. Good thing I did.

LET’S GET CUTTING:

I cut out the XL pattern pieces. This pattern had the 5 curved pieces. And the straps were extra measured pieces.

I selected the halter option, so I cut 2 4 inch by 24.5 inch pieces of the swim knit.

                                

GIRTH – NOT THAT KIND….

Another AMAZING element of this pattern is the long torso adjustment. See, I lost the genetic lottery in the leg length department too. I’m 5 foot 5 with about a 26 inch inseam. The off the rack inseam for 5 foot 5 trousers for women is usually 32 inches……. But boy does my torso make up for it!!!! Yay!!

Now the term girth has different connotations, depending on where it comes from….. I’m keeping this PG rated……

For this pattern, girth measurement is around your torso, the long way. You start on your shoulder blade, go under your crotch, over your front, over your shoulder, and meet at your shoulder blade again…… It’s a window closer measurement if you’re doing it on your own. I’m sure I looked awesome doing it. Thank goodness my bunny can’t verbalize her judgy remarks.

My girth measurement was 5 inches longer than the girth chart for the XL (chart not shown). What that means, according to the pattern, is that I needed to add 2.5 inches of length at the “torso length adjustment” line on the front and back pieces.

This was the easiest pattern adjustment I had ever made….

I just took scrap paper from cutting out the pattern….

  

What…. You thought I wasn’t gonna show every step??!?

Check out those oh so straight cut lines….. yeh, I’m not a paper-cut-ologist….. kindergarten was a long time ago.

So, pattern is cut out in the right size, we have our long ass torso adjusted for, Spiro is being extra shady and dealing the Nick now instead of his uncle, but Jimmy and the gang are getting more wire taps, so we’re good to go!

FIRST YOU CUT THE PATTERN, THEN YOU CUT THE FABRIC:

Now, my pattern cut out methods may make some people cringe. I’m slightly old school. I don’t use pattern weights. I use clips and pins. Clips are even really new-fangled for me. My big tip – before you even start cutting – get all your bits and bobs together. It sounds silly, but it’s efficient. Make sure you have the right tools. I checked my items and realized that the black thread I thought I had, was a dark navy. If I had waited until after I cut, the shops would have been closed. I sound like a home ec teacher, but I speak from the experience of a sewer burned!!

The goddesses of the needle tip here – ballpoint needles!! Certain fabrics deserve special attention. Not all, but some. Like some dates deserve your fancy perfume and some get the Bath and Body works spray – This fabric gets your Electric Youth perfume! Don’t use the Sweet Pea on the swim knit….. Am I dating myself yet?

I tend to print out the instructions for patterns I will use again or for patterns that are more complicated. I knew this was going to be more complicated, so I printed them out to have at hand.

This pattern called for swim cups. Mine were a different shape than those shown in the diagrams, but swim cups all function the same.

Swim elastic – this was available at my local Joann Fabric. This is different than typical elastic in the way it looks. It looks different because of the underlying differences. Swim elastic is meant to stand up to chlorine, sun, salt, and sunscreen. Yep, sunscreen. It’s a b*tch on elastic. It protects your skin, but it can degrade elastic. Many lotions can.

This pattern required the body pieces cut on the fold. I could have saved fabric and rearranged, but I didn’t think about that til too late, and the East Side Boys were beating up up Ziggy and setting his car on fire….I was distracted…..

Another goddesses of the needle tip – use your iron!!! When a pattern tells you to press something – DO IT!!!!!!! It makes for a cleaner final product and it frequently makes future steps much easier! Also – make sure you put it on the correct heat setting. As this swim knit is a nylon spandex, I set my iron (filled with distilled water – goddesses of the needle tip) on synthetics. You don’t want to melt it!!

SEW THIS B*TCH UP:

Holy crap it’s finally time to sew……2100 words in. See – I told you I could be long winded! Now I frequently stitch without pinning. It is a horrible habit, but it’s a tough one to break. BUT I did it right with this one. Because I really didn’t want to eff it up!

And as I never do anything half way, much like Jimmy McNulty driving up to Jersey to get that poor Russian girl ID’d, I pinned the hell out of this!! And I sewed slow, watching my stitches carefully.

When sewing with knits, you don’t want to stretch when you stitch. If you do, it gets wonky. Occasionally, it is difficult not to, but you try to avoid it. The upside of swim knit – it’s a lot sturdier than cotton knit!! Meaning – it’s easier to sew without stretching. Even around curves! The tight curve of the tie was a bit tougher, but the bust curves were gravy!

Now the bodice of this suit has a notch for the tie to go through. The pattern calls for it to be hemmed. Hemming a tiny notch of swim knit is like trying to get Omar to turn over his shotgun and stop holding up the boys in the towers….ain’t gonna happen…..or is it?

The goddesses of the needle have a trick to hemming icky fabrics or excessive amounts of fabrics. I tried it on the swim knit and it worked like a charm. Stitch a line approximately ¼ inch from the edge of the fabric, fold over at that line twice, press at that line, pin the hell out of it, and stitch!

  

It creates a nice arched notch. It appears to stand out, but remember, there will be lining, a lower portion added, and several other elements added to this section.

TIME FOR THE CUPS: aka THE MY ROUGH PATCH:

My most used sewing tool is my seam ripper. Without a doubt. It is also my most lost sewing tool. Correlation? I have not a clue.

Why do I speak of such things here? Well….. see Nick was going freelance with Spiro and “The Greek”. Sh*t got wild….. Ok not really. I just got a little crooked.

But Nick did go freelance with Spiro. He should have just stuck with Frank. Seriously.

Back to the suit. The cups were pinned to the wrong side of the lining. Then stitched around the edges. Not too difficult. I laugh in the face of not too difficult.

The goddesses of the needle always taught me to check, double check, then check again before construction of complicated pieces. Now, I pinned the cups “in place”, or so I thought. Then I checked placement, then I stitched, then I checked placement.

I apparently moved them when I was stitching. It happens. THAT is why the seam ripper is such a handy tool….. I removed the guilty cup, re-pinned, re-stitched.

SYMMETRY ACHIEVED!! I attached the bodices to the body pieces at the bottom of both the lining and the outer fabric.

FITTING IS KEY, FITTING IN IS OPTIONAL:

The next step is VITAL!!!!! This is not only a goddesses of the needle tip, it a gospel! FITTINGS!!! If you don’t have your subject, and it is your first time making a fitted pattern, have their specific measurements. And I mean ALL of their measurements. And make a muslin of it. A muslin is a fully created item, in a cheaper version of the fabric, usually in a similar or identical fabric content. I fitted the top on me….It was a bit too narrow…..

See why fitting is so important? The nylon spandex of the outer material stretches about 75%. The lining stretches less than 15%. These cups are sewn into the lining, and are about 1 ½ inches too narrow. So what do I do? Scrap the whole thing like Col. Rawls wanted Lt. Daniels to do to the whole team trying to crack the docks case? Hell no! I’m just as crafty as those Baltimore PD detectives (I am trying to swear less at least!) I added a small triangular panel in the center bust.

I started with cutting a 2 ½ ish inch vertical slit in the center front.

I fit it up against my chest, to make sure this opened up enough for my lumberjack chest (just kidding, I’m built more like a linebacker than a lumberjack!).

It fit!

I stitched in a nice little triangle of lining fabric. It isn’t perfect. It’s almost perfect….. IT’S THE LINING!!!! Let us never speak of this again…..

But remember to FIT YOUR ITEMS!!! Or make a muslin, and then fit it. That way, you don’t ruin your pretties.

IT FITS!! The tiny adjustment made a huge difference. And it didn’t take very long. Ziggy only had time to screw up his life with a duck!!

Seriously. A duck. It had a rhinestone collar. He brought it to the bar. THAT was pretty wild.

Back to the swim suit!!

So we have a lining and an outer suit that fit appropriately across the chest. Now on to the decorative ruching!

WHEN I RUCHE, YOU RUCHE, WE RUCHE:

This suit has an optional ruched front body panel. The instructions were not exceptionally clear, so I added ruching to the back as well…. I wasn’t supposed to, but I didn’t realize that. What is ruching? Ruching is an old French technique of gathering fabric. Simple as that. It sounds scarier than it is. It is usually gathered on both sides, so the gathers appear down the middle, creating a three dimensional look, and emphasizing contours of the form. It also hides a bunch of sins!

The first step of any ruching is a gathering stitch! I opening up the length of the straight stitch on my machine and ran it about ½ an inch away from the edge of the fabric.

I then pinned the halter straps to the lining bodice, sandwiched them between the lining and outer layers, and stitched the upper edges together.

The next step is the gather the gathers on the gathering stitch. Got that? My best advice is to lay the piece on a flat surface. It took a bit to make the ruching even. You want it to be even across the piece. Now this suit has a lining. The lining is also ruched. If I make this again, I will omit the ruching on the back piece and omit the ruching of the lining. It added a bit too much bulk. It isn’t seen and I feel it is superfluous and a waste of lining fabric.

When your ruching is even, it must be stitched into place. I used clips to hold the gathers, and then ran a zig-zag stitch over the edges, approximately ¼ inch from the edge. Make certain the final, post gathered length of the side seams of the front and back pieces match up.

There are a LOT of clips, but nothing moved! After everything is gathered and stitched, I stitched the side seams. Just a zig-zag down the side will do.

FIT ME BABY, ONE MORE TIME:

Now that the majority of the structure is complete, it is a good time for another fitting!! The crotch is still open, but if the suit is too short, now is a GREAT time to figure that out (adding length to a crotch is EASY when it’s still open!!).

Well hot damn, that looks like a swim suit!! This is where I realized that the ruched lining is unnecessary. I could have taken it all apart, and shortened the lining, but it was about 2:45 am (as the hair and lack of make-up will show), and I was okay with a ruched lining at that time.

I was NOT playing a dead body in the morgue on The Wire, but I was almost done with Season 2, and I was almost done with the suit!!

SEW THE LEG, JOHNNIE!:

What? You thought I was done with lame, outdated, pop culture references? I’ve been referencing a show that went off the air in 2008. I could be worse; I could have been watching Buffy or Veronica Mars…..

I stitched up the crotch pieces, easy peasy… and now the most terrifying (or annoying) parts of sewing knits are bands. Necks, legs, arms…..they’re frustrating. These were surprisingly different.

And not in the “I swear I’m different now” way that an old boyfriend swears he is. These here leg bands went smoothly. They are a double fold over, but also double stitched. This is important, because swim suits that I have had in the past, the first place loose threads occur – the leg bands.

Now, what the hell do I mean by double fold, double stitched? Well it’s like this…. The elastic is stitched to the lining and outer fabric (a zig-zag), then folded over, and stitched again! Now, I clipped the elastic, gently stretching it as I went, and stitched slowly  tips from the goddesses of the needle that I follow every time I sew with elastic!!!!

Now, when you follow the rules of the goddesses of the needle, you end up with nice (not perfect, because my zig-zags are never perfect, which is why I never got promoted to goddess….) leg bands that look like they belong on an actual swim suit!!

TIE IT UP:

The last step is putting the tie on the bodice. Now, this is easy. Tie it up all pretty through the notch! Easy as pie, cute as a button!

And most important bit – ONE FINAL FITTING!! I know what you’re thinking, “enough with the fittings already” but what if the legs don’t fit?! What if one leg is tighter than the other? See? These are real life drama problems! I know Omar isn’t coming through the front door to rob drug dealers sitting on my couch (there are NO drug dealers sitting on my couch!!!), but if those leg holes are too big, that could be ugly!!

And it fit! All is well and good!

Overall, this was a lot of fun!! I started out thinking it was going to be like sewing a tent in a windstorm, but it was WAY easier!! And I didn’t end up with sand in my hair either!

                                            

                                                Some final overall pictures: