Monday, 1 July 2013

'Tis the season for a swimsuit: Kwik Sew 3785

It seems like everyone is making a swimsuit at the moment in the blogosphere. Katie has just wrapped up her SwimAlong 2013 series on swimsuit sewing, and ladies are making the Bombshell swimsuit pattern by Closet Case Files left, right and centre.  We're having some pretty wild and woolly weather here in Sydney at the moment - rainy, windy and pretty cold (all relative of course - it's not snowing or anything!). Apparently we've just had the rainiest June in six years. Not exactly the right time of year to be swimsuit sewing I know. But being the tiger mum that I am (ha ha!) I make my kids do swimming lessons all year round, even though the lesson is early on a Sunday morning and the swimming pools isn't very warm despite being heated. I think knowing how to swim is an essential life skill, especially in Australia where we have such close proximity to so many waterways and plus the swim school we go to is so popular that if you give up your space you're unlikely to get back in on your day of choice. Because Toby is in the baby class he needs a parent in the water with him, so I sit on the sidelines, usually with a coffee in hand chatting to a friend whilst our husbands and kids get in the water and do their thing.

Unfortunately though the pool is so heavily chlorinated it just ruins the swimsuits very quickly. And buying swimsuits for Anna is very difficult because she has a long body but is so skinny, so the suits that fit width ways aren't long enough, and even the tankinis for her size aren't long enough for my liking.  Plus the swimsuits are expensive - the last pair of Speedo brand swimmers I bought her were $41! So what's a sewing mum to do? Sew some of course....

kwik-sew-3785-girls-swimsuit

I bought two pieces of swimsuit lycra from the Remnant Warehouse from their remnant bin for the grand price of $10/m, of which I'll probably get two or three swimsuits out of a metre so it's good value. Actually this is the first fabric I've bought for ages since I've pretty much been sewing the stash all year, but despite the enormity of my stash I didn't have any swimsuit fabric so I'm still being pretty well behaved when it comes to sewing the stash.

kwik-sew-3785-girls-swimsuit

I used Kwik Sew 3785, which is a fairly simple racer back pattern. Sewing swimsuits isn't difficult, but it is hard I think to get a professional look. Sewing on the elastic is fiddly and I think mine looks very handmade even though I twinstitched on the outside, but it's good enough for a pair of swimmers for a little girl that will probably grow out of them in no time or the chlorine will destroy them soon enough. Anna is happy enough with them and they haven't fallen apart after two wears so I guess they are a success.

kwik-sew-3785-girls-swimsuit

kwik-sew-3785-girls-swimsuit

I didn't do a very good job matching the stripes at all did I? I have no tips to offer on swimsuit sewing since I need to practice and improve greatly, this being my second swimsuit I've sewn (the first one being this maternity one I made for myself last year).  I can advise however that the right needle makes all the difference. And you can only tell what the right needle is by doing some sample stitching. I tried topstitching using a stretch twin needle that I purchased especially for this project, but the stitches were skipping a lot. But then I tried just a plain universal twin needle and it worked fine! I also used some clear plastic elastic because I had a lot of it on hand, but I've since discovered that using normal 3/8" wide elastic is better - hopefully my next swimsuit will be better.

kwik-sew-3785-girls-swimsuit

But if you want to sew your own swimsuit, possibly the bombshell swimsuit pattern that everyone is raving about at the moment, here are some useful links and tutorials I found that might help you:

SwimAlong 2013 round up of resources
Creative Chicks roundup of all their tips
Zaaberry's swimsuit tutorial with free downloadable pattern
Pattern Review swimsuit sewing boards
Member's tips on sewing swimsuits on Pattern Review Youtube video by Brian Sews on how to attach perfect swimsuit elastic
Pattern School gives great advice on pattern making as well as some tips on sewing with stretch knits
Tutorial by The Strawberry Milk Run on how to make spaghetti straps from swimsuit material
Kitschy Coo tutorial for sewing a swimsuit with a band finish around the leg openings

And thank you to all who commented on the last post - you all have convinced me to keep the white dress in my wardrobe and not refashion it, although I think I will take it up a bit as suggested by Kim. I've been decluttering the house so much this year that I'm in the mindset of getting rid of things that aren't being used, but now I realise that I should hang on to things that are lovely even if they only get worn infrequently. I have so many dresses what's one more in the wardrobe?

16 comments:

  1. Can't imagine sewing a swim suit, love the colors though very cute. Swimming in cold in winter...yikes. I wish I could really swim, but not sure I consider it a life necessity. I do think it's good kids not have a fear of water and learn...young. Many pools here use something else now instead of chlorine which might not be as hard on skin, hair and suits. Don't know what's it's called though.

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  2. If you apply the clear elastic to the wrong side of the openings with your serger, and then roll it to the inside and top stitch with your twin needle, I think you'll get closer to the finish you're looking for. :-) This is how I make leotards and bathing suits.

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  3. Very nice! I started sewing swim & leotards for the same reason-RTW is so expensive! I hope you'll come by my blog and add your suit to the link party.

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  4. Phew. So glad you're going to keep the special dress.

    Angie is right. I do the same technique.
    For swimwear, at the leg, I make sure the back cups my bot by pulling the elastic to shape around me and the front of the leg elastic isn't pulled too much.

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  5. Yep. I'm with velosewer regarding your cream dress. How could you throw that away? I know maybe you don't wear it often but it looks so good on you - colouring and fit is just perfect. Weddings, christenings, funerals (hope I don't jinx you here), fancy work do's, all that stuff where you need something a bit more formal than what you normally wear. The swimmers look great. Not at all handmade. If you are worried about the finish, maybe it's because of the stripes. Hard to finish stripes because no matter what colour thread you pick it finishes up being really obvious on some bits. Maybe try another colour next time you do this fabric - one of the middle range colours rather than the darkest? Not that I think it looks bad you understand. Just a thought.

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  6. Love the cossie (but is it really the season down under???? Brrrr). Anna looks so cute. Glad you are keeping the dress.

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  7. In years to come both Anna and Toby will be grateful for their swimming skills. Just keep making the suits rather than worrying about the matching stripes at her age, just don't alert her to that aspect. That fabric has such a wide pattern repeat that you might waste too much. And oh to look so good in a s/suit, even the pregnant you!

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  8. I think it looks great. I made Alex two pairs of togs - a boy leg and a budgie smugger type. He loved them both and the first one (budgie smuggler) was not very good but you get better. Thanks for all the links too. Also glad to see you are keeping the white dress - it really fits perfectly!

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  9. Looks great! It's amazing though, I made the same suit a month ago for my little girl, also in a colorful striped print! I used old Kwik Sew 2605 from 15 or so years ago, from when I sewed a bathing suit for my niece back in a high school sewing class. But I am sure they just reprinted the pattern and gave it a new number, as it is exactly the same shape, with seam up the back too, just like the newer pattern you used. Anyways, yours looks great, and got the job done, inexpensively! Shauna (from across the world)

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  10. It is cold right now so I've got my daughter in a long sleeved t-shirt style swim top. I'm still learning to sew knits so there is no way I'd try bathers. Anna looks great in hers.You can't tell that it's mumma made.

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  11. Cute swimsuit and it is a perfect fit for Anna, is there hot chips after swimming (that was Mum's bribe for us).

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  12. Looks pretty cute to me :) I bought my last lot of bathers for $3 each at Coles!! Can't beat that. They were clearing them out so I stocked up.

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  13. I tried that stupid clear elastic when making my own suit and I also didn't like it. The more regular looking swim suit elastic was much easier to use and made the sewing experience MUCH more enjoyable. Plus the clear elastic doesn't survive unpicking (there was a LOT of that going on in the process).

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  14. Love the swim suit! I haven't made any togs from scratch before (too wary of wavy seams) but I have altered them before.

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  15. I'm so glad you're not refashioning the cream dress. I don't think it needs to be shortened at all, I think it's perfect as is. :)
    Great job on the swimsuit!

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