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....
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.
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.
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.
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?