Swimsuit for Mama

Again, this post starts with a disclaimer: I was given some of these fabrics for free by Funki Fabrics in exchange for making something and blogging about it. The fabrics I used from the Fabric Store and the Fabric Fairy were purchased by yours truly.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I wore a bikini or anything other than a hardy old pair of chlorine resistant Speedos. Actually, it was probably about ten years ago, when I was still trying to impress the husband (before he was the husband). I also used to pretend I liked camping and watching rugby back then….bwahaha, entrapment!

In any case, now that I’m all about honesty….um, no that has nothing to do with it. I’m not actually sure why I suddenly decided I needed to make myself some swimmers. Perhaps it was FOMO because I completely restocked the swimwear department of the other Iles girls. Perhaps it was seeing Sophie’s awesome two-piece a little while back. Perhaps it was just that someone gave me free fabric and I thought it would be fun to challenge myself with something a little new. Who knows.

In the end, I made myself TWO pairs. The first pair was more of a muslin to test a design and use up some scraps. The neon fish are from Funki Fabrics and the gorgeous lemons are from the Fabric Store (some Anna and Boy spandex I picked up over a year ago in Sydney).

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The bottoms worked beautifully but the leg elastic could be a smidgen less tight. I modelled their design on a favourite pair of hipster undies I own. It’s remarkably simple to turn a pair of undies into high waist bathers. Just measure your circumference where the undies end and again where you want the high waist to end. Subtract 1.5″ off those measurements (because of negative ease) and draw a diagonal line between them. I added some clear elastic and a waistband to the top of mine. Note: If using clear elastic around the legs, you want it A LOT looser than undie elastic. About 2″ looser worked for me, or pretty much the same as the circumference of your leg. There are two reasons for this: a) clear elastic is firmer and less stretchy than  lingerie elastic and b) aesthetically, you don’t really want the elastic to be cutting deep into your curves.

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The top, for this first version, was a fail. I started with Kwik Sew 3153 and modified it into a top. The fit is too wide, unflattering, and offers no support. It might work better on a busty gal, but not so much on me. Those busy little neon fishies actually disguise a lot of the issues in the photos, but in real life, they are more apparent. I could see that the top was failing early on so I just wacked it together so I could experiment a little with construction, and to see if I would even like the look of a two piece.

My second effort was much better. It’s a one-piece from the front and a bikini from the back; the best of both worlds! Those of you on Instagram may have seen my red ponte muslin in this design. I tweaked the length and fit a bit, and muddled my way through much of the construction. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s fully lined, front and back (which is how I like my bathers). I feel quite secure in it and I like the way the busy floral and gathers in the bodice help to disguise the fact that there’s not much going on under there. I’m not keen on padding in my bathers.  The construction is not quite perfect, but I think if I can find a way to remove the centre front seam, it might help.

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The pretty floral in the bodice is from Funki Fabrics. I was originally going to use some Funki Fabrics stripes for the contrast too, but I changed my mind in the eleventh hour. And that’s how I discovered The Fabric Fairy. Their seriously amazing blue swimsuit fabric and the my-colour nude lining  came from them. I thought it would be interesting to order some swimsuit lycra off somebody else new-to-me to make a more objective comparison of the different swimsuit fabrics available online.

So I stand by my original observations in my last post on Funki Fabrics. For a great choice on prints, their selection is unparalleled. They also have pretty quick postage, which can sometimes be a deal changer for me. But for solids in swimsuit fabric, I am SO impressed with what the The Fabric Fairy has to offer. The Bermuda blue swimsuit fabric I purchased from them is insanely smooth and it has the most beautiful robust feel to it. It’s also slightly thicker, with fantastic stretch and recovery. It’s probably the most luxurious swimsuit fabric I’ve ever worked with. I suspect I’ll be checking out their other knits and stretch fabrics in the future now.

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A playsuit for Miss Five

Miss Five has had her heart set on a cheetah print playsuit for a while now. She fell in love with a silk swatch I ordered a while back and I convinced her that it would suit a little playsuit. The idea of her in cheetah print kind of appeals to me. But because I was drafting this pattern myself, I thought I’d test it out with scraps first.


The bodice is made using some beautiful Art Gallery scraps from my Carolyn Pyjamas and wrap pants. I had such a small amount of this left that both the front and back bodice pieces have centre seams. It’s not ideal, but you can hardly notice with the busy print.

 

 
 
 

The pants are refashioned from my long yellow kimono jacket. When cutting the pattern pieces, I positioned them along the side seams to preserve the pockets for the playsuit pants. The kimono rayon is heavy and drapey, but those pants would work just as well in another type of knit or even a woven fabric.


Gaucho pants and culottes are so hot right now and I love being able to translate this trend into some cool kiddie clothes. Miss Five fell instantly in love with this little playsuit and I can see her getting loads of wear out of it in summer. It’s comfortable, cute, and most importantly, she can get it on and off without too much bother.

The yellow drop waist refashioned

You’ve seen a slightly different version of this dress before. I wasn’t happy with it and although I meant to walk away, I simply couldn’t stay away for long. There was too much about the original version that I did like. It had potential. Unrealised potential.

 So what did I do to improve on the original? I cut away the skirt, raised the bodice a little, changed the front bodice shape, and redrafted the skirt completely. I think I’ve come away with a much better dress. And have I said before how much I like yellow right now? Could it be that some of those yellow pineapples I keep seeing in blogland are finally rubbing off on me?



 
 


Sunflowers and ruffles for Fall

I’m going to put my hand up and say that this dress was not intended for my smallest peep. Not in the beginning anyway. I knew I was treading a fine line to make the pattern (and small fabric remnants) fit Miss Four, but she was the one with her eye on the sunflowers and I was determined to give it a go, not just for her but for the sake of Oonapalooza.

The good news is, the dress does fit Miss Four, but it’s a very tight squeeze, and most definitely, it will not fit her come Fall when the weather will be more suitable for wearing neoprene and polyester. We decided to wrap it up for Miss Two’s birthday in November. Miss Four was more than happy to pose for photos and give it a trial swish. She wanted to keep it for herself but was (surprisingly) able to see reason when she realised she couldn’t bend over to do up her shoes.

 

 


As usual, when I’m sewing something for myself, there is at least one (if not three) little requests that get put to the seamstress. Miss Two usually just wants the same as me. The bigger girls are a lot more specific with their requests. Miss Four seems to think that I have the power to change the colours and shapes of prints on fabric. But for a change, she was quite enamoured with the sunflowers exactly as they were. It’s a shame it doesn’t fit her because it really is her kind of dress. There’s always next time.

The dress pattern itself is self drafted. I’ve made it before here and another time before this. I should have tweaked the bodice lines a little before I sewed this one. I keep forgetting that I bound the armscye in the original version, instead of fully lining it as I did with this one. I just need to add a little extra to the seam allowances in the armscye. And I really need to start taking better notes when I sew things!