Its here! My classy -comfy swimsuit of the year! Freshly sewn, and my 10 year old has reluctantly done a photo shoot for me…
…And me…not pregnant for a second! I’ve been dreaming this suit up for years.
Swim clothes. Not to replace your lap swimming needs…just a fun alternative to cut off jean shorts and tees or board shorts and shirts for worry free, casual fun swimming and water play. (Personally, I would remove just the skirt in swimming for exercise, and would be able to swim comfortably.)
…For those of us who want to have all the fun! What stops us from making water memories? Is it the vulnerability that tugs, flips, stretches, or a few more pounds, scars or stretch marks than we want that may frighten us away from fun in the sun with our friends and family?
Or maybe some of us feel we are really hot ladies, and we deserve to shine! I believe modesty is shading some of our glorious glory for the benefit of ourselves and others. Though our beauty blesses others, we send the message we are more than just our outer shell, when we choose to dress modestly. I feel like such a lady when I’m feminine and covered, not in a bag, but in something flattering but discreet…plus I have my share of things I like to hide, a bit!
Sewing opens the world of possibilities….and swimming with spandex is not nearly as hard as we fear it to be….just heed a few tips and you’ve got it!!!
So bring on the wind, the waves, the sun, the kids–forget the pounds that won’t budge, and come have some fun!
Don’t sew, or no time? With just a desire, (the Lord) will float into your life the creativity and pieces you need for your covered needs, without any sewing, or maybe just a little modification needs! I’ve even employed a tailor to help me make those modifications, when I wasn’t confident of my abilities.
Do sew, but don’t think you can? Well, you really can! I’ve had the dream to sew atleast one duplicate of my swim wear of the year and sell it on Etsy, but since I’ve not ever got that far, then I can atleast blog my little adventure and inspire those seamstresses out there, it really is so much fun!
So bend, reach, move, tube down a river, dive in a creek, and have fun with those friends, spouses, children, or even grand children, without feeling self conscious. Yes its true, at first I felt self conscious for looking different, but very quickly I felt less self conscious over all, for having more on buys self assured-ness. And pretty soon, I didn’t feel self conscious at all, but just great…happy, comfortable, and pretty too!
Spandex Sewing Tips
Here are my nutshell tips which I got from Creative Chicks and Olivia’s Swimsuit Ebook: I think a little research here will really set you up for all your spandex sewing needs. If you want a suit similar to mine, Olivia’s ebook is a must have, I refer to it each year before sewing a new suit!
Needles: Stretch or ball point
Stitch: Always do one row of baste first, you won’t regret it. Then if you are sure its good, go over it with the straight stitch next to the 9/10 on my machine which goes backwards every few stitches. This will make a stitch that won’t pop. Creative chicks also has suggestions for pretty stitching if you don’t have a surger. I’ve had really nice success with her suggestions.
Edges: Bottom of skirts look better just cut, make sure to cut sharp. Sleeve edges look well with a normal hem, fold it 1/4, baste it down, and then 1/4-1/2 again and do 2 lines of sewing with the afore mentioned stitch that goes backward and forward, or follow Renee’s suggestion with a wavy line. If doing a double line, make sure to follow the foot or markers precisely.
Rule of thumb: Don’t stretch too much while sewing, but a little stretching when you need to match a seam is what makes this fabric easier at times. Sewing a detailed spot, really get your hands in there to hold the fabric, but it will slip a little. Olivia says don’t sweat perfection…often picking out will ruin your fabric anyway especially if you didn’t baste first. Its true, often for your sanity and the cuteness of the garment, let well enough be.
Fabric: Olivia suggests Spandex House. So much variety! My two cents is, for more covering swim wear, you want two contrasting fabrics. A wall of the same fabric is a little frumpy to my mind.
Under Support: A sports bra with a nursing pad in it can work, you can purchase swim bras, and Olivia’s Ebook mentioned before is awesome for figuring out your support system, and sewing it too!
Instructions for a sweet heart neck top:
1-Start with an inspiration or two, to make your dreamy suit come true.
2- Combine a few pattern yes’s to create your new pattern. If combining patterns, make sure that your shoulder seams will match up front piece to back piece on your top.
(I used the ‘shirt of inspiration’ shown above, to make the neck line, but skiffed it up just a titch as to have absolutely no bending down problems, and used the shoulder, arm hole seams from a t-shirt pattern, and the bottom piece comes from my previous raglan sleeved swim pattern. To make sure my shoulder seams matched up, I made sure the back pattern used the same t-shirt pattern at the shoulder/armhole seams.)
3- If you have combined pattern pieces, for your own sanity, draw a new pattern piece. Treat yourself to medical exam paper. You won’t regret having a roll!
(Any medical supply store will have it)
(My son erased the better picture of my newly made pattern pieces, both front and back).
(If you are putting rusching on your suit, cut it a lot lot longer. Mine will be just long enough to go to my hip line but on the sides it will be shorter, too short to not show my midriff when lifting arms, but I have a one piece I am wearing underneath for bra support, so if you want one that is long enough to wear just a bra with, and still reach up very high with your arms, but not show your midriff, put 7 inches off of what you see mine to look like.)
4- Get cutting and sewing! Always baste first before you do a wickedly hard line of sewing that is impossible to pick!
Here’s my cut out front piece:
I cut out a tiny facing for the neckline that matched the sweet heart shape, its about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Here that facing is, cut out of the swim fabric, and pinned on, right sides together.
You can see me sewing this seam, it was tricky because it was slipping so I kept my fingers close holding it together best I could. It still slipped a bit off but I tried to compensate for the slipping by still sewing the correct sweet heart shape. Fudging a bit you know.
Here that is, remember I basted it first incase it turned out terrible.
Here it is, sewn again with the afore mentioned backward forward straight stitch.
Clipped the seams at the points and trimmed to tiny, like 1/8 inch.
Turn this facing to the back side, iron seam gently with a synthetic material setting, and top stitch 1/4 inch from edge carefully with your top stitch of choice. Woops I didn’t top stitch. But it would have made the next step easier.
Cut four pieces that are longer by about 2 inches than each side. Cut widely enough to be about about 1 1/2 wide when folded in half. They will be layered one by one on the sides of the sweet heart neck. (My son deleted the picture of the four little strips).
Here is the first piece that will slide into place half way under the sweet heart neck. This is a close up of one of the sides of the sweet heart neck.
And here I am sewing it on:
Stop before you get about an inch to the next corner.
I actually went too far and the new piece wouldn’t slide in, so I had to back up and pick out. This is no big deal because I first baste!!
If you look reeeeeally carefully, you can see I’ve stopped about an inch from the first sweet heart corner to tuck and pin in the next piece.
All four sides are now sewn on:
I’ve done two rows of finishing stitches across this front piece.
Turn it over, and trim the facing up a bit:
Now, measure your back neck hole.
Mine measured 9 inches so I cut 10 long, for good measure, along the bias.
I cut mine 4 inches wide, also for good measure.
Fold it in half and pin it on, baste it, and sew it securely.
Just trim off the extra funny length, you see on the right side.
Trim the seam and clip if you would like, I forgot to clip and should have.
Iron it up like a collar.
Now fold it over to the back side and pin it down. I folded and sewed at the same time, which I think would have been better if I pinned. Pinning does save time in the end!
Again, all the better if you’ve basted it first.
Sew a finishing stitch over the right side. Since mine looks a little lop sided, I put in another row of stitching, that didn’t really help. Again, I think I should have pinned instead of folding the binding to the back as I sewed along.
Here’s what it looks like on the back:
It being 4 inches wide gave me flexibility for it to not have to be re-sewn because if your strip is more narrow, it wont catch as well on the back side, and you’d have to pick it out.
Sew the shoulder seams. Baste that first, just to make sure you lined up the neck line in front and back well. That seam matters that its right together.
I sew my sleeves like this. A flat thing is much easier than sewing the sides up first. Besides we are going to put rusching in on the sides.
My arms are now inserted, and you can see I also put in the hem. I think its easier to hem them first.
I folded up 1/4-1/2, and basted it up, then folded it again and neatly did my backwards forwards stitch to neatly sew to rows. Not stretching it as I sewed, or this will make it wavy.
That is my arm hole hem.
With the side seams of your shirt still open, its time to put elastic on them. Keep your elastic long, cut it once its on.
Tack it on up by the arm pit.
Now I’m showing how you stretch the tar out of the elastic while zigzagging down the side edge.
Put the elastic on all four sides, baste the sides up, then securely sew, and do the hem just like you did on the arms.
This suit I found at the thrift store. It will be my support system underneath.
My under support suit has princess seams down the bosom. I picked out the seam for nursing, and cut a hole in the lining.
I will post a few hints on how to make the bottom in part 2.
Sew…for the seamstresses out there who have a little swimmy dream, like me, go ahead and make your dream come true, whatever that may be, that you can swim pretty and sure!