Well folks, somehow, I managed to pull this off. We had a fabulous vacation with our families in different parts of Missouri and I had a swimsuit to wear! I was really, really pleased with the end result but more than a little defeated by the process. The months leading up to the vacation were filled with frustration and tears and a constant, panic grab at every single free minute I could create, which means I let my kids watch way too much tv (much like I’m doing now to post this entry).
But, let’s get so some details!
I was exceedingly lucky that Victory Patterns released her patterns in printed form just in time for me to make Satsuki for a swimsuit cover up. The pattern was very easy to whip up. I added some decorative stitching along the neckline to help keep the facing in place along with some topstitching along the sleeves. I decided to make the front and back a v-neck so it would be easy to slip on and off even in a wet suit. I also shortened it quite a bit. The pattern can be cut for a blouse or a dress and this length pretty close to the blouse rather than the dress.
I will try this pattern in its true dress form eventually but I am a bit concerned about the volume on top. The deep v and the belt would all work well for my shape, but the blousie top and pretty sleeves might be too much.
So, now the suit.
I made this basic princess-seam suit from the Kwik Sew Swimwear book in 2012:
It was easy to put together but without lining or any support at all, it was hardly flattering. But it gave me the exaggerated confidence, “hey, I can made a suit.” I picked the print because I thought it was a bit rock’n roll. Ends up it was actually more Hot Wheels because Jonah took one look (he is often my photographer during the day) and said, “I want one just like that, Mommy.”
A year later I had some fantastic suit fabric from Mood (Jonah liked it just as well, btw) and three bras under my belt. I couldn’t find a pattern out there that included an underwire bra or in a style that I really liked so I decided to design my own. It couldn’t be that hard, right?
So I put together this inspiration board and started putting together a tankini with some fun retro like details along the top. Looks good, right?
I was really proud of the piping I made and put along the tummy area for a slimming effect:
The bra came together quickly, too. This was going to be awesome!
But putting the blocks together on LouLou and making it work on my body, with the bra, were two totally different things. I made the sides way too wide, as was the bridge. While it was too wide it was also too short to meet the top of the cups. I had no back or bottoms. I was stalled here:
One night, tired and frustrated, standing in front of the mirror trying to make this stupid thing fit and work, I stuck myself with a pin for the millionth time and pretty much dissolved into tearful sobs. It was devastating. Why do I set myself up for so much failure? Every step required such incredible problem-solving and despite careful planing and measuring, nothing was right the first time.
Called it quits.
* * *
Remember Jonah wanting a suit out of Hot Wheel fabric? That seemed like an easy project to help my sewing mojo, right? Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible for me to accept anything as easy. I have to add a level of difficulty into everything. Thankfully, my results were much better this time.
I used Kwik Sew Sewing for Toddlers for the basics but added lining by copying the basic shapes from their undies. I also used black spandex for some color blocking along the sides to break up the print a little.
Only I could tell front from back so I decided I needed to add some tags. Jonah wanted his tag in the front which was funny because then he habitually put them on backwards. His tag had an “F” and Maxwell Wesley’s had a “B.”
I wanted to protect their skin with SPF shirts, but wasn’t up to finding that type of material and making them (miracle of miracles, right?). So I bought SPF shirts and made patches to pull the two pieces together. Of course by now they’ve been in the Lake of the Ozarks for three days and several pools and through a couple different ice cream stands so they’re a mess. Here are some shots of the shirts in action:
But I still needed a suit! So, after some cleansing sewing for my boys, I started all over again with a new suit for me. I used some basic pattern pieces from my Kwik Sew book and took aim and something like this:
I got to here before things started falling apart again:
My proportions where all off and the look was just not flattering at all. The waist caught me at the wrong place, the shape of the top was too big and unflattering, as well. I also still had no idea how to put the bra in that made it all work together. It didn’t help that about this time everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE started making Closet Case File’s Bombshell Bathing Suit. Then there was this great tutorial on putting a bra into your suit, posted here, by a professional bra maker. But I was out of time and out of fabric so I had to make what I had work.
In an act of desperation, I cut the top off at the point where it spread too wide and starting building up from there. I build a bridge to pull the two pieces together and tried several different shapes in the black spandex. Eventually, two days ahead of our trip, I finished:
No one can argue that the top doesn’t look tortured. I did achieve the general heart-shape that I wanted but tortured, none-the-less. The suit worked though. I felt covered and supported and I still love the print. Here’s a look inside:
The straps are incorporated into the straps of the suit and the back so the bra, the suit and me all stay in place. If it weren’t for that front piece, I would be over the moon for this suit.
Of course the lesson learned here is that I need to use patterns. I have the frustrating habit of picturing what I want in my head and then searching for that exact pattern. Guess what? It seldom exists. So I go rouge and try to make it without a pattern. There is a maxi dress on LouLou right now that I did the exact same thing with. I have to go back and problem solve the neckline and the fit under the arms. The print is busy so it is hard to tell but surprise, surprise: it looks tortured. *sigh* So for all future sewing, I promise to use a pattern. Hopefully, this will lead to fewer tears and more successful projects.