I bought a two-piece swimsuit a couple of years ago, a pretty red bikini in my proper cup size from Ballet, which really only served to underline the fact that I’m more of a one-piece swimsuit person. I really am not comfortable with two-pieces, and I wanted a vintage-looking swimsuit with full rear coverage and low legs without the hassle of trying to fit my size 34 F/G bust into an actual vintage swimsuit, because come on, let’s be realistic.
So. It was clearly time to make one. I made an aborted attempt to build a very structured, fitted suit last year, in a heavy black satin with only 20% stretch or something along those lines, and quickly realized that I don’t actually want a swimsuit that I need to be hooked and zipped into. This year I went with regular old lycra swimsuit fabric instead, and since I’m lucky enough to live in a city where there’s a specialised shop for lingerie, dancewear and swimwear fabrics and notions, I got to choose between about a hundred different colours. (“And you chose the snot green? Really?”) I like green, I like chartreuse, I liked the chartreuse better than the available dark greens, and I didn’t want tropical colours or the usual suspects black, blue or red.
Cup drafting is intimidating and I’m not very happy with any of my current cup drafts, so the bust pattern is based on Mrs Depew’s 50’s French pinup bra and adapted a bit. The cups are cut from two layers of the same swimsuit fabric fused together, which does give it a lot of extra stability, and I made reinforced shoulder straps that start from the side of the cups, cross in the back and button to the top of the cups, which keeps everything neatly in place and provides a bit of support.
For the rest of the suit I looked at an old favourite swimsuit of mine, which is sadly worn to the point where it’s coming apart, and drafted the thing with side seams only, a hint of legs and a fairly wide crotch piece. Most swimsuit bottoms and underpants fit my large behind very badly and ride up, this cut seems to do the trick; it does give the full rear coverage that I want, and then some depending on how low on the hips and thighs you make the bottom edge, it’s comfy, it doesn’t have one of those nasty center front seams, and it stays firmly in place. I love it.
The finish of the suit is not what I’d call pretty. I dislike working with knit fabrics – because I’m not good at it, frankly – and I was in a hurry. Call it a test run that turned out wearable, but not perfect. I do like the black plastic anchor buttons, and the bust got some fairly sloppy black satin piping which helps the look, too. But the important thing is that it’s actually a comfortable, serviceable and fairly well-fitting swimsuit that I don’t have to zip myself into.