Modern Patterns | Swimwear / Sunwear

A Bombshell Swimsuit… in January

By on January 11, 2014

So, I finally finished my bombshell swimsuit, just in time for the middle of winter! I know, the timing seems ridiculous, but I actually wear a bathing suit way more in the winter than in the summer, since we have a hot tub and I really don’t care much for swimming. It was my first time sewing a bathing suit and although it’s far from perfect, I absolutely love it!

I made View A in this adorable watermelon-print fabric from The Fabric Fairy, which I ordered online (the irony is that I don’t actually like eating watermelon…). I won’t say much about the pattern because it’s all been said already! It’s fantastic – so flattering and retro-looking.

That being said, I did have some problems with the fit, but they were my fault rather than the pattern’s. I managed to improvise a “quick fix” that probably ended up taking more time than ripping it out and starting over, but the fit is good now. The inside is a bit of a mess, which would usually bug me, but not this time because, um, I MADE A SWIMSUIT.

For more photos and construction details, see my blog post. Thanks for reading!

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1920s | Swimwear / Sunwear

1920s Swimsuit

By on November 9, 2013

I made myself a vintage 1920s swimsuit using Vintage Fashion Library 145, which is a reproduction of Simplicity 7041:

Simplicity 7041
Simplicity 7041 via the Vintage Patterns Wiki

I made the one-piece with scoop back, using some lightly textured, black swimwear fabric and matching white fabric for a contrast belt. The repro is a B38, so I needed to grade it down to fit me. I didn’t alter the length of the shorts, only the belt and straps. I added white topstitching along the top and bottom edges of the bodice, with contrasting black topstitching on the white belt.

My wife took some photos of me in the suit at Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion in Toronto’s west end. Worn with a coverup, it’s almost indistinguishable from a playsuit:

I was able to cheat and sew the 1″ buttons directly through the straps:

And yes, you can swim in it! I’m considering making the low-backed view in a lighter swimwear fabric for next summer… I’ve posted more details at my blog, PatternVault.

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1940s | Swimwear / Sunwear

Ginger Swimsuit

By on August 13, 2013

I feel like I’ve been working on this swimsuit all summer and I’m so glad I’m finally done. (And a little sad I don’t have more time to wear it this season!)

I wanted a retro bikini and I found that in Ohhh Lulu’s Ginger Bodysuit. I didn’t change anything to the pattern, and while there are a few modifications I was too lazy to make, it turned out incredible and I love it.

I attempted to match the stripes and for the most part they’re great. There are a few bits where it just couldn’t happen and I needed to recut to make them match, but that wasn’t going to happen.

And of course, I couldn’t resist once I had my retro bikini, and I just had to do the victory rolls in my hair. I felt so glamorous. I’m pretty sure this is the only proper way to wear this swimsuit out in public.

Victory rolls + red lipstick + homemade swimsuit = instant elegance (at least in your head!)

Blogged here.

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Pattern Drafting | Swimwear / Sunwear | Vintage Sewing

Another swimsuit.

By on July 29, 2013
Swimsuit
It's not Saint Tropez, but I like it.

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.

Swimsuit detail
Full cups and minimal cleavage, which is how I like it. You might get an idea of the stability the fused double layers of swimsuit fabric add.

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.

 

Swimsuit, back
And the back.

 

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1940s | Swimwear / Sunwear | Vintage Sewing

1940s Style Swimsuit

By on August 7, 2012

So excited to post this! I was really inspired by pictures of swimsuits from the 40s and especially loved the two-piece ones with the halter tops and little skirts.

 Before I started work on this swimsuit I was terrified of sewing with stretch fabrics and even more intimidated by making an actual swimsuit but it all turned out well and I couldn’t be more pleased!

I didn’t use a pattern; just sort of winged it. Olivia’s swimsuit eBook was a big help with the basics of swimsuit sewing. The halter top is all rectangles and was built simply over one of my old bras. The skirt is a half-circle that I drafted and the undies were traced from a pair of my grandma’s swim shorts from the late 1950s.

The spandex came from Spandex World. I love the print and think it looks really vintage but I wasn’t pleased with their customer service.  I just couldn’t resist this fabric, though. I love the combination of vintage style and modern convenience/comfort.

More on my blog.

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1950s

50’s style ruched swimsuit

By on July 23, 2012

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying your summers. I have long subscribed to the idea that a 50’s style swimsuit (one piece, low cut bottom) is the most flattering swimsuit ever created. I set out to recreate a$500 retro Norma Kamali suit using a vintage 80’s pattern and  A LOT of pattern modification.

I used the wrong or matte side of a shimmery emerald tricot, lined the entire thing and encased all the edges in elastic. This was my first foray into swimwear and posed a heap of technical problems but I learned a lot! Not a perfect suit by any means but a great workable muslin to refine my techniques and pattern for the next version. Anyone interested in my process or wanting to see more photos can visit my blog here.

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