It has taken me a long time to get around to making this one. The swimsuit fabric emerged out of the stash no less than three times in the last year in readiness for this project and then somehow I chickened out at the last minute and made something else.
Swimsuit makes are regarded as a zenith in terms of home sewing and I was a little intimidated by the whole idea of this project. Had I bought the right materials? Could I get a good fit? Was my choice of pattern too ambitious? I was inspired and brought to my senses by two bloggers – Elaine at The Demented Fairy and Charlotte at English Girl at Home, who both made new swimsuits this year. I knew I just had to get on with it!
I looked at the offerings from various indie companies and from the Big 4, but I didn’t find a swimming costume that really spoke to me. I appreciate that there is a market for conservative swimsuits, but I seem always drawn to costumes that are a little more daring. Perhaps it’s because much of my beach time has been spent in Italy, where beachwear fashions always trump moderation. That said, I needed a design that was not going to suddenly part company with my body with embarrassing consequences; it had to work for swimming, and keeping up with Master Steely on the beach.
My June 2018 copy of La Mia Boutique, and Italian magazine, offered a few different swimsuit options and I opted for this one. Quite practical, and should stay on well. The only question mark was the degree of derriere on show on the model. So I tweaked my pattern to include a little more coverage in that department.
The Fabric, lining and elastic
The fabric was picked up from Fabric Land and was labelled as “swim lycra”. It’s thicker than the dance wear fabrics that were on offer. Last year, Fabric Land stocked a few specifically labelled “swim lycras”, but they didn’t come back in this year, and I wished I’d picked up more when they’d been around. The lining and swim elastic came from Fit 2 Sew. I opted for the beige-coloured swim lining.
I decided to fully line the swimsuit. The swim lycra was relatively opaque, but I thought that lining throughout would produce a good finish.
The instructions in La Mia Boutique aren’t much better than your average Burda magazine and were somewhat confusing. They are in Italian, but even with my knowledge of the language there was some guesswork involved. Who knew that the Italian word “cavallo” could mean so many things; horse (obviously), knight (in a game of chess) but also crotch, astride, across etc? Anyway, I did decide to sew all my seams with the lingerie-style “fold-over and top-stitch” method apart from the side seams. I used green polyester tread for the needle, and woolly nylon for the bobbin thread. The side seam was sewn using the overlocker threaded with woolly nylon. I was amazed when I finally managed to thread the overlocker with the help of a needle threader – it took ages!
I did have some problems with skipped stitches on my sewing machine, but overcame those by sewing through tissue paper. I did hear belatedly that there are “super-stretch” machine needles. Are these what I need? Would like eliminate the skipped stitches?
Anyway, I suppose you’re ready now for the dreaded pictures, as I show off my granny knees and the disgraceful state of my garden….. It’s also cold!
I’m afraid that I was in such a rush to get these photos over and done with that I forgot to securely tie the neck-tie on the swimsuit. It has resulted in some “side-boob” going on that you may see. Normally, the front is pulled up a bit more than this so this doesn’t happen. I noticed this as I came back in the house and wasn’t going out there for a repeat. No way!
I have road-tested the swimsuit at the swimming pool, whilst scuba diving and it was comfortable and stayed in place well. Actually, I didn’t even notice it at all, but then I was concentrating hard on my buoyancy (or lack of it) at the time!
I would also thoroughly recommend the pattern I chose. If you are looking for a stylish swimsuit La Mia Boutique is a good place to look and it is possible to get back issues of the magazine (from Edicola Amica or La Mia Boutique). They always have a few swimming costumes in the their June edition.