From The Sea {Megan Nielsen Cottesloe}

I was given this pattern in exchange for a review. Just in case that’s not clear below.

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You lot know how I am about swimmers, right? The same way I am about sewing underwear. I love it. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something very satisfying about those little seam allowances and stretching that elastic so it’s juuuuust right. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have to try them on my size 14ย  dimpled and pale body in little change rooms under fluro lights anymore. Or maybe it’s because they are not traditionally ‘home-sewn’ things and when people ask where you got your rad swimmers and you say you made them, their minds get a little bit blown. Plus they are fast to sew.

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Now, for the most part my swimmers are based on underwear patterns because there aren’t a heap around that tickled my fancy. In fact, some of my faves are based on Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit pattern. So when lovely Anita from Megan Nielsen got in contact and asked if I’d like to review one of the new patterns, I was keen. Super keen. But I had a lot on my plate, so I tried to be a responsible adult and decline the offer. Anita told me that was totally cool, gave me a later deadline and flicked me the Cottesloe pattern anyway, just in case I could make it work.

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WELL. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the files to have a look. One thing lead to another and here we are. I couldn’t resist. It was the simple swimwear pattern I’d been looking for. I knew it wouldn’t take long to make and I was super keen to give it ago. In fact, I managed to bash out two pairs in one afternoon.

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This floral version was my toile. I made the straight size 14, from the standard 0-20 pattern (my measurements put me in between the 14-16). The fabric was given to me quite some time ago, but is quite possibly from Boo Spandex and I’ve lined it with lightweight black swim spandex (as opposed to lining, it’s nicer to work with and a bit more supportive). That’s it. No changes, all very simple and the fit is pretty close to spot on. It’s got a surprising amount of support (no foam cups in this version) and the fit is better than I expected – especially since there are no bust seams for shape. For reference, I’m somewhere in the vicinity of a 38DD.

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With my very wearable toile complete, I moved on to my good fabric. Spoonflower sport lycra in a Beetlejuice themed print I designed. I’d been holding out for the right project and this was it – no seams to cut into those sandworms. Here I’ve got my lining (again, lightweight swim fabric) underneath and my fabric on top so I can cut them out together. Did I mention I love that nothing is cut on the fold? More accurate when working with knits like this, for sure. Plus, you can check how the print is placed.

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One slight change I wanted to make was to move the back straps more toward the centre back. This is a common adjustment for me. I literally chopped the straps off the pattern piece just above the armpit curve, moved them about 2cms in towards the centre back and then redrew the curves. I’m not sure if that’s technically correct, but it worked well. You can barely see a difference in the images above, but I can definitely feel the difference when they are on.

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I added foam cups to my second version to see if there was much of a difference in support. There is aย  little bit of a difference, but not a huge amount. I didn’t find my first version unsupportive though. The foam does give you slightly less stretch across the front too. Not enough for it to be a problem for me, but maybe something to keep in mind.

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I ran out of wider swim elastic for my second version, so lined the band with powermesh instead. It worked very well.

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You can see the scoop of the back is more pronounced since I moved the straps across.

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This is a simple, fast sew and a great introduction to sewing swimwear. As always, Megan Nielsen’s patterns are well drafted with excellent instructions. She’s recently extended her sizing, so these go up to a size 30, which is bloody brilliant.

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I love the high waisted bottoms and am impressed with the amount of support I get from the top. A top in this style is always going to provide more compression than shape, but I think it’s one that will suit a variety of sizes. When summer comes around again, I’ll definitely give the one piece a go too.

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Knocking Off Ready To Wear Again {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

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I apologise in advance, because this is one of the most boring blog posts you’ll ever get from me. It’s about black leggings. I’m not really selling it, am I?

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(From left to right: Cotton On leggings, Clio plush leggings, cheapy ebay Pegs made by me and wool blend Pegs made by me).

I read something recently where someone described sewing basics as ‘less icing, more cake’. That really resonated. When I started, all I wanted to sew were all the pretty dresses (and I still do), but there’s a lot to be said for owning damn comfortable basics.

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Winter in my part of the world is pretty mild, so I can get away with wearing dresses and skirts as long as I wear tights, boots and a cardi. Fleece lined leggings are my favourites and get a lot of wear (look at that pair second from the left!). I’ve noticed them start appearing in shops in the form of active wear too and what can I say? It’s love. And since my resolution this year was to avoid buying things I can sew, I went on a mission to find fleece back spandex. Which means I asked a sewing FB group. And they delivered.

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(Spenno wool blend).

The first recommended was an insanely cheap ($5/m!) nylon blend from ebay. I must admit, I had my doubts. When it arrived, it looked much the same as the fabric the Clio leggings are made from. Plush back with a definite nylon looking outer, with a bit of a sheen. Not bad though, especially for the price. I was pleasantly surprised.

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(Cheapy fabric).

I figured this pair would be worn mostly under dresses and skirts, so I used the plain Peg Legs pattern with the low rise waist and contour waistband. They are comfy as hell, but that’s exactly what I expected, I love the Pegs pattern. These poop all over the RTW versions I own.

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(And cheapy fabric).

High waisted, forever โค

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(Spenno wool blend).

The second fabric recommended was a pricier wool blend for $40/m from Homecraft Textiles in WA. It wasn’t on their website, so I emailed and arranged to purchase. They were very helpful. When it arrived, I was underwhelmed. The outside has a slight rib through it and the fleece is more of a reddy brown than black (not that it matters to me at all), but other than that, it looks and feels a lot like the ebay fabric. I thought it would have more of a matte outer. I guess time will tell with how they wash and wear. This fabric got sewn into a pair of Pegs with the add ons – side panel and pockets, with the same old low rise waist and contour waistband, because we already know how I feel about that combo. I figured this pair could be more for dog walking on chilly mornings. Or just hanging at home doing nothing, whatever.

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Same high waist that does not require constant pulling up.

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And there ends the boring black leggings chatter. I also made my t shirt. It was a bit of a Jalie men’s t shirt hack experiment out of lightweight cotton jersey. A bit too lightweight judging my my hems. But again, comfort is king.

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This Is Australia {Next State Print Active vs Spoonflower Sport Lycra}

You know what’s cool? Being able to print your own designs onto the fabric of your choice. Now, I’m not clever enough to be able to design my own fabric, but I know what I like. Sometimes you’ll find the right fabric in a print that blows your mind, sometimes you won’t. Especially when it comes to fabric that is suitable for swimwear. It needs to be a magical combination of either polyester or nylon and spandex (or lycra, which is just the brand name for spandex).

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I mean, where else could you find Iced Vovo fabric but Spoonflower?

The more I sew swimwear, the more I crave those unique prints that tickle my fancy.

Like these moths from Andrea Lauren on Spoonflower:

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And these little babies from Ellie Whittaker on Next State Print:

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That’s right, Australians. Next State Print (based in Melbourne and possibly the most helpful company around) now offer their own version of activewear and swimwear fabric. So of course I had to order a metre and test it out as I really wanted to see how it compared to the Spoonflower Sport Lycra. Because: (a) I’m nerdy like that and (b) I really like to support Australian businesses when I can. Also, I reallllly like the Spoonflower lycra, so could another product compare? Let’s see.

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Here are the stats (I told you I was a nerd):

Content:

SF: Polyester (88%) and lycra (12%)

NS: Polyester (80%) and spandex (20%)

Width:

SF: 142cm

NS: 140cm

Price:

SF: $32USD/yard (approx $41AUD per 91cm, if we’re getting picky)

NS: $37/metre

Stretch:

Now, if you’ve seen my last post, you’ll know this is a tricky number to nail down.

SF: Claim 75% in one direction and 50% in the other. I honestly find this hard to believe. It’s much firmer than that.

NS: No stretch listed but it’s stretchier than the Spoonflower version.

Sorry it’s not a more exact science than that.

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General feel? They both feel good. Both are a decent thickness and nice quality. If you haven’t used digitally printed fabric before, know that they have their limitations and are different to their screen printed cousins – it’s the nature of the beast. But what I have found is the colour and quality is much more vibrant on synthetic fibres (like spandex) than natural fibres (like cotton).

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The Next State Print Active is definitely lighter and stretchier than the Spoonflower Sport Lycra. But it’s also silkier and softer. It does work out a bit cheaper but of course, they don’t have as much variety in their prints as Spoonflower. My Spoonflower swimmers have been washed and worn many times now and are holding up well, I will update what happens with the Next State version as I’ve only just made them and worn them in the pool today.

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Oh and if you’re wondering about this swimsuit, it’s a hacked version of Megan Nielsen’s Rowan pattern, which I’ve also made here and here. It’s a good one and I love it.

 

Let’s Talk About Stretch, Baby {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

I apologise in advance, this post is going to be all over the place.

So hey, how confusing is stretch stuff? Pretty bloody confusing. There’s all those different combinations of compositions – poly/spandex, nylon spandex, cotton lycra….

Then there’s percentages of stretch. Wat?

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Oh yes, not all stretch is created equal. Especially when you don’t have a fabric shop nearby and you’re just going by website descriptions. Let me explain…

When I made my very first pair of Patterns 4 Pirates Peg Legs, I used Spoonflower Sport Lycra. The pattern calls for at least 50% stretch in both directions, the sport lycra claims to have 50% in one direction and 75% in the other. I made those babies according to my measurements and could not get them beyond my thighs. WTF, man?!

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If you’ve felt the Spoonflower Sport Lycra, you’ll know it’s pretty heavy and firm. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff and have used it for many pairs of swimmers. But 75% stretch? Nah. I even emailed them to double check and was assured the website is correct. So I’m not sure what I’m missing or what sort of sorcery this is, but it’s puzzling.

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So moving right along in my peg journey, I ordered this rad printed poly/spandex blend from fabric.com. It’s described as an athletic knit with 10% stretch. Wait, what?! 10% STRETCH. FOR ATHLETIC USES. NO.

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By this stage I’d lost my faith in the accuracy of any stretch percentages on websites. Whatever, I like the print let’s give it a whirl. When it arrived, it felt exactly like the Spoonflower lycra – not hugely stretchy and also quite thick. Definitely more than 10% though, for sure. Anyway, I sized up to an XL in my pegs pattern to compensate for less stretch and here we are – leggings that fit.

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Interestingly, I ordered this awesome scale print spandex at the same time and fabric.com lists this one as 30% stretch. It honestly feels the same as the one above to me. Same legging size cut, fit is the same. So this description is possibly accurate.

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PS I love them.

PPS I’m bad at yoga. Actually my physio banned me from yoga because I’m too bendy.

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Can do a handstand though.

Making your own leggings is amazing. These ones fit properly, they don’t creep down and they are squat proof – no transparency in the butt region at all. Eleventy billion times better than RTW. But yes, stretch percentages and buying online is quite the mine field. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble.

 

 

How To Sew A Rashie and Matching Bikini Bottoms {Megan Nielsen Rowan and Acacia}

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What I’m using:

Megan Nielsen’s Rowan and Acacia patterns.

A stretch needleย  in my sewing machine, but not in my overlocker.

Swim fabric (spandex/nylon blend) from Pitt Trading.

Swim lining (bottoms only) from The Remnant Warehouse.

A chunky plastic open ended zipper (51cm) from Spotlight.

A couple of strips of light to medium weight iron-on interfacing.

 

I’ve used the turtle neck t shirt pattern pieces from Rowan, but instead of cutting the front pieces on the fold, they’ve been cut into two pieces with a bit of seam allowance added for the zipper. I’ve added the same allowance to the neckband piece. The first video covers the basic construction of the rashie – sewing the front pieces to the back and sewing in the sleeves.

The second video shows how I add sleeve bands instead of hemming the sleeves and also adding the neck band.

The third and final video shows how to interface the front edges to stabilise them before adding the zip. Then I finish off the neck band and hem.

 

Super awesome bonus round:

Making matching, fully lined bikini bottoms from the free Acacia pattern!

I make swimmers from underwear patterns quite often and this is something I get asked about all the time. What takes something from knickers to swimwear? Let me show you. Spoilers: Fabric choice, lack of gusset, including a lining and leg and waistbands instead of picot.

I also added some height to these are they are quite low.

welcome

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Active Wear, Active Wear, Putting All The Pockets In My Active Wear… {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

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I am not a big exerciser by any stretch of the imagination, but I can appreciate a decent pair of leggings as much as the next girl. Perhaps because I have multiple pairs that I don’t wear because the fit isn’t quite right – waistband too low, saggy butt, fall down as I walk… Is it my pancake butt? My generous thighs? A combination of both? Who knows, but I doubt I’m ever going to have that problem again.

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I’ve found my new best buddies. They are the Pattern For Pirates Peg Legs and the pattern is free, baby. You heard me, freeeeeeeeee. I didn’t even make any changes. Zero. None. And they fit like a dream. My first pair (not pictured because they are super boring) were a full length pair out of plain black double brushed poly. They feel like clouds on, seriously.

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For this pair I used the add ons – side panel, contoured waistband (a must for my body, it seems) and POCKETS. We all know how I feel about pockets and having them in your active wear is such a bonus. Phone, coffee money, dog poo bags – all necessities. I do have a couple of RTW pairs with a pocket in the waistband (and also a Sewaholic pair that I made), but I find it a bit awkward and squishy. In the side panel is much easier and more accessible.

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If you’re not into high waists, look away now. Because this one is hiiiiiiigh. I didn’t even use the high rise, I used the low rise with the contoured waistband and it’s way up on my waist. So comfortable. Black spandex and mesh are from The Remnant Warehouse. Quality is top notch and there’s lots of stretch in the spandex without it being semi transparent. It’s super soft and silky to touch. Bob’s Burgers print is sport lycra scraps from Spoonflower. The design mysteriously disappeared from their website after I bought it, I assume for copyright reasons. Glad I managed to snag some though.

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Even Sid appreciates that butt fit. Thanks mate.