Slip, Slop, Slap…. Iced Vovo. {Megan Nielsen Rowan x Spoonflower}

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Recently, the legends at Spoonflower got in contact and asked if I’d like to take part in a little blog hop they’re organising to show how makers around the world are celebrating the holiday season. They suggested that perhaps I’d like to make an Australian themed swimsuit or similar from their sport lycra (which is the tits and I’ve used many times). WOULD I? Of course! This time of year is alllllll about the water based activities for us. While half the world is freezing their butts off and singing about letting it snow, we are sweating and eating mangoes in the pool.

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Now, if you are Australian you’ll totally get the references in the title. If you’re not, let me explain the Australian summer to you (at least in my neck of the woods, we’re a big country, it varies a lot), our sun will burn you in minutes. The whole ‘slip, slop, slap’ thing was a campaign launched by the Cancer Council in 1981 (the year I was born!) and refers to slipping on a shirt, slopping on some sunscreen and slapping on a hat. Apparently it’s one of the most successful health campaigns in Australian history. There you go. No wonder the jingle has been stuck in my head for 36 years.

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And iced vovos are a pretty iconic biscuit made by Arnott’s (which is no longer an Australian company, but lets ignore that). I have very fond childhood memories of iced vovos with tea.

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I was browsing through Australian designer’s stores on Spoonflower, looking for a print that would fit the brief, when I stumbled across Natalie’s amazing iced vovo design. YAS. This was it. I knew what it had to be – a rashie that I could easily create from Megan Nielsen’s (another Aussie, can you see how loyal I’m being here?) Rowan pattern.

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So while Rowan isn’t technically a rashie pattern, I have made swimmers from it quite successfully before. This time was even more simple – I used the t shirt version of the pattern, added a seam allowance to the front pieces for the zip and cut it in two pieces instead of cutting it on the fold. Easy.

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I sewed most of it up in about 15 minutes on my overlocker, finishing the centre front edges, hem and sleeves – which isn’t even necessary because the lycra won’t fray, it just looks nice.

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While you can sew the band on folded, I decided not to. I wanted to encase the scratchy edges of the top of the zip in the neck band – even though when I checked my RTW rashie I found out it wasn’t done this way.

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Just a warning, attaching the zip might make you cry a little bit. To make it less painful, you can add some fusible tape to the edge of the fabric, but if you find that’s not enough (like I did), heavier interfacing is better. Basting helps too but I found that it’s not enough on its own to stop the fabric stretching.

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After that I just pinned the rest of the neck band in place and zig zagged it above the neckline seam. I finished the hem and and sleeve hems with a zig zag too, you need lots of stretch for this baby.

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I managed to piece together my scraps to get a matching pair of bikini bottoms. I didn’t have enough fabric for my usual high waisted pair (pattern cloned from my favourite pair of RTW knickers), so they are lower than usual and I didn’t have enough for the top band either. Still, they aren’t bad and I do like making the most of my fabric scraps. Ooh and the bottoms are lined for obvious reasons. The rashie isn’t because I’ll always wear a bikini top under it for support. Or it will go over something else in a fantastic clash of prints.

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Spying on my neighbours.

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Submerged.

Yes there’s a dolphin in our pool, his name is Dave. He was there when we bought the house although we didn’t know it at the time because the whole thing was pond green.

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If you ever need a reminder that you are not a graceful mermaid, just get some photos of yourself underwater. YOU’RE WELCOME.

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If you made it this far through my incessant chatter, I have a reward for you – use the code katie17 to get 10% off your Spoonflower purchases until the 31st of December. Happy Dance!

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Making Swimmers Out Of Underwear {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

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More swimmers, I know. This could totally be lingerie though, almost. I even used lingerie patterns for both. Just take out that lining and add a gusset and you’re got yourself a fancy pants bra and knickers set.

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Did you notice the trim? Eeeeeeee. It’s the kind of thing I associate with expensive lingerie. I love how it looks. It’s called ladder or fagoted trim. This particular version is stretch and intended for swimwear. Both the fabric and the trim came from Pitt Trading. Bra cups from Booby Traps and lining from The Remnant Warehouse.

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I know what you’re thinking. What human on the planet could possibly need as many pairs of swimmers as you? I get it. I do. Some of my new ones are for sensible lap swimming at the local pool. Some are for our upcoming holiday. This set is definitely a holiday set, although I could totally do laps in these comfortably without anything escaping.

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My problem is, I see lovely fabric and then I have to have it. I often don’t have a project in mind, but I know that it will get used eventually. When I saw this spandex at Pitt Trading, I thought it would make the perfect Romy bra, with the stripes running in different directions to make it all interesting and stuff. Then of course, the trim came up and I knew it would be a match made in heaven. The final straw was that I already had black thread in my overlocker that I’m about to change to cream. So I ran these babies up before having undertake that chore.

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I wasn’t completely sure how the trim should be sewn in and I think I did in wrong on the upper cups, but thought it would look better with the seams enclosed. On the bottoms, I sewed it directly over the top of the fabric and I think that looks better.

Once again I added foam cups, which isn’t part of the original Romy instructions but I keep muddling my way through it. It just makes such a difference to the fit for me. I mean, it’s fine without, but next level supportive with the cups.

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Just for a quick comparison, this one is lined with power mesh:

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And this has the cups:

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It feels far more secure and there’s much less bounce. Good for beach swimming. For my latest version, I lengthened all the pieces so it’s more long line style. It also provided a bit of extra space for the cups. Once again I eliminated the back closure by cutting the back band piece on the fold. It does mean you have to pull it over your head but I find it much more comfortable to wear.

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The cups don’t look perfect from the inside – the can be a bit tricky to get  perfectly smooth. They are pretty good from the outside though. I’ve come to let it go that my lingerie and swimmers won’t look as finished as RTW from the inside, but they look totally fine when they are on and that’s ok with me.

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Is it holiday time yet?

Reinventing Ready To Wear Again {Using Megan Nielsen’s Rowan As A Base}

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I know it seems like I’ve been sewing a lot of swimmers lately and that’s because I have. Ha. There is a real gap in the market for one piece swimsuits for women that aren’t keen on the whole backless, flimsy, high and cheeky cut or the full bottomed, ruched and paneled offerings. Like a huge gap. I’m 36 and struggle. My mum is 60 and struggles. Bikinis seem to offer a little more variety, but one pieces? Nup. Your choices decrease even further if you can’t deal with halternecks. I can’t and incidentally neither can my mum. Instant headaches for both of us. Plus there’s the whole ‘go into the shop and try on at least 10 pairs under ugly lights and try not to cry’. NO.

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So what’s a girl to do? Well, you know the answer to that. You sew your own. Minimal melt downs and swimmers that fit just how you want them to. For me, that means lower legs, thicker straps that run over the shoulder and nice bust support. But no ruching – no matter how ‘flattering’ everyone likes to tell me it is. Plus, this way you get to have nerdy Nintendo swimmers. And match your husband if you want to. Even though he might not be so keen.

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Fabric is Spoonflower’s sport lycra and it’s a ripper for swimmers, it’s a polyester lycra blend with 75% stretch across and 50% stretch up and down. It’s colourfast in saltwater and chlorine and therefore ideal for swimwear. I’ve lined mine with swim lining from The Remnant Warehouse.

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See this top? I bought it. GASP. I love this high neck style, the wide back band without a clasp and this is one of the first I’ve found with thicker straps that run over the back instead of around the neck. It’s a bit low for me around the armholes, which is a common problem for me with this style  (hello side boob) and I hate how those bra cups float free and move around. Incidentally, the one on the right looks like it’s turned sideways. Annoying. I bought it specifically to make a pattern from.

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So I clipped that sucker down flat with wonderclips and I cloned it – adding seam allowance and also raising those arm holes.

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I compared my new pattern pieces to the Megan Nielsen Rowan pieces and look at that, they matched up really well. The Rowan pieces are folded down because I’ve been too lazy to trace and cut new ones for my swimmers.

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I added swim cups for support again, these ones came out of an old pair of swimmers and really, they are too small for me. But they work well enough with the tension in the fabric when they’re on. I recently watched Beverly Johnson’s class on sewing swimsuits and used her starburst method for adding the cups, which basically entails zig zagging them onto the lining and then cutting into the lining over the cups which then makes the lining and fabric sit better over the bust. As long as those cups don’t move around, I’m happy.

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I decided that I’d attempt to finish the neck and armholes the same way as the RTW top – sew the lining and outer together right sides together so no raw edges show and then add elastic to that seam for support. At least, I assumed that was how I did it but I’ve made a mistake somewhere there because my lining wants to roll over at the edges a bit. I have to think about it a bit more for next time. It’s not such a big deal because it’s black and tends up blend in pretty well. It’s worth noting that RTW uses pretty specialised machines for their construction, so it’s not always something that’s easy to replicate on the home sewing machine.

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Other than that though, I’m pretty pleased. Once again I finished the legs with this method of binding and used this method for my straps. Learning both of these methods has been a game changer for me, I think it makes handmade swimmers look pretty damn professional.

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I’ve been swimming laps at my local pool almost every day recently, so a good solid one piece really is a wardrobe staple for me at the moment.

Don’t Say It {Jalie 3242 + Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra + Megan Nielsen Rowan Bodysuit}

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I hate the term ‘mummy and me’. It makes me shudder. There, I said it. I don’t hate the idea, just the cutesy term. Blergh. I prefer to call this ‘being economical with fabric’. I managed to get these two out of less than a yard, which was a surprise. I was sure it would have taken more.

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Yes, I made the same pair of swimmers as yesterday (this time sans zip and with the addition of foam cups). So I’m not going to talk about them again. You can check here if you missed yesterday’s post.

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Apparently he’s not embarrassed by me or handmade clothes. Yet.

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It’s still raining. Our feet are webbed and check out what it’s doing to my hair. At least everyone has water again and the garden is happy.

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Mashing It Up {Jalie 3242, Megan Nielsen Rowan and Ohhh Lulu Romy}.

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I’ve mentioned before how I’m happiest when submerged, like some kind of sunglasses-wearing dugong. As a family we spend a lot of time in the water. Kids have a habit of growing too, so I knew I needed to replace last year’s swimmers. Locally, there wasn’t a lot of lycra available that the boys would like, so I was browsing Spoonflower and pretty soon I had a cartful of their sport lycra. Ahem. Including those amazing Andrea Lauren moths for myself. You might have noticed I have a thing for moths. I have one tattooed on my arm and there’s a moth in my KMAD logo. It stems from a love of Silence of the Lambs, which I realise is creepy. I read the book when I was about 12 years old and have just loved that moth image ever since. I really like the old biology illustrations too, which is what the print reminded me of.

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The two little guys and the big guy got theirs made from Jalie 3242. Yes, it’s an underwear pattern, no I don’t care. They generally just wear them underneath boardies anyway, so it’s not like they are flashing them all over the beach. Though they could if they wanted to really. Look how cool those prints are! I must add, that when my husband tried his on, he pretended to announce his swim race for the olympics over a megaphone and ran around the house shaking his arms and legs about for a bit. Warming up for his pretend swim.

For theirs I replaced the underwear elastic band with a fabric band. Easy.

Bits for mine:
Sport Lycra from Spoonflower
Lining from The Remnant Warehouse
Chunky zip from East Coast Fabric
Elastic from Pitt Trading
Yellow rings and sliders harvested from an old pair of swimmers.

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I was keen to make a one piece for myself. My old favourite is getting a bit saggy and the Ohhh Lulu Cindy I made for myself a while back is too big now. I’m joining to local pool so will be doing a bit of lap swimming and figured a well fitting one piece is a good idea. I wanted to see if I could create a slightly different style using two of my faves – Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit and Ohhh Lulu’s Romy bra. Here’s a refresher on what they look like:

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I love how the bottom half of the bodysuit fits and Romy provides decent shaping and coverage without wire. I pulled out my pattern pieces, marked off where I wanted the bodysuit to end (by comparing it to my favourite black one piece) and lined up the Romy on top to see how they’d fit together. It was pretty much perfect. I took some width out of the Romy back piece and straightened it out, but that was it.

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I added the zip because I assumed I would need it to get the swimmers on and off (turns out I don’t, but nevermind). It was by far the most painful part of the whole process, but not as difficult as last time. I had to shorten it and add a tab to the end again, then I basted that sucker in by hand first and that definitely helped. Actually, I basted heaps with these (leg holes, bodice top edge, bra pieces, raw edges where the zip goes) – it really helps when you have to sew the binding etc on and you’re not struggling to keep multiple layers together.

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For the first time ever, I made my own straps using this tutorial and my own binding using this one. I prefer wider straps than RTW offers on most of their swimmers, so turning these wasn’t hard at all. Making my own straps and finishing with binding always seemed so scary in the past, I have no idea why. I’d always just finish necklines with elastic and legs with bands (or elastic). Probably because I started sewing lingerie before swimmers and that’s just what I knew. Anyway, the binding finish isn’t as neat as RTW and I know zig zag looks super ‘homemade’ but it’s not really obvious unless you’re too close.

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I’m really happy with the fit and I don’t think there’s anything I would change. I might try adding foam cups next time for a bit of extra lift, but it’s honestly fine without them. And adding the cups means I’d lose the enclosed seams of the bra lining because of the way the cup is split into two. I’d have to stitch them to the lining so they don’t move around and drive me nuts.

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We’ve just had about 6 months of rain over 4 days, so I’m not really sure why I’ve been sewing swimmers, but I’m glad they are all done. Bring on the beach! Bring on the pool! Bring on our trip to Samoa!

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More Weird Tan Lines {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

Yeah it’s another Romy. In the fabric leftover from my one piece. Nothing you haven’t seen before and mostly uneventful. The bottoms are from the Megan Nielsen Rowan bodysuit because I loved the fit so much.

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Never one to leave things alone though, I changed the front of the Romy so it ties up.

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It’s a really simple hack because there is a seam down the centre front anyway. I just added some casing and boning for support, along with three loops each side. I’m going to add a fourth to the top because it looks a bit weird not lacing all the way to the top.

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I attached picot for the bottom band (upside down so the picots aren’t showing). I know picot isn’t traditionally swimsuit elastic, but I’ve found it on the inside of my RTW swimmers in the past and it’s always held up really well. As usual, I lined with power mesh and all the seams are enclosed – I do love how clean that finish is.

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I cheated and didn’t make the straps, they were harvested from an old pair of swimmers. I always pinch what I can from bras and swimmers before I turf them, as long as they’re still in good nick. It’s so worth it. I hate making straps, it’s a chore.

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It just occurred to me that I could try lacing the top so the bow is at the bottom instead of how I have it here. Shall give that one a try!

First Swim of the Season {Megan Nielsen Rowan}

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It gets hot here. We spend a lot of time in the water from about September through to May. And even though we wear sunscreen and hats, as well as staying out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, sometimes that’s just not enough.

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So we wear rashies (I think they’re called rash guards in the US). They’re easy enough to buy for the kids but generally they are falling apart after one season. Not a big deal really because they’ve grown out of them anyway. But there’s not a lot of variety available for women. Maybe there’s not a huge market for them. They’re not exactly the height of beach fashion. But still, skin cancer is worse.

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So mine is a couple of seasons old and is looking worse for wear. All stretched out and baggy. They don’t seem to be made out of quality fabric anymore. Time for an upgrade. I quite like the all in one situations, like a one piece with sleeves, but I’m yet to find one that’s the right shape for me. They all seem to have what I like to call ‘Baywatch Butt’, you know – that really high cut skimpy back? Which is fine, but not all that practical when I’m in the water photographing clients, because I do that occasionally. I want to make sure I can tackle the surf without getting distracted by a wedgie.

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Enter Megan Nielsen’s Rowan. Oh yes. Yeah, I know it’s not a swimsuit pattern, but since when have I followed the rules? My tropical print spandex and swim elastic is from Pitt Trading and the spandex I used for the lining (which isn’t really lining) as well as the plain black is from The Remnant Warehouse. Both these stores are superb sources of swimmy stuff in Australia.

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My original plan was to make a top from the Rowan pattern first, but that all went out the window when today decided to reach 31 degrees. DEFINITELY TIME TO START ON THE SWIMMERS. Risky really, but it all turned out pretty ok in the end. I’ve taken some work in progress shots this time, because the construction is a bit different to the normal bodysuit as it has to be fully lined, a zipper added and no crotch snaps. As mentioned above, my lining isn’t really lining, but spandex because I didn’t have enough black swim lining left. Both have a really similar amount of stretch so it works quite well and feels more supportive.

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I pretty much made two of the bodysuits and then basted everything wrong sides together, which gives a pretty clean finish on the inside. The front is cut for the zipper (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get into it, obviously). I attached the neckband while it was still open rather than stitching it into a loop first, so the zipper had somewhere to go. I overlocked the raw edges. Not that they need it – the spandex won’t fray. I just find it easier to work with.

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I could only get open end plastic zips, so I put a tack across it by hand and literally smashed off the end teeth with a hammer. Satisfying and effective. Then I added a bit of spandex across the end for comfort. Not my prettiest effort but no biggy.

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And you know, I knew inserting this zip would be the biggest challenge of the entire thing. I went in all zen, even used interfacing on the edge of the swimmers because I totally knew that spandex would want to pucker and go wavy and be a bastard. It still did anyway. Probably not as much as it would have without stabilising the edges. But it was still a bugger and took longer than the rest of the construction put together. The end of it looked so horrendous that I ended up covering it with a little tab of fabric. Which in the end wasn’t the worst idea because I think it adds a bit of strength to a weak point.

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The sleeves couldn’t go in flat (as per the instructions) because the side seams were already done, so they just went in the normal way. In the round? Set in? You know what I mean. Easy enough. Although make sure your overlocker doesn’t want to inhale everything around the sleeves. Mine does. I won this time though, I was bloody careful. Then elastic for the legs and you’re golden. I don’t love elastic in swimmers done this way. I prefer the look of bands. But that’s just nitpicking and also because I have delightfully thunderous thighs that elastic tends to cut into.

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And she is done! It just occurred to me that I should have framed these better and actually got some water in the shot. So you’ll just have to believe that I am standing on the edge of the pool.

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My absolute favoutire part of this pattern is the butt coverage. It’s perfect for my shape (which is mostly pancake butt). I find that most underwear patterns bag out between the back of my hip and leg and I usually have to take a dart out of the pattern piece. But not these babies! Nice and secure. I love the fit so much I think I might use it to draft some more knickers.

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Fit wise, they are a smidge too small. I’m getting a bit of pulling at the zipper. My measurements put me between the M and the L. I made the M because I didn’t want to risk them being too big. I have converted underwear patterns into swimmers before and while the fit is ok when they’re dry, they get baggy and want to wash away once they hit the surf. This one is snugggggg and not going anywhere. If I wasn’t being lazy, I would have added a bit extra to allow for the zip because it’s seam allowance that the original pattern doesn’t have built in. I’ll definitely do that next time.

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So the thing about using orange lining is that when you actually get wet, it will show through. But you know what? Nothing else shows through, so that’s a win. And there is my first official dip of the season. There will be more – Rowans and swims.

 

 

 

Just Keep Swimming {Ohhh Lulu Cindy Bodysuit}

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Being ok with the body you have is hard. I go through phases, but at the moment I’m struggling with it. Surely then making yourself swimmers, having photos in them and then putting them online is the worst idea, right? Maybe. For me it sort of helps though. No change rooms, no obnoxious size tags, no comparing myself to shop assistants with a completely different body shape to me. NONE OF THAT. Plus you get the style and print that is absolutely you. I put the images out there because all bodies are good bodies and I firmly believe we need to see a broad range of them so it becomes normal – especially for our children.

Right. I’ve professed my love of this pattern many times. I’ve made lingerie from it (as originally intended) but also a bikini. I’ve put off making the one piece/bodysuit version because it requires a bit of pattern manipulation and I’m generally pretty lazy. Turns out it wasn’t hard at all. There are a lot of pieces, more depending on how much lining you want. I used power mesh to line everything except the top and bottom side panels. I am a big fan of power mesh. A massive fan. The heavy stuff too. I feel like it’s changed my sewing life. Some people find it feels too restrictive, but I love that snug feeling – probably the same reason I love the feeling of wearing a waspie (although I don’t wear it a lot because it’s too hot most of the year here). It feels supportive and like a big hug.

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Pattern is Ohhh Lulu’s Cindy.

All the fabric for this one came from The Remnant Warehouse.

Underwire casing, wires and hardware from Booby Traps.

The little buttons were salvaged from an old bikini.

Also I sewed this mostly on my vintage Janome, with a little bit of over locking on my Bernina. I’m not even sure power mesh and spandex existed when the Janome was made.

So, problems. The power mesh is the really heavy stuff. I love it. I love sewing with it too, because my machines seem to like sewing knits more when there’s power mesh included in the mix. It stretches pretty well in one direction, but not a whole lot in the other. Not really thinking this through, I made sure the biggest amount of stretch  runs across my body, as I have done in my bras in the past. Fine in bras, less fine in the bottom half of the swimsuit which needs a bit of stretch vertically. It’s not restrictive enough to prevent me wearing them, but next time I might just use lining in that bottom from panel, or at least use a mesh that stretches well in both directions.

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A couple of other really minor issues were:

  • not taking the underwire casing high enough under the arms. I’m so used to using picot that folds over to cover it that I didn’t really think. I made binding out of the swim fabric for the first time ever and it actually worked pretty well! It’s something I’ve always been pretty scared to try in the past. There’s a couple of bits that are slightly twisted, but it’s not noticeable when I’m wearing it.
  • Next time I’ll trim down the highest point of the upper cups (where it folds over to attach a ring and the straps) as it was a bit wide for my rings. Well, rectangles in this case.

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I made my own straps for the first time too! Yay! Another process I’d been putting off. It was actually super easy. I cut two strips of fabric, 20 inches x 2 inches, folded them lengthwise (right sides together) and then used my over locker to attach swim elastic down the length. Then just turned them right side out and magic, straps!

These ones show the guts and where I put the mesh for support. I tend to use bands for the legs because it’s really easy and I like the bit of extra coverage.

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This pattern has the option to line the cups (which I always take advantage of because I need the extra support) and gives you really straight forward instructions on how to enclose all the seams. Looks nice and polished, doesn’t it?

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I know I end up blathering on when I blog this stuff, but when I was trying to talk myself into learning how to make lingerie and swimwear, I would madly google to find sewing blogs on the topic. It made everything seem so much more achievable and this way I hope to repay the favour of the bloggers that helped me (even though they probably don’t realise).

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Pretty decent fit, I think. The only issue is the mesh not having enough stretch vertically, so the wires aren’t sitting right up under my bust. But to be fair, I have that issue in just about every one piece in this style that I’ve ever tried on. So maybe it’s just me. Oh, another thing on fit – I kept the cups and top half my usual size but sized down two sizes on the bottom half, as the bikinis I’ve made before end up feeling too big once wet. And that’s not a feeling I enjoy in the surf. Ahem. Fine for comfy knickers, not so fine for swimmers.

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Yes, for someone who lives on the coast I am very pale. We’re all about being sun smart here and to shatter the illusion, these swimmers will be covered by a long sleeved rashie most of the time. Being sun burnt sucks.

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Extra bonus images of what we’ve been getting up to – it’s been really hot. Standard QLD summer stuff, but it still seems to surprise us every year. The kids and even the dog have very fair skin too 😉

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The Tale of Two Somas {Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit}

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Ohhhh Soma. I’ve loved you ever since I spied bikini version 2 on blogs all over the internet. All those pieces fitting so perfectly together. I could clash all the prints! I could run stripes in different directions! I could be all understated and cool in all black. The possibilities. Further investigation showed that Papercut Patterns are a NZ company and they ship their paper patterns for free. SOLD.

Version 2 was obviously going to be the first one I sewed up. I was keen on the other bikini version, but my old enemy fold over elastic was involved and it looked like it would be less supportive than V2. I also thought my back fat would ooze through the strapping on the back. YOU’RE WELCOME.

So V2 it was. Here’s what I bought from where:

Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit Pattern.

Scaled down version of previously purchased unicorn and mermaid Spoonflower Sports Lycra. It’s fabulous stuff.

Heavy duty power mesh from The Remnant Warehouse.

Strapping and elastic from Booby Traps (I think!).

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First snag, those bloody notches on the upper and lower cups. Mate. I almost didn’t even start because of them. I cut my fabric as per the layout above, SO WHY DID I HAVE TWO NOTCHES AT THE TOP OF THE LOWER CUP WHEN THE NEXT PIC SHOWS TWO AT THE BOTTOM? What the hell?! WHYYYYYYY. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve made bras, man. Lots of bras. This should be easy.

I took to Instagram, feeling ridiculous. A lovely helpful poster told the the second notch on the upper cup was most like for the strap. Upon reading to the end of the instructions, I was able to confirm she was right. Of course! You idiot, Katie. I’m still none the wiser about the down notches on the lower cup in the instructions. Eh. Onward.

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After the notch drama, everything else was cool and went together as it should. I was a rebel and used pom pom elastic to finish the edges. It was not 1cm as directed and I highly doubt it’s chlorine resistant. But hey, my pool is salt, the ocean is salt and this bikini is here for a good time, not a long time. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up, actually. I was surprised to see Papercut recommend regular old bra strapping and FOE for this pattern. Apparently it holds up as well as its swim elastic cousins. Who knew? I was a bit concerned about it looking too bra-like, but hey, what a relief to not have to make my own straps from the swim lycra! Woo!

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Finished!

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Should have changed my overlocker thread. Didn’t.

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Oh hey look – matching the Ohhh Lulu Cindy bottoms I made a while back! Yay! I bought the scaled down version of the print for the top because I knew the other one would be way too big. I think it works. I mean, it’s all a bit ‘look at my mermaid tits!’ with the black pieces under the cups. But eh. I can live with it.

So, fit. After a search of some sewing blogs, I decided to size down in the top. My measurements sort of put me between the L and the XL anyway. So I made the L. Which would have been fine if I’d followed direction and used swim lining, but nooooo – I used the heaviest power mesh in all the land. Because I like how it holds everything in nice and tight and I’ve used it in other swimmers and bras with much success. I love this stuff. Except, it’s not got a lot of give. So now my top is a bit too firm. Like a bit of my best friend back fat (BFBF) spilling over the back. Ooops. Next time, if using the mesh of constriction – size up. Otherwise, the L should have been right. I think. I’ve cut another out of bamboo jersey, with stretch tricot lining, which I’ll wear as a bralette. Am interested to see how the fit is on that one.

So the shape on me is a bit… dunno. There’s side boob spreading out under my arms. It almost needs the sides of the upper cup taken in a bit. Or maybe I’m just really used to wearing wires. Will I make it again? Yes. But it needs a few tweaks. Great pattern for the most part though. But probably more suited to smaller frames.

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With all that done, I had the urge to bash out V1 in Lizzy House jersey I’ve been hoarding for ages. I wanted to see how different the fit was and figured it would be a good can’t-be-arsed-wearing-a-proper-bra-today bra. Hedged my bets, made the L again. Cut it out the wrong way, as you can see. I cut my pattern pieces out so the text on them is the right way up, running from left to right. This has never failed me before and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve even stopped to consider if pieces are up the right way or not. FAIL. See? I still learn something every time I sew. Still, pattern makers – it would be much appreciated if you could print things so the text is running the way the pattern piece should go. Or maybe I just have to think about what I’m doing more. Anyway, I realised this version wouldn’t be perfect, so I can almost forgive myself for sideways dinosaurs. After all, fold over elastic. Need I say more? Maybe I’m improving though, because I said way less swears than usual when I was doing this one.

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Lined this guy with Telio bamboo jersey. It’s lovely, it’s delicious and I made some undies from it earlier this week. Like wearing clouds. Or so I’d imagine.

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Ooh, I made the bottoms from the pattern too. As undies, obviously. So no lining and I added a gusset from the bamboo. Very simple.

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Wanna talk about fit again? Ok. THEY ARE MASSIVE. Undies are a size too big, top is at least two sizes too big. I ended up taking a couple of inches off each of the pieces of strapping at the back and it’s just wearable (oh and no back fat ooze, who knew?!). Gahhhhhhh. Cannot win with fit today. Still love the pattern though and will make again. Comfy as heck. Toiles definitely needed for these though, for me at least.

These pics were a bit hard today. I wasn’t feeling particularly body positive after all the fitting stuff. Pulling them off the camera made me feel disheartened and massive. I’m sticking them here though because I will get over it. All bodies are good bodies. Ohhhmmmm.

And look at Ed and I, both in handmade swimmers. Yasss.

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Diamonds On The Outside {Ohhh Lulu Cindy}

So you’d think that if you can make a bra, you can make a bikini top – right? Sort of. Maybe if I didn’t get cocky at the last minute and decide to add foam. That was my downfall, I think. Mostly it’s cool, definitely wearable. There’s just a few puckers on the cups from the foam, as I sort of just made it up as I went along.

Here’s the bits and pieces used:

Ohhh Lulu Cindy pattern for both top and bottom.

Power mesh from The Remnant Warehouse. Yes again. I have a metre of the stuff and even though those lovely gold bits come off in the first wash, it’s really supportive mesh and quite easy to sew with.

Black and diamond spandex from Boo! Designs.

Underwire casing, boning and metal square thingies from Booby Traps.

Wires, foam and straps stolen from another bikini top.

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Swimming in this house involves the pool, the river or the beach. All are salt. All end up being quite active… activities. It’s imperative that all my bits are contained and stay that way. So the spandex on its own wouldn’t be supportive and secure enough for me – hence the lining with power mesh. Now you might be thinking ‘Whaaaaa?! Bra power mesh in a bikini?!’. But here’s the thing, I dug through my stash of swimmers and found that most of them used standard power mesh, as well as underwire casing and even picot elastic. So it must hold up ok in the water. And again, we’re mostly salt swimmers rather than chlorine. Usually the sun and constant wear ruins my swimmers before anything else can.

A RTW top with picot! Just assembled with the picots facing in instead of out.

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Like I said above, I decided to tackle foam this time, which made me rethink my steps a little bit. I decided to assemble the cups in the spandex and the lining and attach the cups to the lining layer. Turns out I should have cut them down a bit, as I ended up with foam in the seam allowance at the top of the cup – but we live and learn.

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To be honest, I’m feeling a bit cocky at this stage. I mean, it looks pretty tops. Attaching the spandex cups to the lining brought me down to earth again with puckers and wrinkles and all sorts of confusing things. Anyway, onward. The rest of it went together as per normal, but instead of hook and eye closures I just cut the back band on the fold so I could pull it over my head. Another genius move that I didn’t think through. Oh it worked when I tried pulling off my velvet Cindy over my head, but I didn’t take into consideration that adding the hook and eyes actually makes the back band bigger. Oops. It’s a tight squeeze, but I can get it on without ripping any seams. Bonus is that it won’t move in the surf either. Silver linings.

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Here’s a closer look at the underwire casing. It goes on the cup seam allowance. Clever, isn’t it?

Then we trim the seam allowance so it is nicely contained under the casing and stitch down the other side. Then a mini version along the side seams for the boning.

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Finishing the raw edges along the neckline and under the arms is what I was most worried about. On bras, you use pretty picot and it’s easy. But that’s a bit too bra-ish for a bikini. Fold over elastic is an option, but it’s previously been established how rubbish I am with that stuff. I could make binding out of spandex, but errrrk, maybe next time? So again I referred to my RTW tops and thought that the simple attaching of narrow swim elastic and folding over would do. I decided to attempt encasing it nicely with my over locker. Not so nice, my stitch was as wide as it could go, but still needs to be wider. I finished the bottom band with picot facing in.

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Annnnnnd done. Check out those wrinkles.

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Thankfully most of those wrinkles disappear when you fill them out with a body. I didn’t mention much about the construction of the bottoms, but they went together like these ones and I adjusted the legs a bit. I somehow managed to make these ones a bit bigger too, so I’ll have to make sure I correct that with the next pair.

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