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!

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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 stretchΒ  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 πŸ˜‰

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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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Flamingos, Mermaids and Unicorns in Spandex {Ohhh Lulu Cindy Hack}.

Not literally those creatures dressed in spandex (let your mind go there for a minute), but printed on spandex. For adult humans like myself who enjoy a bit of frivolity on their swimmers. I used the Ohhh Lulu Cindy pattern, which is a great pattern that I have sewn up multiple times as lingerie. For my first foray into swimmers for myself, I decided to just start with the bottoms and tackle the tops later when I can decide on design. All my bra patterns will need a fair bit of hacking to work as swimmers, so I went the easy option first. Plus I have a few plain black tops that will work with printed bottoms and most of the time I wear a rashie anyway. Because that sun is dangerous, my friends.

I ordered a flamingo print from Boo! because it was on sale due to a slight print fault. I also grabbed plain black spandex from there. I didn’t know if my first pair would be wearable, so I didn’t want to spend a lot. Turns out they are totally wearable, but I did end up tweaking the pattern slightly for my second pair. I also ordered sports lycra from Spoonflower because the prints are just so awesome, but I wasn’t sure what the quality would be like so only ordered a small amount. The blue lining is from The Remnant Warehouse.

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The only downside to the Cindy pattern in my opinion, is the fold over elastic. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great when done well – very much like RTW underwear. But even though I’ve tried, we just don’t get along. Sorry FOE, it’s not you, it’s me. All me. Plus, it’s not really intended for swimwear because everything has to be chlorine resistant. So, that leaves making binding from your spandex (looks great, makes me want to cry) or bands to cover the raw edges at the leg openings and waist. You could also use swim elastic and fold it over (like I did here). I went the band option because I find them easy and they add a tiny bit more coverage, which I like.

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I started with the flamingo fabric and cut the pattern out exactly as is, simply omitting the jersey gusset and cutting the main front and back panels out of the lining too. You don’t want a traditional underwear gusset in your swimmers – that little guy will fill with sand and become very unattractive, not to mention uncomfortable. My first step was to attach the lining and main fabrics at the front and back of each (so the joins are then facing each other on the wrong sides of the fabric) and then baste the lining front to the main front and same with the back pieces – from then on treating them as once piece of fabric.

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Everything goes together very easily after that – front and back side panels get attached and then you attach both pieces together at the side seams. I used my over locker, but you could do the same on a normal machine with a zigzag stitch. I then stitched the seam allowance down on the side panels with a zigzag, I just like the finish and think it provides everything with a bit more strength. The last thing I want is a wardrobe malfunction at the beach.

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It’s a good idea to try on the swimmers before you put the bands on, just to check the fit. Then I just attached the bands in the usual way (mark into quarters, gently putting tension on the band as you go). And the eagle eyes will notice I attached the top band upside down. Oops!

All done. The fit is decent, but I felt like I needed more bum coverage. The pattern is designed to be high cut, so I really should have thought about that a bit more. My husband assures me that a bit of butt cheek is fine, but I feel more comfortable with everything contained.

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It was Saturday afternoon when I finished these and my neighbours were out in their yard, so I chickened out of taking proper photos outside. Here’s a mirror version instead. Fit is pretty good, but you can see what I mean about the coverage.

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Today I tweaked the back pattern piece a little and added a curve, as well as making the waistband a bit wider. Then I cut into that very special fabric. I used the same swim lining and plain black spandex for the side panels and bands.

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I love them, and the fit on the butt is better – but I think next time I might experiment with lowering the leg openings in a more pin up style. Maybe. Not sure. I’m just not used to the higher cut, so I feel a bit self conscious. It is all the rage for this season though. I also made the waistband a touch too wide, so I’ll narrow that a little next time too. All in all though, very wearable. And this time I felt brave enough to tackle photos outside.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Swimming Jocks {Jalie 3242}.

In our house, there are shirts and swimming shirts, shorts and swimming shorts and of course, jocks and swimming jocks. Because when your youngest has a severe speech delay, communicating is done in the easiest, simplest way and sometimes those words stick. Swimming jocks are here to stay. At least 9 months of the year, we are around some body of water or another – be it river, ocean or pool, so the differentiation between regular jocks and swimming jocks becomes important. No one wants to hang out in damp jersey.

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Jalie 3242 is a pretty kick arse pattern. It has a variety of styles for the whole family on the one pattern. Perfect. I’ve made the knickers for me, the briefs for the men of the house but by far the favourite are the boys’ trunks. They are such a quick sew, the only elastic is the waistband and there is no butt seam – that has to be comfy, right? Regardless, they are loved. I’m sure in a few years homemade jocks will be unacceptable, but for now they’re awesome.

Last summer, I decided the Jalie trunks would be alright as swimmers. And if they looked too much like underwear, the boys could just wear them under boardshorts (aka swimming shorts), so no biggy. I grabbed the only spandex I had at the time, which was sourced from a local Op Shop so I had no idea if it was even chlorine resistant. But I figured we are barely in chlorine anyway (our pool is salt) and it wasn’t a big deal if they fell apart. So I made these cool little red and white striped trunks for the boys and they wore them all summer and they held up really well. They are still tucked away in a drawer actually, although they’ve probably grown out of them by now. So I decided to make more for this summer, but this time I decided to do it all proper like and bought Sports Lycra from Spoonflower in the coolest ever Harry Potter print. I also bought legit swim elastic. Today I dragged out my old faithful Jalie pattern and had those suckers made within an hour. So satisfying.

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There’s only one piece for the body of the trunks and four little pouch pieces. It’s a bit of a different sew, and this tutorial is the bees knees because to be honest, the Jalie instructions are a little lacking. But once you’ve done that bit, it’s all really straight forward.

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The pattern uses an exposed elastic waistband, which obviously isn’t ideal for swimmers, so I just added a bit more height to the pattern to compensate for the folding of the waist with swim elastic. I finished the raw edges, marked the elastic and waist of the trunks at quarters and attached with a zig zag stitch. Then folded it over and zig zagged again.

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