Thursday, 19 July 2018

Bombshell Swimming Costume


Two things. Firstly, I must explain, I find it difficult and a bit uncomfortable to refer to a swimming costume as a 'swimsuit', even though I'll be the first to admit that the latter is much quicker to type. Secondly, no, neither do I feel entirely comfortable posing in the aforementioned garment and publishing those pictures on my blog. However, in the spirit of body positivity, I've done it anyway. 

I've been sewing for a long time now, but there are still a few types of garments I have yet to try to make for myself. Swimming costumes are one of those garments because I rarely go swimming, and, therefore, the hand-me-down costume my best friend gave me about ten years ago is still fine. However, earlier this year we had a holiday booked to visit a friend who lives in Madrid, along with other old school friends and their families. During that holiday, we planned a trip for all the laydeez to visit these amazing Hamman Arab baths, and I just didn't fancy going to them in my old, rather sporty-looking costume.  


Pattern:

I decided to opt for the Closet Case Pattern Bombshell Swimsuit pattern because, A) I liked the coverage the retro cut gave around the lower part (including the front 'skirt' section), B) I already owned it, and C) with both thorough-looking instructions AND a series of helpful sewalong blogposts, I knew my hand would be sufficiently held throughout the preparation and construction. I already owned this pattern because it came as part of a Perfect Pattern Parcel I was sent to review years ago, and although I didn't choose this particular pattern to make from the parcel at that time, I'd kept it in mind as a potential future project. 

Truth be told, I made this swimming costume many months ago now, so this isn't going to be the most detailed review I've ever written. However, I do recall being surprised in a number of ways; by how much fabric this pattern required, by how many pattern pieces there were, by how many construction steps were involved, and in the end, by how much the finished thing weighed! I really like how this pattern offers different design options. As you can see, I opted for the gathered bust top and decided to include the option of adding foam cups to (hopefully) give a smooth line over the bust. Instead of buying special swimwear compatible cups, I unpicked a bra that I decommissioned around the same time. 

(image source: Closet Case Patterns)

Size-wise, I attempted to blend between the size 8 for the top part, and the size 10 for the waist and hip area. This was a tricky task because of how the sizes were grouped, and sadly wasn't as simple as blending between sizes at the side seams. I also folded out a bit of length from the front and back lining pieces to account for my short-waistedness. I didn't attempt any kind of toile/muslin to determine this, I just went for it and hoped for the best. 

I found the gathering of the side and centre back seams of the front and back pieces my least favourite part of the construction process. Gathering up all that fabric on both sides was tricky, and then I decided to add rows of basting stitches to keep the gather in place. Then I thought that the basting stitches were messing with the measurements and stretchiness of the side seams, so I attempted to remove them. Then I realised that taking them out had stretched the gathered sections so I needed to redo all the freaking gathering again. In the end, the side and back seams are pretty ridged with no stretch, but thankfully it doesn't seem to be an issue or affect the fit. 

I also recall having trouble inserting and working around the foam cups. The top edge is not very neat because of that and my topstitching is pretty shocking. A fact that I mentioned several times to my friends, none of whom gave a shit, and rightly so.  


Fabric:

After seeing the name 'Funki Fabrics' popping up on blogs as a source of swimwear fabric, I lost many happy hours combing their site. I was sorely tempted by this amazing, solid jade green, semi-eco fabric, but in the end, for my first attempt at making swimwear, I decided to find a cheaper alternative (as you can imagine, the ruching on this swimming costume makes it fairly fabric-hungry). Whilst doing more research into my options, Helen from Helen's Closet's stunning solid black version inspired me to opt for something darker, and I ended up finding some inexpensive solid navy swim/dancewear fabric and matching navy net lining on eBay. 


Thoughts:

When I first put this swimming costume on, I felt sexy and sophisicated. I LOVE the coverage and how held-in I feel around my lower half. I also love its structure in general that's created from all that ruching (my version is more ruched than most, probably because I shortened the lining pieces but didn't alter the outer pattern pieces, resulting in more gathering of the outer fabric to match up with the lining). However, the top half doesn't feel so secure. The bra cups have been added in (thankfully) roughly the correct position for my boobs, but without the back band that holds a bra in place, the cups are not supportive and the top edge doesn't always remain against my skin when I'm splashing about in the water. I considered removing the cups altogther, but I can't face that faff, nor am I sure my droopy ol' post-breastfeeding bust look very nice without them. 

If we're nit-picking here, I may as well also highlight the side seam's weird wibble. I've figured out that that's been created by the tension of the leg hole elastic where it joins the side seams. I've noticed this wibble on some other people's bombshells, and general I'm able to overlook it on my own. 

Even though my feelings about this particular swimming costume are mixed, it was a fun and engaging (read: lengthy) process and a great introduction to making swimwear: to the needles, fabric and elastic that's involved. Eventually, I'd love to have another whirl at making a swimming costume, although most likely one that's a far simpler style and corresponding construction, and with a bust area that definitely won't flap about!

What about you? Have you made swimwear? What do you like about it? Or what has put you off from trying?

16 comments:

Lynn said...

I have heard that the Jalie swimsuits fit well and are very supportive and stay put in the water. Maybe that is a place to start for swimming costume 2.0.

Lindsay Norlen said...

What timing! I just this week decided to scrap my half-finished bombshell (similarly also in blue, but a little brighter) because it was doing terrible things to my butt. It cut through my cheeks about 3/4 of the way down, which was not a good look and also uncomfortable. I'm sure I'd have an instant wedgie the second I sat down on the sand with the kiddos. I'm going to try to salvage the fabric and make a Papercut Patterns Soma two-piece. Hopefully all of that fabric doesn't end up wasted!

Victoria said...

First of all, bravo for posting the photos! The back view is especially flattering and I think you look great.
I can see the quibbles you're talking about but I'm glad that you can overlook them and use the suit as I think that's good for a first attempt. Is there any possibility of adding a touch of elastic around the top of the cups? I know that would ruche the fabric slightly, but might make you more comfortable wearing it?

Zoe said...

@Victoria, thanks so much for the suggestion regarding the elastic around the top edge. The top part is very structured with those cups in there and sadly I don't think elastic would bring it closer to my body. I really appreciate you offer the suggestion though and I'll keep it in mind for future swimwear attempts xx

Miffy (@sewsarahsews) said...

I've been really tempted to make my own swimsuit... something which is flattering around the tummy area (like you, post two kids) and which also provides much needed support up top. I considered the bombshell but finally the Burdastyle Alison swimsuit won (https://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/alison)
It also has a band at the back which should help with support.

Jo said...

Brave and very beautiful. I have made one from the flo-jo pattern, the bum was great but the bust wasn't right and I think adding some thrifted foam cups might make my next one better. happy holidays! Jo xx

Becky said...

I made my first one very recently, from a trio of Jalie patterns. I love the bottom, as it's shorts and I don't have to be self conscious about my thigh chub and constant battle with razor burn now. I wasn't entirely thrilled with the top, as the only cups I could find don't fit that great, but I also made a rash guard for sun protection (another thing that's hard to find in your typical swim department that isn't for the kids here!) So hardly anyone will ever see that bust weirdness.

Roni said...

I love the color and it fits you very well! I hope you enjoyed wearing it. I made a swimming costume once as a pattern tester for the Nautilus by Tuesday Stitches (/seamstress Erin). I love the result so much I never bothered making another one. The pattern has great coverage around the lower part but shows little skin for balance. I dont swim a lot anymore but whenever I wear it I’m surprised by how relaxed I am in the suit. I still don’t like the exposure but I learned that the more I blend in the less self-conscious I feel. It takes getting used to though. When I was a triathlete I was in my swimming costume every day to the point I didn’t think much about it anymore. Now I feel weird on the beach...

Minnado said...

It looks great, Zoe. I like the shape and ruching. I haven't made a costume but I can't find one that I really like, instead I have a functional rather dull one and a pretty clearance joules one. I doubt my skills would hold up to making a functional costume, but if I ever did try I'd like to make a very old fashioned one with longer legs. I used to work with an old lady who used to knit her own swimming costumes! X

Tanit-Isis said...

It looks great! I made the Gertie swimsuit a few years ago which has similar rucking and was similarly amazed at how much fabric and time was involved. I stuffed up the bust on that one though so while it looked good flat it didn’t work on. So I feel you! I think it looks great, though, and very swank. :)

Mother of Reinvention said...

You look fabulous in your swimming cozzie. I think that it looks very glamorous. Definitely needs big shades and a cocktail or two. Xx

Esther said...

I have been sewing since 2012 . I love swimming and I do it twice a week in winter time, more often in the summer. I first tried - without success - to sew swimwear in 2016, last summer I took some class and succeeded. I have now learnt how to sew different types of bikinis, which you can check in my blog eldidalaldit.blogspot.com.es (the blog is in Catalan and in English). I find bikini sewing easy, rewarding and money saving.
Your swimming costume - I learned that word in the 70's when I studied English at school and hadn't heard it in many years - is very stylish but I wonder if it is comfortable, using so much fabric. Can you really swim with it? Is it appropiate for sunbathing? Does it dry fast?

Congratulations on your blog, I am a reader but do not often comment!

Let's Get Sewing said...

Wow, sewing a swimming costume is amazing! It looks great too.

Heather L said...

Wow! Your swimming costume looks fabulous! Love the navy colour and the fit and style are great! Bravo!

Zoe said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Much appreciated xxx

BLD in MT said...

I'm impressed with your ambition to take on a swimming costume! (it really is a better term) And your bravery in posting the photo! I don't know if I would! Maybe.... I'd like to think so in the end, but.... And I'm glad you did because it looks great! Those baths deserved something special!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...