Monday 27 June 2022

Leopard Print Bikini

I'm going to make this a speedy post but I wanted to share a recent make. I'm lucky enough to have a holiday to Italy booked for later this summer and the accommodation we'll be staying in has access to a swimming pool. I decided to continue my exploration into swimwear making and make this, my second two piece set. It also gave me the opportunity to finally use this piece of leopard print swimwear Lycra that's been in my stash for over ten years! 



A few months ago I made the Vernazza two piece pattern by Friday Pattern Company, proof of which you can see on my Instagram account here. It came out far better than I expected, particularly the bottoms, which I combined sizes to make. I traced the size M for the main part and graded up to the size L for the waistline and the fit is pretty much spot on. Therefore I went straight for the same pattern for this version, the only difference being that I inserted elastic into the waistband to make them feel more secure. 

The top half is made using the Helen's Closet Sandpiper swimsuit pattern. I received this pattern for free sometime ago, and hadn't initially considered it one I'd be likely to make. But the relative simplicity of the style appealed and I felt it would be a good canvas for this fun print. I initially attempted a wearable toile of the pattern using some solid black swimwear Lycra, thinking if it worked I could then make the leopard version and have some mix and match pieces. Sadly that wasn't the case as my first version came out too tight. I guess that there must be a lot of variation in the stretch and recovery of different swimwear fabrics, and although I measured myself carefully, the size my measurements corresponded to was just too small. 

So for this version, I recut the pattern for the next size up AND added some additional length to the elastic that is enclosed in the armholes and neck hole. It worked well and this version looks and feel much better, although I don't feel super secure at the bottom edge to I might insert some elastic into the bottom band at some point. 


As I mentioned above, I've had this length of swimsuit fabric in my stash for an embarrassingly long time. It's survived a number of destashes over the years because I always knew I'd get stuck into making swimwear at some point. Both halves of this bikini are lined with basic, black, swimwear/dancewear lining fabric that I bought on eBay. 


Unsurprisingly, I'm excited to try this bikini out when I go on holiday! I'm also committed to try swimming in the sea here in the UK this year, which is something I don't remember ever doing, despite living close to the seaside almost my entire life. 

Friday 3 June 2022

Free Pattern Friday: Kid's Woodstock Swing Tee (PLUS 2 X Dress Hacks)

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one . I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

The free pattern I'm posting about today is a revisit. I first posted about Hey June Handmade's Free Woodstock Swing Tee pattern two years ago. I'm posting about it again because A) the fact that I've used it again means it's an evergreen pattern that's worth downloading, and B) I've hacked the pattern to make two different styles of dress, making it even more useful. Thanks so much to Hey June for sharing this pattern for free. 

Pattern type: 

As the website says: 'The Woodstock Swing Tee is a casual trapeze-hem top for Juniors.  It features a wider neckline and short cap sleeves as well as a slight high-low hemline.' My daughter has worn her previous version many, many times in the last two years (yes, it's still fits, just about...) because it's such an easy, breezy style. 

(image source: Hey June Handmade)

Sizing info:

I love that the Woodstock Swing tee is graded form 6 years all the way up to 16 years. Plus, I think it's a style that would look good on both a 6 year old AND a 16 year old, opposed to looking too grown up for a 6 year old, or too childish for a teenager. The sizing goes up in twos, so ages/sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 are included. My earlier versions shows me that the sizing is spot on, if slightly small. For my now-8yo (although is 135cm in height and definitely closer to a 9-10 in clothing sizes), I cut out the size 10 pattern and the fit is excellent. 

Fabric info:

Designed for knits with at least 30% stretch, I would go a step further and suggest that it is most suitable for lighter weight jerseys that drape well. The black T-shirt is made using an old slinky top of mine that had become too tight in the sleeves. The nautical dress that she uses as a nightdress was made using an old dress of mine that I used to wear when pregnant with her, and the faces print dress is made using a remnant of viscose jersey crepe. 


This pattern was really enjoyable to use. Accessing it through the Hey June Handmade online shop was easy, and the pattern is very professionally produced. The instructions and pattern pages are all in one PDF, and the pattern pages span ten sheets. Allegedly this pattern features the layers function, which allows you to save printer ink by only printing the size/s you need, but for some reason I couldn't get that option to work for me on this pattern. It also includes an A0/copyshop file version if you don't have access to a home printer, or you fancy sticking all those pages together. 

The instructions are clear and simple with each step demonstrated with an illustration. As with most free sewing patterns, I'd say this one is beginner friendly, and an enjoyably speedy make for more experienced sewers. You could easily whip up one of these the evening before going on holiday for example, without breaking into much of a sweat. 

I'm really pleased that I was able to make these super useful garments from clothes that I no longer wear, and the awesome remnant that's been sitting in my stash for yonks. All three items pictured in this post have been worn multiple times since their completion, and we're only at the very beginning of the summer. 

Customisation ideas:

As you can see, I hacked this pattern to make two different styles of dress. For the nautical print nightdress, I simply extended the side seams as long and as wide as the original garment allowed. For the gathered skirt dress, I folded the bodice pieces up so the waist seam would land around her natural waist, folded back the sides to create straight side seams (see picture below). I was working with very limited fabric so the skirt was formed from the widest and deepest rectangle my remnant would allow. 

Important note: if you're making a gathered skirt dress like this, add elastic into the waist seam to stop the waist line stretching out with the weight of the skirt. Cut the elastic ever so slightly shorter than the waist seam of the bodice. I zigzagged the elastic along the bottom edge of the bodice before attaching the skirt. 

More customisation ideas for this pattern that I'm stealing from my former self:

  • Use another slim-fit knit pattern with a long sleeve (like the Ester & Ebbe top pattern by Thread by Caroline perhaps) to make this into a long-sleeved top pattern also.
  • Add a ruffle around the hem, possible shortening it also so the final length remains similar to the original.
  • Add a ruffle into the sleeve seams (again, like the Ester & Ebbe top pattern perhaps). 
  • Add a patch pocket on the chest
  • Apply decals, screen prints or appliques to the front.
  • Create seam lines within the front and back pieces to create even more scrap-busting and colour-blocking opportunities. 
  • A tiered dress.

Would I make it again?

Most definitely! As I say, I'd like to try another dress hack, this time with a tiered skirt, possibly made of remnants and scraps like the one at the bottom of this post
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