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Bathing Suit Sewing Troubles

I mentioned in my first post (so very long ago) that I was attempting to make a bathing suit. Well, as it turns out, I can't sew a straight line at all, sewing machines dislike me very much, and patterns never turn out the way I expect them to. Here's what I've come up with, if you are interested:

I had to have my mother help me with the sewing, since I found out how terrible I truly was at it. Reading a pattern was like instant foreign language immersion. I would have loved to sew something from the top of my head, but since I am a beginner, I thought I'd try a pattern (or two) first.

The fabric actually came first, before I had a definite pattern. I found the plaid on sale at JoAnn's, and it was polyester and cheap. There wasn't a lot of it though, so I bought the solid color to match (also polyester). After scouring some patterns, this is what I came up with:

(Do forgive the pictures)

The back has elastic in it for ease of dressing. It's not quite what I had in mind, but it works. As you can see on the shorts, the sewing machine we were using did not want to cooperate. Most technology is good to me, but sewing machines throw tantrums when I touch them.

(Please forgive the blurriness)

I don't like the way the top sits on me, and I don't like the gathering under the bust, but mother insisted on doing everything as the pattern said.
I had already planned to get a bikini for underneath, to wear as "undergarments" (water-proof ones), and I happened to find a top that didn't clash terribly with the suit colors. It was originally a halter-top, but we sewed the straps to the back and now it almost doesn't show...almost.

I found only one pair of "white" mary-jane water shoes, and despite the price I bought them. There was more grey than I would have liked, but any other color just wouldn't have matched at all.

Here is the outfit in action (including a sunhat and spf 100+ sport sunblock):

The polyester dries pretty quickly and held up rather well to the saltwater and waves. My original design called for fasteners on the tunic and pants to hold everything down under water, but I never got that far here. Perhaps one day. Other than that, I did enjoy wearing it, though I still don't like the design.

One day I shall have something better. I hope, anyway.

-Kim S.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
i absolutely love it! your design as well as your story are very inspiring - perhaps i'll try my hand at it as well sometime. and, it looks simply darling at the beach!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you like it. If you make one, I'd love to see it!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
This is really cute! I like the colors you chose- light and Summery! Was it difficult to swim with the loose fabric?

I totally sympathize with your confusion over sewing patterns; I find them incredibly frustrating and, having a nearly 6'0" frame, they never turn out right, anyway. Instead, I've found a lot more success just creating my own clothes by turning existing, well-fitted clothing inside out and studying its construction. Also, muslin is cheap and easy to work with so it's a great fabric to make a few mock-up items in and solve all your fitting troubles before you try to make the final piece in a more expensive fabric.

Your swimsuit is a great inspiration to those of us who shy away from even modest one-pieces. I've long admired Wednesday's Victorian bathing suit from the second Addams Family film and now I'm feeling rather motivated to attempt such a suit myself. :)

If you create any more
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
I did try actually swimming in it (we were mostly jumping in the waves), and it wasn't terribly difficult. The polyester is light enough that I don't get weighed down, though the waves did like to push around the tunic part.

The pattern I picked for the top was deliberately two pieces, because I have odd measurements all the way down my body (small top, large bottom, that kind of thing). The shorts were altered from a pattern for pants. So we did to a tiny bit of alterations, but next time I hope I can do something without a pattern at all.

Thank you for the tips on using muslin and studying inside-out clothes. I think I'll try that!

I love Wednesday's suit as well, but I changed the sleeves (and good thing too) for tan-line purposes (I did get a little burnt). If I make anymore, I'll be sure to post. Thank you for your comments!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Eeeh, accidentally hit the 'post' button- sorry!

As I was saying, if you sew any other Victorian swimsuits, I hope you post them! :)
Jul. 25th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
What kind of problems are you having with the sewing machine?I might be able to help :)
Jul. 25th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Well so far, two machines seem to be having problems with the bobbin. One was old, so we figured it was just time to get a new one anyway (the bobbin thread was very difficult to pull out), but another was new-ish and no matter how I adjusted the tension, I always end up with loops of thread everywhere. If you can offer suggestions, I will definitely try them out. Thank you!
Jul. 25th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Did you try oiling the older ones? I used to have bobbin trouble with my first machine when it was trying to tell me it needed oiling.
Newer machine trouble could be a couple of different things, you already tried the tension s we'll assume it isn't that.
Again you could try oiling it because it could be that one of the mechanism is stiff and not pulling the thread through correctly which could cause the loops.
Has your needle blunted? Needles need changing quite regularly depending on how often you use the machine.
Are you using the right needle for your fabric?
Are you sure the machine is threaded up correctly?
It's really easy to assume that because you've threaded a machine the same way on other machines that all machines thread the same way, it's not always true though so make sure you're threading in exactly the way it shows you in the instructions that came with the machine.
Hope this helps :)
Jul. 26th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestions! I will try oiling things and see how it turns out. Other than that, the needle is new and I've threaded and re-threaded several times following the instruction booklet to the letter. I might try a sewing machine repair shop if I can't get it to work soon.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )