As promised, I’ve written up a couple of posts about the new Soma Swimsuit from Papercut Patterns. I was a tester for this pattern, so I’ve actually had this finished and completed for quite some time now! While I initially agreed to test just the cross-over bikini variation, I ultimately ended up sewing BOTH bikinis because they are just so damn fun to make! In this post, though, I’ll be going over the first version – the black cross-over bikini.
A note on pattern testing – it’s come to my attention that there has been a bit of discussion and debate about what exactly goes on for pattern testing, and what us testers get out of it. Some people have speculated that we are paid off to promote the designs, which could NOT be farther from the truth! Seriously, I WISH I was getting paid to to this – but I’m totally not. Pretty much all I get out of testing is a copy of the beta pattern, hopefully a copy of the finished pattern once it’s gone to print (not all companies offer this for testers but I think it’s a really nice gesture, personally), and a chance to see the pattern before anyone else. That’s it! Sometimes companies will give me fabric for testing – which I will always disclose if that’s the case – but for the most part, I am on the hook for providing my own fabric and notions. It is not required – or even requested – for me to post about the finished patterns, I just do it because I like what I make and I want to share it! I know some of the debate was about the same bloggers doing the testing, and while I can’t speak for the pattern designers, I will say that I have worked with the same designers for multiple testings, and it’s my assumption that they like to stick with the same people because they know they will get relatively consistent results, especially when it comes to sizing (it’s easier to tell if your size whatever has something wrong with the grade if you have that same person testing the same size for you consistently, if that makes sense).
I personally test my patterns the same way I sew a normal pattern – make a muslin if needed, do any alterations for fit that are necessary, and change the construction steps if I think it makes more sense to do so (and sometimes that ends up in the finished pattern – such as the lining method for the Flora dress, some of that was my feedback 🙂 ). I provide very detailed and honest feedback (VERY! Like to the point of maybe even being annoying 😛 haha), and I always meet the relatively short deadline. I would like to assume that’s why companies continue to reach out to me for testing, however, I’m recently aware that there are probably also people who use my feedback strictly for promotional purposes. If I offer good feedback and I don’t see translate to the finished pattern, that’s my sign that they probably don’t actually want my feedback and I just don’t work for with company anymore. Further, I don’t always blog my finished test makes (sometimes I only have time to do a fit muslin and tear the instructions a new asshole), so if anyone is contacting me in hopes of getting a sales boost from a finished project, they may be in for a rude awakening hahah 🙂
I’m so sorry if anyone got the wrong idea when it comes to pattern testing; the unglamorous truth is that we have a quick turnaround to check out the fit and instructions of the pattern and provide as much feedback as we can before the release. That’s it! Obviously I’d love to earn money doing this (ahh, who woulnd’t??), but the pattern barter is fine with me for now. I like helping my friends and giving them feedback so they can put out an even better product. Any other questions about testing from a tester’s perspective? Holler at me in the comments!
Ok, now that that’s off my chest – swimsuit time!
Like I mentioned earlier, this is the Soma Swimsuit from Papercut Patterns, version 1. I’m afraid I went the boring route for this one – I had black swimsuit fabric & lining on hand (destashed from a friend’s supply, so I’m not sure where it originally came from) with the intention of making a black bikini, and I liked Katie’s version in the promo photos soo much that I decided to blatantly copy it because I have no shame.
This swimsuit includes a lining, regular elastic, fold over elastic, and little bra notions (hooks, rings, and bra strapping). While I did have the fabric and lining on hand, I had to venture out to the fabric store to buy everything else. I was able to find almost everything I needed at Joann; however, be aware that they have a VERY limited selection of colors in these notions. Basically, they only have black and white – and their fold over elastic is expensive as shit, btw. I recently discovered Peakbloom as a wonderful source for FOE- seriously, look at all the prints and coloursssss omg – but I have yet to actually purchase anything from them. If you’re stuck in a FOE desert and need something other than black or white, definitely give them a look!
The only thing I could not find at Joann was bra strapping. I actually didn’t even realize that’s a thing that exists! It’s not exactly the same thing as elastic – it’s sturdier, it doesn’t stretch as much, and it just looks more polished. After making this swimsuit, I did eventually find it at Joann’s (it’s in the section where you buy trim by the yard), but it only comes in white. For my bathing suit, I took a more creative approach and bought a bunch of $1 elastic headbands from Walmart (the kind that feel like they’re made from bra strapping, hahaha) and cut those apart to use. They probably aren’t ideal – they are starting to fray where I cut them and it looks kind of bad – but it’s a good option in a pinch.
Another notion I used that is not listed in the instructions is bra cups! I don’t know about y’all, but I absolutely abhor the idea of nipping at the beach, so a little extra coverage was a must. While the insertion of bra cups is not included in the instructions for the swimsuit, it was pretty easy to figure out. After sewing the darts, I placed the lining over the bra cups in the correct position and smooshed the cups down flat. I sewed around the entire cup with a zigzag stitch to secure it, and then assembled the bikini top as instructed. That’s it! It was really easy and YAY NO NIPPING!
Oh, and in case you were curious – my bra cups are cut from old swimwear. I pick up tops at the thrift store when they’re on sale for $1, and I cut the cups out. It’s cheaper than buying new cups (which I’ve found can run as high as $8 a pair, ouch), it recycles the old cups, *and* I’m 100% sure they are swimwear appropriate since I literally cut them out of swimwear.
This was my second attempt at sewing fold over elastic (my first attempt is now buried in the trash, ha)(first attempt was not this swimsuit, btw, it was a few months ago) and I think I did a pretty ok job, all things considered! I was originally trying to sew the elastic in one fell swoop – which seems to be the way most people instruct you to attach it. The instructions for this suit instead have you sew it on in two gos – once with the elastic flat, and once with it folded over itself (on top of the first stitching). It takes a tiny bit longer since you are essentially sewing the same seam spot, but it actually goes faster since you don’t have to worry about your fabric sneaking out of the elastic. Which is AWESOME. Consider me a FOE convert – this stuff is fun!
The swimsuit bottoms just have plain ol’ elastic encased in the legs (just like the Bombshell swimsuit). I used black because that’s what I had on hand. I love the high cut of the back leg – cheeky! 🙂
The instructions on this pattern are really great, by the way! From attaching the elastic (both plain and FOE), to dealing with the bra straps, everything is very clearly written out and has helpful illustrations. I especially like how the lining is attached to the fabric – the bottoms have some pretty clever attaching so there are no exposed seams. Everything is attached flat, similar to underlining, which means you don’t deal with a lot of fabric shift.
For sizing, I chose the XXS, which is my normal size for Papercut Patterns. I didn’t have to make any alterations for fit – this is exactly how the pattern is drafted, both the top and the bottom. For fit reference, I generally wear a 28DD in bra and a S in underwear.
Here are some close-ups of the construction:
I know these don’t look lined, but I promise they are. My lining is black, so it matches the outside fabric 😉
Almost this entire bikini was sewn on my sewing machine, btw. I did use my serger to construct the main seams of the bottoms, as well as for finishing all the edges when attaching the lining to the shell, but that’s just bc it’s faster! All the finishing was done with a zigzag stitch. You can ABSOLUTELY make this on a standard sewing machine – I (mostly)did!
I’ve had a few people ask me about the support on this bathing suit, and I’m afraid I can’t really give you a good answer as I don’t personally need a lot of support for my lil’ boobs. I’d venture to guess that it probably gives about the same as a string bikini – it’ll keep the girls in place, but you prefer a lot of lift this probably isn’t the pattern for you. As far as adjusting the cups for a bigger size, again, no idea! This size fit me straight out of the envelope.
Now, if you want to talk about whether or not this guy is suitable (lolz) for actual swimming – I can vouch for that! While I did take these photos way before I actually got in the ocean (in retrospect, probably should have waited… I’m not quite as pale anymore! SORRY FOR MY WHITENESS Y’ALL), I wore this suit twice while in Florida, both times in the ocean. I’m not a crazy swimmer or anything – more of a jump in the waves and bob around on a float kinda girl – but I had no issues with the suit falling open or anything like that. It’s comfortable *and* cute! What more could you ask for?
I guess that’s it for now! Big thumbs up to Papercut for offering up such a great pattern – I’m so excited to see everyone’s versions that come out of this!
A couple things before I sign off here –
– Please give a warm welcome to my newest sponsor, Indie Stitches! Caitlan has a gorgeous little shop full of some of the best handpicked indie patterns – and she’s currently offering 10% off all purchases through June! Use the code LLADYBIRD to claim yo’ discount!
– As a side note, whenever my sponsors offer a discount to my readers, you can find it by hovering over the badge in my sidebar. If there is a discount offered, it will show in a white box if you hover your mouse over it. Just an fyi 🙂
– Lookeeeee me, I got my first ~magazine spread~! My favorite machine needle company, Schmetz, has a free online magazine Inspired to Sew and I’M IN THE JUNE ISSUE. A whole two-page spread, woohoo!! You can download the free issue featuring moi here. Let me know what you think!
– Also, I’m apparently in a recent issue of All You magazine as well. Nothing super exciting – it’s just a photo and quote about my experience with Healthcare Bluebook (that shit is awesome, btw. Saved my ass when I was stressing over a kidney stone+no insurance last year!). If any of y’all see my mug in there, pleaseeeee let me know! I’m dying to know what part of my conversation they quoted haha 🙂
Ok, that’s all! Stay tuned later this week for version 2 of the Soma Swimsuit! :DDD