Tag Archives: made up initiative

Made Up: Stretch & Sew Bikini

8 Sep

You know, for someone who doesn’t go swimming very frequently (or sunbathing, for that matter, as evidenced by these photos. Eh, what can I say – as an ex-smoker, I’m trying to be careful with my skin these days!), I sure do make more than my share of bathing suits. They are really fun and satisfying to sew up, though! I try to quell that urge by making undergarments instead, but sometimes you just wanna make something that gets shown off!

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - front

For our short trip to Cancun last week, I thought I would make another bathing suit to drag along – partially so I wouldn’t be stuck trying to wriggle into something damp on the second day (yeesh! I hate that!), and partially because, dammit, I wanted something new and sunshine-y to take on vacation! When Karen announced the Made-Up Initiative – which is currently funded at 248%, btw, because we are all awesome – I decided to set those plans into action and pledged to make the damn swimsuit.

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - side

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - sideI reckon there’s something about announcing intentions that causes them to immediately go awry, but, yeah, this was totally the Swimsuit That Almost Didn’t Happen. True story, if I hadn’t already made a big stinkin’ pledge, I probably would have put this project to sleep early on. I really hate the idea of not seeing something through, though, so I soldiered on and stuck it out. Happily, the end result was this lil’ paisley dream! Yay!

My first attempt was with a completely different pattern, McCall’s 4330 – a string bikini straight outta the 1970s. The pattern called for wovens, but I thought I could adapt it with a stretch knit. It actually mostly worked, except, I tried on the top about halfway through and realized that I DO NOT LIKE the way I look in a string bikini! Eep! Too little coverage, well, everywhere. I know that’s the whole point of a string bikini, but I was not feeling it. I considered giving up at this point.

Instead, I dug around in my stash and found this copy of Stretch & Sew 1390, which is for a cute little halter-style bikini that is, again, straight outta the 1970s. I liked that it offered more coverage – both top and bottom – than the string bikini, and I liked that it was actually sized and drafted for swimsuit knits. I’d never sewn with a Stretch & Sew pattern, but I have definitely noticed the cult following that these patterns get, which is always a good sign in my opinion. I traced off my size (you have to do this with these patterns; the instructions are printed on the nested pieces. Sort of a pain, since it means the instructions are on a GIANT sheet of paper, but kind of nice in the sense that you are forced to keep all the sizes!), made a mock-up of the bikini top, and then prepared to cut in my actual swimsuit fabric – when I realized that I had nowhere near enough yardage to do this. I was using leftovers from a previous suit – bikinis are so tiny and they barely take any fabric, so this usually isn’t a problem. However, this suit has few seams & looong halter-tie straps, which means it *does* require more yardage, which I didn’t have. At this point, we were less than 2 weeks out from departure. Again, I considered giving up. Dun dun dun!

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - front close up

Spoiler alert! I found an awesome paisley swimsuit fabric at The Fabric Fairy, immediately ordered it, and it was at my house within a week. Since I’d already worked out all my fitting adjustments before ordering the fabric, that meant I was able to get right into sewing once I received everything. The whole suit was made up in an evening session. Pretty awesome! And I actually like this fabric a lot more than anything I was trying to pull out of my stash, so double win for me!

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - back

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - back close up

The pattern is well-drafted and very simple to assemble – there aren’t a whole lot of seams, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The bikini top is self-lined, with the outside shaping created by soft gathers, and the inside has a few darts. The straps tie behind the neck, halter-style, and the bottom is encased with wide elastic all the way around and closes with a swimsuit hook. The bottoms are just your standard bikini bottoms, lined in swimsuit lining and edges finished with elastic.

My original tracing and mock-up trusted the sizing of the pattern, which ended up with it being much too big. I ended up cutting the bikini in the size A cup and shortening the elastic for the midriff by about 3″ (I imagine most anyone would have to make this adjustment, as they just have you cut it to 27″ for all sizes and I’m sure there are plenty of people who are either bigger or smaller than that!). For the bottoms, I just kept cutting the size down until they finally fit me. They were really huge – which I prefer negative ease with my swimsuit bottoms (so they don’t look like a saggy diaper when wet!), and these were quite the opposite. I think I ended up going down about 3 sizes to get the fit that I wanted.

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - bikini top on dressform

I followed the instructions pretty closely as written, except that I topstitched the bottom band of the bikini top to avoid doing any handstitching, and I sewed the elastic in the bikini bottoms a little differently. Most of this was made on my sewing machine with a zigzag stitch, except finishing the edges of the bottoms before attaching the elastic – I serged those edges first, so they’d look clean on the inside. Oh! I also added really thin swimsuit cups to the bikini top, sandwiched between the outer fabric and the lining. They are super thin, so they don’t really add any padding – just eliminate any nipping that could potentially happen haha.

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - bikini top

Top of the swimsuit, flat. The elastic goes all the way around the ribcage, which makes for a very secure top (you just need to make sure that it’s the right circumference for your ribcage, since it closes with a hook and doesn’t tie).

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - self lining

Darts on the inside/self lining of the bikini top.

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - bikini bottoms

Bikini bottoms!

Paisley print Stretch & Sew Bikini - side back

No matter how many swimsuits I make, I will admit that I always feel a tiny bit stressed when I wear them out for the first time! Will it hold up? Is something going to go surprise see-through on me? What if the fabric sucks and bleeds color all out into the water? Thankfully, this one didn’t give me any problems and I really enjoyed wearing it during my vacation! I think the paisley fabric is so pretty and it makes me happy to look at it 🙂 I’m glad that I stuck this one through and ended up with a fun little swimsuit as a result!

Did you pledge for The Made-Up Initiative? How is your pledge coming along? The deadline is in 2 days!

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Completed: Simplicity 6266

14 Aug

How often do we fall in love with a pattern and swear that we’re going to make a million versions, and then end up with just the original one? Yeah. I definitely made this pattern like 3 years ago, and I definitely have been saying ever since then that I need to make it again. Whoops. Better late than never, anyway!

Simplicity 6280

The pattern in question is Simplicity 6266, which, 3+ years later, I STILL can’t find anywhere on the internet. EDIT: Definitely had the pattern number wrong. Dunno what that was all about hahah! This post has been corrected 🙂 I made this forever and ever ago in a slinky poly cheetah print, with adorable little tulip sleeves. It’s the best dress. I still wear it all the time – it is kind of awful in the summer (polyester not being breathable and all), but I do it for the ~fashion~. Truth me told, the OG cheetah version is one of the few dresses that I actually altered to fit my new size after I lost weight, rather than get rid of it (which happened to most of my closet, if you were around for the Great Closet Etsy Purge a couple years ago). Now you know that’s true love!

Simplicity 6280

I knew I eventually wanted to make it again – it stayed in my pattern queue piles for years, and I waffled back and forth on fabric choices. I finally decided to bite the bullet and just fucking make it – and I used a special/hoardy fabric to do it. Might as well kill two birds with one stone! Get’er done and all that!

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Remember when I said that I had to alter the original dress after I lost weight? Well. I knew the pattern was going to need some adjustments, since it was completely unaltered and thus the original size (which was for a 33.5″ bust, sadly larger than what I’m rocking these days), but I threw all fucks to the wind and just charged ahead with making this before I changed my mind. So, there were a lot of last-minute fitting alterations to get this thing even remotely sized like I am. I took quite a bit out of the side seams, as well as raising the shoulders a bit (not much, less than 1/2″. Maybe more like 1/4″. I don’t remember! Sorry!). The resulting fit is pretty good, I think, but it definitely added quite a bit of unnecessary unpicking and re-adjusting that I could have avoided had I bothered to make a muslin and do some flat pattern adjustments. With that being said… did I make those adjustments to the pattern after these alterations? Hell no! Do I look like I operate on common sense?? 😛

Simplicity 6280

All that aside, once I got the fitting sorted out – the rest of the dress came together beautifully. This is the kind of project that I just love doing – working with a pattern that I know I love to wear, made up in a beautiful and special fabric, and spending the extra time on parts of the construction, such as blind-stitching the hem by hand (I can’t even remember the last time I did that! What is wrong with me?)

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

I kept most of the construction true to the pattern, but I did change out a few things. For one, I left off the arm hole facing and used bias facing instead. Since there’s a lot of topstitching going on with this dress, the topstitching for the bias facing doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I also traded out the lapped zipper for an invisible zipper, because it looks a bit more polished. I did not make the waist tie for this dress (on my cheetah dress, I made it, just didn’t attach it to the dress), instead I added some thread loops to hold my belt in place.

Simplicity 6280

The fabric was another gift from the fabric goddess herself, Sunni. This, too, was part of the awesome care package she sent me last year. I’ve been waiting so long to figure out what to use with it, but I’m happy that I decided to match it up with this pattern! This fabric is rayon challis that has the most gorgeous, fluid drape. Really really lovely stuff. It shed like a hairy little monster, but otherwise sewed and pressed well. It is slightly translucent, so you can see the facings shining through the front in some lights, but that doesn’t bother me. I just wear skin-colored undergarments and get on with my life.

Simplicity 6280Similar to the cheetah version of this dress, I tacked the front surplice together to prevent it from gaping when I bend over. Unlike the cheetah version, I literally just sewed the two pieces together (see the stitching line? It’s aligned with the topstitching so it doesn’t show from the outside), instead of using a snap. A snap seems kind of silly with a mock-wrap dress – I mean, when am I going to unsnap it? Never, that’s when!

Simplicity 6280

Because the fabric is so drapey and shifty, I added a strip of stay tape to the waist seam to prevent it from stretching over time. Just sewed it to the seam allowance at the waist, and then topstitched it down on the outside. Not shown but also there – I interfaced the zipper seam allowance with a strip of fusible interfacing, before I added the zipper. This not only adds strength, but also keeps the fabric from wrinkling by the zipper. I know there are still a few puckers – alas, the nature of the beast – but it’s not nearly the horrifyingly wavy thing that it was threatening to be pre-interfacing.

Simplicity 6280

I love making belt thread loops! Ha!

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

One of my favorite parts of this dress is this section right here – the dart + the lines of the surplice neckline. I just think it’s so pretty!

Simplicity 6280

Really glad to finally get a good idea for that fabric so I could give it the love it deserved! I actually almost made a Hawthorn with it – but decided at the last minute that it might look a little too cutesy with the polka dots. This sleek 70s mock-wrap is a good alternative because it’s a classic style in it’s own right, and I know I love wearing it. Ideally, I’d like to make this again for winter with the long sleeves – but I also know I’d have to do a lot of pattern adjustments to the tissue before that happens. We’ll see!

In the meantime – I used some of the remaining fabric to make a really adorable bra, so stay tuned for that!

made-up-logo-ii

As a side note – have y’all heard about the Made Up Initiative that was just launched yesterday? Karen and Love Sewing Magazine have dreamed up a great fundraiser, where you pledge a donation and set your own challenge to make something before September 10 (it doesn’t have to be sewing related! It can be anything!). There will be prizes for those who complete their personal challenge on or before the deadline. All the money raised goes to the National Literacy Trust.

I love the idea of pulling the sewing community together to accomplish something like this, and bonus if it’s for literacy! Reading was a huge part of my childhood and I fell in love with it at a very early age. I come from a family of voracious readers and it saddens me that not every child (or adult, for that matter) has those same opportunities that I did. So I’m definitely on board with this, and have contributed and made my pledge – I will be making a swimsuit before we go on vacation next month. It’s a pretty simple pledge – I really wanted to make something show-stopping, like a coat or some shit – but I realized that time is pretty short right now and I need something low-key if I actually want it to be finished by the deadline. Plus, I want an excuse to use this 70s-fabulous string bikini pattern that I bought at the flea market a couple of months ago. We are going to Cancun, Mexico, the first weekend of September, so time is short!

I encourage all of you to consider joining the Made Up Initiative and set your own challenge! Again, it doesn’t have to be a big fancy project – it can be as small as making a couple of napkins – or even sewing related. You just need to make something by the deadline. And even if you don’t think you can manage anything by the deadline, maybe consider donating anyway. Even $5 makes a difference!

For all the info on the Made Up Initiative, check out Karen’s blog post. You can also donated directly to the Just Giving page – as of this publish, it’s at 91%, which is awesome. Think we can double that? C’mon, y’all! Do it for the books! ♥