Tag Archives: swim

Completed: The Burdastyle Alison Swimsuit

21 May

Oh hells yes it’s time for another swimsuit. SWIMSUITS FOREVERRRRR.

Alison Swimsuit

I actually finished this a couple weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it. Whoops! This is swimsuit #2 of my summer swim gear (if you missed #1, you can see it here). Not that my old swimsuits needed to be replaced (I have three in addition to what I’ve made this year – one two three –  yep, all my swimsuits are handmade at this point. Livin’ the dream!), but they’re REALLY fun to make! Can’t stop, won’t stop.

In fact, I have a third one already cut. No idea when I’ll get to that one, but its my American Flag Bikini Fit for a Beer Commerical, soooo hopefully sooner than later, ha. That is the suit that will be necessary for lazy days floating down the river.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

So anyway, let’s talk about the swimsuit at hand. This particular goody is the Alison swimsuit from Burdastyle. This is I think maybe the second Burdastyle pattern I’ve ever sewn (the first was a Bombshell dress – which I don’t know if that *really* counts, because I followed an online course to make it so I wasn’t at the mercy of the instructions). I know they’re kind of a rite of passage for a lot of us sewers who thrive on the internet, but I’ve never been a huge fan of PDFs (hate taping them, hate storing them, bleeech) and I’ve heard horror stories about the ones that come out of Burdastyle. Most of the patterns don’t include seam allowances, and pretty much everybody complains about the instructions, or lack thereof. I’ve done pretty well with getting the looks I want from patterns that don’t have these issues, so skipping the BS (lol that abbreviation) hasn’t been a huge issue. Until I saw this swimsuit, anyway, and realized that I was gonna have to woman up and make shit happen.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison is a cute little retro-inspired one piece swimsuit, with a halter neck, gathered bust section, and a healthy bit of butt coverage. While this would be a REALLY cute style for pretty much all sizes and shapes, it unfortunately only comes in sizes S, M & L. I would guess it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to grade up another size or two – the few pieces in the pattern are all pretty simple – but I’d definitely make a mock-up first if you decide to go that route. I’m actually between sizes according to the size chart, so I just traced a line right between the Small and Medium and used that as my ~custom Lauren size~. Worked out pretty well, I think!

While I did not make any fit alterations to this pattern – there are a LOT of reviews that the body of the suit is really really short. I’m pretty petite and everything fits quite well, both length and width wise, which is good because I didn’t see those reviews until after I’d cut out the suit. Also, if you’re thinking about making this pattern – the seam allowances ARE included! Praise the Lord!

The instructions, on the other hand. Woof.

Alison Swimsuit

In all honesty, this almost ended up being The Swimsuit That Never Was, because the instructions are pretty confusing and hard to decipher! When I first downloaded the pattern, I noticed that there were a couple pages of instructions as well as some photos. I thought that was pretty awesome and I felt confident that this pattern would not live up to the Burdastyle tales of caution (especially since, like I said, it was fancy enough to have the seam allowances included). THIS WAS ALL A LIE. The instructions don’t make a lick of sense, at least not from what I could tell, and there aren’t any notches or markings to help you assemble the pieces together (which can sometimes save a shitty set of instructions). I spent a lot of time pin-basting pieces together, re-opening the PDF instructions and zooming in on pictures, reading the complaint comments on the Burdastyle site (had I read those first, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted this shit, tbh) and feeling sorry for myself for wasting a perfectly good piece of black swimsuit lycra.

Fortunately, a bit of googling around led me to this blog post with instruction clarification, as well as a list of the steps needed to actually put together the damn swimsuit. Of course, as of this writing (you know, a whole 2 weeks later), it appears that the post has been taken down so unfortunately that’s not really gonna help anyone. And being as how I made of this suit flying by the seat of my pants, I don’t really remember the specific steps needed to actually finish the damn thing. SORRY, I’M LIKE THE MOST UNHELPFUL BLOGGER EVER GAH. To be fair, the only really confusing part for me was the gathered bodice – because of the lack of pattern markings, I couldn’t figure out which way to fold it or where to sew my gathering stitches. Once I figured that out (it gets folded in half vertically, fyi – so it perfectly fits in the front suit scoop without being stretched), the rest of the suit was pretty easy to figure out. If you’ve sewn a swimsuit before and understand how to insert the elastic and all that, then you can probably figure this one out.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

The black swimsuit lycra I used is old from my stash. I also lined the entire suit, except for the gathered bodice (which is self-lined by folding back one big piece of lycra after gathering). I was able to squish some swimsuit-friendly cups in the bodice before closing it up – this was as easy as trying the suit on before sewing the lining closed, positioning the cups, and then zigzagging them into place. The original pattern back strap is supposed to tie closed, but I don’t like having big lumps on my back sooo I just cut it as one piece and connected to both sides of the back. I wish I’d had the foresight to position the strap so that it doesn’t cross over the back binding and instead goes under it, but, eh, hindsight is 20/20 and at least I know for next time. The halter closes with a swimsuit hook, rather than tying because, again, don’t like having big lumps on my back.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Here are some flat/inside shots. I would have loved to have a hook that wasn’t bright white, but white was what I had in my stash so I made do with (not that you can even really see it when I’m wearing it, anyway). The lining I’m especially proud of – I was able to origami the whole thing so that the only exposed seams are the side seams up by the bust. Everything else is encased within the lining, yay! The leg holes are finished with swimsuit elastic and topstitched with a zigzag stitch.

ANYWAY, all construction issues aside – the pattern itself is pretty all right, and I’m happy with how it eventually turned out! I’ve always wanted a black retro-style bathing suit, so I can lay on the beach with my fancy adult beverage and floppy sun hat and feel like a Classy Lady, and I feel like this suit really fits that image to a T (me in the suit, now that’s another discussion for another day, ha!). I can’t wait to try my suits out at the beach this weekend. This suit feels pretty secure and like it won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions, but I always get a little nervous the first time I wear a handmade swimsuit out. You never know what’s going to decide to disintegrate once it hits the water and leave you nakey on the beach. Not that that’s EVER happened to me (or anyone I know, for that matter), but I have a healthy fear nonetheless haha.

Alison Swimsuit

In other news – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m celebrating the dirty 30 this year, and I’m pretty happy to finally be able to say good-bye to my 20s. My early 20s were a total shitshow, my mid-20s were basically me rebelling against myself, and my late 20s have been spent cleaning up the mess I left in my own wake. I feel pretty good about this new decade and I’ll be celebrating it good and proper with my BFF when we’re in Peru next month! (have I been talking about Peru too much? Whatever, dudes, I’ve been planning this trip for a year! Sorry, not sorry! ahhahaahaha!).

Hope y’all have a lovely weekend! I’m beach-bound as of tomorrow morning, and I cannot WAIT.

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Completed: The Watson Bikini

11 May

I don’t know about where y’all are, but swimsuit season is BASICALLY upon us over here. Sure, they haven’t opened the pools – yet (that always happens on Memorial Day weekend, coincidentally right around my birthday as well. Pool parties every year for this kid!) – but it’s only a matter of time. Plus, I want to be ready when the water is warm – and not be scrambling to finish something the night before I hit the pool. Last-minute sewing is for people who work well under pressure. Which is not me.

Watson Bikini

So, anyway, I made a bikini! Yeah!!!

Watson Bikini

If this pattern looks familiar, it’s because I’ve made it before (not to mention it’s made some ROUNDS ’round the internet). It’s not a swimsuit pattern, per se – it’s actually a lingerie pattern. This here is the Watson Bra & Bikini pattern from Cloth Habit, modified into the swimsuit you see here. And yes, I realize that these pictures basically mean y’all are seeing me in lingerie. Whatever.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

I have made this pattern before a couple of times (see one and two), so I knew I was good with the fit and I had strong feelings that this pattern would work equally well as swimwear with a few modifications. It was just a matter of finding a good swimwear lycra and figuring out how to stabilize that cradle in a way that wouldn’t deteriorate in chlorine and salt water.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Since I’ve gone into detail about the making of this pattern before, I won’t talk too much about the sizing or construction outside of making it into swimwear. I sewed my regular size – the 30D – and the fit was good except a did have a bit of gaping right between the side of the cup and the underarm. I think it has more to do with my elastic application – it might not have been stretched enough – but it was on both sides so I dunno. It may have been due to the stretch of my fabric, but the rest of the top fits great and the 4 way stretch is similar to the millskin I used for my first Watson. Anyway, I fixed it by taking in a dart and topstitching it down (at this point, the swimsuit was complete so there was nooo way I was unpicking all that shit haha). Not the most elegant solution, but the print is super busy so you can’t really see it, plus it’s right at my armpit. If anyone is looking and notices that shit, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Other than that, the fit was good! I add a little bit of extra to the bottoms – about 1/2″ extended out from the back for more butt coverage, and about 1/2″ extended at the top to make them slightly higher. They’re still a little cheeky, but I think it’s pretty cute 🙂

Watson Bikini

Like I said, there were a couple of things that needed to be addressed in order to convert this into proper swimwear. For one, I knew it needed lining (maybe you wear unlined swimsuits, but I don’t!). I cut an extra of every piece out of swimsuit lining, and was able to origami it so that there aren’t any raw edges, except where the cups meet the band. Couldn’t figure that one out, so I just serged the seam. I also needed to change out aaaall that elastic to be swimsuit elastic- the picot and lace edges elastics that you use in lingerie are beautiful, but they aren’t made to hold up to salt water and chlorine (not to mention, they totally make that shit look like a bra). This was easy – I used braided swimsuit elastic and attached it opposite of how you attach lingerie elastic. Meaning, you sew the first swipe on the inside of the garment (I used my serger, but you can zigzag this), and then fold it one more time and zigzag topstitch. I did this everywhere except at the top of the cups, where I sewed it as you normally would for a bra (hadn’t thought that far ahead, whoops).

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

The strapping at the back band also totally stumped me for about a month. In the pattern, the top of the back band is finished with strapping that extends to go over your shoulders. It’s beautiful, but it’s not really good for swimwear (again, can’t stand up to the elements/chemicals, and – again, looks like lingerie). Of course, you can just finish the top edge with elastic the same way you finish all the other edges – but I liked the look of the strapping, plus, I have a feeling it’s sewn that way to help with the fit. After a bit of thought, I decided to do elastic covered straps and apply them the same way that the strapping is done on a regular bra. I used Ada Spragg’s tutorial on making elastic swimsuit straps (GIRL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SHIT), and they turned out pretty nice! I left off the adjustable sliders since the elastic was so thick, but I did keep the little O-rings at the top.

The only downside is that I wasn’t quite precise with my seam allowances, so one strap has a tendency to twist (I’m pretty sure that’s from the elastic inside trying to roll up). It’s annoying, but not enough to make me unpick and start over. We’ll see how I feel after I get back from the beach 😛

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Another thing that needed to be addressed was changing out the hook and eye for something that looks, you know, not like a bra. I used a swimsuit hook and eye – I know it doesn’t match, but it’s all I had on hand and anyway, you can’t really see it when it’s on – and just adjusted the back to fit the hook. I did this after the swimsuit was assembled, but before I attached the straps. There’s a tutorial on how to do this over at Cloth Habit, it’s for a bra, but same concept. For the opposite side, I just folded over the edge and sewed it down to make a tunnel for the hook to go through. Easy!

Watson Bikini

Finally, I had to figure out a way to stabilize the cradle while still making this thing hold up in water. For most lingerie patterns, this might not be a problem – but with this particular pattern, the cradle (the part of the band that attaches to the cups) needs to be stabilized so it does not stretch. The pattern has you use lightweight tricot, but I wasn’t sure if that would deteriorate over time. Instead, I cut two pieces of heavy powermesh running in opposite directions, and stacked them on top of each other with the swimsuit lycra on top and the lining on the bottom. Powermesh is water-friendly (well, so I’ve been told!) and it does a pretty good job of keeping everything stable.

Watson Bikini

The rest of the bikini was as straightforward as making lingerie. All pieces are cut from swimsuit lyrcra and swimsuit lining (other than the powermesh to stablize the cradle), and I included lots of zigzag topstitching to give it a sporty look.

In case you were wondering, my swimsuit lycra is from Spandex House in NYC. I bought it while I was in the Garment District in March. My lining is also from Spandex House, and the elastics I used are from Joann’s. I think the bra rings came off an old bra, and I don’t remember where the swimsuit hook is from. Other than using the serger to attach the elastic, I sewed everything on my sewing machine. Even with me stopping and researching and scratching my head, this shit only took a couple of hours to make. And just like that – I’m ready for the beach! Yay!

Oh, and how ’bout that AWESOME necklace I’m wearing?? I can’t take credit for choosing that – its from Rocksbox, which is a new online service where you rent 3 pieces of jewelry every month, chosen for you by a stylist. You can swap out the jewelry as much as you like during the month, and any pieces you buy are discounted. I’ve been trying it for about a month and it’s really fun – and definitely got me wearing jewelry that I otherwise neverrrr would have picked up. I was given a couple of months free by the company to try it out, but I’m seriously thinking of maintaining the account afterwards because I like this shit waaaay more than I thought I would! It’s only $19 a month, the shipping is free both ways, and I’ve received (and bought :I) some really cool pieces! So there’s that. Anyway, bringing this up now because you can use the code lladybirdxoxo and try your first month of Rocksbox for freeeeee. Who doesn’t like free, amirite? Also, SHINY.

Watson Bikini

Can’t wait to try this bad boy out in the water when we go to the beach in a couple of weeks! Also bonus for having a suit that no one else will be wearing (I used to buy aaaall my suits at Target. Do you know how many Target swimsuits run up and down Santa Rosa Beach? Do you know how many of those said swimsuits look better on the other person than they do on me? The shame.). I have tons more of this lycra – the minimum cut was 1 yard and you really only need like 1/4 yard to make a bikini – so I’m already trying to justify having a fleet of geometric swimsuits. We’ll see!