August 7, 2012

Don't... even... ask...

Don't worry, it's not the twisty top pattern I'm talking about. In fact, I've made good progress on that over the weekend. All I need to do now is make it again in order to take step-by-step pictures for the instructions. And write those instructions, of course. In fact, I planned to do that today but I got distracted by another project...

At some moment last week, I decided to make a bikini. I had fixed the little issue with the bust gathers on last year's retro swim suit and that made me realize two things: 1. with my serger and this sewing machine, sewing lycra is not something to be afraid of at all (I did a lingerie workshop with my old sewing machine, the jersey-eating maniac with feeding dog issues and that memory really stuck with me) and 2. I love that bathing suit, but in some cases, a bikini is just more practical/nicer.
I threw out my many years old RTW bikini in early June. The top had lost a lot of colour and it never fit properly in the first place. I looked for bikinis in the shops but although they were cheap and plentiful, I returned empty-handed both times. The problem there were the bikini bottoms... Apperantly, fashion dictates those should be very, very low indeed. Of course, I could look in a wider variaty of stores, but stores which sell bottoms which are eh... more revealing generally don't acknowledge my bust size...
So, with realisation 1 in mind, why not make my own? I even had some jersey in my stash. 
I decided on a lovely deep grey lycra which I bought at Kantje Boord during the  November blogger meeting. It was just an off-cut but it should be just enough for a bikini. 

And then, things got tricky. Of course, I wanted to draft my own pattern. I didn't those lingerie classes for no reason. In itself, that's fine. It's how I do all my sewing. I just knew I had to check the cup-size which was too small in my first bra. Then, I found I had already drafted a larger one for my bathing suit (which has stretchy material for the cups...), so I thought I might as well go with that. 
My design was for simple, fairly high-waisted bottoms and an underwired bra-style top with an interesting tied front. And I decided to try and incorporate a detail from RTW:

This year, the design of my favorite bra (H&M's 'our perfect racerback', in case you're wondering) changed from this, elastic applied in two passes,

to this this, lining with elastic serged to the inside which provides a very nice topstitching-free look at the outside. 

This was a bit of a nightmare. Good cup-size or not, I could have finished this bikini three times oven by now if I had just done it the normal way. Even the bottoms took me the better part of a day to finish (the only lining I had for those was more stretchy that the lycra, which caused all kinds of problems) and that sorry little thing in the picture at the start of this post, that's what the top looks like now... Ok, it's only half of it but still... 
There isn't a single section of this project which I didn't unpick at some point. In some cases the material let me down, like the stretchy lining or the overly firm new elastic. I other cases I just hadn't thought it out far enough. Usually, I can envision the order of construction of any given project even before I draft it but in this case it was a realy learning curve. I should be frustrated (and I probably will be if I don't end up with a wearable result) but I'm still loving the challenge.


  1. Swimwear can be SO frustrating! I just finished a tankini top, myself, and although the pattern was relatively simple, it STILL took for-freakin'-ever. Hang in there! It'll be smooth sailing after this construction re-construction. :)

  2. I admire your perseverence...swimwear feels daunting to me. But I agree with you bikini bottoms are way too revealing these days! I also had a hard time finding one.