Have you taken the metaphorical plunge into swimsuit sewing? How did it go?
I have avoided sewing a swimsuit sewing the past several years for many reasons. Chief among those reasons being that I don’t really swim, I sunburn easily, and before now, I’ve not been able to figure out how to keep tiny people safe in the water, especially when I don’t really swim.
Now my two oldest have had a few rounds of swim lessons and can be a little bit more independent in the water, it’s about time for me to have a swimsuit that’s not falling off of me
(my only RTW suit was bought after my 2nd pregnancy where I had gained so much weight that I stopped counting).
I chose Jalie 3023, a tankini style suit with tank top featuring side ruching with optional skirt to cover the bottoms. I’ve always liked how modest this suit is. Swimsuits always require one to flash more skin than I’m ever comfortable with, and I like that I really don’t have to worry in this pattern about potential wardrobe malfunctions. This one has a nice “athletic” sort of look to it which is preferable in my mind to “racy”.
Plus, with Jalie, I’m guaranteed that there’s a size that will fit me. The sizing of swim patterns is a bit mystifying to me, but I know Jalie’s sizing really well and since they pretty much end up being my TNT for everything, I knew I’d end up with something that would not end up being a wadder.
The construction was really quite simple and per Jalie’s instructions, everything came together quite easily. My only change was opting to cut the drawstrings in 2 pieces vs. 4. I folded them in half and threaded the folded end through the casing before I tacked it in place. I figured since 2 drawstrings are going into the same casing, it’d be easier to deal with threading in 1 drawstring doubled up vs. 2. I also used Steam a Seam 2 to help press under the raw edges on the straps. Pressing nylon spandex can be fussy because it has so much recovery that it doesn’t hold a press well, but the Steam a Seam helps you get a nice crisp, even edge.
This particular suit is from nylon spandex scraps I’ve accumulated through various failed swimwear sewing attempts. The blue is from a Burdastyle Allison that I tried to sew a real, functional bra into back when I had more of a bust. Yeah, it did not work, but the blue is really high quality nylon spandex that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of.
The polka dot fabric is leftover from a maternity wrap top that I just never liked. For all of the maternity wrap styles that are out there, I’ve concluded that they’re really fussy to wear as a pregnant lady. And maybe it’s just me, but I never appreciated having fabric bound around me when clothes were already so uncomfortable. At any rate, I was glad to find a new use for this fabric.
I fully lined the bottom with orange ITY because that’s what I had available. I’m sure yet another reason I’ve avoided making swimwear because I only wanted to have the most perfect lining so that I was doing everything “correctly.” I like the fit of the bottom so much, I’m considering tweaking it to use for an underwear pattern, but I’ll only bother if I can find the thin, soft elastics you see in RTW undies.
I love that the skirt and the bottom are integrated. This means only one round of elastic around your middle, making it very comfortable and secure. These bottoms are not going anywhere when you wear them for sure, which is a relief.
I used powernet for the shelf bra, again, because it’s what I had on hand. It definitely provides a ton of support, but next time, I might look into other options or at least cover the powernet with some nylon spandex for better coverage and comfort. The truth is that I don’t know much about swim fabrics. At one point I did a lot of research about said fabrics, but that was before I put off making swimwear for multiple years.
As for the fit of the pattern, I think I need to shorten the waist as I get this big fat horizontal fold when I’m wearing it at waist level. The skirt is perfectly fine for a swimsuit, but I’d like it to be a little longer for my own comfort. I might also consider a boy short style bottom. The RTW boy short I have I like, and I think if I improve on the fit on that one, I could really end up with a style I’d like.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.