Not a bra but a swimsuit

At the time of writing I still haven’t made a bra but I did make this swimsuit after last year’s #braugust.

It’s the Burda Alison pattern which I stumbled on in someone’s blog, can’t remember whose. It’s been knocking around for at least 10 years and was free once upon a time but I had to pay $3.99 for it.

Never mind I’m very happy with it.

This swimsuit is a nice shape with low cut, retro legs, so nice if you want something modest. I like halter necklines for alternative strap lines and the bust shelf looked easy to accomplish. The halter neck has a clip closure and it also has a tie strap at the back,

I decided early on to omit the clips ( I didn’t want to spend time sourcing them and then waiting for delivery) and the back strap (what I think is a rotator cuff injury makes doing anything up at the back uncomfortable)

This isn’t really a how to as after a year I can’t actually remember all the steps I took. I winged it a bit as the instructions were a bit sparse. (They have been improved now apparently) I will refer you to a great blog I found after the event by Fluffy Fibers which sums it up perfectly with improved instructions.

Cutting out fabric and lining

Despite hunting picture files and diaries, I cannot tell you where I purchased my fabric. I know I bought it on holiday and I think it was in Turkey. It’s some kind of Lycra with 4 way stretch and although it was not intended for a swimsuit – but don’t ask me what I bought it for- it works perfectly. The lining is ‘Skin’ (!) shiny lining bought for this project from Funki Fabrics last summer.

It seems I got a bit caught up in all the sewing to take pics at every stage, so this is by no means an exhaustive “How to”. More just a few hints.

Constructing the crotch and lining.

I basically made the outer and lining bodies at the same time and joined them together, sandwiching the crotch pieces so all the raw edges are inside.

Adding the bust/bodice

The bust insert is folded in half horizontally and gathered at the sides, before being attached to the front body.

Preparing the band
Turning the band

To make the band I cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the body and I added enough to make long ties as I had changed the pattern slightly to make it a halter tie neck rather than a clip. I overlocked one side and then turned it using a large crochet hook

Attaching the centre band

The centre front band is sandwiched between the bust band and the bodice before being sewn in place, it is then folded over to the inside and this forms the gathering on the bust. I found that mine did not resemble the model at all it was way too big, this does not happen often I can assure you! I had to take in a lot on this piece and add gathers to make it fit well. After reading @fluffyfibers’ blog, next time I will add bra cups as well – I wish I’d thought of this.

…then it looks like this...
Adding the band and straps

The legs are finished by attaching elastic to the inside of the leg – you can pin or baste – then with with a zigzag stitch, topstitch on the regular machine.

Pretty zig-zag

I found this swimsuit fairly easy to construct but this is because I am a confident sewist, the instructions weren’t great and I think a beginner might struggle. It’s a bit of a ‘make it work’ kind of pattern. Since I’ve made it, I’ve seen a LOT of negative reviews about the instructions and the pattern preparation, but I think it’s still worth a shot. In future versions, I will cut the bust piece smaller and actually sew gathers into it, I will also cut the front band shorter to help the gathering. In addition, I’d like to see how it works with a clip fastening at the neck but I can live without the tie back. I am however, deeeeeelighted with the results.

Cheeesy smug grin
Ursula Andress anyone…..?

Afters: In writing this post, I never imagined how good making a garment could make me feel. I know we have all felt the satisfaction of making something wearable with our own hands, the sense of triumph of conquering a new and maybe complicated technique and the smugness of knowing it can’t be bought in stores; but I never anticipated the confidence and the feeling of being happy with my own body that this swimsuit has given me. On holidays in the past I often used to think “It doesn’t matter what I look like, nobody knows me” but the fact that I’m posting a picture me in a swimsuit on the internet for the world to see should tell you how I feel about me right now. When contemplating this perennial question Why do you sew? – This is why I sew.

Have you sewn this or any, swimwear, – how did it go?

Thanks for dropping by.

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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