I am, by nature, a fairly selfish sewer. It’s not because I don’t want to make things for others; my sister could tell you the number of times I’ve excitedly exclaimed, “Oh I really want to make one of those for you!” (which she acknowledges with an amused “okay”, that seems to indicate her of knowledge of the likelihood of ever actually receiving said item). But when it comes down to it, I generally have so little time to sew that I barely have time to make any of the things I want for myself, let alone all the things I’d love to make for my friends and family. However, given that the holidays had left me with a little more time than usual at my disposal, I bravely decided to do some me-made Christmas gifts – and I vowed that they would be completed before December 25.
I am pleased to say, I succeeded there, and my mum and sister did receive their gifts on Christmas morning. The first of these to share with you today – two-piece bathers for my sister!
The swimwear lycra is again from Rathdowne, the lining and elastics the same as those I used for my own bikini a few weeks ago, and from Booby Traps and Spotlight respectively. And aren’t they a swell little set?
My sister knew what she was getting for Christmas (well, this part of it at least!), so I got her to pick the fabric and choose the design, as she has very particular (not to mention, excellent) taste. So she choose this stunning swimwear lycra, and nominated the style she wanted (this set on Instagram was a particular inspiration). I’d never seen a swimwear pattern quite like this before, nor any lingerie patterns similar enough for easy adaptation. The design was simple enough, but I wasn’t quite game enough to draft the entire thing from scratch, especially with such a deadline looming. What I needed, basically, was something of a sloper; a super simple, body-conforming stretch pattern I could use for both top and bottoms. And, as luck would have it, such a pattern was already on my wish-list: the Nettie Bodysuit from Closet Case Files!
To make things even easier, Heather had already included something of a swimwear hack at the end of her Nettie sew-a-long, so I knew it could be done without too much trouble, and I was able to take from it a few tips about alterations and construction. I think it really was the perfect choice of pattern for this project in many ways; the sizing was spot-on, as I could cut a straight size 6 for my sister; the multiple neckline options meant I could easily pick the high neck option for both front and back to get the right shape; and the lengthen and shorten lines fell at the perfect places to make a good starting point for length for both top and bottoms. I traced the pattern off (although it’s a pdf, I want to make some Netties for myself at some point without going to the trouble of all the printing and taping again!), lowered the underarm by an inch, and simply drew a diagonal line from the bottom of the armhole to the edge of the neckline, eliminating the shoulder area. For the bottoms, I simply added to the crotch width so the leg openings could be finished with elastic instead of binding.
From there, construction was simple – or at least, it should have been. My sewing machine decided to chuck a massive tanty (now there’s some Aussie slang for you!), and simply refused to sew the lycra. More specifically, it just wouldn’t pick up the bobbin thread at all. I knew it was a problem with the fabric specifically, as it was working just fine on everything else; so I messed with the tension; changed needle about fifty million times, trying all different types and sizes; and tried sewing with the lycra on top and on the bottom, but nothing worked. Finally, I decided to try increasing the pressure of the presser foot – I normally have it on the lightest setting (above no pressure at all, that is), as it makes it much easier to sew the curves on lingerie, and helps stop the foot pushing stretchy layers out of alignment. But I thought in this case, the increased pressure might help keep the fabric taut enough to get the needle to penetrate properly. Finally, success! I was finally able to sew all the seams (using my usual enclosing sandwich method) for a quick fitting (which was approved unanimously), before topstitching them down.
Elastic was applied the same ways as for my last pair of bathers, stitched to the wrong side, then flipped under and stitched again. To make the neck tie, I used the second method shown by Erin in this tutorial. I just turned under the top edge of each neckline and stitched it down to form the casing. I would’ve finished the edges first, probably, except that finishing the edge would have meant stitching near the edge, and my machine still wasn’t having any of that. Once the tie was threaded through, they were completely finished! Construction was so straightforward, it probably only took me a couple of hours once I got the machine actually sewing (which begs the question, how quick would it be if I got my hands on an overlocker??). So I think I can safely promise my sister – you can have as many pairs of these as you want!
I really like the simplicity of the design of this set – it really showcases the gorgeous fabric, and though I personally don’t think I could skip out on underwires in my bathers, I can’t deny that this is a super sleek and elegant look. They look absolutely stunning on her too – if you follow me on Instagram, I think our upcoming tropical holiday will necessitate some sister selfies in our me-made bathers 😛
Well, now that my Christmas sewing is all done and dusted, I am definitely looking forward to more guilt-free sewing for me! I quite keen to work more with the Nettie pattern now too – I’m thinking body suits, dresses, maybe some lingerie, bathers for me…in other words, I’m sure it will be popping up on this blog again, very soon!
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx