Kwik Sew Swimsuit
May 28, 2011
Memorial Day seems to be the official start of summer, AKA Swimsuit season. If you are anything like me, finding a swimsuit to fit your body is somewhere on the list of un-favorite things to do behind cleaning the bathroom and changing poopy diapers. One of the reasons I detest swimsuit shopping so much is that my body is not standard and is even less so since having a baby. My bust and chest ratio is not available off the rack. And if a 2 piece is not sold by the piece than that ain't happening either. I often wonder why tops are not sold in bra sizes because just because a lady is a medium across the chest does not make her a medium in cup size. And don't get me started on bottoms!
Alas, we are the lucky ones because we can sew so we can custom fit and design a swimsuit to not just fit perfectly but also to highlight what we like, disguise what we don't and add any details that are hot right now. So with all this in mind, I set out to make a great suit for me and I started with Kwik Sew's Swimsuit and Wrap Pattern (KP-3330) because #1: I really liked the skirt option and #2: I thought the top would be easy to modify to fit me well. To begin I tried on all my swimsuits from past and present to see what design elements I like and which I did not. I found that the halter style gave me the support I was looking for but I liked thicker straps that those in the pattern. This was easily fixed by widening the top of the cups. Right where the top of the cup reaches 2 in. across I extended it up to make 2 in. wide and 15 in long straps. I installed the elastic as stated in the pattern but continued the hem all the way up the strap. I also made the under bust strap into a tie as well for a better fit and extended the tie 5 more inches on each side but kept the elastic the same sizes as stated in the pattern. For the bottoms I left off the waist band because I found the elastic to give a slight muffin top effect. I may modify it later with more elastic or a smaller waist band but I am still waffling. I am also considering taking the waist band and putting it on the skirt so that the skirt is removable.
Now for the venting: there are few things more slippery than elastic on swimsuit fabric. It takes some practice to anticipate how it moves and where to position it on the sewing machine. I recommend using long, skinny, SHARP pins too. The long ones enabled me to keep them in the fabric until the last possible moment and then pull them out so my fabric would stay together. Because and try on your top as you make it. The darts can be tricky, if you don't curve them a bit you will end up with points, which is not a good look. You want a cup shape not a cone. Also, you will need a walking foot, a seam ripper, patience and a good drink (coffee or wine, depending on the time of day). The drink is for when you are just about to hurl your project out the window, take a drink and a deep breath and get back to work. It is worth it in the end to avoid dressing room lights and look good at the pool.
I have made the skirt and added the waist band to my bottoms. I recommend both but without the waist elastic. I originally had the elastic in my waist band as instructed in the pattern but it definitely gave a muffin top appearance and I feared I would have to suck in the whole time at the pool. So I ripped the waist band off and took out the elastic and it looks so much better and works just fine. This suit has been pool tested with a 2 yr old and it stays in place and looks great. I love the skirt: it is just long enough to add coverage without looking old fashioned.
To answer Anns question- There is no elastic at the top of the bottoms without the skirt as pictured above, only a fold over and then zig zag stitch. I don't think you need the elastic but if it sits too low or you want added insurance, add the waist band. It looks great and stays in place without elastic. You could definitely make the band wider to create more of a hipster look or more tummy coverage but I think you will see from the skirt picture that it does come up quite a bit so try it as is first with your muslin and then adjust as needed.
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