30 May 2012

220. My first handmade swimsuit! KwikSew 3779

Today was the perfect day for an adventure: a swimsuit-sewing kind of adventure!  I've sewn some undies, and figured it couldn't be too much more difficult to sew a swimsuit.  Good news is that I was right about that.  :)

It took me at least 2 years to do this because...

  • I'd spent so much on store-bought suits and felt that, even though they weren't the best fit and style for me, I wanted to feel I'd gotten my money's worth by wearing them more... 
  • I couldn't find a great current pattern... 
  • Of vintage swimsuit patterns, many of the styles I loved were made for woven fabrics, back in the days when you wore a swimsuit to lounge, not to swim...
  • Sometimes I have so many things I want to sew that I don't know where to begin!  The swimsuit never made it to the top of the queue.
Why today?  First pool party of the season!  If that isn't motivation, I don't know what is!!!!


Everything, from cutting to sewing and finishing, took about 4 hours.  I did follow the instructions almost to the letter, despite my many doubts.  For instance, I was skeptical about that center front seam.  My undies are always cut on the fold because center front seams are the worst.  Since the lining is cut on the fold (without the center front seam), it's completely comfortable in that area, if you know what I mean.  

I wasn't sure how much of a petite adjustment to make -- I usually take an inch each from waist and hip.  Following my instinct, I took a half inch from the bust and another half inch from the waist.  

There were no instructions for how to sew in modesty pads in the bust area, and I didn't feel like messing this up with my experimentation, so I skipped any enhancement up top.  Honestly, esp. with the large print of the fabric, it's fine!  And comfortable.  Sometimes I sew garments with gathering under the bust and it gapes -- this pattern is incredibly forgiving and it doesn't look like I have too much fabric in the bust area (and there's room for more, you know, if there were more to put in there.  You know).

Also wasn't sure how the rear coverage would be, just from eyeballing the flat pattern, but I went with it.  It's perfect for me!  Didn't spend one moment adjusting the bottom of this suit, even after rising from a seated position.



I used almost an entire package of 3/8" clear elastic, using it exactly as directed.  And I have never, ever felt a better fit from a swimsuit in my entire life!  This suit feels solid.  That clear elastic seems to allow the suit to keep integrity.  The fit is just perfect.  I can't believe how much money I've spent on swimsuits all my life that mostly didn't fit well, and today, with four hours, free swimsuit fabric from a fabric swap, $5 of swimsuit lining from Joann's, and a $2 package of clear elastic, I have the best swimsuit ever!

Thank you, KwikSew!  I'll be sewing this again in solid fabric, I think.  And if the photos of me in the suit help anyone out there who's considering sewing this pattern, thank Leslie in Austin, who reminded me once that the Sewing Sisterhood relies on this kind of full disclosure to make better decisions about how they spend their precious sewing time.  I still hear Leslie's voice in my head when I'm tempted just to show you a swimsuit on a hanger.  :p


Click here for my pattern review of KwikSew 3779.

32 comments:

  1. It looks great!!! Very flattering!! Could you please write more about clear elastic, like how it's sewn in and what is the ratio of elastic to the fabric? less than 1 to 1, right?

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    1. KwikSew is very specific about how long the elastic should be. In the instructions, they show a chart at each step that calls for elastic, to show how much you should cut at each size. The sewing instructions at the front of the leaflet says to sew the elastic on the wrong side, when finishing armholes and leg holes, then to turn the edge toward the wrong side and sew down with a zigzag stitch to finish. It looks messy, so just don't look at the inside of my swimsuit! :)

      The clear elastic is also used to stabilize seams and reinforce seam allowances. I was really shocked to see how much I'd used, but it feels like a million bucks! In some cases, the elastic was the exact length of the seam I was reinforcing; sometimes you had to stretch it a little to fit, and the directions would often allude to needing to do this. In no case did it distort the seam, or make it pucker or gather in an odd way.

      Also worth noting: KwikSew is an equal-elastic proponent. I'd read somewhere before that you should mark the halfway point of the elastic, and divide your leg hole in thirds -- and sew one half of the elastic around the two-thirds of the leg hole that covers your bum, because that's where you want most of the recovery to be. I kept this rule of thumb in mind and stretched the elastic more along the bum than the front of the leg hole, but didn't measure to any level of specificity.

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  2. Too funny!  I'm glad my voice is nagging you so I got to see how great that suit looks on you. What a lovely way to welcome summer!

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    1. Thank you for the ever-present reminder to give back to the sisterhood, even when we are busy and stressed and don't feel like we have another iota to give. Because we benefit from everyone sharing their experiences! Happy summer, sister!

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  3. Great swim suit and thanks for sharing, rocket girl!

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    1. Thank you, fancy lady. Happy winter to you! :)

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  4. Good job, esp. for a first swimsuit! I've never tried since my machine might not be able to handle super stretchy fabrics. How nice to have a suit that doesn't go up your bum...

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    1. This was no big deal since the fabric was free. If my machine ate the fabric for lunch it wouldn't feel like I'd dropped a wad of cash on the fabric. I don't think my machine was as gentle as it could have been, esp. when basting 1/4" away from the fabric edge, but it didn't affect the finished product at all. It is nice to have a suit that doesn't ride up! :) Thanks!

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  5. Girl... you are inspiring me to make a swimsuit. I swear I have spent so much money on swimsuits and knowing that you just made one for under $10 and 4 hours, it's inspiring me :)

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    1. Girl, you should make one! I know yours would be fantastic and look just like something you'd design!

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  6. awesome, i don't think there is anything that you can't sew!

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    1. Hmmmm, I'm not sure but it is a lot of fun trying new things! This one came out surprisingly well. I'm excited to make a couple more suits now.

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  7. Hey, that swimsuit is fabulous! (oh, and you look great in it too -- takes courage to do a swimsuit shot in public :-)

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    1. Thanks, yeah, I am still not sure how I feel about posting those photos online, but it's done. I committed. LOL

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  8. It's so cute!!! What a great job you did! I love it when a project is so successful AND saves money!!

    I've been thinking of making my own suit, too. I always feel like mine don't fit properly and I don't like the style of most new ones.

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    1. I hear you. I am not a halter gal, and there are SO MANY halter styles out there. Part of me is bracing for my next sewing project to go not so smoothly, to kind of average things out, haha!

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  9. Wow ... new frontiers in sewing ... love! It looks so fantastic, I would never have guessed you made it, let alone that it was your first.

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    1. New frontiers for sure! Thank you, I am tempted to make a couple more suits this summer. Keep ya posted!

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  10. I wish it was warm enough to wear a swimsuit here... she pauses as she removse the icicles from from her toes..Seriously good suit. Love the fits and the vibrant colour.

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    1. You'll get to warm again soon enough! Today I was wishing it were cooler again! But now I have a suit so I can take a dip and stay cool, so it's not so bad. Thanks, Gail!

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  11. love the style.
    love the colors.
    love the model.

    that's all.

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    1. Love you, too, lady. Thanks for the comment. xo

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  12. Susan Menta just told me today that you made this swim suit and I had just made it, too. Only mine doesn't fit so I can't wear it but I love yours in a print!! I'm going to have to buy more fabric and whip up another one!

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    1. I left a comment on your pattern review of this the other night, just before I posted my review! I realized I hadn't even read any other reviews before I sewed mine. It's a super-comfy suit, and I bet you would love wearing it in the correct size for you. BTW I just bought a vintage suit pattern and am waiting for it to arrive... I might toss that one together before vacation time... Glad we got to chat the other day. :)

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  13. hooray! it looks great. i love styles with shirring over the torso, and this one looks particularly excellent. :)

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  14. wow, great job once again and a perfect fit! I love the bright print but agree that it'd look great in a nice solid as well (or, tiny polka dots!). Thanks for sharing the real-life pics, you look fantastic!

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    1. Polka dots, I like the idea! I almost bought a Gap swimsuit a month ago with white polka dots on black. Thanks!

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  15. Sweet! I've been looking for makes from this pattern, I really like Kwik Sew's workout and swim stuff. Their men's patterns on the other hand, leave a lot to be desired (super high waisted!). Thanks for sharing. PS why is this site a .org I'd assumed it was some sort of women's organisation from the URL XD Also, will you be installing disqus? The blindness inducing hideousness that is recaptcha is really getting me down XS Disqus handles spam blocking for you (it uses Akismet, the same algorithm that's built into Wordpress) and enables cross platform commenting while keeping tabs on comments, responses, pings and trackbacks (so people from Wordpress, Livejournal, typepad, overblog etc don't have to sign up for a Google account to comment).

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    1. Thanks for your comment! You know, I do have a Disqus account that I started when I considered moving this blog to Tumblr. I never thought to use it here on the Blogger platform because I had kept comments open for a long time. Then spam started coming in, so I added those requirements to log in to Google, etc. I'll look into this!

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