Soma Swimsuit Test: One-Piece and Low-Rise Bottoms

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Monday was sewing day, and I’m pleased to say I made real progress.  I finished the one piece and the low-rise bottoms test versions of the Soma Swimsuit pattern by Papercut Patterns.

Soma Swimsuit one-piece by Papercut Patterns

one-piece front

Soma Swimsuit one-piece by Papercut Patterns

one-piece back

 

Soma Swimsuit low-rise bottoms by Papercut Patterns

low-rise bottoms front

Soma Swimsuit low-rise bottoms by Papercut Patterns

low-rise bottoms back

Don’t you think the snow is an appropriate backdrop?

Here are my notes and thoughts for you.  I sized the bottoms down from the medium that fit my measurements to a small and the top of the one-piece from a small to an extra small after testing out the high-rise bottoms and the bikini top variation 1, which is a similar style to the one-piece.  I think that for the low-rise bottoms, I should go back up to a medium, although I like the high-rise bottoms in a small.  I also used a different elastic technique on the low-rise bottoms and I think it makes them look like…well, have you ever seen a swim diaper?  Kind of like that.  The good news is that they’re not going anywhere, but they give me some serious muffin-top, if you know what I mean.

The one piece is easy to put together even if you are different sizes on the top and the bottom.  Because the back doesn’t close, you just need to make sure you mark the midpoint of your top and bottom pieces and line those up.  (The pattern tells you to line up the markings on the top with the side seams of the bottom, but if you just mark the mid-points of top and bottom pieces, everything still works out.)  I definitely heard some popping stitches as I pulled the one-piece on, but thankfully they were basting stitches.  Everything felt pretty secure, but if you are someone who likes support up top, this is not the suit for you.  Sadly, I do like some support or else Speedo-like compression, so I think I will not make the one-piece in my final fabric.  I also wonder how the fold-over elastic is going to hold up over time.  Still, the suit is wearable, professional, and a vast improvement over last year’s attempt.  Also, I really like the mid-weight fabric in the one-piece as opposed to the light-weight fabric I used for the bottoms.

Here are a few close-ups in case you want to see details:

Testing the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns

waist detail, one-piece

Testing the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns

front strap details, one-piece

 

Testing the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns

waist detail, low-rise bottoms

 

I still have bikini top variation 2 to go, and I have high hopes for more support and coverage from that pattern.  If all goes well, I hope to turn it into a tankini in its final version.  I’ll keep you posted!

If you are looking for more details on pattern, fabric, notions, etc., see my last post here.

 

The State of Things

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I feel like I’ve been sucked into the sewing vortex.  Without the chance to easily go outside for walks or have as much time to myself due to all the snow days, all I’ve been doing is sewing, thinking about sewing, reading about sewing, trying to avoid thinking about spring and summer, and looking at fabric websites to fuel my sewing.  I like it best when the blog reflects a wider range of things than just that, but sewing is mostly what’s going on.  Give me a month and I’ll probably be back to watching surfing documentaries to make it through the end of winter, but for now, I have to keep my head in the game and think winter, winter, winter.  That’s why I’m sewing bathing suits.  ;)

Here’s a peek at what’s going on over here:

 

The State of Things at Pattern and Branch

The Soma Swimsuit Pattern by Papercut Patterns

I’ve decided that I WILL conquer swimsuits (hope I don’t have to eat my words).  Maybe you recall last year’s attempt.  This year, I plan to try again.  I got the Soma Swimsuit pattern from The Papercut Collective for Christmas, and I want to try all three suit options (two two-pieces and a one-piece).  Sorry to have to tell you up front that I won’t be modeling them for you.  This isn’t about body image issues.  It’s about the fact that I don’t want pictures of myself in undergarments or bathing suits on the internet.  Everyone has their threshold.  I will, however, take pictures of the suits (not on me) if and when I finish them.

I ordered some fabric from Girl Charlee  and elastic from The Fabric Fairy and, at the wise advice of my husband, decided to do some test garments with leftover materials while I waited for the new materials to arrive.  I’m glad I did because it’s giving me a chance to figure out my size and to freely make mistakes without ruining my “final” fabric.  I made a small top and medium bottoms, but while they fit, I think they will fit better if I go down a size, so that’s what I’m going to try next.  Their sizing is rather more generous than ready-to-wear sizes.

 

 

Testing the Soma Swimsuit

Test versions of the high-waist bottoms and Bikini Top version 1 (front)

Testing the Soma Swimsuit Pattern

High-waist bottoms and Bikini Top version 1 (back)

The salmon colored bottoms are mediums and the chevron bottoms are smalls.  Thankfully both have the same amount of coverage, but the smalls feel more secure.  I’m really not a bikini wearer, but there are times I just want to sit at the beach with a tank top on over my suit, and not have my stomach get all sweaty.  Plus, I’m wondering about making bikini top version 2 into a tankini.

The shower has become the testing ground.

Testing the Soma Swimsuit Pattern

While the top fits (you can adjust it a lot to get the perfect fit), I noticed that the bust darts were off-center, so I sized down for my tests of the one-piece and bikini top version 2.  I don’t wear an extra small in ANYTHING, so if you sew this, make sure you take your measurements with the knowledge that you may still have to size down.

Now I’m working on making a pair of low-rise bottoms, the one-piece, and bikini top version 2.

 

Testing the Soma Swimsuit

Testing the Soma Swimsuit

Testing the Soma Swimsuit

 

A word on supplies:  I ordered fabric and lining as well as swimsuit elastic and fold-over elastic.  I had leftover bra rings from a project I never made (I got them at Sew Sassy).  I had to buy a few bathing suit hooks at Joann Fabrics as well as some bulky/wooly nylon thread for my bobbin thread and 100% polyester thread (I chose Gutermann) for my top thread.  (I don’t have a serger, so these will be sewn on a conventional machine using a stretch needle and a walking foot.)  I did not order the bra strapping or swimsuit cups/foam for making cups.  I really wanted to, but the cost was starting to get prohibitive.  Here is the problem I ran into:  if I wanted the best prices, I had to order my supplies from about four different websites.  But then I would have to pay shipping at every one of those websites.  I searched the web for two days and finally found one site that had ever single supply I might want or need:  Fabric Depot.  The hardest part, though, is that their shipping costs are pretty high, so having limited funds, I decided it was time to follow Tim Gunn’s perennial advice and “make it work”.  I don’t want to spend all my hoarded Christmas money on a single sewing project.

In case you are thinking about making this suit yourself, here are some helpful blog posts around the web.

  • For lots of fun information on the suit, check out the tutorials posted on Papercut’s site.  They include making your own straps (I did this.), making bikini top version 1 reversible, sewing the high-waisted bottoms, making bikini top version 2, creating your own bindings, and finding supplies in various countries.
  • Inna (The Wall Inna) posted her one-piece version of the suit.  She made her own covered straps.
  • Lauren of Lladybird posted her awesome take on the bikini versions (see version 1 and version 2).  She also solves the problem of, um, modesty issues if you don’t have bra cups or swimsuit foam to insert into your suit in her take on version 2.  I’m going to give this a try myself on version 2.  My version 1 certainly would have been better with a little more…well, some cups.
  • Sallie (of sallieoh) rocks version 2 and introduces a strap variation.  She also tries out using swimsuit foam for coverage in her version.
  • Find the tankini take on bikini variation 2 that I mentioned above over at Unlikely Nest.  She also tries her own strap variation.
  • And on oh, she dabbles, C makes pretty cool versions of the one-piece and bikini variation 1 with high-waisted bottoms.
  • Finally, not Soma related, but very helpful anyway, I used this post for inserting elastic last year.  I used Papercuts instructions for the two bottoms I’ve already finished, but I’m going to try these techniques out on the low-rise bottoms.  That post is part of a larger series on the blog Kadiddlehopper that was really informative as I made my first forays into the world of sewing bathing suits last year.

 

 

It’s Winter

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Wow.  It’s really winter out there.  After a not-too-cold or snowy December and January, we’ve been hit full force with snowstorm after snowstorm in the last few weeks.  Our car got rear-ended just after Christmas and it came back from the shop all lovely and pristine right as the first flakes of the first real storm began to fall.  You can imagine that we’ve been driving VERY carefully.

I’m getting some good sewing done, but it’s starting to feel like all I’m doing.  I miss getting outside and shooting pictures, but it’s hard to find kid-free time for that with all the snow days.  I’m trying to hunker down and go with it, but today I threw my camera in the car in case I could pull off the road for a good shot or two.

Every week I pass this house and barn and, to me, it has such an iconic New England look.

It's Winter

There are several spots around here that I just relish every time I pass them.  I’m starting to think that photographing them may be an interesting and worthwhile project.

I hope your weekend is good and filled with whatever weather you are wishing for.

Details: The Red Shirt

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It’s a good (although slightly stressful) problem to have when your sewing outpaces your blogging.  Maybe it’s all these snow days, but I feel like the sewing has been flowing, if you know what I mean.  I want to get some quality pictures before I show you some of the latest projects, but I do have pictures of the finally finished red t-shirt!  Remember it in its original form?  Or maybe you remember what it looked like after going through the wash?  If not, I’ll give you the quick recap here:

Details: Finished t-shirt

The first version of the shirt with beaded collar

To survive in this household, most garments have to be able to make it through the washer at a bare minimum.  The dryer is negotiable.  So, it was with fingers crossed that I threw this one in the washer and dryer.

Details: Finished t-shirt

The trim didn’t make it through the washer.   :(

After consulting the experts (my mother and grandmother), I took the trim off.  I looked for more in the fabric store (so many good rhyming phrases today!), but nothing had the same pizzazz as my beading.  I could have tried beading it myself or something, but that sounded like a lot of work for a t-shirt of questionable fabric quality.  So in the end, I cut some strips of t-shirt fabric and bound the edge using a zig-zag stitch.

My first try wasn’t awesome…

Details: Finished t-shirt

 

The zig-zag was so wide it looked homemade in the worst way.  So, I ripped it out again and tried one more time.

(Wow.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  Usually I would just ignore this kind of mistake and wear it as it is.  I must be…getting better!  Oh, my goodness!  I’m becoming better at sewing!  I hope this doesn’t mean I’m responsible for fixing EVERY mistake.  You have to have some boundaries.)

The third try was the ticket.  I like this finish so much better.

Details: Finished t-shirt

Details: Finished t-shirt

The back has that little sewing line that both covers the join in the binding and acts as a tag so you know which side is the back.  Clever, huh?  I didn’t even plan it.  I just decided that it was supposed to be that way after I had done it.  That happens a lot in art, too, by the way.  Just in case you ever wondered…

Details: Finished t-shirt

I sewed a little seam at the front to make it look v-ish.  Now it kind of makes me think of this old GAP t-shirt I used to have that had a rough-stitched look to it.  That was a great shirt.  Its spirit lives on.

I’m so happy to have a wearable shirt.  I needed a few good t-shirts with some small, interesting details to form the base of my winter fashion ensembles.  ;)  If anyone has an awesome boat/bateau neck pattern that they love, please leave it in the comments.  I’ve been contemplating that in black for occasions when I want to look put together but still wear a t-shirt.

 

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

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I think it’s time for a photography post, don’t you?  I have plenty of sewing to share, but we went for a walk in the woods recently, and I took lots of fun pictures that I want to show you.  Of course if you were to look out my living room window now, it would look nothing like when I took these pictures.  Now our area is covered in snow, but we made it through a month of official winter before it turned really cold and snowy.

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)I’ve been experimenting with sun shining into my camera.  I don’t quite have it figured out yet, but it’s fun to try.

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)Look at that green!  Living in the north has taught me that after a winter of grey and white and black, you can crave the color green.

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

Outside in January (Before All the Snow Came)

Of course we need some interesting fungi, too.  You can’t have a walk in the woods without that, right?  ;)

 

 

 

 

Pattern Review: New Look S0595

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In my quest for a real winter wardrobe (as opposed to wearing fall clothes that aren’t really warm enough and just trying to layer them), I made a winter dress with more of the Polartec 200 that I used in my Alabama Chanin Long Skirt.  The fabric is from millyardage.com, and it has a sweater look on the outside, but is fleecy on the inside.  It’s also really thick and lofty feeling and is nice and wide.  My husband was wonderful (as always) and bought me six yards, so I have a lot of it.  I was inspired by some of the loungewear-type dresses I’ve seen in places like the sundance catalogue and the clothing section of Victoria’s Secret (I couldn’t find the image on their site, so here is a link to it on PopSugar).

As I was wandering around Joann Fabric one day, I found this pattern, New Look S0595 (which is listed on the Simplicity website as Simplicity or New Look 6298) , and it looked like just what I was going for.

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

I’ve also been in search of the perfect raglan t-shirt pattern, so I thought that if I liked this pattern, I could also turn it into a t-shirt or tunic.  The pattern is made for knits, so it seemed like it would have a lot of possibilities.

There were no reviews on the Pattern Review website, which is my gold standard for finding out about patterns before trying them.  Fortunately, thanks to the reviews of this pattern on the Ordinary Time blog (here and here), I went with the smaller of the two sizes I was contemplating (I would fit the 14 in the bust and the 16 in the waist and hips, so I went with the 14.).  She notes that the pattern has a lot of ease, so when in doubt, choose the smaller size.  I wonder if I could have gone down another size, but I wanted some ease, so I think the size I chose was ok.  I made View D, but with long sleeves instead of three-quarter length sleeves.  (Warmth!)

The pattern came together really quickly.  It definitely helped that I used a jersey needle and a walking foot.  I’m a slow sewer, but I cut it out one day and sewed it the next.  I love that there is no need to finish any inside seams since the fabric won’t fray.  That definitely saves time.

I had hoped there might be a little more shaping around the waist area, but there isn’t, so it looks a little…sack-like.  That’s not necessarily bad, if that’s what you are going for.  As my husband and friends pointed out, my sundance inspiration picture is also a straight silhouette, but the way that the model is standing keeps you from noticing it quite as much (and it’s probably all pinned in back to give it more shape).  See what you think:

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

(Standing sideways kind of minimizes the sack thing.)  Here are front and back views:

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Now some cool styling. ;)  I was pretty proud of it, but my men’s jacket does make me look a little pregnant (which I’m not).  Hm….

Oh, well.  I’m still going to wear it.

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

 

So, would I sew it again? Would I recommend it to others?

I might sew it again.  It does sort of fit in with the idea of wearing blankets shaped into normal clothing.  It definitely fits the goals of warmth and comfort.  As far as flattering my form, I don’t think it does that, but it’s so comfy, I wear it anyway.  I got lots of compliments because it looks so warm and cozy (which it is; this fabric is great), but I wish it had just a little more shaping near the waist.  What do you think?  Is it worth trying to take it in a little on the sides or in that back seam?  Would it work or would it just skew things?  Maybe that’s something worth trying if I make it into a t-shirt.  Now, though, I’m anxious to get on to other things.  I still have a bunch of the Polartec fabric, so I cut out a cardigan, and I have a few other projects in mind, too.  Gotta keep things moving!

You can read my review of this pattern here on Pattern Review.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style

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In my now decade-long quest for THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT, I have thought of many fabric combinations, patterns, and crazy ideas to create a long winter skirt that would be warm and yet still look good.  What I really want is a skirt that feels like I’m wearing a blanket, but looks socially acceptable.  To that end, I ordered a vintage pattern, and started poring over fabric sites looking at faux fur.  I went through my fabric cabinet and considered (finally) using some of my wool.  I even thought about cutting up our Vellux blanket as lining.  The Polartec website became very familiar to me as I researched interesting technical fabrics.  Finally, it dawned on me.  Why not make Version 1 of THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT from a pattern I already knew I liked?  What about a Polartec sweater knit (which I was itching to try out anyway) with the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design?

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

The more I sew, at least lately, the more I find that what I’m interested in doing is exploring.  As I contemplated what I wanted to sew in the coming year, or at least the current season, I realized that I want to try out new and interesting fabrics in (hopefully) new and interesting ways.  My wonderful husband obliged me by purchasing a large amount of sweater-knit fleece in a charcoal color from millyardage.com as a Christmas gift.  Goal number one with that fabric was to attempt the skirt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

I cut out the same size in the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt that I usually use (I’ve also made this skirt in cotton/modal jersey.), and bound it with fold-over elastic that I already had.  I didn’t stretch the elastic when I was sewing, though, so the waistband came out looking…wavy.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

So, in the interest of time and not losing momentum on the project, I cut off the waistband and sewed on another, this time stretching the elastic as I sewed.  It was still a bit wavy, but the skirt is meant to be sort of low-rise, so when you put it on, it works.  (Only one note of caution–if there is any chance you may have young children tugging on your clothes, watch it.  There’s always the possibility you could get pantsed in this skirt.  Can you get “pantsed” in a skirt?  Whatever you call it, watch yourself–no one wants to lose the bottom half of their outfit in public…well, no one should want that, anyway.  It could definitely happen in this skirt.)  This particular pattern has a small train, which I love, and which I kept in the jersey version of the skirt.  It does drag on the floor a bit, but it looks lovely.  For this winter version, though, I trimmed the back even with the front, cutting off the train.  It would be too sad to have the back of the skirt covered in snow, slush, and salt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

As yet it is unhemmed, partially because I love the raw-edged look, and partially out of curiosity.  I want to see how the length works with my various shoes and if I can get away with raw edges in this fleece sweater-knit as well as I can with a cotton jersey.  I may hem it later.  The other reason is that I want some instant gratification on this pattern, and I can call it done if I don’t hem it.  Now you know the whole truth.

And now…I must tell you of my initial triumph.

On Sunday I wore the skirt to church with a stretchy sweater and my wool “poncho” (a.k.a. piece-of-fabric-that-I-wrap-around-myself-and-secure-with-a-kilt-pin).  I wore long johns underneath and booties with socks.  On that day, I knew I had finally achieved an ULTIMATE WINTER OUTFIT.  I was essentially wearing blankets and pajamas:  long underwear (“pajamas”), a skirt that felt like a blanket, a sweater as stretchy as a t-shirt, and a “poncho” that was really a blanket wrapped around me.  I was wearing pajamas and blankets, but it was socially acceptable enough that I felt like I had dressed up for church!

But wait!  Was I essentially practicing deception…at church, of all places?!!!  Was I really wearing my pajamas and blankets to church?!  Well, I’m going to say no to the deception, but YES to the awesome nature of that outfit.  All winter outfits should have the qualities of ultimate comfort and warmth while still being socially acceptable and looking good.  SUCCESS!!!!

I feel that my life is now fulfilled.  Blog, finished.

Just kidding.

 

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Pattern and Branch

Needlework by Tine Spires

 

This is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I’m going to take a vacation from blog writing until the new year (unless I think of something I just have to share with you).

I hope you all have a truly peaceful and hope-filled holiday, not a fleeting peace and hope that comes only imperfectly for a few days or weeks, but the kind that came with the first Christmas.  Now that is a very strange story, but sometimes…well…sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.  Here’s to the hope of a lasting peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Featured on Pattern Review

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Hi, guys!  I just got this e-mail in my inbox saying I had been featured on Pattern Review.  If you’ve never been to the site, it’s a great site with reviews on sewing patterns, machines, and so, so much more.  I found my picture on the right hand side-bar.  I’m the featured member of the day!  I felt touched and also a little silly–I’ve only posted a few reviews.  I have yet to enter any of their many contests or expand beyond a few pattern and book reviews.  Time to up my game, I guess!

Pattern and Branch

I’m the featured member on Pattern Review today!

You may remember that I went to the Boston Pattern Review Day this past summer.  It was so much fun and made me love the site even more.  Since that day, I’ve made blog friends through Pattern Review (you’ll find a few of their blogs in the sidebar–Allspice Abounds and Thanks! I Made Them and Sew Can You), and read about a billion reviews on patterns before buying.  Now that I have a smartphone, I’ve even looked up reviews while at the fabric store to make sure a certain pattern was really worth it.  The founder, Deepika, is really nice, an amazing seamstress, and a great creator of not just a sewing resource, but a place that is also a community for many people.

Pattern and Branch goes to PatternReview Day in Boston!

Pattern Review Day in Boston

It’s easy to join Pattern Review for free.  If you are even considering sewing, I can’t recommend Pattern Review enough as a resource for you.  No one is paying me to say this.  It’s how I really feel.  Thanks for letting me share my sewing excitement with you!