The State of Things


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.



6 responses »

  1. Lisa, they look very cute and I know you’ll rock them! You are very brave to tackle swim suits. Did I ever tell you the story of my first and last foray into the world of DIY bathing suits? Ask me about it when I see you next! Let’s just say, who knew not all fabric is ocean friendly? Oops!
    This week I got the wild notion (inspired by your way cool winter blanket skirt) to make a skirt out of a shower curtain. This is no ordinary shower curtain. It’s very heavy and has a beautiful patch work baroque pattern on it. It was something a friend gave me. She knew I liked the color blue and she does not (that’s a hint about who the friend is!) . It really wasn’t my home décor style…but could be my fashion style…we’ll see!!!


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