I’m really excited to share today’s garment with you. This one was a long time coming, because I thought about it for months before finally starting on it.
In the past few years, surfing has become a fun spectator sport for me, and I’m also inspired by the fashion aspect of surfing. In my perusal of current surf culture, I’ve noticed a lot of wetsuits/swimsuits that look like long-sleeved, one-piece swimsuits (see some of my inspiration here, here, and here). I wanted one of my own…and I knew that I had the power to make it!
(front view, above)
(back view, above)
As I thought my plan over, I realized that the perfect pattern for this project wasn’t a swimsuit pattern. The one that looked closest to what I wanted turned out to be the Nettie Dress & Bodysuit pattern by Closet Case Patterns. Maggie at Pintuck & Purl was kind enough to order a few copies so I could get on with my project. Next I started looking around for fabric and inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram were great for ideas. And fabric? Etsy to the rescue–specifically a shop called Ameritexx Spandex.
Design & Technical Choices
This project was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects. I chose the long-sleeved bodysuit with the high neck and low back in a 12 at the bust and waist and 14 at the hip. I didn’t want to put a zipper in, so while I originally chose the medium back, I got a little bit worried about how easy it would be to get into and out of, so I decided to go with the lower back. I also added in a shelf bra (included in the pattern) and padding (traced from other swim cups) for modesty. I chose to line the body of the suit, but not the sleeves.
Inside, front (above)
Inside back (above)
As far as equipment goes, I made this on my home sewing machine (an Elna 3005, if you are interested) with a stretch needle, a walking foot, and a zigzag stitch. I used polyester thread (from Gutermann) in my needle and woolly nylon/bulky nylon thread in my bobbin. My elastic was swimwear elastic and the foam I used in the shelf bra was poly-laminate foam from Sew Sassy. It’s good for lightly padded bras or swimwear.
the underside of the shelf bra, where you can see the poly laminate foam
When I cut my pattern, I made sure to trace out a full pattern piece (rather than a standard half pattern piece) so that I could cut my fabric in a single layer rather than cutting on the fold. I also used a rotary cutter.
I always get nervous when I want to sew a swimsuit. There are so many layers and the fabric is slippery. You also really need a swimsuit to work–to stay on your body in and out of the water. Thankfully, this went together really well. I told myself I would try it on as I went and adjust as necessary. Usually I just make the thing and hope for the best, but not on this project! With the exception of including a lining and treating the lining and outer fabric as one, I followed the directions of the pattern to about the point where it was necessary to add leg and neck elastic.
I did make a few modifications, although not many. I raised the front leg openings about an inch. I shortened the length of the shelf bra, and decided to sew over each seam twice for extra security. I also realized very quickly when I started to add my leg elastic that I needed more width of fabric in the crotch area if I was going to stitch and turn elastic and still expect coverage. To take care of this issue, I got out the pattern for the bottoms of Jalie 3023 (a tankini), traced it out, and used it as the crotch section of my suit. I also changed how I applied the elastic. I used the techniques in this blog post (which I’ve printed out so I won’t lose it), using bound elastic for the neckline and gathered, turned, and stitched elastic for the leg holes.
Bound elastic at the neckline
Gathered, turned, and stitched elastic at the leg openings
I’m really happy with how this turned out, although I’m sorry to say that I finished it so late in the season that I’ve only worn it while swimming once. It stayed on well, and I felt good in it. In fact, I think this is my most successful swimsuit to date. The only thing I might change is to take in the sleeves from elbow to wrist slightly.
As it is now, the suit stays on well, despite the open back. If it loosens eventually, I could always add a strap across the back. I’m excited to try this out over time and see how I like it. It wasn’t overly hard to make (despite my fears) and I like how it looks. I definitely recommend this pattern if you want to give it a try. I found that using the sew-along on the Closet Case Patterns website in tandem with the directions was really helpful.
With only about a week of summer left, I have one more garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list to sew up as well as a second version of my black silk shirt. I want to charge through them, but my back has been messed up (I really have to find a way to prevent that!). I hope I can do it! I’ll report back here soon!
Lastly, tomorrow is my blog’s four-year anniversary. Hooray! Blogging has been a great way to take part in the fun of the sewing community and a great personal journal of the things I’ve sewn. Thanks for coming along with me on the adventure!
- Around the time I made this suit, Rosie Martin of @rosie_diycouture and Katie of @katiemakesadress also made long-sleeved swimsuits. Rosie used the Nettie, while Katie tried the Rowan Bodysuit from Megan Nielsen Patterns. There must be something in the air! We all caught hold of similar inspiration!
- Have you seen the new Lander Pant and Short pattern from True Bias? I’m really tempted by those pants. I mean–wide legs and patch pockets! Right up my alley.
- I decided I wanted to look at the fashion designs of Ralph Lauren and Valentino more closely so I requested some books from the library. Two out of three turned out to be kids books, but…they were great! It was the perfect way to get a brief biography of each designer’s life and career. I’m going to have to try this for other people I’m interested in learning about.
- I never realized all the similarities between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings until I watched this! 😉