This is how I feel having made a swimsuit – a self-drafted one that I am this happy to be photographed in, no less. However, I do seem to have lost all of the process photos I took while drafting and making it, so that will have to wait for another time. Sorry!
Having reviewed the swimwear pattern options out there and not feeling any of them, I decided to go the self-drafted route. This honestly isn’t as scary or reckless as it sounds; in fact I think it makes perfect sense for swimwear as you can feel more free to tailor it exactly to your specs.
I designed this costume to suit my body type, ie to draw attention upwards with the strap detailing and minimise the lower half by keeping it less fussy and higher coverage. It’s honestly the most flattering and comfortable suit I’ve ever owned. I based it off an old Topshop suit that I took apart to use as a basic block, but made tons of amends and four toiles to get to this point.
I will share more about the construction in the future, but basically it’s four pieces – front, back and separate cups. It’s fully lined and all the raw edges are encased in fold-over elastic which also forms the straps. The bust cups have deep open-legged darts to create shape, and the elastic does a nice job of keeping everything firmly in place. I know bust support is an issue for lots of sewists planning swimwear – my bust is kind of average sized but I think this style of darted cup works great for it, giving good shape and support without the need for foam cups or underwires.
The FOE strapping crosses over in the back and joins the underbust line in a continuous loop. I’m really glad this came together exactly as it did in my head and feels very supportive without cutting into the shoulders.
I cut the bottoms quite low with plenty of seat coverage. Again the FOE keeps everything snug and I’m sure it’ll stand up to serious swimming just fine. I know there are concerns about FOE degrading in chlorine and salt water over time so I’m interested to see how it fares. Unfortunately there are no beach trips on my horizon for a few months yet so the acid use test will have to wait a bit.
In terms of supplies: the main fabric is from Funki Fabrics, who kindly sent me the fabric for free to try. I’m really pleased with it – it was very easy to work with, the print is sharp and vibrant, and though I haven’t used it in water yet I hope it holds up well. They have a million choices of prints and plain swim lycras so it’s a great choice for UK sewists looking to get into swimwear. The lining is from Fabricland (eye-searing website trigger alert – find it in the Swim/Dance section, it’s called ‘Lining Skin Thin Jersey’) and FOE from Plush Addict.
I’m so happy with how this suit came out that I’m thinking of digitising the pattern and instructions, would anyone be interested? Either way, when I make the next one I’ll at least be sure to take some photos and share some of things I learned along the way.