I grew up loving the water and spending every moment at the beach. My first email address was beach_chick. However, in recent years I developed a fear of drowning after a series of horrible nightmares. Looking back it’s sad that I let nightmares hold me back from enjoying the water.
Recently Paul and I decided that we would like to spend more time swimming and enjoying the beach. Because I haven’t been swimming for many years I didn’t own any swimsuits. This led me to look at patterns as my previous experience of buying ready-made swimwear was not been an enjoyable experience.
Fun facts! In New Zealand swimwear is called Togs, in Australia it’s called a Cossie.
I decided on the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns. The pattern is for a one piece and a two piece. I was drawn to its athletic style lines and its pieced bikini top.
As was my first time sewing a swimsuit and working with foldover elastic. I had stashed several meters of black swimwear fabric along with a bag of athleticwear scraps. Keeping the togs simple meant I could mimic the models look and use some of the scraps for the lining.
It was interesting making swimwear. Initially, the shapes of the fabric pieces were hard to figure out. I sewed a few parts together incorrectly.
As swimwear fabric has two-way stretch I struggled to figure out if there was a right way to cut the fabric. I followed the normal grainline rules.
I didn’t want to put pin holes in the fabric so used pattern weights to hold down the fabric while cutting. I used quilting clips instead of pins to hold the pieces together while sewing. I also marked the wrong side of the fabric with washi tape.
I’m really happy with the fit of the two-piece. I went with the low rise bottoms as the higher rise emphasised my belly. As per the instructions, I overlocked the lining fabric to the outer fabric to make it easier to work with. I used a 2.5 width zigzag on my sewing machine but will use my Coverstitch machine in the future.
Our local store didn’t have all the bra findings so thankfully I had some stashed from a worn-out bra. If you are in New Zealand Lynda from Elle Jones stocks an awesome range.
Part way through making the two piece I decided to cut out the one piece. I find it helpful to practice my newfound skills straight away to reinforce my learning. I also wanted a one piece so it made sense to work on them at the same time.
The fit of the one piece is pretty good, It is a little more booby than I expected. I followed the instructions for the length of bra elastic for both swimsuits. The fit was far too loose so I removed about 10cm from the length of the straps I guess it depends on the stretch of the elastic. Overall I found the pattern instructions clear and easy to follow.
The back is where I had most of my issues. I tried sewing in elastic which made the gaping worse. It was still happening when the crossover straps weren’t in place. I have given up trying to diagnose the issue, so will rock this suit as is. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions. I’m wondering if the length of the back band is too long.
I made a variation of the Suki Kimono to wear as a beach cover-up. Helen has a tutorial on her blog which I followed. I added short ties to the inside of the front band to keep it closed. I love wearing this cover-up with togs or as a lightweight summer jacket.
I’m hoping for lots of fine days to swim at the beach this summer! I have tested the two-piece and confirm that it’s an excellent fit. I’d love to know if you have any swimwear tips or favourite patterns.
Pattern: Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit
Fabrics: Black Swimwear Fabric and Swimwear lining.
Findings: Bra O rings and plastic clip. Bra strap elastic and foldover elastic.
Alterations: adjusted strap length for togs and swimsuit.
Sewing needle: Stretch
Machines used: Overlocker and Sewing Machine.
Other version: Melissa from The Curious Kiwi
Places to buy swimwear fabric: The Fabric Store, Pitt Trading, Elle Jones, Levana.