Brace yourself for a temporary but exciting boost in photo quality! We recently vacationed for a few days in Ashfield, MA, in the foothills of the Berkshires. I spent the chilly, drizzly days tucked up next to a Jotul with a mug of tea and a puzzle and the fresh, sunny ones picking raspberries and walking up Pony Mountain. It was (it will shock you to learn) nice!! One unexpected bonus is that one of our friends-cum-travel-companions is a skilled photographer, and he generously gave Professor Boyfriend a photography lesson and loaned his camera for these pictures, too.
One activity I didn’t do (thanks to the cold weather which I looove) was test-drive – or test-swim, I guess – the subject of this post, my new bathing suit.
I mentioned this in my planning post, but this swimsuit is based on the CC Nettie. I ended up merging the Nettie with the straps of the Halfmoon Atelier Basic Tank (free when you subscribe to the newsletter); I used the width of the Nettie bodice, and split the difference between the depth of Nettie scoop and the Basic Tank scoop necks, but the shape of the straps is the Basic Tank shape. Even though I’m not happy with the finished suit I’d like to take the tank pattern for a real spin. The back scoop is particularly to my taste.
So! I don’t like the suit! Boo. I was planning on basic but it’s downright austere. I look like I’m doing stage tech for a water ballet. I have enough leftover fabric that I could cut new leg bindings, but I’m not sure how to achieve the bum coverage I want AND a higher front leg – it seems like I’d have to start making the leg opening higher across the side seam, and surely that would affect the back?
It’s also far too thick and warm. I fully lined the suit – front and back. This, I have discovered, is exactly the same as wearing two bathing suits. Technically, I underlined the suit, since I sewed the bindings at the same time to both shell and lining. I also added thin, lightweight foam cups between the layers, zig-zagged to the lining only.
You can make out the top edge of a cup there, I think! Inserting them was a bit of a pain. There’s gotta be a better way, but here’s what I did:
- Baste the front outer + lining together at neck and side seams. Repeat for the back. If you’re doing this with black fabric, do it in the daytime, not by lamplight, or you will end up with different sides of each fabric showing and you’ll have to unpick and do it again. Take it from One Who Knows.
- Sew the shoulders and neck binding in the order you prefer (I do shoulder 1, neck binding, then shoulder 2, because I don’t like serging in a circle).
- Baste the front (2 layers) to the back (2 layers) together at side seams. Pin the crotch seam together while wearing the suit (unless this alarms you, in which case baste that too).
- Again, while wearing the suit, slip the cups between the front outer and front lining through the un-basted front leg. Move them around until they’re comfortable and then pin in place.
- Remove the suit. Unpick the basting holding the front and back together. Unpick the basting holding the front outer and front lining together.
- Rearrange the pins so the cups are pinned just to the lining. Move the outer fabric out of the way. Smooth the lining fabric over the cups and zig-zag around each cup’s edges.
- Baste the front outer and front lining together again.
- Finish the suit in the order you prefer.
Credit where credit is due, neither fabric – the outer nor the lining – show any sign of all this stitching, unpicking, and re-stitching. The outer is this SPF tricot and it’s very stretchy and comfortable and the edges don’t roll at all. The lining is this matte tricot and perhaps you notice the words ‘high compression’ in the product description. I didn’t. It’s NOT kidding around. I wish it was!!
Speaking of that step 8, by the way – finishing in your preferred order – I flubbed that. I decided to join the front and back crotches, sew the leg bindings flat, and then sew the side seams last. This was effective, in that it prevented a great big lump of seam allowance in my crotch, which was the idea. I still have those lumps, though; they’re just on the side seams where anyone could see instead.
The leg bindings are driving me UP A WALL. I don’t think it’s only that last bad decision that causes them to constantly flip and roll, since it’s happening on the back neckline, too.
I invested in black serger thread (a thing I never usually bother doing) and it’s the only saving grace of these messy, roll-y, uneven bands. Even though the fit is basically fine, the thickness of those double fabric layers and the unreliability of the bands make this bathing suit uncomfortable and fiddly to wear.
So, next steps? I like the top half better than the bottom half, so I might chop the suit in two a couple inches below the foam cups and finish the top with one last flippin’ band. And then I might hiss at the bottom half and call it names. I don’t know. Maybe I can find a pattern for swim boyshorts, or something – I want the coverage but something about this cut just feels so sternly modest. At least shorts say “I’m fun! Gender is a construct!”.
I was beginning a “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” pose (translation: “Nudie Ladies Have A Picnic”) when a bug set up shop on my leg. It probably thought it had landed on the moon. Go find another big white thing to walk on, buggy Neil Armstrong! I’m going to go put on pants!
Pattern cost: NA (previously made) + free
Size: Nettie – 10 bust, 12 hip; shortened 1.5″ at waist; Tank – 5 bust
Supplies: 1 yard of Black UV Protective Compression Tricot With Aloe Vera Microcapsules; 1 yard of 5.6 Oz Black Matte Tricot, $30.97, Mood; 4 cones black serger thread, $17.08, fabric.com
Total time: 5.5 hours
Total cost: $48.05