Hello friends!!! First of all, I want to thank everyone for your kind words on my post about Lucille leaving us. I'm sorry I didn't respond to each of you individually, but please know that your thoughts and condolences were deeply deeply appreciated. It is such a comfort to know that so many of you can relate to the very real feelings of grief that we go through when a beloved pet passes. I know it might seem silly, but writing that post helped me immensely to mourn my sweet girl and move ahead with her memory in my heart.
And as promised, I have been able to get back to what I love and what makes me happy - making and sharing my creative pursuits with you all! And first up is the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files! I've already shared this suit over on the Mood Sewing Network, but I'm excited to write about it here because I have lots of thoughts on it! So grab yourself a cup of tea (hot or iced) and get ready for a long post!
I had actually volunteered to be a pattern tester for the Sophie Swimsuit, so the version I'm sharing is from the beta files. However, I ended up backing out of the testing process after my dog died because I just wasn't feeling up to it. Heather mentioned she made some changes based on the testers feedback but I feel like the version I made is close enough to the finished pattern that it is safe to share. I made View B - the high waisted bikini, and before you all ask, yes this version is supposed to have straps, and mine did, but I will explain the saga that led me to photographing it strapless a little later.
I'm just gonna come right out and say that I love this suit. Especially the top. Can I get a little TMI here for a second? Of course I can... it's my blog... I do what I want! As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've been committed to working out regularly for the past two years or so now, and while it's been an overwhelmingly positive change in both my life and my body, one thing that I haven't quite been able to get a grasp on is my boobs. My boobs have majorly shrunk in the past few years and I'm totally flummoxed as to what size bra to wear. I know I could go to a little lingerie boutique and have myself measured, but the truth is boutique bras are just not in my budget. And yes, I could make my own bras, but my experience has been that the trial and error of getting a good fit with a bra pattern is a bigger waste of time and money than just buying a slightly ill-fitting bra off the rack. So I've been buying my bras from Target, in the smallest size they have - a 34B. I know I'm not a 34B but the fit isn't that bad, so I get away with it.
Enter the Sophie pattern... this is essentially a bra you can go swimming in, guys. It is so supportive. And the sizing - while not the traditional A, B, C, D cup that you get with bras - is essentially the same. There are 5 separate cup sizes for every size. I can't even imagine the nightmare it was to draft this, but I'm so glad Heather went the extra mile because it really pays off. You get the band size by measuring your underbust, so around your ribcage with all the air exhaled, then you take a comfortable measurement of your full bust (around the widest part of your back and over the fullest part of your breasts, usually the nipple) while wearing your best fitting bra. Subtract the difference between the two and you get your cup size. So for me, my underbust measurement was 28" and my full bust measurement is 33". That is a 5 inch difference which put me at a size 2 with a size 5 cup.
This definitely gave me pause because it is so much smaller than my normal size in CCF patterns - I usually wear between a 6 or an 8, but I decided to trust the sizing and I'm so glad I did. This is the best fitting swimsuit, bra whatever I have worn in recent memory! It's even more flattering with the straps as they help give that extra oomph, but even without it, this top wasn't budging. I'm really hoping Heather does some tutorials on turning this into a bra because I need this in my life! Now you might be thinking that with my chest size support isn't really an issue, but guys, it is. Now obviously I do not have the experience that my larger chested sisters have, but what I do have is a rack that used to be pretty spectacular, but is now kinda deflated and saggy. Yes. TMI. Get over it. I need all the help I can get to hoist those girls up!
By now you're probably wondering what the heck happened to my swimsuit bottoms... Is this some lame action flick where the leading lady's clothes get artfully ripped throughout the movie to reveal more skin? No, no it's not. I drafted an alternate pair of bottoms for my Sophie swimsuit, and while I completely understand that these are probably not to most women's liking I decided to share them nonetheless. Surely I can't be the only lady out there who has a weird nostalgia for those high-cut legged bikini bottoms from the late 70's and 80's? You know, the kind that make you look like you have legs for days, and conjure images of a healthily athletic Christie Brinkley cavorting on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Or a fierce Grace Jones? No? Only me? The rest of you are just remembering the perma-wedgie that said swim bottoms induce? Ok fine then... *takes teeny weeny swim bottoms and goes and plays at her own sand castle...*
Honestly, I think both bottoms will have their place in my swim wardrobe. The high waisted, fuller coverage bottoms will be awesome for pool parties, and family time, and the teeny bikini bottoms will be great for my alone time on the beach.
As far as construction goes this swimsuit is really no different than making a bra and panties. My one major tip is to label your two bottom cup pieces because they look super similar and it is easy to get them confused. Ask me how I know... After making two left cups (somehow... I'm still scratching my head about that one...) I cottoned on to this and cut a second pair marking the outer cup with an "O" and the inner cup with an "I" and also drawing arrows to signify which way was up. I did this on both my foam pieces and my fabric pieces and construction went much smoother.
With the shaped, three piece foam cups, the underwire channeling and all the elastic, this is most definitely the most complicated suit I've ever made, but it's totally worth it. Honestly, none of it is that hard, it's just a touch finnicky at times. If you're at all nervous about making this suit I highly suggest getting Heather's swimsuit workshop. I'm actually thinking of picking it up just so I can feel like I'm sewing with Heather by my side...
Sewing swimwear does require some special materials, so let's talk about those for a bit. My awesome, graphic, broken glass print fabric is from, where else, Mood Fabrics. It is 95% polyester and 5% spandex, making it great for swimwear and activewear. I liked it so much I chose to use it all over, but the Sophie swimsuit definitely lends itself to color and print blocking. My swimwear lining, underwires, underwire channeling, swimwear elastic, and G-hooks are all from Bra-makers Supply (the foam for the cups was in my stash, but I think originally it was from Bra-makers Supply too... or SewSassy...?). Overall I'm really happy with the quality of all these things (especially the swim lining... it's niiiiiiice) EXCEPT for the plastic G-hooks. Oy vey...
Let me tell you a little story of plastic hardware, a handmade bikini, a sewing blogger, and the hot, hot Texas heat... After finishing my Sophie bikini two weekends ago I decided to take it for a test drive to the beach, like you do. No sooner had I set myself up in my beach chair, book in hand, the Gulf of Mexico stretching in front of me as far as the eye can see (and a thunderstorm brewing behind me, but let's forget about that part right now) when I bent over to get my water bottle and felt the back of my suit come undone. I reached around and realized that my plastic G-hook closure had actually snapped off at the joint. My straps on the suit criss-crossed in the back so the suit stayed on pretty well, and I actually sat back in my chair and read for awhile until the brewing thunderstorm, and my busted swimsuit top resigned me to call it a day. Back at home I replaced the G-hook with one of the other several I had ordered, and decided to be more careful putting the suit on and taking it off, thinking that I may have bent the plastic in my behind-the-back struggling...
Fast forward to last weekend when I wanted to go to the beach, again, and shoot some blog photos while I was at it. I put on my suit and, wouldn't you know it, one of the small G-hooks that attaches the strap to the suit front broke at the same joint. I had extra so I quickly went into my sewing room and replaced it. I had the car so I decided to drive out to a more secluded beach to take photos. After lugging all my beach gear, and my camera and tripod, out to the spot in these photos I bent down to set everything down and pop! There goes the back G-hook I had already replaced! I was frustrated, but determined to get these photos, so I went back home, replaced the stupid plastic G-hook, examined the others for weak spots, then drove back out to the same beach, set all my stuff up, turned on my camera and.... no battery. Nearly in tears, I drove back home, got the camera battery from the charger, grabbed another bikini top just in case, and drove back out to the beach. Lugged all my shit to my spot, set up the camera and tripod and pop! One of the G-hooks on my other strap broke! So at that point I said fuck it, removed the straps from the bikini and shot the photos strapless! Thankfully the back hook lasted through the photo shoot and a quick dip in the water, but I've learned my lesson. No more plastic hardware! The only thing I can think is that these were just not equipped to deal with the amount of sweat, sunscreen and heat that I require from my swimwear. I certainly wasn't putting them under undo stress!
Needless to say, I have an order for metal hooks already placed...
Well alright cats and kittens! I think that's enough cheeky pictures of my bum and my cheesecake posing and rambling on about boobs and swimsuits and teeny plastic pieces for one blog post. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to leave them for me in the comments! And I'll be back soon with a recent quick make!