beach babe-in'


Hi Ya'll!! I hope all my buddies here in the States had a great holiday weekend - maybe you got out of the house, made your way to a nearby pool, or park, or beach, maybe there were some hotdogs involved? Some beer? Or maybe, like me, you spent your holiday holed up with your sewing machines and your newest pattern obsession! Nothing like a long weekend for churning out a few handmade goodies! Which of course culminates in an uber awkward photo session, this time on the beach, in a bikini, with some very curious onlookers!


Some of you that have been around here for awhile might know that I am currently calling the little beach town of Galveston, TX "home". And while it doesn't boast the classiest or most scenic of beaches, there is still a freaking ocean (okay... gulf - smaller waves, but still salty, and a heckuvalot warmer) just a mere 5 blocks from my front door. And I am not one to turn my nose up to sand, sun, and surf. Actually, I luurve the beach. And living here has taught me that fleshing out my beach (and pool) attire with some new, stylish, non-stretched-out-elastic-saggy-butt swim duds is not only fun, but necessary, as these little garments get quite a lot of wear in a season. Which is why I'm always super psyched when I hear that a new swimsuit pattern is on the market! Last year I got my first foray into sewing swimwear with Heather Lou's Bombshell swimsuit (the suit that made waves across the sewing blogosphere!) And this year I felt ready to take on some more swimwear sewing.


This is Papercut Patterns newest addition to their collection - the Soma Swimsuit (bikini, variation 2). I was pretty intrigued by this pattern when I saw the release of their newest collection, TRI, but I really fell in love, like, hard, when I saw Lauren's adorable stripe-y version.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't seriously tempted to copy every. single. thing. about that suit! Right down to the yellow trim (and Lauren's hot bod!) But, alas, I begrudgingly made myself muster an inkling of originality and began searching the internet for some fun swim fabric of my own.


My search didn't last too long, however, and I ended up landing on this nylon spandex from none other than Girl Charlee.  For the contrast triangle I went with a light coral tricot.  Looking at the fabrics online this seemed like it would be a fun color combination, but once I got them together I wasn't so sure - maybe black would have been better? No matter though, I still thought they looked good enough to forge ahead, as you can see! I also decided to get the most out of the different color shifts in this floral-y print by cutting the bust cup pieces out of two different areas. I like how this really highlights the style lines of the top. Otherwise, I thought they might get lost in this busy fabric.

I ended up having to draw in my size for this pattern, because my measurements landed me squarely in between an XS and a S. In retrospect, I probably could have gone with the XS, as drafted, for the top - which was only a half inch off from my bust measurement, but you just never know! After all, there is nothing worse than a swimsuit that pinches your fleshy parts too tight! And almost equally as bad is a swimsuit that is so big you lose it altogether every time you dive into the pool or get hit by a wave! So I wasn't taking any chances. And, as a matter of fact, I am grateful for that extra inch I added to the bottoms!


I was also a bit worried about bust support with this top. Let's get a bit TMI... I have a pretty average sized bust - I wear a 34C (or a 32D, depending on the bra) however, when left to their own devices, my ladies like to point towards the side, or perhaps I just carry most of my breast tissue towards the sides. So my yearning for bust support wasn't so much about lift (although that's welcome too) but more about keeping my lovelies front and center. After reading Lauren's review of this pattern I gleaned that it would be a bit awkward, or down right impossible, to add swim cups. So I started looking for another route and ended up buying some poly laminate foam from Sew Sassy. This is basically the same stuff that swim cups are made out of, just in one giant sheet instead of formed into boob domes. I cut the two bust cup pieces out of the foam, minus the 1cm seam allowance, then constructed my bust cups as indicated in the instructions - which basically leaves you with the cups and lining connected at the center, horizontal seam (all seam allowances neatly enclosed) but the edges all free. Then I slipped the foam pieces in and topstitched them in place along the horizontal seam. The instructions tell you to only topstitch the bottom cup, but I found that without the topstitching the foam created a little 'ridge' - so both the upper cup and bottom cup got the topstitching treatment.

Once again, in retrospect, I probably could have left it out and I would have been fine - or done as Lauren did and just triple the layers for the bust cup - but this does give a nice, defined boob area, and no chance of nipple show through.


I also bought black lingerie elastic from Sew Sassy, and used some leftover rubber swimwear elastic that I had from last year's swimsuit sewing for all the edges. However, the lingerie elastic was a bit flimsier than what I was expecting (I saw later that they sell bra straps separately, and that probably was more along the lines of what I had in mind, and what the pattern calls for - this elastic is more like what you might use on a camisole) so I decided to get creative and use multiple straps to help hold the top in place. It does the job, and looks like a cool design feature, even though it was a total spur-or-the-moment, 'make it work', kind of decision.

I love the cut of the bottoms on this suit! They're actually pretty substantial, but they're just a touch cheeky! Sexy!


After taking these photos I discovered that my swim fabric totally changes colors when wet - in this case with under-boob sweat! So classy. Ah well, I've already embarrassed myself about as much as I can by even posting these pictures on the internet, what's a little boob sweat to top it all off?? 

But seriously, if you would have told me a few short years ago that I would be making my own swimsuits one day I would have called you crazy pants. But here I am! And it feels awesome! Also, when I think about how much I spent on materials for this (and I have a TON left over) and how fast it was to sew, and then I look at the price of a good portion of the swimwear out there, I feel like I just cheated the system. Affordable, handmade, swimwear for all!! 

Now to (safely) get to work on my tan... let the beach bummin' commence!