Summery Soma

Greetings from the wondrous land of Maine, otherwise known as vacation paradise! My husband and I have been on a lovely little trip back east for the past two weeks, and are trying to soak in as much foresty goodness as we can before heading back to the city. We miss green things!

As usual, our vacation inspired a frenzy of last-minute sewing, as I decided about two weeks before we left that I needed all new clothes. Ha! I didn’t so much plan a vacation wardrobe as frantically sew everything quick, easy, and summery that I could lay my hands on. I actually managed to churn out several successful garments (still awaiting photography), and one more swimsuit!

Ever since the success of my Bombshell Swimsuit, I’ve had a sudden hankering to sew yet more swimwear. Which is somewhat ironic, since, in the past decade or so, I’ve owned maybe two swimsuits. Maybe. However, what was never a priority before has now become something of an obsession (I blame my lingerie habit). Yes, I’m surprised, too.

I had purchased the Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit pdf pattern a while ago when they were having a sale, and have had that project in the back of my mind for some time. I made the variation 2 top and the mid-rise bottoms in a size XS and S, respectively. I also made foam cups from the upper and lower cup pattern pieces (I don’t think I’d really ever be comfortable in a swimsuit without some extra padding), which made the construction a little dicier than it otherwise would’ve been. I wasn’t sure if the top would actually be wearable until I finished it, but I think it worked!

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For the foam cups, I basically just cut the upper and lower cups out of foam, removing 3/8″ at the cross-cup seam and at the top of the upper cup to make room for the elastic. Then, instead of attaching the upper and lower cup to the lining all at once, I sewed the swimsuit fabric and lining separately, sandwiching the finished foam cups in between. It looks a little funny when it’s not on my body, but when I’m wearing it I think it works pretty well.

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I also criss-crossed the straps in the back – I hate feeling like straps are about to fall off my shoulders, so this seemed like a good solution. Sorry for the awkward bum shot….

Altogether, I’m pretty pleased with it! This is the first time I’ve actually wanted to wear a bikini in public. I have a feeling I will do a lot more swimming now that I have two me-made suits. 🙂

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Finally Dropping the Bomb…shell

One of the major themes of my sewing this year so far has been “stuff that seems scary but looks cool/fun.” I started with bras, then jeans, and now…swimwear! Yup, that’s right, y’all are about to see pics of me in a swimsuit. Consider yourselves warned :P.

As with my other “scary sewing” adventures, this project was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I used the ever-popular Bombshell Swimsuit Pattern by Closet Case Files, which has been making its rounds in the blogosphere for over two years now. I had actually cut out the swimsuit last year when I was still in Boston, but due to a poor choice of swimsuit lining I wasn’t able to complete it before the big move to San Francisco. And, of course, upon arriving on the west coast, I was shocked by how cold this city is and had no desire to complete that project!

However, for the 4th of July this year, my husband and I got to spend the day with my in-laws in Livermore, where it gets HOT. Like, 90s and above hot. So when I heard that there might be a pool visit involved in our weekend celebrations, I got right on it! I managed to whip up this suit in just a few hours on Friday – it’s really that easy. I will admit that having some lingerie experience made certain parts of the process a little less scary, but even those who’ve never touched lingerie elastic should have no problem (especially with Heather Lou’s wonderful sewalong to follow!).

I got my fabric online from The Fabric Fairy, and am quite pleased with it. I mentioned above that I had an issue with the lining – that was not due to poor quality, but rather to the fact that I ordered tricot swimsuit lining. In many cases, this would be fine, but since tricot doesn’t have the recovery of a jersey knit, I couldn’t use it for this particular suit, since the lining provides a lot of the structure to the suit (the main fabric is gathered and basted on top of it). I ended up getting some basic jersey nylon/spandex lining from Joanne’s, which worked fine, but I think in the future I should use an even heftier fabric for the lining, as this one seemed to stretch after attaching the ruching.

I graded quite a bit between sizes for fit – I think I went with a 6 on top up to a 10 on the bottom, and the fit is fairly good. It’s a bit tight to get on and off, but it *is* a swimsuit, so I think that might just be the nature of the beast. I did add foam cups to the top to avoid “nipping,” using the Dritz “Sew-In Bikini Bra” in an A cup. Next time, though, I think I’ll just make my own foam cups, since I have the materials! These cups fit fine, but I think I can do better now that I have some bra-making experience under my belt.

And now for the big reveal:

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All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it! It stayed in place nicely during my swim, and so far seems to have survived its first trip to the pool. It’s not quite as figure-flattering as I had hoped – I had to “suck in” a LOT in these pics to avoid looking pregnant – so be warned, this suit does not hide curves!! However, I appreciate the full coverage and retro style, and I’ll probably make more of this suit in the future. Hooray for pioneering new fields of sewing territory!

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