So two months ago, Katy from No Big Dill made these darling bloomer pants out of dainty ruffled chiffon and everyone asked her where she got the fabric. It was a fabric she’d found in Japan, so she picked my brain to see if I’d seen it here in the states. At that time, I hadn’t. Then two days later, the shop Ruffle Fabric contacted me to see if I wanted to try out some of their fabrics. And what do you know? It was the same fabric Katy had been searching for! Life is funny (or ironic?) that way.
Katy and I had a chuckle over the coincidence. And then Katy made a TUTORIAL for her bloomers! (along with a fabric giveaway, but sorry that part’s over).
So….Ruffle Fabric sent me two yards to try out. One yellow, one gray.
Mmmm. Pretty colors. I racked my brain, trying to think of something unique to make from the layers of girly charm.
and then it came to me……a Lucy swimsuit!
After making her swimsuit last year I knew that a two-piece tankini would have been a wiser choice. The girl has to go potty every 1/2 hour. Can’t blame her; she’s like her mom.
So I did that very thing.
Deborah from Whipstitch and I did a mini Swimsuit Sew-Along last summer, where we both shared ideas for making a suit and sewing with Lycra. Next time around I’ll make the official real-deal tutorial (of course it’s hard to pass up the fabulous tutorial that katy did HERE!). So until then, I’ve combined last years tips with this years and added the info to the Tutorials section up top.
* I used another swimsuit to gauge the sizing and cut an A-line form for the top. I wanted it to be almost like a Flapper dress. Lucy actually gave creative input and when we tried it on (pic on the left) Lucy said “mom, I think it’s too long”. So I took her advice and cut off two lines of ruffles. And we have, pic on the right.
* Lycra/Spandex fabric. The fabrics here came from a variety of shops but SPANDEX WORLD online has a wonderful selection. I used them last year when making Lucy’s DOT swimsuit.
* Lining the top. The ruffle fabric is a bit sheer, so I lined it with a cheap spandex, bought last summer at JoAnns. I cut the lining and ruffled fabric at the same time and serged them together (you could baste with a normal sewing stitch) before sewing the whole top together. This kept things from shifting and helped the ruffles lay flat at the seams.
* Elastic. I seriously need to buy swimsuit elastic. But since I can never find it at my local shop, I get impatient and want to start sewing right away. So I just used normal elastic. It’s worked two years in a row so far. But I know that over time chlorine will cause the elastic to stiffen. With a bit of rubber in it, Swimsuit elastic is a much better choice and dude, it’s so cheap! I need to purchase a bunch right now. Then I’ll be ready for the next time I get antsy. You’ll find some here and here.
* Edging. I used a nice yellow lycra to create “bias tape” edging for the top (purchased at Michael Levine in Los Angeles). After reading Sew U: Home Stretch, and seeing how crappy my elastic and lining looks, I’m convinced I need a Coverstitch machine. But uh, not sure I can cough up $1400 for one. YIKES.
Amy from Angry Chicken shares some good tips and a video about sewing on the elastic (along with some totally cool swimsuit creations). Um, guess I should have watched the video before tackling it on my own. My elastic is bunched and silly looking. But I’m pretending not to notice.
* The Swimsuit “Panties”. I made these the same way I’d make a baby diaper cover. I took a pair of Lucy’s panties (an older ugly pair than shown here, probably with Cinderella on it) and cut them apart to use as my pattern and cut the new pair out of the nice yellow lycra fabric. I serged the top waistband and leg edges, folded them over to create casings, and pulled elastic through. If you don’t have a serger, no worries, Lycra won’t fray. I lined the crotch area with an extra layer of the cheap spandex.
This photo shows the undies used as a pattern (top), the first mishap pair of Panties (info below), and the final pair:
Half way through the project I decided to iron out my seams (on a low setting) but turned the iron up to high just to get it going (yes, I’m an impatient person). BAD IDEA. The hot iron sizzled a hole right through my hard work. I was so bummed. But went back to the cutting board and did it all again. This time around I avoided the iron all together.
When creating my pattern last year, I made the mistake of leaving too little room in the bum area. And the suit kind of clung to her buttocks.
So this year I was a bit more liberal and now they’re too baggy. Somewhere in the middle I’ll make the perfect pair of swimsuit bottoms! (maybe when I get around to making that tutorial for you….).
But overall, I love how it turned out!
Ruffle fabric was very easy to sew with and held up well in the water too. With one yard of gray fabric still left, I have another project in mind. It’s just a matter of finding the time.
Oh, why does my daughter look 16 here?
More of this please.
Sewing swimsuits should never be scary. It’s really fun to do! Especially when you’re making one for a kid. It requires so little fabric that one yard gives you plenty of wiggle room (you know, in case you burn a hole through it).
So give it a whirl! Have fun!
Here are all those links again, in one place:
* Swimsuit Sew-along (with myself and Whipstitch)
* no big dill’s swimsuit tutorial
* swimsuit tips with Amy Karol (of Angry Chicken)
* sewing a cool BOY’s swimsuit (and undies) with Made by Rae
* Spandex World, for great lycra
* Ruffle Fabric