Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bombshell Swimsuit...plus a rant

Fact: this was one of the most annoying items I've ever sewn
Fact: it was worth it*


I feel a little annoyed with you, Internet. For a year, all I read about swimsuits was that they were OMG SO FUN to make and YES YOU CAN MAKE ONE GIGGLES and SO QUICK AND EASY I MADE MINE WHILE DRINKING A COCKTAIL.

Yeah, no. Andrea's recent post was much more realistic (in true Andrea fashion, of course). I made this suit at least a month ago so I think some of the hate in my love-hate attitude has actually subsided, believe it or not. I'm sure I'll make another swimsuit (more on that in a minute) but my first foray into this world was straight off annoying.


This is the Bombshell swimsuit pattern from Closet Case Files (duh), in a straight size 8. The pattern is drafted for someone who is 5'6" and I'm 5'4", but I believe I'm long-waisted and the fit was just about perfect. The crotch portion could be shortened a little but that's it. I made a few small modifications to the design to avoid being yet another boring black Bombshell (btw, I recommend black for your first suit...black hides all sewing sins!!). I bought a bikini top to rip apart and steal the cups, and I decided to steal the straps/rings and some braided trim as well.

Part of why it took me so long to blog this suit is because I really did not want photos from my kitchen...but you try taking self-portraits near water while wrangling a 2 year old. Oh, and without getting other people's kids in the shot. Sorry. But as proof that this suit has seen water, here are some not-so sneaky photos from my phone.



First: construction was a pain in the ass. If sewing together three layers (two of them gathered) of nylon-spandex with a quarter inch seam allowance sounds like fun, then you have my pity. It wasn't fun. Also not fun, sewing quarter inch elastic around the curves of the bust and somehow not stretching the fabric. Oh, and did I mention this was with a zig-zag stitch? Shoot me.


Second: it was NOT a fast sew. It took just as long as any other "normal" project (maybe five days of sewing? which for me is usually 1-2 hours/day). To be fair, there was a lot of unpicking on my part because I basted with white serger thread...which showed on the outside. STOOOOPID!


Third: I frequently had to switch between the sewalong and the instructions. Not a HUGE deal because I had the instructions in my Dropbox on my iPad, which can obviously then switch over to Safari. But it still kind of bugged me. Perhaps I was being too careful and making sure I didn't miss anything. Oh wait...I did miss something.


Don't cut out this dart. I cut one side and then was like...uhhhh...that's not right. I managed to still sew the dart with one side cut, but I know that Shanni did the same thing, so it's not just me.

Overexposed to show detail

*So was it worth it? Yes, I think so. It's a pattern that looks good on everyone, which is well-nigh impossible! This is definitely a time when sewing something myself was much more in the budget than buying. I hadn't bought a swimsuit since a trip to Gulf Shores five years ago, and it was a cute little Victoria's Secret number that's completely worthless for actual swimming. Now that I have a child, it's nice to have a suit that feels appropriate for my lifestyle.

Braided trim on center-front

But to continue my contrary nature in this post, it's almost TOO much coverage for me. The front bodice is 3 layers, so it feels very heavy, especially when wet. You need all those layers because of the clever way it's constructed, with a crotch portion and a longer "skirt" portion, but I'd be lying if I said it makes me feel unencumbered.

Here's the thing. I know that lots of ladies have made this suit and they are thrilled with how it makes them feel when they wear it. I get it. Their enthusiasm is contagious. But for ME, I don't need that much swimsuit, even though I think I look pretty good in these photos. My "problem area" is not my stomach. I don't mind showing it off. My thighs? Different story. My boobs? I'd like them to be contained, please. And I knew that before I went to all this trouble to make this suit.

I'm glad I bought the pattern. I have hacks and mods planned and now feel confident in making them happen (well, maybe not confident, but at least slightly experienced!). Want to see?


This is more ME. A bikini, but with a short that covers my way too white and not-toned thighs ("not-toned" sounds better than "flabby" right?). My black suit was always meant as a muslin (I got all the fabric from the remnant bin at Jo-Ann's, I think in total I spent less than $10 on the suit) before cutting into this beautiful fabric from The Fabric Fairy:


I think it will work well with my sketch, better than the Bombshell because I don't want to gather it and lose the beauty of the print. I hope this photo does proper justice to this fabric...it's gorgeous.

And because I don't know where to stick this information in this too-long post, I also made a bikini top as soon as I finished my full suit. I have a black skirt bottom to pair this with and I wanted to see how the triangle top would work out.


As you can see, I crossed the triangles. I was not comfortable otherwise, although the coverage on the side is great. The band piece is 1 inch elastic. In the back I used the closure from the upcycled bikini top.


Not having any more cups, I took Lauren's advice and sewed in an extra layer of lining (I even used the fabric from the upcycled bikini top). I've also worn this one and was much happier with a bikini version, although my elastic got abused the first time I washed it and I don't know how long it will hold out (now won't that be embarrassing?).


Can you make a swimsuit? Sure. If you have a LOT of patience with yourself, and be honest about what you need from a pattern before you buy. Want to design your own? BurdaStyle just released an inexpensive swimsuit sloper, which would be super fun to have, I think.

Your thoughts on swimsuit making? Am I being a big baby, or is it truly harder than everyone is making it seem?

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14 comments:

  1. It looks great on you! I certainly won't be tempted to make my own, though. :-D

    I agree on that beautiful fabric, a simpler suit would be better. Get busy! hahaha.

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  2. I don't think your being a baby at all! I had a time with my first one. A lot of fits and f-bombs were thrown the week I made mine...no cocktail drinking here, maybe a good drunk after I was done. LOL
    After wearing mine in water the first time I realized I need to shorten the bodice and get rid of a lot of fabric because after it got wet I had saggy butt. I did take in the side seams some more and swam in it again and that seemed to help some but it still can stand to be shortened next go around.

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    1. We're the same height, so I wonder if the fit really would be improved a lot if it were shorter. I guess I won't know unless I try, but I don't see a need for another Bombshell anytime soon.

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  3. lol ANYTHING to do with woman is not a quick and easy sew! My girls swimsuits have been fast, but that is basic basic no shape at all swimsuit! Anything more than that takes me time. The swimsuit looks fantastic on you! You should be very proud. Heck, I don't even want to tackle a me swimsuit and I love making my kids!

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    1. That's so funny, because I was dreading making my daughter a suit! I found one for $8 at Target and I was happy to buy it.

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  4. I sewed a swim suit for my baby girl, and found it to be fun and easier than expected (obviously a relative thing!), but it actually scared me off from sewing one for me, at least right away, because I really need some serious boobage support and it just seemed like, okay, the fabric is hard to deal with but it's manageable for a 2 year old shaped like a barrel, but for a grown woman it could be more challenging!

    I really appreciate your honesty about the process, though! I love an honest review!

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  5. I also appreciate your honest review of this very popular pattern. I think you look fantastic by the way:) I don't think you're being a "baby" at all! Man sometimes patterns, popular or not, can be very frustrating! I look forward to seeing your next suit in that pretty fabric:)

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    1. It's hard to say how much of the problem was the pattern and how much was me, or swimsuit sewing in general. We'll see how I feel after drafting my own, whether I still hate the process or not!

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  6. I also made this a month ago and have not yet blogged it for similar reasons to yours. I have made swimwear before and really enjoyed it. I did not enjoy making this at all. I made it longer in the bodice as suggested for my height and it's now way too long. I quite like the way it looks, but I prefer my previous, much sleeker, self-drafted version! I was so pleased to find your review. Now I feel much better!

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    1. Glad I could help! Now get your version blogged so other people can learn from our issues :)

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  7. Glad you have plans for something that's better suited to you! Live and learn, right? (Except me - I gave up on my bombshell less than halfways through... though i suppose that is a kind of learning... learning to avoid!)

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    1. I almost gave up on mine! I bet you could push through and "make it work" as Tim Gunn would say :)

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  8. It's nice to read an honest post - I don't think you're being a baby, either! I have to admit I love wearing my bombshell (I put an old bra in it to keep the boobs in place), but I am TOTALLY with you on the agony of sewing all that with a quarter inch seam allowance. I hate quarter inch seam allowances with a vengeance anyway (it's just not enough!) but with slippery lycra and all those gathers it nearly killed me.

    Anyway, sounds like you have some excellent plans to get over this one!

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    1. I agree, the quarter inch SA is what almost did me in. I know that made it easier to align the elastic on the edges, but it was just so hard to sew!!

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