Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reversible Cottesloe Swimsuit

Reversible Swimsuit!? What? Yes, it’s true. Just when you thought I didn’t need any more swimsuits, now I have two in one!


When I was a kid, I had a swimsuit that was reversible. It was all black on one side and all white on the other. I thought it was so awesome that I could pack one suit, take it to camp for a week, and essentially have two suits. Probably no one noticed. But it was still my favorite anyway.


A few months ago, The Fabric Fairy expanded their team of sewists and I was one of the lucky ones they picked. If you’ve been reading long at all, you know TFF is hands-down my number one choice for swim fabrics. I’ve also used their French terry, jersey, etc. over the years. When it came time to choose fabric for my first Fabric Fairy project, I tried desperately to avoid more swimwear. How many suits does one person need?? I usually make one every year, and I’d already done that! But I’m like a helpless baby. Especially when I hit on the idea to make a reversible suit!


One side of the suit is this Supernatural Nylon Spandex Swim. The other is Classic Black Nylon Spandex Swim. Pro tip: when in doubt about the success of a swimsuit, use black. Any wonky stitching will disappear. I adore the print, but let me tell you, the black is one of the highest quality swim knits I’ve ever used. Highly recommend!


The pattern I used for this suit is the Megan Nielsen Cottesloe. As far as I know, this is the first MN patten I’ve used. True story, I’m in love with this pattern. Lately, I’ve developed an intense bond with super simple patterns done really well, and the Cottesloe falls into that category. The cut is perfect.


My measurements put me at a size 2-8-8. The last time I tried to make a one piece suit, it ended up too short in the torso and got chopped into a two piece. Given my drastic grading and past issues with one pieces, I made a quick muslin of the Cottesloe. It fit, but after comparing the stretch of my muslin and final fabric, I decided to add 1/2” of length to the bodice. I have a long torso and this is a common adjustment. Especially considering that I have two different fabrics stretching together, I'm really glad I added the extra length. The fit is amazing! My muslin was the low-back version, but it felt like my shoulder straps could easily get pulled off, so I went with View B.


I went with the Cottesloe because of its simplicity, which is necessary for a reversible suit. The pattern simply has elastic sewn to the edges and then turned down. To make it reversible, instead the edges are finished in the same way you would use double-fold bias tape, except that there is also elastic inside. I chose a solid black and a black and white print so that I could use one of them as the binding, and it would work with both fabrics.


To make a reversible swimsuit, cut a front and back from both fabrics. Construct them as usual and then insert one into the other, WRONG sides together.


The seam allowance on the Cottesloe is 1/4" (side note--I generally hate this SA on a swimsuit. 3/8" is much easier to work with and where I am 3/8" swim elastic is easier to find). The method I used means that the finished edge of the suit will be the same as the cut edge. So, the seam allowance needed to be removed for the suit to fit as intended. The easiest way to do this is to serge your pieces together along all the openings, cutting off 1/4". That way, you can both baste your pieces AND remove the seam allowance in one quick pass. I was pretty lazy with my suit and I only did this step on the leg openings. It didn't matter to me if the other openings were slightly larger, but nobody wants an extra-large crotch amiright? Additionally, I did use 3/8" elastic instead of 1/4" as directed, so it came out smaller anyway. Too much maths.


Next, I used a flexible ruler to measure the length of the openings. I cut 2" fabric strips in this length. The Cottesloe gives tons of details on lengths for the elastic but I have enough experience with swimwear that I can figure it out by feel. If you do not, then use the pattern measurements, or the length of the opening minus a little.


Sew your 2" binding strips along the short ends so that they make a loop. Do the same with your elastic. Quarter and pin in this order: swimsuit right side (either right side) touching binding right side, elastic touching binding wrong side. Go slowly, making sure you're catching all the layers and that they all line up along the raw edges. I used a zig-zag on my regular machine to make sure I didn't screw up this step. Sew straight down the middle of the elastic or to the side furthest from the raw edge. You'll be stretching the binding and elastic slightly to ensure a snug fit.


Next, you will wrap the binding around the elastic to the other side of the suit, tucking the raw edge under and thus covering all the finishings. This is the part that is similar to double-fold bias tape. The difference is that cotton bias tape is easily pressed into submission, and swim knit is not. Be careful not to roll the elastic out of place, or to let the raw edge of the binding slip out. Use lots of Wonderclips if you have them! Topstitch the binding down using a zig-zag stitch. Normally, I would use my coverstitch to topstitch swim, but remember that the stitching will be visible on both sides of the suit. A zig-zag is better in this case. Repeat this process with all of the openings and viola, a swimsuit that is completely finished no matter which side is out!


Questions? Comments? Drop them below!


I received this fabric for free in exchange for a review. I purchased the pattern. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used in this post. Thank you for supporting this blog!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ogden Cami Dress

I may have been one of the last people in the world to make the Ogden Cami, but I am trying to make up for lost time. Basically every lightweight, drapey woven fabric is now begging me to become an Ogden. I've had my eye on some rayon gauze prints at Jo-Ann's, and I finally had to say yes to one.


This is a leaf print and pretty far out of my comfort zone. I tend to stick with neutrals and have a hard time with prints. Somehow, this one works, probably because the colors really are pretty neutral. It's also a perfect summer print paired with a summery pattern, so win win there too.


To make an Ogden Dress, I relied heavily on the recent tutorial from IndieSew. Mine isn't exactly like that one, I did not change the back shape and I did not make it as long. But the idea is the same. 


My previous Ogden tops are a size 2 in the bust, graded to an 8 in the hips, with 1" added in length. The more I wear those tops, the more I think I added too much volume. For the dress, I started with a 2 in the bust and basically took the side seams out as far as I needed to encircle my hips, plus 2" of ease. 


There were a LOT of make it work moments. I ended up just barely squeaking the front and back dress from 1 1/2 yards. The fabric wasn't super wide and it did shrink in the wash. I first attempted to make the facing into a shelf bra with cups from a knit fabric. Total fail. So I rifled through my stash for a proper facing fabric and landed on this Bemberg rayon, leftover from my Yuzu Coat. I had just enough left that I decided to make a full lining instead of facings. 


Both of these fabrics were an absolute terror to cut. It was so bad. So shifty. Just bad. I'm positive my cutting was super uneven and it's kind of a miracle I was able to sew the lining and outer along the neckline as needed. I topstitched them together rather than trying to understitch the Bemberg.


I didn't have enough fabric for the straps and so again I turned to my stash and scrap bin. I settled on this ocean blue Tencel twill leftover from my vintage romper. It's kind of different and unexpected and I like it. I did use a recent tip I read in the Threads magazine newsletter, to use drapery cord inside of spaghetti straps for stability. I had some in my stash that I think came from a garage sale or thrifting.


After assembly, I ended up taking in the waist a ton. My hips are 38" but the top half of me loses all shape if I properly fit my hips. I don't want tugging and pulling and riding up though. It's a delicate balance and I'm still learning how to best flatter a pear-shaped figured, given that it's only been a few years that my hips have grown this way (thanks kids!). 


The other fun thing I did is to create a bubble hem. I did this by gathering the bottom of the outer dress (which was bigger than the lining) and sewing it to the lining. To make sure my seams were enclosed, I had to open the side seam, pull the lining and outer through, sew them, and then stuff them back into the hole I had opened. I hand-sewed the lining closed again. Because the outer skirt was gathered to fit the lining, it creates volume at the bottom. The lining is also shorter, so it pulls the outer fabric under. I hope that makes sense! I used to have a RTW skirt just like this, and always wanted to recreate it.


In the end, I eeeked out a belt so I could also define the waist a bit, and I think that helps with the silhouette. I wore this dress out to dinner with my husband and even though it was 90 degrees, I felt very comfortable. The whole dress is rayon and I can only imagine how hot and sweaty it would have been if it had been RTW and polyester. I also rock it with no bra. Quite honestly, I want to burn all my bras during this hott summer we're having. I've also stopped wearing makeup most of the time. I'm either having a mid-life crisis or welcoming the freedom to please myself instead of others. Maybe both!


So there you have it, my Ogden Cami dress hack! I'm not sure if I'll make another as I'm not much of a dress wearer, but this is a great one to have hanging in the closet.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Trio of Allegro Shorts

Two summers ago, I made a pair of Love Notions Allegro Shorts for the Summer of Basics contest. They are a gorgeous grey linen and I have worn them absolutely to death. It took me until now to get around to making this pattern again, but I made up for it by making three pairs!


Magically, they all go with my newest self-drafted tank top as well. Before I started batch sewing these shorts, I put my previous pair on and asked my husband whether I should reuse the same size pattern, or go up a size. I have added a bit of weight, maybe 10 pounds, in the last two summers. He gently suggested I needed a bit more room. Luckily, I was able to pull out my Sewist's Notebook and refresh my memory on that first pair.

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The first pair was an XS and I shortened the inseam from 5" to 4". I went ahead and printed the pattern in a S and again shortened the inseam to 4". Love Notions patterns are no-trim and super easy to print and assemble. So, the denim pair was a quick one to make sure a Small was really what I wanted.


The fabric is leftover Robert Kauffman denim from my Morgan Boyfriend Jeans. I used scraps of Robert Kauffman polka dot chambray (leftover from a Hey June Phoenix) for the waistband facing and pockets. The drawstring is twill tape folded in half longways and stitched down to make a narrow string. This pair was hemmed to the wrong side for a sort of faux cuff.


The back pockets are not the ones that come with the pattern, they are drafted by me based off a pair of RTW shorts. These are definitely NOT the most flattering pair of shorts I own, but they are so dang comfortable I don't even care! I'd say they fall pretty clearly into some sort of mom-shorts category. They're not great for date night, but they work fine at the park chasing kids.


Next up, a pair in light green twill from La Mercerie. This pair is meant to go with my rust-colored Pinnacle Top (full story and Pinterest inspo here). These have a traditional cuff and again, the same twill tape sewn into a drawstring.


This fabric doesn't have much drape at all, and topstitching the waistband caused some wonky stiffness to form. I added the drawstring after the fact to help pull in the waist, which meant I hand-stitched the holes. Don't look too closely at them!


Lastly, my FAVE pair is made in Avery Slub Linen from La Mercerie (the best fabric on the planet). It's so drapey and soft and amazing as shorts. The color is beautiful as well. Another traditional cuff here.


The only bad thing about this pair is that they seem to stretch out over a few wears. These photos are fresh out of the wash and that definitely helps spring them back into shape.


I was seriously struggling to get the shorts cut from the small amount of slub linen and the Kauffman denim. I had to draft a pocket facing in order to make it work. I'm kind of scratching my head because I swear I easily got a pair of XS out of one yard of fabric...I guess there is that big of a difference in the S.


I'm super excited to have these three shorts in rotation! I have a bunch of RTW shorts that fit just fine, but I'd love to eliminate RTW completely from my wardrobe someday. This is a good start!