Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tropical Maison Fleur Swimsuit

This is my third attempt at sewing swimwear for myself... finally, a success! Third time's the charm, I guess?

None of my previous swimsuit failures were pattern related, but rather a tragic lining issue. A few years ago I had purchased something described as swimsuit lining from Girl Charlee... turns out it didn't have 4-way stretch, though!! I didn't really identify this as a problem when I made my first suit (a Closet Case Files Bombshell), I just thought the bodice was too short for me. I used it again when making the Jalie 3350 (the twisty one, seen here), which again, turned out so short in the bodice that I would have to walk around hunched over to make it work. Only at that point did I realize maybe it wasn't me or the patterns, but that damn lining... *shakes fist in the air.* Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... sigh.

Anyway, I bought new lining at Joann last time I was in the States (double-checking to make sure it had the requisite 4-way stretch) and I had another go at swimwear.

This time I went with Maison Fleur's 8101 halterneck swimsuit pattern, which I had seen, but initially dismissed because I assumed the size range wasn't extensive enough... boy, was I wrong! Clued in by the lovely Megan (aka thegreenviolet) about the pattern's wide size range and separate cup sizes, I downloaded it immediately! I love the hip ruching and ties, the shape of the bust. Good stuff. Plus, lots of options for bikinis, one-pieces, various strap configurations...

The fabric is a gorgeous, brightly colored tropical print that I bought from the Imagine Gnats shop (affiliate link) last year. The colors are so vivid and it has great recovery! She doesn't have this particular print right now, but has some other winners in stock.

The pattern is quite easy to follow. Straightforward instructions... I ended up sewing it entirely on my sewing machine rather than using the serger. It makes the most sense for the hip tie channels, which are made from an extra wide seam allowance pressed open and topstitched.

I fully lined the whole suit. The various layers of fabric were a bit slippery, so I ended up basting the lining pieces to the outer pieces around the edges, inside the seam allowances, before sewing the suit together. I'm having a teeny bit of trouble with the edges flipping out on the bottoms so that the lining shows (as you can see in the photo below). I wonder if I should have trimmed the lining down a bit on the edges so that it pulls the outer fabric inside rather than flipping outwards?

Size-wise, my measurements put me smack in between two of the sizes. Based on advice from Megan that the pattern runs a teeny bit large, I opted for the smaller of the two sizes. Turned out to be the right choice! Someone on the lower end of any given size range would probably want to size down.

The instructions have you apply the elastic to the leg holes without stretching, but my advice is to stretch it a little bit, certainly on the back side and maybe even a little on the front, too. I did stretch it some for mine, and even with that, it was a teeny bit gapey under the butt. It doesn't gape as much when I pull the side ties tight, so it's not too big of a problem, but if I wanted to wear the suit with the sides lower/less scrunched, I might have to re-do the leg elastic to tighten it. 

I started out with the halter straps as the pattern instructed, but when I tried it on, I remembered that I don't really like halters. The straps tend to bother my neck and I worry that they'll be bunchy and/or come untied inside my wetsuit when scuba diving (which is probably the activity I engage in most in a swim suit!). I also found that the elastic along the back bodice was flipping/rolling outwards a bit with no straps attached to keep it pulled up.

To fix these two issues, I decided to opt for straight straps for the outer straps and cross-back straps for the inner. I just pinned them to the length I wanted and sewed the ends to the back bodice at 3.75 inches from the center back. Next time I'll plan to make this change from the beginning and go for adjustable straps using this tutorial on the Maison Fleur blog, if I can find the sliders and circle thingies (technical term) here in Bangkok. If not, perhaps I'll cannibalize an old bra for its hardware.

I may also add swim cups next time. I didn't have any on hand. And perhaps some elastic below the bustline for additional support.

Besides those minor changes, I am quite happy with this swimsuit! I feel comfortable in it, which is the main thing. Comfortable enough to take photos and post them on the internet! I know sewing bloggers posting swimsuit photos is old hat at this point, but it still gave me pause. I wanted to take some strategically thigh-disguising and potentially more editorial pool photos, but my apartment's pool is currently having some sort of filter issue and thus the water is a disturbing shade of green. Balcony photos it is!