Monday, March 7, 2016

Craftsy Class Review and Discount: Sewing Swimsuits:The Supportive One-Piece

Hey all, I've got a review today of a brand new Craftsy class I just watched on swimsuit sewing, "Sewing Swimsuits: The Supportive One-Piece." Since recently making a swimsuit, I've been interested in learning a bit more about swimsuit sewing to see if I can improve my skills for my next swimsuit. Craftsy offered me this class for free to review, but all my opinions about the class are my own.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from Craftsy using these links. If you do decide to purchase this class after reading the review, using the links to the class in this blog post will get you a steep discount for the next 7 days. Details below:

Original Price: $49.99
Price with Discount: $24.99
Expiration Date: 3/14/16 at 11:59 pm MT

Class description, from Craftsy:

"Sew swimwear that fits better than store-bought! Learn techniques for working with swimwear fabric, adding supportive cups, shaping seams and more.

Learn how to sew a one-piece swimsuit that's comfortable and flattering with sewing expert Beverly Johnson. You'll begin by discovering how to choose your pattern and fabric before making custom length and width adjustments. Beverly will show you how to construct a supportive bust with pre-formed foam cups or a built-in bra. You'll even learn how to adapt your own bra pattern for your swimsuit if you choose the built-in bra option. Next, you'll pull your suit pieces and lining together and create flattering curves whether you sew a suit with princess seams or a tank-style (maillot) design. Beverly will also help you modify the leg curve to suit your shape and add elastic to leg openings, neckline and armholes. Then, find out how to insert a built-in bra and finish your one-piece. Finally, Beverly will show you how to use stylish color-blocking designs in your swimwear and troubleshoot common fit issues."


Lesson 1. Fit and Fabric

Lesson 2. Interior Bra With Pre-Formed Cups

Lesson 3. Interior Built-In Bra

Lesson 4. Constructing the Suit

Lesson 5. Completing the Suit

Lesson 6. Fit Adjustments and Color Blocking

My thoughts:

Audience: This class would be particularly helpful if you've never sewn a swimsuit before, as it covers everything: fabric choice, measurements, pre-sewing fitting adjustments, tips on sewing with swimsuit fabric and elastic, and post-sewing adjustments. 

Even if you have already sewn a swimsuit and feel confident in your swimsuit sewing skills, the class is still full of lots of useful tips and tricks. I found a few of the tips particularly helpful, including some advice Beverly gives regarding choice of elastic and how much to stretch the elastic at different points around the swimsuit. I also liked her tips on spray basting the lining and main fabrics together since they'e so slippery (I encountered this problem with my last swimsuit). 

Additionally, this class would be particularly helpful if you've sewn a swimsuit in the past, but want/need more bust support in a swimsuit, as the class has in-depth coverage of adding pre-formed foam swim cups or even a full bra to the swimsuit.

Finally, there is a section at the end of the class that discusses colorblocking options for swimsuits, including ways to highlight or de-emphasize different parts of your body through the magic of colorblocking. I found this to be really fun and interesting- it's amazing how the same swimsuit can look so different depending on how you place different colors or prints!

Teaching style/pacing: This was the first class I've taken with Beverly Johnson. I found her teaching style to be very clear and understandable, with good pacing. Not too slow as to be boring, not too fast so that you get lost. 

Materials: There is no pattern that comes with this class, but there is a thorough list of patterns that could be used, as well as a list materials and suppliers. I think this is particularly helpful for some of the harder-to-source items like the elastic she recommends and the foam bra cups.

Critiques: One point in the class I found to be confusing: when discussing how fabric choice relates to the amount of ease you should choose for your swimsuit, Beverly refers to "firm" and "flimsy" fabrics. I found these adjectives to be a bit vague... what do they mean in terms of stretch percentage and how does that affect what size and how much ease I choose? I would prefer if she had quantified the fabric stretch using a percentage (40% stretch or 75% stretch, etc.), which is something everyone can measure, rather than use the qualitative description she used. I sent in my question/request for clarification via Craftsy's "virtual classroom," so I'll update here when I hear back from Beverly!

*Update: Well, even before I had a chance to post my review, Beverly responded to my question, which speaks to how nice it is to have that virtual classroom option! Her answer:

"That's a great question. Firm is less than 50% stretch and flimsy is more than 75%. The optimum stretch is 50-75%"

Another critique (which is really just a style preference rather than a critique) is that I'm not really in love with the patterns chosen as the examples in the class. Beverly uses two patterns, both one-pieces: one solid front tank/maillot and one princess seamed tank (she uses her Pin-up Girls patterns in the video). Honestly, neither are swimsuit styles I personally seek out... I prefer a suit that has a seam below the bust/separate cups to define the bust area. That said, most of the tips and tricks from the class apply to pretty much any swimsuit you might want to make, with the exception of the full bra option, which probably can't be used in just any swimsuit.

It seems like if you want to go with the built-in bra option, you would need to have some experience in bra-making and a tried-and-true bra pattern that works for you in order to use this option. No big deal, but this section assumes a bit of experience that the others don't.

My rating: 

I don't really have a rating system here, but I'll borrow the one used by the Curvy Sewing Collective (1-5, with 1 being "bad" and 5 being "best ever"), giving this class a 4.75. I think it's pretty great, with some really useful information for anyone, whether they have swimsuit sewing experience or not. A few very minor quibbles, but generally lots of useful techniques in an engaging format!