Monday, 27 August 2012

Swimwear: it's easy, I promise!

Well Kwik Sew 2962 is easy, I've made it three times now. The best thing about K2962 is that the resulting swimsuit is really comfortable and great to wear.  

I've actually finished it three times, I cut out and basted  together another one, which I've abandoned because I found it really unflattering.  It was in a light colour and did nothing good for my tummy area.  The latest one in matte black is much more flattering, and I'm really happy with it.  What should I do with the abandoned one? Bin it?

Here are my pattern notes for the latest version - the black one in the middle

View / Size used: 
View B in Size S

Fabric Used: 
Black polyester/spandex from Fabric Planet in Venice, CA

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
Not a thing.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes they were, although twice I sewed the side seams of the back pieces together by mistakenly looking at the View A instructions.  Silly me.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I simply like the design, I like the small seam allowances.  I should try the high leg some time and see if I like that too.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I've worn the various versions of this swimsuit to the pool well over fifty times.  It's comfortable to swim in, I'm never worried about a wardrobe malfunction.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm sure I'll sew it again, and consider it recommended.

Construction notes: 
I've made this swimsuit 3 times, in 3 different sizes.  The difference has been in the stretch of the fabric.  For a reference for myself for the future, I took each of the three fabrics doubled them over, and stretched out 4" as far as it would go.  I did this in both directions, and marked on the fabric which direction had the greatest stretch.

Marked stretch direction with chalk, and wrong side with tape

Turquoise: 4" stretches to 8.75"
Lining: 4" stretches to 7"
Black fabric: 4" stretches to 9"
Black stripy: 4" to 8"

As you can see, it's kind of tricky picking a size when the fabrics vary so much.  Luckily you can easily get 2 swimsuits out of 1 yard of fabric, so if I had gotten it really wrong, it's not too much of a tragedy.

Cutting out: I always use a rotary cutter for swim fabrics, I just can't seem to cut them out accurately with shears.

It was really hard to tell the difference between the right and wrong side indoors, but outdoors one side was much shinier.  I marked the wrong side with sticky tape, and made sure there was tape on each of the cut pieces.

Because of the small seam allowances and the huge variability between stretchiness of fabrics, I basted the front and back pieces together first, and checked the fit.  If you do this, remember that the neck and armholes will gape, because they will be turned under and pulled in with the elastic. After I checked the fit, I took the suit apart again because I need to put in the bust and crotch linings.

Step 5. It's a bit of a mystery to me why the front lining doesn't go all the way up to the shoulder seam.  Each time I've made the pattern, I've thought that I would extend next time. But then despite wearing the swimsuit all the time, I totally forget about it, so I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Step 7. On my machine the regular zigzag worked best for applying the elastic.  I tried the triple zigzag on the first suit, but it seemed to keep the elastic from springing back so the fabric wasn't as snug against my skin as it should have been.  The regular zigzag allowed the elastic to snap right back.

General things I've learned:   By my third suit, I finally realised that if I do the second round of zig-zagging right on the edge of the elastic, it makes it less visible and makes for a cleaner finish.

I also used to get smaller stitches as the machine went over one of the bulky elastic+2 layers of fabric seams. Now I pull the fabric from behind the machine over bulky seams, and it works great.

Machines / settings used: 
Janome 7318 for basting and topstitching.  I used a 4mm for basting and a 3mm zigzag for topstitching.

Brother 1034D serger to sew and finish seams.
Differential Feed: 1.5
Stitch Length:3.5
Stitch Width:5
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4, Right Needle: 3.8, Upper Looper: 4.8, Lower Looper:4.8


Lyndle said...

Great swimsuits! This is really helpful. I have this pattern but chickened out, now I am inspired to try it. You notes about the zigzag are especially handy. I won't be bothering with the Alison even tho it looks quite cute. :-)

Ms. McCall said...

Yes! Do it! Don't forget to wrap the fabric around your bust to get your size - don't go by the measurements on the envelope because they don't account for different amounts of stretch in the fabric. If you get stuck, let me know, I'd be happy to help if I can.