coverstitch machine, handmade wardrobe, sewing

My first bathing suit!

I got the bug to make myself a bathing suit after splurging on a suit from Anthropologie, only to have to send it back because of a disappointing fit.  So, a quick search of Etsy for a pattern and I found the most incredible set of suits, vintage McCalls 5036 (1976).  A year older than me, the pattern was in incredible shape.   
Photo from Vicious Vintage Chic
Seriously, how can one pattern hold so much awesome possibility? Love the low cut, full-coverage bottom and the small-bust flattering top options.  All are adorable and fabulous, but I went with style F to start.  I made a petite torso adjustment and reduced the length of the crotch (I did a muslin first), and the suit fits perfectly.  
The great “shaky dots on red” print is from The Fabric Fairy, and the suit is fully lined with nude fabric from Hart’s Fabric. Despite all my previous misconceptions, swimsuit fabric is not all that difficult to sew.  I used my serger for most seams, with basting of the bodice and zigzagging the leg elastic on my regular machine.  To finish the leg openings, one could use the multi-stitch zigzag….but I was a very lucky girl and for my birthday (yesterday!), I received this lovely piece of equipment:
The bathing suit was nearly done except the leg holes, but I waited patiently for several days until my actual birthday to open my present.  I didn’t even read the manual, just rethreaded the machine with red thread and sewed the finishing touches in mere minutes.  I’m already in love.  It feels ever-so-slightly excessive to have three separate and distinct sewing machines, but really, you cannot beat the finish of a coverstitch machine on stretch fabrics.  Makes me want to redo all the hems I did with a double-needle!
Look! Full butt coverage, without needing constant readjustment!  There is something truly wonderful about being able to decide how tight or loose you want your bathing suit leg elastic.  Swimsuit fabric is seriously inexpensive, so this suit cost less than $25, including the pattern (but not counting the coverstitch machine :).  Not all apparel sewing is cost-effective, but swimsuits definitely are.
My husband was shocked to see me taking photos in my swimsuit.  I thought he was appalled at me posting photos of myself in a bathing suit, but in his words, “You don’t even like me to post photos of you clothed!”.  True, but a suit like this has to be shared!  Even more exciting is that I have a pool party to go to tomorrow!

15 thoughts on “My first bathing suit!”

  1. That is so cute! I love the fabric you used, and great find on the pattern! I made a swimsuit very much like view C when I was 12 . . . in 1976!

    And Happy Birthday! That is the most excellent birthday present ever!


  2. Great suit! You talented sewist with your coverstitch machines–if I wasn't such a newbie, I'd have one on my wish list. I'd love to be able to finish my knits with the double hem.


  3. 1) You look AMAZING in your new swimsuit, what a figure you have!
    2) I love the cut of the suit and the fabric you used, it's totally lush!
    3) Husbands just don't understand 🙂


  4. Thanks! The double-needle with woolly nylon in the bobbin really does a very serviceable hem for knits, but I'm feeling pretty excited to have the next step up.


  5. Oh Samantha, you are too kind; truly, I took a ton photos and carefully selected the most flattering shots 🙂 Love “lush” as the descriptive word for my suit, though–counters nicely the parent of my son's classmate who said it reminded her of Minnie Mouse!


  6. Yes! I completely neglected to take photos, but essentially, you line the bodice top, which creates the casing for the drawstring. Then, you sew the sides and back of both the outer fabric and lining fabric separately (leaving the crotch unsewn). Then, you sandwich the bodice between the lining and outer fabric and sew the bodice seam. Flip it all around the correct way, sew the crotch seam (there's a little flippy thing you have to do for the outer fabric) and line up the raw edges of the leg seams. Apply the elastic along the edges and then turn it to the inside and topstitch. It looks completely clean and beautiful on the inside (except the leg holes, but it's how most commercial suits appear). Does that help?


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