Monday 25 April 2016

Endless summer of swimwear

And here it is, my last swimwear blog post for this summer (yep, it's half way through Autumn already, I know).

When I first made the Ottobre Seamus trunks for P and they were too baggy, I put the pattern aside for a bit while I sewed A's swimmers. Then one morning he was riding to school in the Nature Walk shorts I'd made him 2 years ago. They're made of an athletic knit and are now kinda tight and resemble cycle shorts.

It occurred to me I had my perfect boy's swim trunks pattern right there in front of me all along.

And so, I'm over at Oliver + S showing how I've used their patterns to create beachwear. Until Liesl gives us the long wished for swimwear pattern this is as close to Oliver + S swimmers as I can get.

I decided to make the swim trunks a bit more interesting by splitting the pattern pieces to allow for some colour blocking and the faked flatlocked seams.

The rashie wasn't really necessary since he had a couple of shop bought ones that still fit, but the temptation to make something that matched was too strong. The little remnant of the orange lycra, which I'd already used a bit of here, was just wide enough for a sleeve of the Field Trip Raglan T

I toyed with the idea of inserting a short, exposed zip at the back neck, but decided it wasn't necessary so why bother. Instead I just added about 1/2" width to the neckband pattern piece to give it a slightly higher neckband and left it at that. With the neckband sewn on with the overlocker and then twin needle stitched down it has plenty of stretch to get over his head without needing a zipper.

The charcoal grey fabric is a mystery textile that was purchased out at Eliza fabrics. It's definitely synthetic, has four way stretch and one shinier side, so I'm calling it lycra, but who knows. It's thinner than the orange dancewear lycra/spandex that came from GJ's fabrics and I expect it will wear out first. But the way this kid grows I don't expect more than season from his swimwear anyway.

Both the shorts and the T-shirt are made two sizes down from where his measurements would put him. Of course I had to add some length to the t-shirt and considerable sleeve length. I think it may have been as much as 4 extra inches of sleeve length - the kid has long arms! The good thing about a raglan sleeve is that you can measure from collar to wrist and that's the sleeve length you need. Easy to get right.

He loved the beach and enjoyed riding his boogie board and catching waves.  It amazed me that even though this is probably the most well known and commercialised bit of coast the whole way around Australia, and even thought the high rise apartments come right down to the sand, the beach still felt almost empty. Not empty by Aus standards, but certainly empty compared to any well known beach in any other part of the world.

After we got back from the Gold Coast I realised it was A who needed a rashie as hers had been very faded, worn and saggy. Of course that meant she needed a pair of swim trunks to match it, so I set about "girlifying" the Nature Walk pants to suit her.

This is at a much less glamorous, colder and generally less photogenic bay beach in Melbourne and I hadn't expected the kids to go in, but once they see water there's no stopping them.

I made the neckband on her top a bit wider again, adding a full inch to the pattern. Thus the folded neckband is 1/2" wider than intended. It works for a rashie, but is right on the limit to my taste. I think it would be visually far too thick and chunky for a regular t-shirt.

Her shorts were drafted to have an extended side section which is then drawn up and ruched by virtue of a casing and drawstrings. The casing is done in much the same was as this skirt which I adapted and photographed for another Oliver + S tutorial here.

Making this set exactly used up the remnants of the floral lycra from The Fabric Store (used here) and another of the small remnants I'd picked up at GJ's.

These are now her favourite swimmers which is kinda funny since I simply cannot convince her to wear shorts or pants in any other situation.

I love the idea of the new Lisette B6358 one piece swimsuit for me, so next summer, that's on the cards. Meanwhile I want to track down some of this VITA swimsuit fabric - it's made of 100% recycled waste nylon. I love the idea of swimming at the beach wearing a swimsuit made of recycled fishing nets that had been cleaned up off another beach somewhere in the world. But that's a long way off, it's starting to get cold around these parts...

Monday 18 April 2016

School swimmers - Jalie & Ottobre

I'm pretending Autumn isn't happening and continuing with sewing swimsuits for the kids. There'll be a couple more to show you after these and then I'm plunging straight into fleecy dressing gowns for winter warmth. No inter seasonal sewing here!

Before we went on our beach holiday, I tried out an Ottobre swimsuit for the boy. It was an oversized fail, but after we came home I rejigged it and now he's happy.

The pattern is the Seamus swim trunks from Ottobre 3-2009. By his measurements I traced off a size 140cm.

I'm used to Japanese sewing patterns where one needs to add seam allowances, but at least those patterns show a cutting layout where the seam allowances are suggested. This pattern had no such guidance. I'd forgotten to add the seam allowance ot my tracing which is what I normally do, but then added it as I cut the fabric. I gave myself 1cm for sewn seams and 3cm for the waist and hems.

He decided they were far too baggy for what he was used to. In truth they looked very like the image in the pattern magazine, so maybe I should have thought to size down from the very beginning.

This second pair were cut with the front inset and top part 1cm over the fabric fold line, removing 2cm width from the centre front. Then I just cut the rest without any seam allowances. There's a few seams there and my maths brain is failing me late at night, but I'd reckon I've reduced each leg circumference by about 6cm!

The kids are both doing their intensive school swimming programs at the moment, so I had a bit of fun making their swimmers in "school uniform" colours.

For A I used the other Jalie pattern that I have, Jalie 3134.

I love this swimsuit for it's sporty, I'm-on'the-swim-team look.

For both of the kids I added a little bit of colour by doing a faked flatlock seam finish. I've previously tinkered with my overlocker and created a proper lapped flatlock seam (tutorial here). But, I was worried that wouldn't be sturdy enough for swimmers.

Here, I've simply sewn the overlocked seam with wrong sides together, then stitched the overlocked seam allowance down using a twin needle. I matched the twin needle threads to the overlocker threads and even up close it looks passable. Doesn't mean I don't still want an industrial 7 thread flatlocker one day...

These are size I, same as the other Jalie swimmers I just made for her. Again, I could probably have added a little length to make them a perfect fit.

Similar to any racerback, sporty swimsuit, these take a bit more wriggling into than the other style with it's thinner shoulder straps. But once you're in, it's all held together really nicely. This is the suit I'd consider making for myself of the two. With enough power mesh underlining I figure it could work! :)

I didn't want my pale pink lining fabric to show in the exposed seam allowances, so I constructed the whole front first, then laid it flat on the lining fabric and cut the lining fabric out in one piece. For a kids swimsuit with no real built in curves that works fine.

I'm certainly finished with swimwear for this year, but did you see the new Lisette for Butterick patterns? Maybe next summer, hey.

Swimmers for me is one of the only items of clothing I've bought in the last two years. I'm enjoying following the thoughts of other makers on Instagram as part of Fashion Revolution. I'm happy my kids can answer "who made your clothes?". Now to start to think about who made my fabric.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Jalie 3350 - surf and poolside

We've just been away on a summer holiday and I made sure the kids had some new swimwear each before we went.

These floral swimmers had been a favourite of A's (so faded now they're unrecognisable) and so I thought I'd revisit the pattern one size up for this summer.

This is Jalie 3350 view B. I measured her and she appeared to be exactly the right measurements for size I, which is just one size up from last years swimmers.

This first green pair were made with a small remnant of lycra from GJ's discount fabrics. I think it was fished out of the remnant bin and cost maybe $2. And of that I've probably only used half of it! I lined the front with more of the pale skintone pink lycra I'd bought last year.

I made a neater job of the cross over bit this time, and even added a step to pull the lining through the front panels and stitch it to itself. That means there's no unfinished lining edge at the centre front. Much tidier. I'll have to take a few photos next time (next year!) to describe it properly.

A big part of the appeal of this pattern is that she can easily get them on and off herself. The intensive school swimming instruction starts next week and I'm afraid the Cosi pattern (also sewn last summer) with it's cross over straps was just too confusing.

I had decided to make both view B and View A and I was good and sewed this pair right to the end to try the fit before cutting the second pair. I do think they could do with a centimetre or two more torso length, but once I started looking at View A the pattern is more confusing and didn't lend itself to lengthening so easily. So I didn't bother and just made the same size over!

It turned out not to be quite as baffling as I'd thought it would be to add length, as that band is more of a flap. It lays over the uppermost part of the bottom section and adds nothing to the length of the swimsuit. The front could be easily lengthened. It's the back that would require a bit more thought.

I love the back of these swimmers!

I tried really hard to cut my fabric to align at least the colours, if not the chevrons. But the upper back sections, which I fastidiously lined up and cut were upside down! I may have missed a grainline marking when tracing the pattern, but the writing, which I always trace is upside down to the pattern piece. There, hopefully I'll remember that for next time.

The method for creating the straps is great. A strip of fabric is stitched onto the edge of some 1cm elastic, then wrapped around the elastic and topstitched down with a zig zag stitch. Then the excess fabric width is simply trimmed off close to the stitching on the underside. The straps are more stretchy, stable in width and have better recovery than if they were just made from a tube of lycra.

Last year I tried to make my swimmers look professional by using a double needle for all the elastic hems. However, I'd stitched close to the edge and the elastic tended to want to roll out. This time I just went with a nice wide zig zag and it behaves so much better and really doesn't look too amateurish at all. So while I chose to use an overlocker for the main seams, there's no reason why one couldn't make swimwear with a very basic sewing machine only.

The back fastening, as per the pattern, should have been a 2" hook which hooks to a loop sewn by folding one of the straps back on itself.

I couldn't find such a huge hook, but did find a two pack of these 1" clear plastic swimwear closures. It was a bit of a squeeze to get the straps happily through and stitched down, but it turned out to work really well in the end.

The chevron fabric is quite a large piece that I bought at Rathdowne fabrics and the orange another of the little scrap remnants from GJ's. It's really quite ridiculous how little fabric you need to make 5 year old girl swimsuits! I think I'll be sewing swimsuit chevrons for quite some years to come.

We had a fantastic holiday in the sun and the kids adored being on the beach. They were up at a crazily early hour each day and so it would feel like we'd been in the water for an eternity, yet my watch would only say half past nine in the morning! This little one is pretty brave when she wants to be and delighted in the big breaking waves. Flipper would take her out and hold her over his head while the wave broke over them. Sometimes they both got completely submerged but she didn't care a bit.

Of course in the Australian sun, you only get to show off your swimsuit for the sake of a blog photoshoot. The rest of the time it's hats and rashies on. So that's what I need to sew her next, a new rashie for riding the boogie board!