Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My first dip in the pool

I've never made swimwear before. We went to Hawaii last Thanksgiving for a family vacation, and I started thinking "why can't I make a swimsuit?" It's not like there's a lot of fabric involved.

So when I got back I read a few online tips on sewing swimsuits, and promptly put it all away, not to be seen again until this week when the weather turned freakishly hot and suddenly we're longing for our neighborhood pool to open to we can go swimming.

I didn't want my first swimsuit project to be for me. Let's face it, after it carried two rather large (9 lbs and 9 1/2 lbs) boy babies, plus the accompanying 50 pound weight gain with each of them because I really like to gain a lot of weight when I'm pregnant, my body has issues.

She ain't what she used to be.

Much study will be involved when I finally get down to making a swimsuit for myself, and there will be control-garment textiles involved.

But my boys are another story. I recently got the Boden Kids catalog and in it were these so-cute-it-makes-me-sick swim trunks. My boys don't have body issues, they just like to have fun.

I dug out my 3/2009 issue of Ottobre, the one with the adorable spandex swim trunks (style #40), and set about recreating Boden's latest cuteness for a whole lot less money.

I wish I could find spandex with sharks or alligators on it. I can't. I did find a nice bright blue stripe, though, so that's what I used for my first attempt at trunks for my older son (4).

The first attempt went in the garbage can. But! The stripes matched. So that's a plus.

The piping, on the other hand, was from hell. I started off by basting it to the front section with my sewing machine. In the second version, the version with non-matching stripes because I'd used up all my matching-stripes lycra, I sewed the piping to the front section with my serger. I'll post all my tips below.

These are the second attempt.

I didn't take a picture of them on my son, so you'll have to take my word for it how cute they are. Let's just say I could barely contain myself when he put them on, they're so stinking cute. I gushed. I oohed, I aahhhed. Even my husband gave him a high-five and we told him he was destined to be the fastest swimmer in the pool in these trunks.

I know in these pictures the stripes and the entire finished product looks kind of wonky, right? Well, I think that's just how spandex fits on my mannequin. On my son, they fit super nicely and lay flat and everything you'd want them to do. And the mismatched stripes weren't at all so offensive.

The fit, as I've found with all Ottobre kids patterns, is perfect. Here are some of the finer details I didn't photograph:

1. I used bulky nylon in my serger, for all four threads. I only had four colors of bulky nylon thread, so I used all of them and it really didn't turn out too bad! I'd never worked with it before, but I'm really happy I did. Bulky nylon is just made for spandex, that's all there is to it.

2. For the waistband elastic, I used a large zig-zag on my sewing machine (and a stretch needle in size 80), and stitched 3/8" clear elastic onto the inside of the waistband, stretching it a little as it went along. I stitched down the waistband, then I threaded a nylon drawstring through the channel and that's the tie you see in front. The worst part of the whole waist assembly was the buttonhole I had to sew on the spandex. Yikes! I interfaced it, thank goodness, and it was still hell.

3. I used a stretch double needle for the leg hems and for the waistband attachment, because of its stretchiness. I didn't use bulky nylon on those seams, but I think in the future I would get another spool and use it on everything, or simply swap it out from the serger. I was lazy, I used polyester Gutermann thread for the hems and topstitching.

4. Spandex walks, and it stretches. It was much easier to work with on my serger than the regular machine, if you can believe that. I don't usually think sergers are easy to sew on, but this time I was wrong.

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