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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Swimming into 2015 with a Tiki Tankini (Mary & M6623)

My tiki beach huts on my bikini bits
Swimmers, bathers, togs... An essential part of an Australian summer, but how mine have changed in the past 10 years! I've always been more of the 'can I body surf in them' view rather than the 'urgh, tan lines, be gone' view, however the blissful weeks spent bush camping in no more than a bikini, sunscreen & hat have morphed into hats, rash vests & shade, and 'will it fall down/off if a toddler tugs too hard'.
This time last year I used Cake's Cabarita top pattern to sew a beach top in a spongy swimming knit and it's had almost constant beach use since ;)



Casual swimming times at the local indoor pool require less spf (sun protection factor) friendly attire though, so I thought I'd best add some more traditional bathers to my wardrobe.
I adore last season's Seafolly collections, tankinis, malliots, oh my! and the current Gorman range is so much fun & seems so comfy - chip anyone?
I was very excited to spot some Seafolly fabrics at Rathdowne Remnants! They're lighter weight than my other stashed swimming fabric (orange stripes from The Fabric Store) and the designs are perfectly me ;) The tiki is 'South Pacific' & the navy ropes are 'Coastline in Indigo'

I realised as I browsed the pattern books in Clegs that swimwear isn't a staple of the Big 4's offerings and that it's not easy to find; is it sportswear (Simplicity)? accessories? lingerie (Burda)? intimates +/- sleepwear (really Butterick)? activewear (McCalls)? costume? womenswear/misses (then swimwear, thank you KwikSew). I still failed to find any Vogue or New Look...
To the indies; I have the ClosetCaseFiles Bombshell. My Bombshell remains incomplete, I don't think the ruching is for me, and the solid navy I chose isn't quite me either, so I'm not really motivated to finish it ;)
In the lingerie section, I can see the vintage potential of OhhLouLou's Bambi bra & MeasureTwiceCutOnce's Mary knickers.
To the pattern stash I went... Classics, all.

So I made a bikini, from my lingerie patterns.
The Mary bottoms are awesome, they're proper boy leg hipsters, stay put & are comfy. They've had almost constant wear since their first surf outing in December.
with my messy tilted pelvis/booty hack; it works though as the waist sits straight when on.
I did have to add a 7cm CB height adjustment as a 'booty' fix and that works for me, I cut the size 14 & used 6mm seam allowances on my overlocker, reinforced with a narrow zigzag just inside the overlocked stitches.
I sacrificed the Bambi bra strap for the Mary hack, so the top doesn't exist anymore as it needed tweaking anyway ;)
I ventured into the treasure cave that is Trimmings 'n' Remnants for swimming bra cups, lining & elastic. There are crates of bra cups and my only hint to the next adventurer is to remember that holding each likely suspect up to check the fit while wearing a bra, is perhaps, not so helpful...
I brought 3 pairs home, all different shapes, and the ones that worked best when braless, were my 3rd choice...
Cup stitched to lining, then sandwiched between lining & outer
So, with my Mary knickers extended 10cm to sit on my waist, a feature that is invisible when worn as a set, yet looks cute as a retro bikini and has added tummy coverage for boogie boards, I chose a tankini pattern. Meet McCall's 6623, a Carefree TM pattern, released in 1979.
I chose view A, adding the bra cups & widening the straps to a finished width of 2cm. My straps were 48cm long.
I sewed a size 14 (36" bust), narrowed the pattern at CB (by 6cm!) after a muslin of lining, & took the underarm seams in 2cm on each side after basting the side seams. I think swimwear fabric is a lot more stretchable now ;)
Pattern placement was a hoot!! Ignore the pointy Mary waist, it wasn't required.
Construction was straightforward with both patterns' instructions. My only hiccup came at the 11th hour when, being over confident, I was finishing my seams on the overlocker and sliced off the bottom corner of the left bodice triangle, sigh... Required re-doing of the twin needle topstitching as well as a tuck to reattach bodice to front - sigh..
I initially toyed with fully lining the suit, however I followed both patterns' instructions & only the bra cups & crotch are lined.
For my next pair of vintage high waist bottoms, I'll use a top waistband in the style of the tankini straps. I may still add one to these, however they sit smoother under the tankini without it. I've got enough fabric to make the Bambi top for a 'proper' vintage styled bikini, however I'm more tempted to make an updated 'rash vest' for the rest of this summer ;)
Just focus on the glorious beach at low tide
yes, it was very windy, blissful otherwise.
With my swimsuit fabric being 150cm wide, I can make a pair of high waisted bikinis, or a tankini with hipster bottoms from 60cm (depending on the pattern matching desired). This full tankini set took 1.1m. Less fabric is necessary for hipster Mary's with the Bambi bra.
Layout: ignore the dodgy perspective & focus ;)

25 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Maria ;) I have you foremost in my mind as I plan this next 'rash vest', a high neck, zip front at last - you're my active wear inspiration.

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  2. This is totally,utterly fabulous! You beach bombshell you!

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    1. not quite, but 'thank you' ;) I love that they fit without dislodging!!

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  3. Aggggh! You look wonderful and that tankini is gorgeous! This is so timely so I'm going to pick your brains. I am literally about to muslin my bombshell using the swimwear lining fabric to check for length (I have a super long torso). I was wondering something postentially stupid. Did you pre-wash your fabrics for this? I primarily work with wovens so am not totally comfortable with knits. Can the lycra shrink making pre-washing advisable? Oh and I totally didn't put my bra cups up to my chest appendages and I bet the fit is going to be disastrous. Might need to get onto that.

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    1. ;) I love how our minds think alike ;) I'm no expert, these are my first finished proper bathers! so I hope someone, maybe Maria or Susan, adds their 2c (hmm, an IG query might work!)
      I pre-wash Everything.. it's only came back to bite me with a shredded green denim (became a grunge Moss) and changes the hand of some silk, but I'd rather be surprised before I sew it up. So, I've no idea if the lycra shrinks, I suspect not, but I washed the fabric & line dried it anyway ;)
      I kept dithering about my size with the bombshell - my lining had a different stretch to my main fabric & I didn't know what effect the ruching would have, I couldn't find cups that fitted into the pattern & generally went into 'too hard, freeze now' mode ;)
      I now know that swimsuits are gloriously forgiving if you get the torso length right, but still made a tankini ;)p

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  4. Totally fab. I made a Bombshell last year, and the only thing I would change about it is the bra cups. Totally not up to the "job" so the Bombshell is purely for occasions when i'm planning on doing more lounging than swimming.

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    1. arggg - so frustrating! It was my difficulties in working out my torso length that ultimately led to me going the tankini route, so much more flexibility with fit - and getting changed in public ;)
      I did learn a lot about swimsuit construction with the Bombshell though, even if I sewed that CB seam incorrectly, twice..

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank. You . ;) ;) love a tiki scene, just need a bombshell tiki sarong dress now...

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  6. Wow! Nice work. Have you seen the Jalie patterns? http://www.jalie.com/sports-apparel/swimming.html They are beautifully drafted and include sizes from toddler up to large adult.

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    1. Thanks Winifred, I must admit, I have, and I had them in my shopping cart for a while ;) I do appreciate your mentioning them, they deserve a plug! I still have the orange stripes & indigo Seafolly fabrics, so maybe I'll try a one piece from Jalie ;)

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  7. I made a tankini out of the free Cami pattern from Iconic Patterns and the free Rosy shorts from Cloth Habit and I was so pleased with the outcome. Absolutely love your suit!!! I have the top pattern you used. Great idea. I think I'll use that pattern for my next top. Thanks!

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    1. Great minds think alike! I considered the Sami Cami as well, but cups... I needed the guidance of a pattern rather than your genius insertion of a shelf bra! I love your Thrifty Thursday posts for inspiration ;)

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  8. Wow, it looks great, really nicely done. I have never dared to sew neither lingery nor beachwear, so sewing with fabrics as stretchy and slippery as this and with all the cups and elastics still is kind of a mystery to me. Your tankini looks perfect and reminds me of one with palm trees I had years ago, but now I see the enormous deficiency mine had, no tiki huts! You really tempt me ;-)
    But I fear thinking about beach wear to sew for myself is a little early, considering the snow outside...

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    1. Thank you ;) Tiki huts make everything better ;)
      The difference in stretch between different knits still challenges me, and it's maximised so many times in small fiddly things like bras, I'm not sure if I'll ever be comfortable in making more than a simple swimming top ;)
      I do look forward to seeing your adventures in beachwear next summer, it is quite rewarding ;)

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  9. These look amazing and you look hot in them! Love the fabric too!

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    1. Thanks Emma, the fabric is so fabulous!!! All I did was sew them up, all the work is done by the tiki beach ;)

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  10. So great to see this fab fabric made up!! Love it and I'm going to book mark all of this for when I sew up my sea folly rope fabric!

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    1. It was a delight to sew & is So Much Fun to wear! Your Coastline is going to be fabulous ;)

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  11. Fabulous, you look fabulous. didn't realise they were so economical with fabric either.

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  12. You look absolutely fabulous! and so summer ready. I LOVE that fun print, SO MUCH! :)

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  13. Looks amazing, Nic! All you ladies sewing bathers and other pretty underthings are impressing me - It's something I want to try but am too nervous to give it a shot. Nice work on spotting some seafolly fabric! They make beautiful prints :)

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