Dreamin’ of summer? Yes, maybe a little even though when I was sweating under the hot summer sun, I wanted it to be winter already 🙂 So I am not complaining. Somehow I find myself sewing my bikinis at the peak of winter. What happens is by the time I realize that I need some new bikinis and buy the fabric that I want and finish what I queued up for summer, it is already winter.
So I sewed a bunch of bikinis and a swimsuit last year (this, this and this). To tell the truth except for the one piece swimsuit I ended up not wearing my handmade bikinis so much for various reasons none of which is connected to the patterns. For the most part I did not get the fit right, either the top or the bottom was too small and did not have enough coverage to feel comfortable. Also, for the bottoms, I found that they did not really favor my body shape and I did not like how they sat on my body. However, all these things were actually good because I came closer to understanding which fits and shapes are good for me.
This time I tried a more ambitious pattern. The Chic Bandeau Bikini pattern from Swim Style. I think that Swim Style has some of the greatest selections for bikini and swimsuit patterns. I can hardly stop myself from buying all of it and just sewing bikinis for a whole year.
All through the process I was not sure how this pattern will turn out because I faced a few obstacles along the way. However, now that I look at the final product, I love it! The fit and the style came out so good. In terms of difficulty, this is definitely an advanced pattern. So if you are thinking of sewing your first bikini, I would say “don’t try this at home” 🙂 Not in a scary way though because the instructions on this pattern are amazing but sewing up a basic bikini to get the basics down would really help before starting this pattern.
I bought the fabric for this bikini from the Fabric Fairy which has a great collection of swimsuit fabrics with print. Half a yard was more than enough for this bikini. I sewed a muslin only for the bottom and found that there was not enough coverage on the back so I straightened the curve of the back bottom and it came out perfect. Other than that, I imagined the bottom with white bias so I cut out 1cm from the edges.
Here are some of the “Aha!” moments and tips for this bikini:
1. The sizing and the cups: The pattern gives two options for the cups: the wadding cup which you make yourself and the ready bought cups. I already had cups in my sewing stock so I used those. When I looked at the measurement chart, I came out exactly size 14 in the cup size. However, I cut out and sewed the “frame” for the cups and it came out way too large and I did not understand why. So I downsized to size 10. I emailed Sharon from Swim Style who was super helpful and we came out to the conclusion that my ready bought cups have more curve than wadding cups so I had to downsize in the pattern. In the end, size 10 came out as a good fit and is stable.2. The underwire: My underwire was exactly the size of my cups. However, I think that the underwire should be 1 cm less than the under curve of the cups. When you are closing the channelling in the center and on the sides, the pattern instructs to stitch across. Since my underwire came till the closure point, I could not stitch it across with my machine so I hand sewed the channeling in the center and at the edges.
3. The bottom: I sewed the bottom size 14 for enough coverage and it came out great. I had to unstitch the first bias that I sewed because it made the fabric really wavy. The trick here is to stretch both the bias and the elastic when you are sewing it.
4. The elastic and the lower edge of the top: I unstitched the elastic on the lower edge of top three times. The elastic that you buy is really important here. The first time the elastic that I had was too stiff and made the lower edge wavy. So I bought elastic that is softer and that worked fine. Also, the pattern instructs to use wider elastic here (12 mm or 15mm). I used 15 mm and this hardly left me any space to hem the bottom. I had to really stretch the fabric to be able to hem it. For the next bikini, I will either use 12mm or just 1 cm elastic.
Over all, I love this bikini and cannot wait to wear it. The fit is stable and comfortable. Also, this was an advanced pattern but I learned a lot from it and it really helped me develop my sewing skills for swimsuits.