Monday, June 27, 2022

Intermediate Sewing Swim Lesson: Using Cotton Lycra 1st

Today we're in luck because Janelle from the ambassador team is here to share a great tip for intermediate level swimwear sewing. In a nutshell it can be summarized like this: use cotton lycra to sew a more difficult swim pattern. Cotton lycra (or jersey as it's also known) is a lot easier to work with than nylon lycra/swimwear fabric. This little tip will let you try out a TECHNIQUE without having to deal with a more challenging fabric too.

Be sure to follow Janelle on Instagram because she's giving away a swim pattern from the shop for FREE!!  

And why not make a dress from the cotton lycra fabric while you're at it? Here's Janelle to share the HOW:

Ripley Swimmers Dress

It is apparently the coldest start to Winter here in 70 years, and here I am sewing a Summer dress!  It’s pretty cute though, as is my model!  But that is why I have played around with a background remover app for my photos, as they definitely needed to be taken indoors!  It’s not perfect, she’s missing a finger on her right hand, but it was very easy.

Only a few years ago I’d never sewn with swim fabric.  I’d never sewn elastic to a fabric edge, only added it into a casing.  I’d never sewn binding.  Once I took that first step I was hooked.  Now spandex is one of my favourite fabric bases.  But not just for bathers.  I especially love sewing fancy leggings, shorts and crop tops for my kids to wear to acro class.  I also choose to change patterns to use binding instead of the recommended technique.

But I thought a good way to take the first step to sewing swimwear might be to use a swim pattern and a fabric base you are already familiar with, and create a dress.  Then once you’ve nailed that you can create a pair of togs from the same pattern.  I’ve used the Ripley Swimmers Pattern but this would also work with Saltillo, Sorbetto or Viridian. Azur too, with a low back to really highlight the high low hem.

The fabric I’ve used is a bamboo elastane, (an Aussie term for spandex) which has a lovely drape.  When I came up with this idea I was sewing for my dance concert, and I imagined a soft pastel with layers of stretch tulle, or lace ruffles and overlay.  But my daughter wasn’t keen and pulled these fabrics from my stash.  I wasn’t so sure at the start, but now that it’s finished I love it.

I sewed up the bodice exactly as per the pattern.  I basted the front together.

Then I cut the biggest circle I could out of the fabric and marked the centre of the circle.  I found a great website to work out the dimensions of the inner circle with this awesome graphic:

I offset the centre of the circle by about 3 ½”, to create a high low hem.

Then I sewed the circle skirt to the bodice, hemmed the skirt and attached the back straps.  After she’d tried it on to make sure the length was ok.  I added some clear elastic to the waist seam to help hold it up, as a circle skirt can be quite heavy.

If I make this again I’d pay more attention to how much I overlapped the bodice at the front, as I think if it was overlapped a little more it would fit a bit better, and I don’t think it’s overlapped by as much as the pattern suggests.  But I think the next one might be the Saltillo with the top ruffle or the Sorbetto with those sleeves…

Thank you so much Janelle!!  

Remember all swim patterns in the shop are 20% off!!!  

Use the code swim20 at checkout.  Code expires July 1st, 2022.


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