Friday, July 1, 2022

Intermediate Sewing Swim Lesson: Using swim patterns for leotards

Today we are excited to have Janelle from the ambassador team back sharing another sewing swim lesson! She's got all the details on how to use swimwear patterns to create dance and Acrobat/gymnastic leotards. Be sure to follow her on Instagram where she's giving away a free swimwear pattern!

Sometimes kids are so hard to photograph!!!

When I was brainstorming ideas for swim month, I was frantically sewing costumes for my dance concert, and Jenny suggested I do a post on using swim patterns as leotards. I thought it was a great idea. However, Saltillo, Sorbetto, Viridian and Azur could all be used to make gorgeous leotards without any changes to the patterns. So I thought I’d create some acro gear using swim patterns instead. I’ve slightly hacked both the Viridian crop and PB shorties in 3 different, yet all relatively easy ways. Here’s what I did.

First up is this sequin set with binding on the Viridian crop and a waistband on the PB shorties.

For the shorts I cut 2 layers of the front and back pieces, and basted them together to treat as one. The pattern has a lining, but I sewed it differently, as the sequin mesh is transparent and I didn’t want the seam to show. I didn’t think the seam would be an issue on the inside, as these are more “shorts” than “bathers” so will be worn with undies underneath. Unfortunately, that’s the only photo I took of the shorts!! I cut 1 gusset piece and sewed that to the front and back pieces with the seam exposed on the inside. So my gusset is just spandex rather than sequins, as I thought that would be more comfortable. I followed the directions for everything else except for the waistband. I didn’t cut any off the top of the shorts to add the waistband, as the pattern is quite low rise and I knew I could make that adjustment later if needed. I grabbed the waistband piece I had cut out, which was actually the Viridian waistband piece I’d cut out for the top, whoops!! But it worked. I sewed that to the top of the shorts. I thought I would add elastic to the waistband, but my girl tried them on and they were fine without it. The only negative is the sequins itch on the bottom of the side ruching. I also used narrower strips for the ties, to match the binding on the top.

For the top I got much better at taking photos as I went!! I cut 1cm (the seam allowance) from the neck and armscye on both front and back pattern pieces. I used the racerback for this top, but I don’t think I got any photos of the back.

The sequin mesh is transparent, so I cut an outer and a lining and basted them together around all of the edges. In red thread, as that must have been what my sewing machine was threaded with! Then I treated the layers as one throughout. If the outer layer isn’t transparent, a lining isn’t “needed” for this method.

I measured the size of the neckhole and armholes and cut strips of spandex for the binding at 80% of the hole plus seam allowance and ⅞” wide. I sewed these together, using my sewing machine rather than my overlocker so I could open the seam allowance in the next step to reduce bulk.

I marked quarter points on both the binding and the neckline. I pinned the quarter points together, matching the binding seam to the centre back, and sewed on my overlocker, using a ¼” seam allowance, so not cutting any fabric off.

I folded the binding over the overlocker seam and to the back, creating the bound edge. For some reason I like to use clips for this step, no idea why? I clipped all the way around and sewed on my sewing machine using a zigzag stitch, which provides lots of stretch and gives a sporty vibe.

Here you can see what it looks like from the front and the back. I repeated for the armhole binding, then added a waistband as per the instructions.

Next up is this sparkly set with a crossover top.

For the bottoms (which definitely have a tie on both sides, but the other one has been cut off by the background remover app) I trimmed 2cm from both the front and back pattern pieces, so the waistband wouldn’t sit quite as high as the last pair.

I took a photo here of the technique I use when sewing pants or shorts with a flat front. I baste around the curve ¼” from the edge. I cut 3 slits, from the edge to the stitching line. At the centre and slightly to each side. This makes it much easier to sew the flat gusset to the front and back curves.

I cut the waistband piece using the elastic measurement +3cm and made it 4” wide. Then I sewed it exactly the same as the pair above, with the only exception being I had only 1 back and front piece, no lining. For the ties I had these purple binding strips that I made for an earlier project but didn’t use, so I used them for this. They are narrower and longer than in the instructions.

For the top I taped my front piece to some paper. I continued the bottom line along, and made a mark at 5cm. I completely made this measurement up, based on what I thought looked good. I drew a new line connecting the armscye to the mark I just made. I cut this piece out and made a notch on the bottom edge 1cm in. This is where the side seam would have been, so where I want the front and back piece to meet. I repeated these steps for the back piece. I cut out my front and back pieces and marked this notch on the fabric. As you can see, this lowers the under arm bit.

I sewed the front and back pieces at the shoulder seam and repeated for the lining.

I sewed the outer piece to the lining at the neckline, and turned right side out.

I sewed the armscye right down the whole “side” seam using the burrito technique which is tricky to photograph/explain, but Jenn, who designed the Viridian Swimsuit pattern, has created a video for this technique which you can find here:

I turned the whole thing right side out, and overlapped the front over the back, aligning those notches in the outer front, lining front, outer back and lining back. I basted this together to hold it nicely in place.

Then I sewed on the waistband, which I had cut the same length as the pattern piece, but 4” wide to match the shorts. If I make this again, and I probably will as I quite like the style, I’d consider adding some clear elastic to the armhole/side seam to hold it close to the body. This probably depends a bit on the fabric too.

Finally is this (hard to photograph as it catches all the light!) sparkly set with exposed waistband.

For the shorts I trimmed 1.5cm from the top of the front and back pattern pieces, and sewed the shorts as above, again using some left over binding strips.

Here they are ready for the exposed elastic waistband.

For the top I cut the outer front and outer back, no lining pieces. I sewed the shoulder and side seams together. I sewed the neckline and armscyes using the same technique as described in the pattern. It doesn’t sit great when it’s laying flat, but sits really nicely on the body. The top is now also ready for the exposed elastic.

I cut the elastic length as per the pattern, sewed the ends together and then topstitched the seam allowance down. I marked quarters and pinned the elastic in place WRONG sides together, placing the fabric just short of the elastic edge.

I sewed with a long straight stitch. Make sure your thread matches the elastic.

Lastly, I flipped the elastic up and sewed along the edge with a zigzag stitch.

So there you have my acro hacks for the Viridian crop and PB shorties, along with some slightly weird background removing! It was so hard photographing these. We were inside as it’s Winter here, and the lighting and background weren’t great. These fabrics all look stunning in the sun or under lights, which just doesn’t translate in these photos. But I got a couple of good shots, and some fun new acro gear for my kids.

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