Swimwear Sew-along, PART II: Cutting

by Dana on July 28, 2009


Dear Deborah,
Thanks for taking the plunge and actually CUTTING into your fabric. Why do we all fear the swimsuit creation? I think it’s because we think we should (Me included). But let’s tackle it! I started yesterday and wow, maybe it’s not as bad as we envisioned. Of course, as you stated so perfectly:
Do you ever notice that most of the mistakes in sewing happen riiiiight when you start to think, “Hey, this is going really well! I’m making such great progress! I’ll be done so much sooner than I thought!”?
….
yea, I might be eating my words very soon. But so far, so good!

One thing I love about the sew-along is that you and I sew with very different methods. It’s educatin’ to see it from a different perspective. And now that Su of Vively Online is joining us with her fabulous tips, readers can cater their skills to our varied methods.

Okay, here’s what I’ve done….
Many readers have asked/questioned how I sew without patterns. I don’t entirely wing it; you know, just cutting away at whim with an vision in my mind (ah, I wish. Then I could actually dream about being on Project Runway one day). As with a pattern, I need something tangible to guide me along the way. Often times, that’s an existing piece of clothing that my kids already own. Since this is my first swimwear attempt, I’m starting simple. I’ll be using Goose’s old swimming suits as a guideline:
I lay the “pattern” right on the fabric and (in such technical terms) trace around it with a sharpie! Voila! I allowed for extra room on the sides since this is an old/smaller suit. And I extended the length too. As shown below, first I traced the top area and then I pulled the suit down and traced the bottom area:
When tracing existing clothing, you have to tuck seams in here or there (unless you want to cut your clothing apart and then you have a perfect pattern). When you get to the leg holes:
just tuck it in like that:
I used a similar method for the back:
tracing around everything and allowing for extra length in the suit:
Though I’m sure I need to get on the rotary cutting train, I still use scissors for everything. One day I’ll graduate (or learn how to make quilts). So, I cut my pieces out:
and then, I added a lining to the front piece. This white fabric is something I found at Joanns when I first got the urge to sew a swimsuit. This was the closest thing to lycra I could find in their stores. And since I hadn’t discovered Spandex World yet, I bought it. In hindsight though it makes the perfect lining!
I traced around the front of the swimsuit onto the lining, cut it out, and pinned the pieces together as I cut. Slinky fabrics have a tendency to slither away from each other:
When working with lined fabrics, I like to serge the two pieces together so it feels like they’re fused together. This makes it easier for sewing everything together later (so things don’t shift). This is the same method used when making my carseat covers (I serge the batting to the fabric before sewing anything):
and there you have it. My two pieces are ready to go!
I’ve actually sewn most of the swimsuit together; just need to add the straps. But we’ll save that for the finished pictures post. I have to say, so far SO good. I’m glad I started simple though, as there are already things I would adjust.

Things that have worked:
* Ball Point Needles – great, fine. I can’t tell that anything amazing is happening, but maybe that’s the point….nothing bad is happening.
* Cut your fabric so that the stretch goes around your body. Su gives some great points on that in her post here.
* Center your fabric print. With large dots on the fabric, I tried to center the dots on the front and back pieces.
* Casings and normal 1/4 inch elastic around the legs. I LOVE your link to Fold Over Elastic. I’d never heard of that! I think that will work great. But since I didn’t have any on hand, I did the old “casing and elastic stringing” method. Worked great! (and I feel more confident with that method because it leaves more room for error. If I make one leg larger than the other….I just pull the fabric tighter)

Things that need to be adjusted:
* more booty room. Goose has a tiny bum but next time I’ll give her a little more space.
* too wide on top.

Can’t wait to see your swimsuit come together Deborah! (and your daughters’ too).
If anyone else is still itching to join us, they should! Nothing formal, they just start sewing, posting, linking back to everyone else’s tips.

Oh, and I added a Sew-Along button on the blog here. So now it’s easy for readers to access. Okay, we’ll talk soon. Back to the sewing room.

- dana

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