Spaceflower Swimsuit

In April, several of my coworkers and I decided to head to Budapest for CraftConf, which had a great speaker line-up. They offered diversity tickets, which made the trip actually affordable – tickets were almost 40% off for a 2-pack if you signed up with someone who identified as a different gender from you. Also, it’s really hard to say no to a trip to Budapest. The conference itself was really well-produced and organized, especially since it’s only in its second year.

So! I knew I’d be going to Budapest in about a month, and Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. Knowing that I’d be spending hours lounging around in pools, I did what any sane person would do. I made a bikini!

After making several (as-yet unblogged) versions of Cloth Habit’s Watson Bra, I knew this was the perfect pattern for a long-line bikini top. (I traced off a RTW bikini bottom for the other half of the pattern.) Though this was technically not a swimsuit pattern (it’s meant for lingerie), it didn’t take too much tweaking to make a lined swimsuit out of it.

Since I’ve made the pattern several times over, I was pretty confident with the fit and shape of it, and was fairly certain that it’d work well as swimwear. I sourced some swimsuit lycra and lining, and replaced some of the more finicky bra notiions with swimwear ones. I followed this swimalong for tips on how to convert patterns to be suitable for swimwear.

So, for pattern modifications:

1. Swimwear needs lining.

I cut a copy of every pattern piece out of nude swimwear lining, and managed to origami all the seams so there are no exposed seams anywhere. This took a lot of 2 am head-scratching, and fancy folding and twisting – I’m really happy with the end result. I also slipped in molded foam cups using this tutorial.

I didn’t want the top-stitching to overwhelm the pattern and colors, so I used invisible thread. This stuff looks exactly like fishing line, and is a little scratchy. Not sure this was the best decision, but it looks great!

2. Stabilizing

I didn’t want to use powermesh for the back band, and also needed some way to stabilize the cradle to keep it from distorting. I used a double layer of the lycra to ~stabilize both the cradle and the back band, which worked great! The lycra I’m using is very firm, and doesn’t have that much stretch when doubled.

3. Straps, elastic, and notions.

The elastic, especially, is crucial to replace – normal, non-braided lingerie elastic has a tendency to stretch out in water, which is bad news bears. I bought braided elastic, and turned all the elastic to the inside, for a nice clean finish. (This is similar to attaching lingerie elastic, but I attached the elastic to the inside, then folded it over again to topstitch.) The straps are normal bra elastic covered in the swimsuit lycra, using this tutorial for making long, skinny spaghetti straps. I was a little worried about the straps stretching out in water, but they seem to hold up great.

Dealing with the long-line back was kind of a pain. I initially scooped out the strap to fit my 1" clear swimsuit hook, but it looked really unbalanced to have a 3" back band swoop down to 1" over my back. To fix this, I ended up adding a second band and hook at the top of the back band. I’m really happy with the look of this, especially since it kind of echoes the doubled-up straps above it. It also provides so much more support!

A note – the dressform I’m using to model the swimsuit is a friend’s, so it’s a different size/shape than I am. Luckily, most of the swimsuit is stretchy enough that it ~mostly fits on the dressform.

I’ve worn this swimsuit several times now, and it’s held up to sulfurous thermal baths and the wild waves of the Pacific. It fits like a glove, and I’m really happy with the absurd print!

Fabric // Meadow galaxy swimsuit lycra from Fabric Fairy, and nude swimsuit lining and elastics also from Fabric Fairy.

Pattern // Cloth Habit’s Watson Bra

Sizing/Adjustments // 30G bra + traced RTW bikini bottom. Adjusted for swimwear.