Friday, 22 July 2016


Well hiya everyone.

As most of you know, one of my versions of the Sophie Swimsuit is a tankini. I've written this post for those of you that have expressed an interest in making your own tankini. Hopefully, it will help you out, if even just a little. See...the thing is...I'm not 100% happy with my second tankini. It's not a complete fail; I went for a swim yesterday and it was comfortable enough...but..I just haven't managed to get the fit quite right. Hence, my reluctance to label this post as a DIY or a tutorial....or anything else that even remotely alludes to me having any sewing skillz whatsoevah.  It's, at best, a dialog explaining my process. process isn't perfected or I'd be singing a happier tune.

My goal has been to make a sleek, fitted tankini...a silhouette much like the one piece. Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as cutting off the one piece at the hipline and sewing a hem. The pattern, like most swimsuit patterns, is designed specifically for four-way stretch fabric. When you wear the one piece suit, the fabric stretches in all directions. It stretches around your body horizontally and it also stretches lengthwise from top to bottom. When you cut off the bottom of the suit, the fabric no longer has the resistance required for it to stretch from top to bottom. Am I making sense? It will still stretch around your body but without that four-way stretch, the hemline will be ride up above your waistline in a wrinkly mess...not the sleek look I'm going for...

{A staged mock up of....not the sleek look I'm going for...}

The solution trick is to add width to your pattern. How much is the right amount, you ask? Eep...I'm sorry....I don't have the definitive answer. It really will depend on your body and your fabric. Having said that...I will be sharing the formula I used.

Tip: The flouncier you like your tankinis, the easier it will be. A fitted tankini with the seam lines matching....more challenging.

1.   The first step is to trace off front, side front, back and side back pieces. It's at this stage that I determined how long I wanted my tankini. I drew a hemline beginning at the side seams and about 1" from the bottom of the one piece side back and side front pattern pieces.

2.   I then slashed the pattern pieces being mindful not to distort the cup shape. I was also careful not to slash the back pieces above the point where I attached the wings. Each of my revised pattern pieces are 20% wider as measured at the bottom hemline. In addition, on this make, I added 1/4" to my side seams in the midriff area. And this I didn't do, but highly suggest....make your seam allowances wider than 3/8"...this will give you some valuable wiggle room when it comes to fitting your tankini.

3.   The finished pattern pieces...retraced just for you. You can see I opted for a slightly hi/low hemline.

Tip: If you want the side front and side back seams of your tankini to line up with the seam lines on your bottoms...advisable if you are using two different fabrics...then I recommend that you complete your swimsuit bottoms first.  Then you can baste the side front/side back tankini seams and try on your suit, making adjustments as necessary.

4.   My hems are sewn with a twin needle and woolly nylon thread in the bobbin.

5.   Cut 3/8" wide strips of fusible knit interfacing.

6.   Working on the wrong side of the fabric, fuse strips of interfacing to the bottom hem of your tankini. Note: lycra and heat...not really intended for each other. Be sure to test a sample if you use this method. I do not use my steam setting to apply the interfacing. I lay a damp press cloth over top of the interfacing and use a dry iron set on medium-high heat.

7.   After applying interfacing, I edge finished with my serger, which is entirely optional, then folded the hem 3/8" and topstitched with a twin needle.

8. finished tankini with a pretty good seam line match on the left butt. 

9.    The front seams lined up's a little off on the left. But the overall fit is pretty sleek, very little wrinkling on the front. 

10.  Oops...the right backside doesn't line up, but this isn't where my dissatisfaction lies....

Yep....still not happy with the fit at my waist area on the back. Even though I added to the side seams on my latest make...far's wrinkly. 

11.  First one favourite thus far. A nice smooth silhouette...that four-way stretch in action.

12.  My first tankini...a little wrinkly around the midriff at the back, but something I was confident I could improve on. 

13.  The swimsuit I just finished and photographed for this post. Even with adding to the side seams, it appears wrinkly....actually more wrinkly than my pink dunno. The fabrications are quite different in weight and I can only imagine that is part of the equation.

* * * sum up...I hope these tips are of help to you. As you can see, there is a degree of experimentation that is required. I think I will add 25% to my pattern pieces on my next make and 5/8" wide seam allowances...just to be sure I've given myself enough room to really master the fit.

And between you and me.....I think I might just give the two piece a go...gasp. The bottoms are supremely comfortable and have a very high rise. It would just be the tiniest bit of midriff showing...Never say never, amirite? Hope you're all enjoying summer!

Monday, 18 July 2016


Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Vogue Pattern V1355, Vogue 1355

Well hiya everyone.

Spoiler alert: I LOVE THESE PANTS!

I'm just gonna jump right in and get to the obvious. Yep...that'd be me wearing harem pants. To be specific, I'm wearing Sandra Betzina Vogue Pattern V1355 and Stretch & Sew Pattern 333 {old pattern and out of print}. Now....before I go further.....there is not a single instance where these pants are identified as harem pants. Officially, they're draped pants...but I just can't not think of them as harem pants. What say you?

Last year I signed up for Club BMV, McCall Pattern Company's discount purchase program. Consequently, I spend way more money on patterns than I ever did before. No, not a see, it's all about the postage charges. It's the same Canada Post rate for 4 patterns as for 1 pattern, so....hello....I'm totally adding 4 patterns to my shopping cart...every...time.  This invariably leads to 'Oh my gawd, what was I thinking?' moments. It's as though I'm a different person when I'm online pattern shopping. These harem pants....officially draped pants....were my most recent WWIT. I think I hit my head against the keyboard in frustration before I had even received my order confirmation email. But....

Inexplicably....I felt compelled to make right away. And what a super easy make they were. They take a lot of fabric...a minimum of a couple of meters of 150cm wide fabric for me. {My fabric is a lightweight cotton/rayon knit.} But, I repeat, they are so, sew easy! The volume is on the inside leg and begins well below the hip; they don't have the dropped crotch typically associated with harem pants. As a result, the overall silhouette is of a much lower volume than  traditional harem pants. A total win for me!

I paired my harem pants with a simple t shirt, following You Look Fab's advice here. I was a bit flummoxed as to what to wear with them and Angie's suggestions really helped me out. I've had this Stretch & Sew pattern in my stash for awhile, and  I used an inexpensive 100% cotton fabric for the make. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results. The sleeves feel a little disproportionate; I had to cuff them a couple of times as shown here. 'Course now I can't decide if I want to make them shorter or leave them as is. I made the t shirt hem slightly high/low for interest. I have plans....and fabric....for a striped t shirt and am now trying to decide if this is the pattern...or...not. Feel free to jump in and give me advice.

To wrap up...I'm totally on board with my harem pants and have plans for another pair. How 'bout you? Are harem pants a yea or a nay?

In other news...I've had two very fun outings with blogging...and nearly blogging....friends. Shelley, from Forest City Fashionista, was out visiting from Toronto. Shelley, Melanie of Bag and a Beret, Louisa of Damselfly's Delights, and I met for a yummy brunch at Acme Cafe. When we left, we had full tummies....and better....full creative tanks! These women are so very inspiring...their creativity knows no bounds...

Shelly and I wearing our custom jackets. Shelley's is a gift from Melanie.

And just a few weeks ago...has it been that long?...the Vancouver gals....Melanie, Louisa, Barbara {not yet blogging} and I...had a full day of creative play. After a lovely lunch at the iconic Sylvia Hotel, we descended upon Dressew Supply and Atex Designer Fabrics. There was a lot of laughter, good eats, and...successful fabric shopping! Basically, a perfect day!

Louisa, Me, Barbara and Melanie
All righty....that's about all for today. My Sophie Tankini post...still to come. If you're waiting for apologies. Our weather here in Vancouver hasn't been very summer-like and I forget that many of you are experiencing full-on swimsuit conditions. 


Thursday, 7 July 2016


Sophie Swimsuit Mashup, Closet Case Files

Well hiya!

As promised, I'm back with Part I of my Sophie Swimsuit Mashup Guide. I'll be showing you how I added the wings from the View B bikini to the View A one piece suit. When I was pattern testing for Closet Case Files Sophie Swimsuit, I  discovered I needed more support than the one piece provided and this mashup was my solution. Yes...the back band serves a very practical purpose...but it's also an attractive design feature. More options for colour blocking, for example....or, as seen in Heather's Sophie Swimsuit Styling Inspiration can get creative with how large, wide, deep a back opening you want.

All righty...away we go...and please, please keep in mind that I am not a professional pattern drafter...I'm pretty darn sure my methods here can be improved upon. That being said.....this way has been working fine for me...

1.  Step one...grab your center back pattern piece and draw your keyhole opening. For reference, I measured 7/8" in from the center fold line and 5" from top to bottom of opening. Depending on the pattern size you are sewing, you may wish to adjust these measures. {I'm 5'2" and made a size 2/8 suit} If you decide you want a really wide, shallow opening, you will need to alter the side back pattern piece as well.

2. Lay out and cut all your one piece pattern pieces. 

3.  In addition to your one piece pattern pieces, you will need the wing pattern piece from View B. 

4.  As you can see in image 3, the wing is lower than the one piece back. No can cut out as is, or change the shape of the wing to match the top of the one piece. I used a 3 hook closure on all of my suits so I made the wing bigger {from top to bottom} in order to fit the closure. 

5. Cut out your wing pieces in fabric and lining. For reference, I've used power mesh lining, but you might be able to get away with regular lining depending on your needs.

  's a visual of my suits. I used the original wing pattern piece on the suits left and center. On the tankini {right photo} I drafted the wing to sit higher. Looking at this comparison, I like the original best!

6. After sewing the side back panels to the center back panel, lay your wing pattern piece on top of the wrong side of your swimsuit back. {Yes, that is the right side in my bad.} The straight edge of the wing will not line up exactly with the outside edge of your swimsuit...don't will work out fine.

7.  Lightly mark a line, or dots, along the bottom edge of the wing pattern piece. I've highlighted my little dots with arrows because they are super faint. Flip the wing to the other side of your back piece and continue marking. This finished line, or row of dashes or dots, should be a straight line across the back of your suit. This line should be parallel to the lengthen/shorten lines on the back pattern pieces. This is not a cutting line!

8. All righty...I'm using my ruler as a straight edge. I've got it lined up on top of my row of dots and I am measuring 3/4" above those dots. I mark this with a solid line!

9. Cut along the solid line. Reminder....this is a full 3/4" above your dotted line. 

10. Time to finish off the keyhole. I'm using 1/4" swimsuit elastic, following the general elastic application instructions for the Sophie Swimsuit.

11.  The finished opening! 

Sophie Swimsuit Mashup, Closet Case Files

12.  Now it's time to attach the wings to your suit. Line up the bottom edge of your wings with the top edge of your swimsuit back, right sides together. Zig zag, or serge, with a 3/8" seam allowance.

13.  With the wrong side of the wing facing up, pin 3/8" elastic to the edge. Heather suggests 90% for the bottom of the bikini band and I've used that same ratio for my wing backs.

14. Attach elastic with a zig zag stitch.

15. Fold the seam allowance up and stitch through all layers with a zig zag stitch. This is the one area that I prefer to use my walking foot. Layers and slippery fabric! But hey...Looky Dat! You've got wings! 

At this point you can continue sewing your Sophie Swimsuit as instructed in the pattern. If you need some extra support...well...keep on following along...

16.  My swimsuits have a simple shelf bra. I've been using power mesh, but I think swimsuit lining would be fine here. After sewing my center front and side front panels together, I trace off the cradle and I add a slight curve on the bottom edge of the shelf bra. On this example, I've added a little too much depth...I added 2"...I think that 1-1/2" would be enough. 

17.  After sewing on your cradle stabilizer, baste your shelf bra to your swimsuit around the cups with an 1/8" seam allowance. Then add elastic to the bottom following the instructions for the bikini band.

18.  Continue following The Sophie Swimsuit instructions, sewing the side seams together.

19.  Here's a close-up of the side seams. I prefer that the wing seam does not align exactly with the shelf bra. It creates a lot of bulk. Although it's routine that the side seam allowances are pressed to the back, they naturally lie towards the front seam. Even with offsetting the wing and shelf bra, I find that I like to reinforce the side seam in that area with an extra row of stitching. is a visual of a fully lined suit. I sewed the lining to the bottom of the shelf bra just before applying the elastic. For the back, I treated lining and main fabric as one fabric....laying wrong sides together prior to sewing in the keyhole elastic. I then treated the lining and main fabric as one fabric. This method means that the side seams are visible and not enclosed as in the one piece, but I couldn't think of any other way to do it. 

Whew....I think that's everything! If you have any questions, please ask. If it isn't making sense to you, there's a good chance somebody else is having the same head scratching moment....

I'll be back with Part II - The Tankini - soon! 

My swimsuits post : : here