A little rushed last year I thought year I would give myself time to make the perfect swimwear. I had a big success with the Jalie 3350 but ran out of time for a bikini. On a run with Evie la Luve patterns and a 20% off offer I decided to give the Mimi Bikini a go. The description on the website is "The Mimi Bikini is a gorgeous cut combining a simple silhouette with a twist. You can be sure this bikini will stay in place with the two straps at the back and good coverage at the front!"
Showing off my updated model. A tin of white spray paint later and most of the shine gone! Really need to get myself a proper lingerie form.
I knew I had loads of practice fabric left from my buy by the weight lycra from Abakhan. However, I was delighted to find I had enough of the beautiful fabric, from Emerald Erin, that I had used for my swimming costume. Although only a trial, you want to be able to wear if the fit goes well. Still loads of lining left from B Wear, another good source of lingerie supplies from Sweden. The pattern does need over 8 metres of elastic. I didn’t have quite enough of the rubber elastic which I had from Fit2Sew, a UK supplier with an ever expanding range of products, but I did have some alternative non rubber which not quite as strong but thought would try.
When only pattern weights and a rotary cutter will do. Or in may case heart balloon weights from my wedding party. Still had to neaten up a little as the fabric is so slippy. Using scraps I each piece was cut as a single layer.
At this point I thought I would share my favourite aides for sewing with slippery stretch fabric. I have both stretch and jersey machine needles. Both are ball point but the difference is that the eye of the stretch needle is higher so it produces a longer loop allowing more stretch. A snippet I picked up from Lauren Guthrie at the Olympia Knitting and Stitching Show. On this note I also use ball point pins and hand sewing needles. All designed to part the fibres rather than piercing so as not to ladder the fabric. I find the bamboo stiletto invaluable for keeping fabric in place whilst under the foot especially on narrow seams. Then I often start seams with some Sitch and Tear underneath to stop the fabric being sucked in. If I have to do basting I use a silk thread which pulls out easily without leaving any marks.
I did hand baste the linings to the main fabric. You can use a zigzag or long machine stitch around the edge but sometimes the material just doesn't like being played with. All the seams for the top are enclosed. You then attach the elastic to the top edge and band ensuring it will fit into your closure. Previously I have shied away from attaching elastic using an overlocker but thought I would give it a go as the folded edge looks so much better. Starting off is a little tricky but after that so quick. Then the pattern suggests using a twin needle or a three step zigzag to stitch in place. I have a cover stitch for this but as only a trial I just went with the zigzag especially as my edge had already been covered.
The next step is to attach the bottom band. This is where I wasn't quite sure where the folded back elastic should sit. There is a little gap between the overlocked edge and the end of the seam which doesn't quite look right. The instructions don't show you from this side so can't tell what it should look like. However, there was a picture in the second PDF file for the bottoms. The elastic is applied to the band before moving on to the straps.
The patterns gives you a really neat way of doing this and there is a link to a video tutorial on the Evie la Luve You Tube channel. With the strap folded right sides together you use a small zigzag to attach the elastic to the fabric, half on the elastic and half off. You then trim close to the stitches and turn to the right side using a safety pin or hairgrip.
At this point I pinned the closure on to check the fit. Very impressed with the fit for me so on to the bottoms.
I basted the lining to the front and back pieces and, unlike the pattern, only one of the top bands as you can enclose the seam for a neater look. The gusset is applied using the burrito method so then only the side seams needed finishing.
The leg elastic is applied in the round and again I used the overlocker. All fears now conquered! The side seam elastic band is applied in the same way as the top. This time I was a little more careful how I placed against the band and the pattern does include a picture of how this should look. The instructions for the bottoms are in a second PDF file which I didn't read until I started making up.
Then the big try on. Unfortunately, not quite what I was expecting. The band was a very unflattering fit due to the fact my high hip is more or less the same measurement as my low hip as I found out when pattern drafting ie not curvy. So to find a solution - nude powernet. I placed the back and front pattern pieces together overlapping by the seam allowance and drew around the curve and straight across the top. I added the width of the seam and cut out. I pinned one side in place and tried on. Solution found! I finished the edge with the overlocker then I sewed on from the front going over the same three step zigzag. For a quick fix doesn't look bad on the inside.
Well another triumph for Evie la Luve. For me the size options were spot on and no need for any alterations. What I love about the patterns is that fit exactly how they are described. This is definitely a go swimming in bikini and not be afraid whether it is still in place when you get out of the pool! However, there are some important points to make. The first is that not all fabric is as could as this. It is a good weight, it recovers well and looked as good after washing. Second, both top and bottom are lined. Third, always use the rubber swimwear elastic if you can. And, as suggested in the instructions, try and use similar products for your test garment as the results can be so different.
What next? My print to order sport lycra from Spoonflower has arrived as well as tons of elastic from Fit2Sew (and bra finding kits in some lovely colours). Just waiting for delivery of bikini clasps in an array of colours from Sewing Chest (another great UK supplier). And to top it all off Evie la Luve is due to release another Bikini pattern this week!!!!!