I’ve long considered swim wear the holy grail of sewing, along with lingerie and full featured blue jeans (all those rivets, and topstitching!). Although I live in swim all summer, sewing my own swimsuits always seemed a little out of my league- a daunting task with an uncertain outcome.
So, of course, when 5 out of 4 Patterns put out their call for a swimsuit/bikini/dress pattern, I had to apply. I’ve seen a lot of people question why on earth you would want to go through the rigors of pattern testing: for me, its an opportunity to hone my skills and force myself to overcome sewing fears. You have the benefit of hands on support from the designer, and a deadline for motivation. And it turned out exactly as I had hoped- I was able to sew my first real swimsuit, and I love it!
The Escapade Pattern can be a bikini, tankini, or a summer dress, and features ruching ties at the center front bust, a shelf bra, and straps that can be tied as halter or crossed in the back.
I started the test making the tankini view with some ombre swim I purchased from knitpop. I had to cut the fabric against the grain to get the fading look I was going for, but fortunately the 4 way stretch of the fabric made this work. At first, I was really intimidated by the process, but once I got going I found it was quite easy, as long as I went slow, used a stretch/ballpoint needle, and plenty of Washaway Wonder Tape (that stuff really is WONDER-full). I even tamed my Coverstitch enough to use it to topstitch my straps, for a really ready to wear look. You’ll also need 3/8″ swim elastic and 3/4″ plush back elastic for this pattern. I was able to get the top and bottoms (smallest sizes) out of yard with a tiny bit to spare.
The inner shelf bra provides plenty of support (granted, I don’t need a lot), and I omitted the swim cups because I hate how they always bunch up after washing or while swimming, and tend to remove them from my store bought suits anyway (but the option is in the pattern). I can even run in it!
Bolstered by my success with the top, I used the “Ultimate Bikini Bottoms“, also from 5 out of 4 Patterns, to make myself a pair of matching low rise bikini bottoms. I was very confused by this pattern at first as I didn’t realize it was designed to be reversible. I found the construction with the elastic to be a bit bulky at the side seams, but I love the fit, so I’m scheming about how to alter them so they aren’t reversible and can have the elastic sewn in the round instead. You could also pair the Escapade pattern with the Shenanigans skirt, or the Riptides shorties for a great combo!
Since we were on our way to Moon Rocks, NV for an Easter camping trip the weekend after I made this set, my husband humored me with a 2 hour detour to Lake Tahoe to take pictures. Although there was snow on the ground, it was tolerable, and the weather meant there weren’t a lot of people to watch as I tried to pose without looking too awkward! (but there was NO WAY I was getting in the water!). I love these photos, and they were well worth the detour.
After I got back, Jessica decided to change the pattern slightly to omit the topstitching at the center front, so I whipped up (read: stressed out over making another one ASAP while the mountains of laundry from camping piled up in the hallway) another top, this time the bikini version from some swim/athletic knit I purchased from Sew Vagabond.
This stuff was really nice quality, and I was able to make the pattern much faster the second time around. While it was a bit stressful to have to make a second version so quickly after our trip, I have to say that I appreciate the time Jessica takes to get her patterns just right.
I loved this top so much I wore it out to dinner after our photoshoot, and I find it more comfortable than most of my bras! I’m thinking a version without the center ruching would be perfect for an everyday bra (again, I don’t need a ton of support, but even the well-endowed testers seemed to find it comfortable), and I can nurse in it easily. I did have another pair of Ultimate Bikini Bottoms almost sewn up to go with this top, but they met a tragic end when I tried to unpick the stitching in the lining (Note to self: Swim lining is fragile stuff), so I’ve got a pair of Riptides all cut out an ready to go when I get a break in my schedule.
I got about a million mosquito bites from this photo shoot (note to self, bring bug repellant to all future shoots), but we had fun and made a date out of it! It was even decent exercise, since I had to ride back and forth about a million times to get photos that weren’t blurry.
I’ve got to say, it takes a ton of guts to put photos of yourself in a swimsuit out there in blog/facebook land. I can be extremely self conscious about my body, and would NEVER have considered putting myself out there before I had kids. Now that I’m a mom, and have experienced the wonderful things my body can do to create and sustain another person, I’m much more accepting, but I admit, this still gave me pause. I’m hoping it can be an opportunity for me to inspire others and feel more comfortable in my own skin, and less judgmental of myself.
I highly recommend the Escapade pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be making more. I’m forever grateful for this opportunity to delve into swimwear, and hope I can inspire you too! What’s your Holy Grail of sewing? What would you make if you had the confidence to try?
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something from one of these links, I may get a small portion toward my fabric/sewing adventures so I can share with you!