Monday, September 7, 2015

Fehr Trade Swimsuit: PASS

After two years of getting used to the idea of sewing my own bathing suit, I finally dove in with this sporty two-piece.

Melissa at Fehr Trade has been inspiring me for years with her sewing skills, workout pattern line, and all-around coolness. (She runs marathons, has researched exercise fabric sources worldwide, and sews in a secret room behind a bookcase on her London houseboat. Yeah, kind of amazing.)

I had the XYT Workout Top and Duathlon Shorts patterns in my stash, waiting for new workout clothes to take top priority. Inspiration struck when I saw these Duathlon swim shorts and this low-cut XYT maxi dress.

The shorts came together swimmingly. The pattern instructions are very well organized and easy to follow. Just like my inspiration pair, the side panels are shortened by 6 cm, with front and back pieces gathered to fit. I underlined my fashion fabric with swimsuit lining for modesty.

Experienced sewers, can you spot my mistake?

Underlining (basting lining fabric and outside fabric together and then sewing them as one piece) instead of lining (sewing two garments, one from lining and one from outside fabric, then attaching them together) was a painful mistake. Look at these gnarly crotch seams. Fortunately, bathing suits grow a bit when they're wet and so this is only uncomfortable before I hit the water.

Like my XYT maxi dress inspiration, I lowered the neckline of the swim top by 1.5 inches and used one layer of power mesh in the bra. Unlike the dress, there are no bra cups. Attempting to insert them was a disaster. The cups I purchased in the notions aisle were stiff, the wrong shape, and too small. The cups I cut out of an old bra were better, but I couldn't insert them properly. No matter how carefully I positioned them with pins, they were in the wrong place when I sewed them in.

Once I axed the cups, things went more smoothly. The techniques section of the pattern instructions are particularly helpful and Melissa provides instructions on her site for making a FBA (full bust adjustment) on the bra pattern piece. Instead of lining my fashion fabric with swimsuit lining, I used another layer of mesh. Though I didn't need high-impact support, I did need more stiffness in the straps than just spandex gave me. The top holds me up comfortably all day. There are annoying folds near the neckline, perhaps because my fashion fabric isn't stretching at the same rate as the mesh. But then, if anyone is looking that closely at my chest they're probably not examining the neckline finish of my bathing suit.

The result is...pretty good. Not enough to win any awards, but enough to wear, earning it a PASS. Next time I make the swim shorts, I'll sew the waistband a bit tighter. They're fine in smooth waters, but they almost slipped off in Lake Michigan waves. I'll also use a solid or muted print so the gathers aren't obscured. And line instead of underline (DUH).

I doubt I'll make an XYT swimsuit top again, but will certainly be sewing an XYT workout top and perhaps a maxi dress (if I can figure out those damn bra cups).

Now I'm off for one last summer swim!

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