Monday, August 15, 2011

McCall 3566 Swim Suit

I'm here to tell you the best kept sewing secret--making a swim suit is EASY!  It's also about the only way that I know that you can save money when you sew your own versus purchasing one.  One caveat about the process is that it helps a lot to have the wearer available to try it on during the sewing process so you can make sure elastic and straps are cut suitably.  It really saves a lot of time and trouble to have that.

I used McCall 3566 for oldest dd which I had found earlier this year for $0.50 at our local Joann's store when it was closing to reopen as new and improved (I think we all have doubts about that now it has happened and while it is much improved it has become extremely crafty!).  I only used one of the two swimsuit fabrics that I found not long after buying the pattern.  Time and energy ran short and, wow, mom is not a miracle worker!  Did I mention that it helps a lot to try the suit on frequently to make adjustments?  And, that when it isn't tried on, the seam ripper is your friend?  I am also tired of hearing the word "retro" in relation to this suit!  Dd could've chosen a different view or opted to make modifications so I wouldn't have to keep hearing this is retro!

I made Views C and F.

This stuff is super bright!

Sewing lingerie and knits made sewing a swimsuit pretty easy.  I also used the book Sewing With Knits by Connie Long as a reference.  She has excellent information on what stitches and settings to use both for the serger and the sewing machine.  I used a combination of the two since I am too lazy to set up my serger for a cover stitch after sewing the seams together.  You even end up with a finished product that looks like a bought suit!

I used the serger on a 4-thread setting for the seams of the suits and the white lining.  They are fully lined so I suppose twice the work, but I think it looks funny to only have the fronts lined.  I don't think the pattern called for much lining, but I confess I didn't read the pattern.  After serging the seams, I treated the lining and swim fabric as one whole piece and sewing machine basted all the raw edges prior to attaching elastic to them to prevent slippage.  Then I zigzagged the elastic to the edge stretching the elastic to fit for all areas except the leg openings.  I had stitched the elastic into a circle and marked it into 4 even parts prior to stitching again except for the leg openings.  The leg openings are done differently without any elastic stretching along the front and all of the elastic stretched for the back to accomodate bending and movement.  Makes sense.  After securing the elastic, I folded the elastic to the inside and topstitched it down using a twin needle.  They're pretty much done at that point. 

For the youngest dd, I didn't have a pattern.  I took two of her present suits and traced them out on Swedish tracing paper (great stuff!), added seam allowances and some guessing which resulted in a pretty good prototype.  I viewed this hot pink swim fabric as experimental anyway.  I had to redo the bottoms because they were way too snug.  Ready to wear little girl swimsuits have always had issues on my girls--the bottoms are too big and the tops always fall off or slide around too much.  If I bought a smaller size, then length was a problem.  So when I traced out her suits, I took the one that I thought fit best and shrank it some although in the case of the bottoms I got carried away or maybe I forgot to accomodate for a bigger seam allowance versus elastic allowance on the leg openings.  The top needed to be made somewhat smaller only at the top.  The only problem that I had with her top was that it fit perfectly at home.  It also fit perfectly at the beach until she went down to the water and started playing.  The straps needed to be shorted by probably 2" because they didn't stay on her shoulders at all.  Irritating.  She was a good and patient child, trying on the suit multiple times for fitting so it was too bad that this was a problem.  On the plus side, because I had made the top smaller around her chest, it stayed up so the straps weren't entirely necessary! 

Matching sisters!

Back view.

All in all, this was a quick and easy project even with having to draft my own pattern for the youngest dd's suit.  I think I will definitely sew more swim suits, especially for the youngest because she is so willing to try them on for fit!


kbenco said...

Cute swimming suits. You have done a great job. If the straps stretched during wear it may well be the fabric - Possibly reinforcing with clear elastic might help. I think finding the right fabric is one or the more difficult parts of swim wear sewing.

MushyWear said...

Oooh I love the bright colors in these suits. The girls looks great in them!

Carol said...

What a fantastic job. They look great. I plan to try a swimsuit myself this summer.

Nancy said...

You are right - sewing swim suits is actually quite easy and can save you lots of money. I've made lots of suits for myself and my daughter - mainly modifying a Kwik Sew pattern (which I like much better than the McCalls swim patterns I have tried)