Dixie DIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 7: Arm and Leg Elastic

 IMG_1809

Woohoo! Last construction post for our swimsuit!

Today we will add our final elastic to the arm and leg holes.

IMG_1797

Kwik Sew is kind enough as usual to tell us exactly how long to cut our elastic for each size.

If you want to go ahead and cut all your elastic at once be sure to label which piece goes where because the arm and leg elastic are almost the same length, almost. So don’t get ’em mixed up!

I’m starting with the armholes.

IMG_1802

I cut my elastic (19″ for size S) and I stitched the ends together with a zig zag stitch overlapping 1cm.

Then I marked my elastic into fourths (like what we did for the neckline elastic) and evenly spaced it around my armhole.

(oh, lookie! I made a helpful graphic!)

Here’s another part where our good friend, “negative ease,” comes into play. Our body has to fill out the swimsuit but some parts of our body “dip in” more than they “fill out.” These dips need more help from the elastic to keep the suit from gaping.

IMG_1803

On these armholes that point is in the front part of the underarm next to the bust. At that part you’ll need to stretch the elastic a little more than over the shoulder or the upper back area. If you’ve ever sewn a bra most instructions will tell you to stretch the elastic more near the underarm as well.

IMG_1805

We attatch this elastic like we did for the neckline. Pin and stitch the elastic to the wrong side edge of the fabric. I’m using a serger for this part and I start at the underarm seam.

IMG_1806

Next fold the elastic back so that it is covered by the fabric edge and topstitch (I’m doing zig zag). You may need to stretch the fabric a little bit but just do so enough that the fabric is smooth and without wrinkles.

Great! Now on to the legs.

IMG_1801

We do basically the same thing. Cut our elastic, stitch our ends together and divide into fourths.

Then we pin and stitch, fold and topstitch.

The legs have a “dip in” part, too. You don’t need to stretch the elastic much around the backside of the legs as your bum is a good “fill out” part of your body. Rather, you need to stretch a bit more in the front from about where your hip bones poke forward down towards your crotch. (Gosh, sometimes sewing is like a terrible anatomy lesson. Never in my life would I thought I’d be writing about crotches as much as I do on this blog.)

By the time you’ve finished your 2nd leg hole you’ll be a master at elastic sewing! BTW this technique for adding elastic is also commonly used in lingerie so there ya go! You can now sew yourself some exceptional undies as well!

IMG_1809

All done folks! If all goes well I can take pictures of me in this suit tomorrow as it is too dark now. If you’ve been following along I hope you’ve enjoyed it and for those who want to venture into swimwear sewing in the future I hope this sew-along will be helpful! If you’ve made this suit or any other by following this sew-along post a pic at the flickr group. No, you don’t have to model yourself if you don’t want to. 😉

I know this sew-along has been 7 posts in the making but not counting cutting time you could seriously finish this suit in under 4 hours and most of these skills you probably already know or are easy to learn. Don’t fear the swimsuit! It is your friend! And I swear you’ll love it more than any overpriced, underwhelming suit you can buy in a store.

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

Dixie DIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 6: Attaching front to back

IMG_2072

Only two more posts to go and you’ll be ready to strut your stuff on your beach vacay! Aren’t you excited!?!?!?! Let’s get a move on. Last time we finished with step 7, adding elastic to the neckline.

Remember how we didn’t gather under the bust yet like it says to do in step 4? Well, we’re going to do that now.

IMG_2062

Sew gathering stitches between notches and be sure not to sew over the swim cups tucked inside.

IMG_2063

Now we’re moving on to step 8 – attaching the bodice pieces to the front gathered piece at the bustline. Pin the bodices to the gathered front piece, right sides together. Adjust the gathers until the bodice pieces fit and stitch the seam.

IMG_2064

Next place the lining on top of the seam you just stitched and sew again.

IMG_2065

Finally pin your swim elastic to that seam (step 9 includes elastic measurements) and stitch over again. I’m doing this part with a zig zag stitch rather than a serger because serging three times gets pretty bulky! Plus the lining will be folded back so that the raw edge will be hidden.

Ok, fold back that lining piece and turn everything right side out. Pin the front and the lining together at the sides. Topstitch right under that bust seam to hold all those seam allowances and elastic together.

IMG_2067

After that we baste the sides, leg holes and crotch of the front and lining pieces together. Take this time to adjust those side gathers if you need to.

IMG_2070

Almost there! Step 10 has us stitching the side seams. I’m using my serger ’cause I like the finished look.

IMG_2068

Then we stitch the crotch seam which might seem strange because we’re attaching a convex curve to a concave curve. Lucky for us swim wear fabric is stretchy so you can gently stretch the pieces to fit as you sew.

IMG_2071

Wow, we are practically done! Next time we’ll finish up with arm and leg hole elastic and then you can run around your house screaming that you made yourself a real-life swimsuit and scare your pets!!

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

DixieDIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 5: Bust and Back

Today we’re working on steps 4-7 of the pattern – prepping the bust and back pieces.

For the bust triangles you have to baste the lining together. Since we’re adding bust cups (if you’re not go ahead and follow the instructions exactly) we won’t baste all the way around.

We’ll leave the inner edge un-basted from about 4 in from the top and slip in our cups.

If your bust cups are too big you can trim them to size with scissors. I’m leaving the bust gathering portion of this step for after we’ve encased the cups.

The kind I’m using fit perfectly inside my bust pieces so I don’t even have to stitch them down and they stay in place well after we add the neck and arm elastic, and they’re very flexible. (That’s why I love these cups for this pattern!)

Once you slip those cups in you can baste that edge closed.

If you’re not using this pattern and don’t have an easy way to encase your cups you can also stitch them to the lining. It’s very easy with these cups.

Find the are you want to put your cup and place it face down on your lining and “smush” the cup until it’s mostly flat. Pin in a couple places near the edge of the cup.

When you “un-smush” the cup it will bounce back to it’s original shape.

Take the cup and lining to the machine and stitch a small zig zag around the entire cup, smushing the cup flat to keep the fabric from wrinkling. Backstitch at the ends.

When you are finished the lining will gently stretch over the curve of the cup.

If your lining makes the cups buckle you can un-pick one side and stitch again. These cups are really forgiving when it comes to repeated seam ripping.

I like this method more than this one by SewStylish which has you cut out a hole for the cups, which sucks because if you mess up you’re left with two big holes in your lining!

Next stitch the center back seam closed.

Now we’ll stitch our bust pieces to the shoulders.

Oooh, now comes the fun part – adding some elastic to the edges! The pattern tells you what length to cut your swim elastic. Since I lengthened by back pieces by 1/4″ above the dip in the back I need to add a total of 1/2″ to my elastic.

The instructions tell you to mark the elastic into fourths and mark the neckline to match. These are the only places where I pin. It is easier for me to feed in the elastic by hand rather than pinning.

Here’s where that negative ease thing comes in.

Remember how our body has to “fill out” the swimsuit? The curves of our body help to keep the suit in place. Since the swimsuit pieces are already slightly smaller than our body measurements the elastic is cut nearly as long (or slightly smaller) than the length of the openings. That means that you won’t be stretching the elastic very much to fit into the openings but there are places you’ll want to stretch a little more than others.

Think about the areas on your body that “fill out” space and other places that “dip in.” On this back-to-center-chest elastic piece “fill out” places are the tops of your shoulders, upper back and bust mounds. “Dip in” places are the curve at your mid to lower back and your high bust area.

Those “Dip in” places need more stretching to pull the fabric closer to your body. Stretching slightly around the high bust area prevents gaping and stretching around the low back area prevents sagging. For the other places you don’t need to stretch the elastic much at all – all that negative ease will stretch to fit you.

Lay the elastic down on the wrong side of the fabric and use a zig zag stitch or a serger to sew right over the elastic and fabric edge, stretching in those “dip in” places.

Once that’s done you’ll fold the elastic under and stitch over again using a zig zag or a twin needle. My old machine that I’m using while my good one is getting serviced can’t even use a twin needle so it’s zig zag for me!

When you stitch the folded over elastic try not to stretch the fabric out but at least make sure the fabric is flat and not wrinkled. This is important around the lower back curve. You don’t want to accidentally stitch over a big batch of wrinkles.

If your machine has a hard time moving all those layers you can gently pull from behind the needle to help guide it through, you just don’t want to over stretch from the front.

I’m going to seam rip out any basting stitches visible from the outside but I think these stitches look pretty good.

Look at you with your new-found swimsuit skillzzzz. 😉 Next time we’ll stitch the back and bust pieces to our gathered front.

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

DixieDIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 4: Gathering

This looks like it’s going to be a leisurely sew-along. I just got my serger back from being serviced and now my sewing machine is in the shop for the same reason. I couldn’t be without both machines at the same time!

For now I’ve brought out my old blue Kenmore I bought in high school and I’m amazed it still works (mostly…). It’s quite an adjustment, though – no thread clipper or drop in bobbin or needle threader on this one, but I can survive. 😉

Today we’re working on the front gathers of our swimsuit.

The pattern pieces for the front (Piece #6) have notches toward the bottom for the end of the gathers. I’ve marked my notches with pins but you could use clips or chalk or whatever you prefer.

This part is pretty simple – stitch two lines of stitches (long stitch length), one along the seam line (3/8″) and another within the seam allowance.

Kwik Sew gives a great tip that I’m surprised I never learned before – to keep your gathering stitches in place wrap the the thread tails around pins in a figure 8 pattern


 

Once you’ve made all four sections of gathering stitches we’ll work on the center gathers. You’ll need a ruler to measure from top to the lower notch. Remember how I added 1/2″ in length to my pattern pieces? Well, I’ll have to factor that into these gathers.

 

Kwik Sew says my measurement for size S should be 8″ so with 1/2″ added to that it comes to 8 1/2″. (The gathers make the fabric ripple a bit but trust me, laid flat my measurements are correct.)

 

Next we cut a piece of clear elastic the same length as that previous measurement (which in my case is 8 1/2″). Clear elastic is important because it is less stretchy than regular elastic. This means the gathers will stay in place but stretch just enough to adapt to your body. Places like armholes and legholes deal with a lot more movement so they need stretchier elastic while this center line needs more stability.

Kwik Sew says to stitch these two pieces together and then attach the elastic separately in the next step.

I combined these steps and pinned the two pieces right sides together and serged them. I didn’t pin my elastic to the fabric. Instead I just fed it through by hand which worked just fine.

If you think the elastic plus bunches of gathers will be to unruly for your machine go ahead and do the two step system.

Originally I planned on doing this center seam with a zig zag stitch but after a couple tests on my old Kenmore I realized that wasn’t going to work. The tension was off and the machine kept skipping stitches (I haven’t used this machine in almost 5 years so I can’t expect it to work perfectly). So zig zaging was out. Instead I used my serger which works just as well.

Alright, it’s starting to resemble a real swimsuit now… sort of.

 

I’ll seam rip out those gathering stitches and we’ll be ready to move on to more sewing later. Next post we’ll do the bust pieces, stitch up the back and and do neckline elastic!

Pt 2: Supplies