There is a power that comes over sewists in the days before a vacation, that pulls them to the sewing room more frequently than normal. A desire to sew an all new holiday wardrobe is strong, I know, but somehow I managed to fight back this feeling before our long-awaited trip to Mexico.
It is January in Canada, and that means cold, unpredictable weather. I had been longing to wear some of my well loved, handmade summer clothes, so making anything new seemed unfair to them. I did however decide that I needed two items for our trip that I didn't already own. One being a good sun hat, and the other being a bikini top.
Almost as if Instagram knew I was going away, my feed was filled with targeted ads for a specific bathing suit brand, Left On Friday.
This particular suit caught my eye, but with its $100 USD price tag, I sought out to find a suitable sewing pattern instead. I took to my Instagram stories and asked the amazing Hive-Mind that is the online sewing community if they had any recommendations, and they did not disappoint. Some of their suggestions included:
- The High Waist Collective Bikini Pattern from Swim Style Patterns
- The Jace Top from Edgewater Ave. – a free pattern.
- The Hyacinth Bralette by Ohhh Lulu – Also a free pattern. Ohhh Lulu also has some great tips and inspiration for using a lingerie pattern as swimwear here.
- The Wells Bay Bikini from Half Moon Atelier
I decided on the Jace Top by Edgewater Ave, not only because it was a free pattern, but because it was actually the closest in design to my inspiration suit. There are a couple of 'tasks' you need to complete before you can access the pattern, but they are simple, like visiting the Edgewater Ave Facebook page etc. so definitely worth it.
For the fabric I was going to use, there was no hesitation there. As soon as the Repreve activewear fabrics came in to Simplifi, I knew I wanted to make my suit using some.
Repreve is a really amazing textile made from recycled water bottles. 35 billion water bottles get thrown away each year in the US alone, and can take 1000 years to degrade. INSANE! Unifi, the company that makes Repreve has already recycled almost 20 BILLION plastic water bottles and aims to recycle up to 30 billion by the year 2022.
Many big name brands such as Patagonia, Ford, North Face and Volcom are already using Repreve fabrics in an effort to cater to the more earth-conscious consumers while doing their part for the environment.
The process they use to make the fibre is pretty fascinating in of itself. You can learn more about Repreve and the process of creating fibre from plastic water bottles on their website here. I recommend watching the video. It really is quite cool!
Ok, it's only a few days until my trip, so lets get to it.
I used 1/2 a metre of the midweight Repreve Recycled Polyester Spandex Jersey in Black, and about 3 yards of braided cotton swim elastic which meant my new bikini top cost about 15 bucks – much better than the $100 USD.
There isn't a right and wrong side to this fabric per-se but the two sides of the fabric do have a different look to them so you will have to choose your right side based on personal preference. One side has a bit of a sheen to it while the other side has a more ribbed, matte appearance. I chose the latter.
The Jace pattern doesn't come with written instructions but Edgewater Ave has a YouTube channel with a video tutorial for this suit as well her other patterns. One thing that is very important to note about the Jace Bikini top pattern is that it doesn't have seam allowance included. If you are anything like me and forget things like this while in the 'zone' then I recommend writing yourself a big note on the front of the pattern pieces that says "DON'T FORGET TO ADD SEAM ALLOWANCES, YA DUMMY"
I should probably mention that this is not going to be a post on how to sew with swim fabrics, or how to sew your own swimsuit. The internet is already brimming with posts like this. Here are some great resources if you've never sewn swimwear before:
- Seamwork Magazine - Swimwear Basics
- How To Sew a Swimsuit You'll Really Love - Bluprint
- Closet Case Patterns - Sew Your Dream Swimsuit course
- Love To Sew Podcast - Sewing Swimwear
Ok, back to my Jace Top. Based on my measurements I sewed the size XL, which fit a little snug and I found the straps were set in too close to the centre, leaving room on the outside for spillage – I wish I had taken a photo at this stage to better explain what I mean, but again, that 'zone' I talked about earlier got the better of me. All this to say, I wasn't happy with the fit, and knew I had to remake it.
For my second attempt, I did a kind of unconventional adjustment, by slicing the front pattern piece in half straight up the centre, and adding an inch to the centre front. I also scooped out the front neckline about 1/4" and added that 1/4" back to the outer edge for a bit more coverage where I wanted it. This probably isn't the way to go about this adjustment, but it worked, so yay!
In my first attempt, I had also left off the bottom band – which is recommended for larger busts – because I figured this bathing suit was more for lounging, than being active, but I regretted the lack of support and so in the second attempt added the band back on. Sadly, because I had used the same fabric to line the bathing suit, I didn't have quite enough left for this band, so I improvised with some lycra I had in my stash. Not the all-black top I was going for, but still pretty cute.
Despite a few tension issues while sewing the elastic band to the suit, I had no real problems sewing this top. The Repreve fabric was a dream to work with, and created a really professional looking top that closely resembles the inspiration suit!
I finished my second version of the top with hours to spare before our trip to Mexico, but it made it there! I wore it every day, and it certainly passed the swim-test. The fabric dried quickly, didn't stretch out, stayed supportive when wet, and the suit even stayed on while zip-lining in to the water! It also survived a day at the Scandinavian baths a week later, so it's definitely done its job!
Thanks for stopping by! Xo M