Friday, May 3, 2013

Swimsuit Rebuild: Part II: Swimsuit-ier

     With the top of that old bathing suit successfully transformed into a cute bikini top, it was time to tackle the bottom. I thought it was going to be a real headache for one simple reason: swimsuit elastic. I'd never worked with swimsuit elastic before (only the thicker fabric elastics used for clothing), and the thought of trying to finagle that little plastic ribbon into place while maintaining proper stretch, all on a finicky swimsuit fabric, sounded terrifying to me. But surprisingly, it wasn't hard at all! I love when things turn out easier than you expect; it happens so rarely. So let's get down to details!

     The first thing I did was whack off some of the extra fabric to make the bottom a little easier to work with. Then came the tedious part: taking out all the old elastic. I decided it would be best to take it out, instead of trying to match up the seams of old and new elastic for two reasons. First, because I wasn't sure how well I could get everything to come together, and I really wanted a smooth final result. Second, because it was an old swimsuit that had been stored in the attic for a while, and I didn't trust the integrity of the old elastic. When I got inside the seam and started ripping it out, my suspicions were confirmed: it was all crackly and breakable. No good! So out it all came.

     Then I turned it inside out, tried it on, and marked where I wanted the top to end. I figured I'd want it to just go straight across from right before where the curve of that middle piece started, which seems straightforward enough, but it's always best to try things on, mark 'em up, measure and measure again before you do anything that can't be easily reversed.

     Next came the part I was so nervous about: the elastic. I wrapped the elastic around my hips at a comfortable tightness to figure out how much I needed, then marked the front center, back center, and side of both the elastic and the inside of the swimsuit so I would have some idea how taut I needed to pull the swimsuit when I sewed in the elastic. Then I sewed the elastic in with a zigzag stitch to allow it to stretch. According to the YouTube videos I watched before trying this (gotta learn somewhere!), you want the zigzag to catch the elastic and also get the fabric to roll over the edge of the elastic a bit, if that makes sense, to finish the edge. Admittedly, this part was a little harrowing: it involved some trial and error tying to find the ideal stitch width, and since the elastic is clear, I sewed right off of it without noticing a time or two at the beginning and had to go back and try again. But once I figured it out, it was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

     After I'd attached the elastic, I folded it over and sewed around the top twice in order to match the seaming on the rest of the suit. If I were fancy, I would have used twin needles for this part, but...I'm not. I don't have twin needles. So I just tried my best to keep the stitches straight and evenly spaced, and succeeded pretty nicely at it, if I do say so myself. Which left me with this finished product!

     And the best part was that when I tried it on, it fit perfectly! It was a fabulous surprise because I was convinced I'd have mucked up the whole "stretch the elastic as you sew it" part. 

     Here's the finished suit together!

     And a reminder of what it started out as, because you know I love a good before and after.

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