I have a really bad habit of trying to cram in a bunch of last-minute sewing just before I go away on holiday, when most normal people would be packing their suitcase or reading through guidebooks. But no, I decide to sew up a pair of trousers and a bikini in the week before I leave!
I’d sewn up a swimsuit once before, but I’m not even sure whether I actually wore it in the water at all, as I hardly ever go swimming, and I’d moved away from one-pieces and that one had zero bust support so it just flattened the girls. But discovering that Team GB had been allocated the posh beachfront hotel with the pool, sauna and jacuzzi for the World Transplant Games gave me renewed enthusiasm to cram in the retro bikini patterns included in the August Seamwork magazine (which you can buy separately if you’re not a subscriber).
The Reno halter bikini top has ties around the neck and the back, separate seamed cups, and is also fully lined. The August issue (free!) gives tips on selecting and sewing swimsuit fabrics and elastics, and also how to insert boning, underwires, or foam cups if you prefer. I opted for the latter, since I had some in my stash anyway, though my foam cups were a little bigger than the lining piece, and I had to trim some off.
I consider myself to be experienced in sewing both lingerie and activewear, but even I found sewing this bikini top to be challenging. I know adding the foam cups contributed to that, as it meant I had an extra (thick) layer to contend with, but even so, I broke three separate stretch needles inserting the bikini cups into the bottom portion alone, and I had to re-thread my overlocker after nearly every line of stitching. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love the end result, but this was not a relaxing sew.
The high waisted Dakota swim briefs have options to have a contrast panel in the front, and, like the bikini top, are also fully lined. I know these are high waisted but seriously – these are high waisted. Like, up to my natural waist, which, when I tried them on prior to applying the elastic, both James and I agreed they needed to come down a good two inches to be at my belly button instead and they’re still high waisted. I would definitely recommend trying them on yourself, and also basting the side seams before overlocking, because, while these look utterly enormous laid flat (“Is my arse really that big??”), mine actually fit me perfectly when I tried them on – but your mileage may vary. Also note that the front leg openings feel quite low, especially if you’re used to more modern, high cut underwear. But I get that this is a retro-inspired suit, which is part of the charm!
I made both of these in the suitable jazzy summertime “Aztec Stripe” print Funkifabrics lycra in the green colourway (it also comes in purple or yellow), with a half metre of their neon red matte lycra (I’ve learned through experience that you really want the matte in the solid colours, as the alternative is really shiny in a 1980s aerobics instructor kind of way). I barely squeezed what you see here out of the half metre of red, having to piece the back ties on one side to make it all fit, so I’d recommend buying just a little more if you fancy the same.
You’ve seen this same colour combo before in those Duathlon Shorts in the booty length that I sewed up before the British Transplant Games at the start of August. In case it was looking familiar…
And if this combo wasn’t bright enough to require sunglasses, then brace yourself, because I only had enough beige mesh to line the bikini, so I used some fluorescent yellow mesh from my stash to line the briefs instead!
So the end result is a retro bikini with a very modern combination of fabrics! I’d originally thought about using some floral lycra from my stash, but my friend and style muse FJ, warned me off it, saying it’d be retro overload and choosing this combo instead. And he’s totally right (he always is!), because I can’t even imagine this in the floral now!
Since I’m in holiday mode and the Team GB hotel has a heated indoor pool, these have been getting wet pretty much every day of the Games, and they’re quick to dry in the hotel bathroom overnight, too!