I’ve made a handful of swimsuits in my time – most recently the Seamwork bikini in 2015, which I wear pretty much every time I go to a spa or holiday pool/seaside. But I certainly wouldn’t consider that a suit that’s, err, suitable for Serious Swimming, and recently I’ve decided to take up swimming lessons with my running coach (who’s actually a triathlon coach so it’s not totally weird!).
I had swimming lessons when I was a kid at the local municipal pool, so it’s not like I’m going to drown or anything, but my strokes are seriously sloppy, and it’s been embarrassing me recently. I’m certainly not efficient at getting from A to B, and I hate the front crawl, and I tire quickly. And now that I’ve done London Marathon (four times!) and Ride London 100 this year, I’m eligible for the enormous London Classics medal if I also complete the 2 mile Swim Serpentine. So I’m starting lessons with the goal to do this open water swim next September, which seems like good motivation (signups are in February if you want to join me – I’m assembling a girl gang!).
But I have nothing to wear for my swimming lessons! So I had a look through Jalie’s options and thought 3134 Racerback Swimsuit Pattern was the perfect mix of functional and flattering design lines.
Now, I haven’t worn a one-piece suit in probably 10-15 years, but I remembered from my more modest days in America that RTW one-piece swimsuits (or bodysuits) were never long enough in the torso for me. I actually have a short waist, with my waist being 2cm (1in) higher than normal, so I figured my length must be coming between the waist and crotch, so I added 2cm (1in) to all the pattern pieces around the lower half of the torso after comparing my diagonal body measurement to the one in the pattern.
New Craft House had a bunch of ex-designer swimsuit fabrics, so I bought some plain black (which is on sale right now!) and paired it with some Stoff & Stil leopard print activewear fabric I had in my stash leftover from my birthday cycling top last year. I’m still not sure whether it’s too OTT 1980s jazzercise or not, but I’m willing to treat the combo as a wearable muslin! The suit is almost entirely lined in black stretch mesh, too, which shouldn’t bag out in the water as much as my Seamwork bikini briefs seeing as how it’s more of an underlining and connected at all the seams.
The construction of this is really straightforward once you get your head around how all the various pieces fit together. The edges are all edged with elastic and topstitched (I used my coverstitch for most, but used a triple zigzag on my sewing machine for a few, too). I had some really nice black swimsuit elastic in my stash, but not enough of it for all the various edges, so I supplemented this with some narrow hot pink elastic (what was I thinking when I bought that??) since I didn’t want to go out and buy anything. The pink, non-swimming elastic may degrade faster in the chlorine, but I was largely treating this as a test swimsuit so I’m okay if it only ends up lasting a few months.
Even though this was a pretty straightforward make, it took me almost an entire month to actually complete it! I’ve been working flat-out for the past few months to try and finish up my latest pattern, so I was only working on this suit in ten minute chunks (sometimes only pinning and not even stitching!), which also explains my lack of blogging recently. I’ve got very limited time to work on my sewing business so I’ve been prioritising the new pattern over Fun Sewing and blogging, as both take considerable time and I really want you to be able to enjoy my new pattern as soon as possible (probably only another week or two yet to go!).
I haven’t started my swimming lessons yet, so I can’t tell you how this feels in the water, but it’s certainly comfortable moving around my sewing room! Swimsuits are so hard to take flattering photos of, sheesh!
Has anyone else taken swimming lessons as an adult? Would you be up for joining me for Swim Serpentine or another swimming challenge next year?