Many vampire bat gifts

First of all, I must apologise because I am SO far behind on blogging my makes, but I’m trying hard to catch up. The problem is that I have such limited energy for sitting up that I’ve got to ration it, and when I do, I tend to want to actually sew than sit at my laptop and blog! So I’ve got well over a month worth of makes to show you, and only two weeks before we go away on a short break, so I may just end up taking photos while we’re away to make it a bit easier.

In any case, today’s round up contains a LOT of makes, some of which stretch back into March, eep.

So many bat plushies!

It all started when I saw this BeeZee Art Bat Plushie pattern and posted it to my vampire Discord, where everyone went nuts over it. Which prompted me to buy the pattern and make it for myself, and then a few for friends, and now I’m at the point where I’m pretty much making these for all my friends’ birthdays, hahah!

An asymmetric swimsuit

It’s been a while since I’ve had to write a negative pattern review but hoo boy, this one’s a doozy. The thing is, I ended up with a finished swimsuit that I really like and feel great in, but that’s in spite of this pattern, not because of it. I significantly redrafted all the pieces and relied heavily on another blogger’s instructions in order to get to the finished result.

I’m not even sure how the Edgewater Avenue “Marley One Piece” pattern came on my radar, tbh. I’ve never heard of the brand before, but they seem to specialise in swimwear sewing patterns and this particular one was on sale for $5 for a limited time, so I bought it.

A crazy cat swimsuit

We’ve got a holiday coming up in September, and despite the destination being decidedly un-beachy (Berlin! By train!), we’ll actually be spending four days entirely in swimsuits while we celebrate four wedding anniversaries at Tropical Islands.

I’ve still got two me-made swimsuits I’m really happy with – this Aztec-print Seamwork one from 2015(!) and the pastel bikini set I made last summer for lounging in our hot tub. But it’s always fun to make something new for a holiday, and since I’ll literally be walking around in my suit for the entire day, I didn’t feel like it was too extravagant to sew some more.

Homemade spa robes

Last summer, we bought a hottub on deep discount and I even made a new spa bikini to enjoy while lounging in it. It’s a bit of luxury, but it means we can just pop up there (it’s on our top deck) after work and relax. The only problem is, even though we only run it during the summer to keep electric costs down, it’s still freezing as soon as you step out afterwards!

We had just been wrapping a towel around ourselves, but that leaves a lot of wet skin still exposed and they kept falling down while we put the cover back on the hottub, tidied up, and climbed back down inside the boat. I felt I could address this with a sewing solution – a sort of spa/dry robe that we could easily slip on and then wear while we put everything away.

I was going to self-draft these but then I saw this free pattern from Do It Yourself Better, which had basically all the features we both wanted, so I just used it instead.

A Pastel Nautilus Bikini

I didn’t plan on sewing a swimsuit this summer. Frankly, the bikini I made in 2015 is still going strong. But then London ended up having an incredible heatwave summer, and we, err, impulse-bought a hot tub on deep discount which gave me a bunch of extra motivation!

I thought I’d have a look at my pattern files on my computer first to see if I already owned a great lounging swimsuit style (as opposed to the “sport swimsuit” I made before my short-lived swimming lessons in 2019!), and it turns out I did – the Nautilus Swimsuit & Bikini, originally released by Seamstress Erin but then bought up and re-released with an expanded size range and full set of tutorials by Paprika Patterns a few years ago. I had the original version of the pattern from an indie pattern bundle I contributed to a while back, so my comments here are on that original version.

A Jalie sport swimsuit

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!).

The “Sew Your Own Activewear” Rashguard

When I was thinking about the sports I wanted to design for in the early stages of writing the book, I knew I wanted to somehow cover swimming, and I initially wanted to include a traditional swimsuit. But when it got down to the drafting instructions, it would’ve been tricky to construct using just the included blocks, or it’d mean I’d need to include a whole separate panty block just for the swimsuit so instead I took inspiration from my friend, Emily, who is an avid Cornish surfer as well as being a runner, climber, cyclist, and all-around advocate for natural movement (and indeed, the athlete model for this design in the book!).

Aztec print Seamwork retro bikini

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.