Friday, June 15, 2012

Make a Swimsuit Sew Along: McCall's 3566

Things have been busy around here, and I have some good news!  I got a job a few weeks ago working as a landscape designer.  Although I'm only working a few hours per week from home, I am really enjoying it.  However, I did find some time to finish a few sewing projects.  I got my groove back on to make this second swimsuit for my 'Make a Splash Swimsuit Sew-Along' mini-series.  

I started with McCall's 3566 View A for the swimsuit top.  I lengthened the top to cover my belly and added more coverage to the chest area.  I used Kwik Sew 3153's shoulder straps, and lengthened them a bit so they would be able to criss-cross in the back.  At this point, I'd call it a self-drafted pattern.  I used a great polka-dot print from Spandex World (nylon/spandex) and nude colored lining from Spandex House.

Wow!  Farmer Tan!  Time to go to the lake and fix that.
Here is the pattern envelope:

I was in dire need of some swimsuit cups.  The smallest size Joann's had was an A/B.  Since I am a AA that wasn't going to cut it.  Luckily Goodwill had my back.  I bought this top at half off and stole the cups:

I also took the strap hooks.  The transplant was easy enough:

If you are putting in hooks for a criss-cross back, make sure that the open edges of the hooks are facing away from center back.
For the bottoms (View F), I used a milliskin matte solid black from Spandex World, and the same lining as the swimsuit  for the crotch.  I cut out a size 14 at the waist, tapering down to a 10-12 at the hips.  If I were to do it again, I would have cut out a size smaller so that the edge of the shorts hugs my derriere a little tighter.  You know, for security.  We'll see how they do in the water.  If it's still too loose, I'll take in the side seams.  It's weird that I have more coverage than a bikini bottom but feel more exposed without elastic at the edges.  Hopefully everything stays put.

As you can see, the bottoms are only lined at the crotch. The instructions told me to sew the crotch seam for the bottoms and the lining together, all at once.  If I did that, I'd end up with exposed seams in the crotch, which I'd imagine wouldn't be to comfortable.  Instead, I sewed the crotch pieces together, separate from the black fabric, and layed it on top, with seams touching.  I attached the crotch with a row of stitching at the crotch seam so it wouldn't be noticeable. 

I took a little chunk out of the pink swimsuit top to make a tag.  You'll notice the 'B's written in soap on the back pieces.  It makes it so much easier to keep pattern pieces straight when they are labeled!

The Verdict:  
I would recommend this pattern to others.  I think it's great because it has so many options.  The pattern sizes were pretty true to measurements.  If you've never made a swimsuit, this is a good pattern to start with for two-piece.  I think for next time, I'll add some more embellishments to the top.  I can't wait to try it out at the pool!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Vent About Re-Occuring Fashion Trends

When I was a teen, I remember watching movies from the 80's like The Cosby Show.  Back in the day, baggy track suits were popular, and big drapey t-shirts that left everything up to the imagination.  Necklines were sometimes so wide that they slipped off one shoulder.  I remember asking my mom what it was like to live through that period in fashion.  She already has a hard enough time finding things small enough to fit her petite body (at 4'10" she is 4" shorter than me), and said that baggy clothing looked even worse on her.  I remember feeling glad not to have to deal with such unflattering clothing....until this spring when I noticed this trend cluttering every ladies' clothing store that I come across.  It makes me want to scream!!'s page on Fashion Tips for Petites gives some great advice for looking your best.  Their tips include wearing clothing that fits well (or form-fitting clothing), clothing with vertical lines,  and to avoid wearing bulky clothing.

The Dolman Sleeve
Image Credit:
 This style can be seen in pretty much every teen clothing store this spring.  A high, wide neckline and exaggerated sleeve make a petite woman look even boxier and shorter.  If you have an itty-bitty chest, it gets completely lost in all the fabric making you look like a 10-year-old.

Image Credit:
A better option is this smocked top from Express.  It still has the Dolman sleeve but the V-neck adds some vertical lines and the smocking defines the waistline below the bust.  That is only if your chest can fill out these gathers.  A good fit is a must!

The Butterfly Sleeve

Petite Butterfly Sleeve Zig Zag Poncho, Ann Taylor Loft
Even though this sweater can be found in the petite section of Loft, its horizontal lines and wide neckline make it a poor choice for petites. I'm not a big fan of these sleeves because, again, they make the torso look wider.

Xliration by Target 
This dress is also not my favorite.  Even though it defines the waistline the sleeves are so exaggerated that the waist gets totally lost in them.  Plus, it is not petite so chances are the cinched waistline will be too low, emphasizing the widest part of my torso.

Calvin Klein Butterfly Sleeve Chiffon Dress from Nordstrom
This Calvin Klein dress is much better suited for petites.  The butterfly sleeve is high enough that it still allows the waistline to be defined with a belt.  The gathers at the neckline draw attention to the face, which is great for a pear-shaped petite, like myself.  The plus is that you may not even need it in a petite size if the belt can be situated a little higher than normal.

Cinch Tie at Waist

This style would only look okay on very slim petites.  Once again, a tiny chest will completely get lost in the blousiness, along with any sort of waist you thought you had.  I have tried on this style before and I always look like I have gained 20 lbs.  On the upside, it could double as maternity wear.  Yes, moms to be, no need to buy maternity clothes because you can fit a full term belly under one of these blouses!
Cinch Tie Cold Shoulder Top, Old Navy

Mexicali Gauze Cami, Old Navy

Elastic Waist Tie Dolman Top, Express

Boxy Top

And lastly, this top's name says it all:

Boxy Top,
I'm not sure that this style looks good on any body type....unless you are hiding a baby bump.  It's just plain ridiculous!  What were they thinking?!

Anyway, I hope not too many of you are offended by this but as for me I will be steering clear of exaggerated blousiness....UNTIL THE END OF TIME!!  If it means I have to search far and wide for something that isn't wide I will wear clothing that is flattering to my body.  Now, if I could only get used to coming up empty-handed after shopping trips....