Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Third Time's a Charm

A while back I posted about needing to make a maternity bathing suit and what I thought I might need to do. I started off enthusiastically to make the "Rimini" tankini top from the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Ottobre Woman. Knowing that I have a larger-than-average bust, I measured my full bust and it ended up being the largest size - a 52 - so I traced the pattern in that size, cut it out and sewed up the 'bra' portion of the top. It was waaaaaayy too big around my ribs and the gap in the front where the two pieces were intended to cross over was so big that I was falling out of it, but I still didn't have enough fabric in the cups to properly cover myself and get any support. I fiddled around with it, trying to figure out what went wrong and then gave it up for a while to focus on some other projects.

I went back to the tankini when we had an unusually warm week in early May. This time I decided to add fabric to the cup area by slashing the size 52 pattern to the bust apex and spreading it. This had the effect of  tightening/shortening up the curve at the front and lessening the gap there, as well as giving me slightly more coverage at the side. I cut this new version of the 'bra' portion and found that there still wasn't enough support at the front and that it still gapped. I took out the stitches and overlapped the center fronts about twice as much as the first time. Now I had more coverage but it still was dragging down at the center front and kind of twisting. I took in the back by increasing the overlap, thinking that this would counter-act the problem at the center front, and it seemed better so I decided to add the lower portion of the tankini.

Disaster. I'd added way too much fabric at the center front and as a result there was far too much fabric in both the front and the back. I got upset because I really wanted this pattern to work and because I don't want to spend a ton of money on a maternity suit off the rack. Cheap suits generally don't give me the support I need in a bathing suit so I end up with a suit that costs $75 or more. I'm unwilling to pay that much for a maternity suit for my last pregnancy. So I decided to take a break and do some laundry and think about the problem.

The solution presented itself while talking the situation over with Scott. He was looking at the instructions and pointed out that while I needed the cup size of the 52, my underbust measurement was more like a size 46 or 48 (I fall kind of in the middle of the two). He also pointed out that I lost weight at the beginning of this pregnancy and haven't gained very much, so I'm clearly not a 52 all over. We decided that I should cut the 48 to allow for a little room for my belly to expand. That remedied the problem of the lower portion, but what about the bra portion? I played around with the 2nd version and decided the way to go was to sew the two pieces together so that there was a center front seam, then do the same thing at the back, after shortening the length of the back pieces so that they were more equivalent to a size 46. This gave me the coverage and support that I needed but in the size appropriate to my body frame.

Center back seam.

So here is the final product:

Don't make fun of the bathing cap - it keeps my new teal hair protected!

I ended up doing the center front and back seams, though I think I should have deepened the center front seam just a bit more. As it is, I hand-stitched it a bit to close up the neckline a little more so I didn't feel as though I would fall out of it. Also, if I make this again, I will reduce the amount of fabric under the arms at the sides, since the suit cuts into me slightly there. I decreased the amount of elastic that I used at the under bust portion significantly - I used about 24". I'd probably use even less next time, in order to have more support under the bust. And I'd probably find an underwire bra that I could sew into the lining, since I feel like I really don't have enough support with this, plus I'd probably retain the alterations I made but cut one size smaller in order to get more support out of the fabric itself. Right now it feels comfortable but I still wonder if there's too much give due to it being a 46. Cutting a 44 and still doing an FBA would probably be better overall, and I think I'd get a better lift for "the girls". I have more fabric (black with hot pink dots!) so I plan on perfecting the fit on this suit after the baby arrives.

Side view - 32 weeks pregnant.

It's better than a lot of suits I've worn, and I'd say it's not bad for a first attempt, but I'm not totally thrilled with the result. It gets the job done, though, and that's what's important. I probably added a bit too much to the bottom portion in order to accommodate the growing bump because the overlay pulls down a bit at the center front and the shirring doesn't lie evenly. Again, not a huge problem, since the suit is still quite functional.  What I love most is that it pretty much stays down over my belly and sort of looks like a retro one-piece suit, a style I really like.

The bottoms themselves were much easier - I cut a size 52 to see if that would cover my bum and still give me plenty of room for the belly. I was expecting to have to make some significant alterations but I was pleasantly surprised that they fit perfectly the first time. I used the bikini bottom pattern, rather than the boy-short bottom, and I found that the height of the leg opening was just right for me and it has a nice full-coverage back. I don't find myself having to adjust the fabric on my bum to keep it covered, so that's a definite plus.

1 comment:

  1. Wow you made your own maternity swimsuit?! I take my metaphorical hat off to you! It looks great, despite the minor flaws you still have with the patterns, and massive well down on your perseverance. I totally cheated any just bought myself a second hand maternity tankini from eBay for my little holiday next week. I don't go swimming in my everyday life (at least I don't at the moment, I'll start going when the baby is here) so I couldn't be arsed with the challenge of sewing one. You are a total inspiration!

    Zoe xxx