Today’s the day! We make up the entitreity of our bikini – which goes a heck of a lot faster than you might think.
First, a reminder: I will be departing a bit from the Jalie directions the bikini B from 2446, although I’m happy to support anyone asking for advice with the pattern’s instructions. When it comes time to make the swim shorts (Jalie 3351) I’ll be sticking to the pattern verbatim. More about why I departed on the top, in a bit!
Let’s do this!
So first, we need to join our lining and fashion fabric for our cups – or the bikini “triangles”. For this top, I used self-fabric for lining, and only used two layers total as the velvet has such a loft to it. A quick swimsuit reminder: these particular tops are not meant to provide lift or much shaping. The extra fabric layers are employed for “modesty” – that is, not showing nipple outline or areola pigmentation. So again, two layers of stretch velvet was adequate for my client’s needs here.
Since the cups are rather symmetrical and therefor hard to distinguish top from bottom – I think of them as being onigiri-shaped! – I basted the top two edges of the triangle using a long, narrow zig-zag, and double-pinned the gather marks at the bottom edge:
The original instructions for the pattern require you install the center-front binding on the cups, and then treat the sides and straps as one piece, with a double-fold bias technique:
However, I am a big fan of a Hong Kong style finish – that is, sewing the binding strip right sides together, then flipping, pressing, and stitching in the ditch. I also cut my binding strips a little extra long, and just gently stretch before pinning. As shown:
And then, I trim along the backside of the garment. The velvet made it difficult to get a perfect trim, but most spandex/lycra/elastane fabrics respond really well to this treatment. And of course, no one cares about perfect seam finishes on the inside of a bikin itrop – except sewing nrrrrrds like us!
Now – time for the side binding and strap. So here, again, I departed from the pattern. Since my Hong Kong finish doesn’t gracefully translate to a double-fold bias bound strap, I simply bind the outer edge of the cups similarly, and made a separate strap. Shown below: after the first seam, after flipping, and about to stitch in the ditch. You are looking at the wrong side of the bra cup’s peak:
Pinning – and time to stitch in the ditch again. Simply sew slowly!
Jalie has a really cute method for making straps, that bolsters the strap with the strength and recovery of elastic. They don’t employ this method for this particular bikini – but I did. I think these straps make for a comfortable and sturdy top.
So first, sew the elastic to the wrong-side of a 1 1/4″ strip cut on the lengthwise grain. Use a wide zig zag, but don’t stretch while sewing. To the extent you’ve cut the strap on the grain, and sew accurately here – your strap will be gorgeous:
After sewing this first seam, wrap the fabric around the elastic and sew right down the middle of the strap (using a coverstitch, zig zag as shown here, or double needle). Again, try not to stretch, but make sure the grain is still tracking nicely – you can see how well its lined up below, in the 3/8″ raw edge shown to the right of the presser foot:
Once finished, trim your edge down to 1/8″!
Pin one of these straps, right-sides together, to the top of the cup, and sew right at that 3/8″ width:
I like to fold down the strap and grade this little seam:
I then use a firm handstitch to join the bottom 1″ of the cups at center (just a personal preference), and apply the bottom band:
Do not even ask me why I photographed in such low light. But you get the general gist. The elasticized straps make for a very comfortable, but very snug fit!
And now – on to the bottoms!
So – more swimsuit basicsd. You may ask yourself why some panty-style briefs have a crotch lining piece (like the Jalie swimshorts brief we’ll be sewing soon), and why some (like these) do not. Pretty simple, really! No one wants a seam rubbing against their genital area. So if you plan on fully lining these bottoms – like I did – or lining any other panty-style bottom, you can omit a crotch lining piece, as the full lining will cover the bottom seam.
Briefs are super-simple in general, and these – with a 3/8″ elastic at leg and waist – are no exception!
First, I stitch the crotch seams of both the shell and the lining. I like to add a second row of stitches at this seam:
Now it’s time to place the raw edge of the waists (shell and lining) right-sides-together, matching up at that center front and center back mark I always make, and matching up the side seams. We’re going to sew our top waist seam at 1/4″ first:
Next, I turn the briefs right-side-out and carefully stitch 1/2″ from the waistline seam, leaving 1″ to thread in the elastic. You can either use the elastic specified in the Jalie chart (which is always very handy), or you can put the briefs on your client and measure. I thread the elastic through this hole, join the elastic ends (as per the butting method I demonstrated previously), and stitch up that 1″ closure. This makes for a gorgeous waist finish!
Now, it’s time for the leg elastics!
In general, this is a good time to mark elastics and briefs at 1/4 all around the circumference of the joined bands and leg openings. As you may be able to intuit, there are a few different theories as to how much stretch the elastic needs to employ at what areas of the garment – my friend Brian Remlinger discusses this on PatternReview at some length – but if you don’t want to fuss with that kind of thing simply use the “divide into quarters” method. It works just fine.
Many people baste the lining and shell together at the leg opening. I simply pin all layers at those 1/4 markings, and go for it!
Below: the first pass. Make sure to gently apply even pressure while sewing. Do not lift the presser foot unless the needle is buried on the left-swing (as shown below). Go slow. Elastic sewing is fun because although it takes lots of experience to get perfect, the results almost always look great, even for beginners!
And that’s it!
Can you believe it? You’ve made up a swimsuit! Go you!
In a couple days we’ll make up the Jalie swimshorts, which are super-fun and a rather addictive sportswear garment. See you soon!