Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pretty in Pink (Paisley)

I  posted some comments on far away blogs this morning and  and the date/time stamp was already 2016.  Yikes! I had to pull myself away from blog reading and make myself finish my last post of 2015.

My Christmas holiday did not include any gift buying or exchanges or holiday decorating. It was "no stress" bliss! Instead we spent time with family and friends in a beautiful, warm location. We had such a good time in Puerto Rico last year, we went back this year. We found a different house via   VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) in a gated community in  Humacao, on the east coast.

The house had a pool with waterfall, and  met the sleeping requirements for our group of 11, but it had a few idiosyncrasies. We have used VRBO for many of our vacation rentals in the USA and abroad.  All were good experiences.  But it is always interesting to discover what the pictures  do not show. For this rental, one bedroom could only be reached through another bedroom and a bathroom.  Awkward is so many ways. The stairs to the second floor was only slightly better than a ladder.

Stairs from 2nd floor
 The living area was multi level with bright white tiles that it made it very difficult to see the steps.  After a few stumble and tripping episodes, with no alcohol involved, we dug out a roll of  lime green duct tape, and put pieces on the edges of the steps,  barely visible in the lower RH corner of photo above, so they looked similar to this.

 Both Sis and I had neglected to read the description details and confirm there was a dishwasher.  Hence we also discovered that our young adult children are spoiled, poor dishwashers and champion procrastinators. One day I was horrified to  hear my mother's words come out of my mouth.  "Those dishes are not going to wash themselves!"

This house was near a scenic beach and a nature preserve with bike/walking trails and lagoon kayaking. We walked  the Iguana Trail hoping to see some of the big lizards. "Chicken of the trees" as our PR host called them. They are edible.  We didn't see a one.  However as we were walking across the common area of the neighborhood we came upon a couple.

Ereptile Dysfunction

We did touristy things like visiting the Bacardi Rum distillery, sailing and snorkeling on the offshore islands, and exploring beaches along the coast. And I ate my annual quota of mofongo (mashed fried plantains).

I decided to make a new bathing suit for the trip.  If you search the internet for bathing suit styles for women over 40, you are advised to wear a one piece in a solid ‘jewel tone” with strategic peats or ruching to detract from the inevitable bumps and lumps of the mature figure.  Well, I went with part of that advice. My suit is a one piece, but there is not a lot ruching or pleats and it is certainly not a solid jewel tone color.  The swimsuit fabric that called to me from my stash was a pink paisley (fabricmartfabrics).  I have wanted to sew this swimsuit from the June 1997 Burda World of Fashion magazine for a long time.

Burda 6 1997  Swimsuit 128
What I liked about the Burda pattern was the interesting front seaming which formed a keyhole opening in the center front.  However after I traced the pattern and read the directions, the “wadder” sensor started tingling.  Fit issues -   minimal coverage in the crotch area front and back and no center back seam to assist in shaping fabric to the lower back and derriere.
 Construction issues:  Though the instructions were the illustrated sewing course for this issue, the methods and instructions were not complete or up to date. The lower back ended in a sharp "V" which was to be faced.  Definitely a potential weak spot. The only elastic used was 1/4 “elastic on the leg openings. None on the front/back neck opening or armholes.  And no elastic cut length measurement were given for the leg opening, just one written  line about using .8 cm  of elastic for every 10 cm of fabric.   

IMHO, successful  one piece swimsuits have 3/8" elastic around every open edge, armholes, leg openings and neck/ shoulder area.   If the pattern instructions do not include elastic cut lengths, I use the guidelines from Singer  Sewing Activewear book.

Elastic Cut Guidelines for Swimsuits
My suit ended up being a combo of two patterns.  The front is from Burda June 1997, swimsuit 128. But the  back is from  OOP Kwik Sew 3064, which has the center back seam U shaped lower back and the butt coverage I prefer. 

One measurement I always check on one piece swimsuit patterns is the torso measurement.

To measure my torso measurement,  I run a tape measure down the back from where the shoulder meets the neck, through the legs and back up the front. (In other words, make a loop).

Measure torso

To determine length adjustments needed for pattern.

Method 1 - If pattern include a torso measurement.

 I have only seen this measurement published in  Stretch and Sew (where it is called overall body measurement) and Jalie patterns. Jalie has a very good Tutorial-sizing

Method 2 - If pattern does not include a torso measurement. 

Divide my torso measurement in half.

Measure either the front or back pattern piece from shoulder to crotch taking into account the seam allowances.

measuring the torso length of the swimsuit pattern

Compare the difference between body measurement and pattern measurement. If body measurement is larger that pattern, the difference is the amount that will needed to be added to both the front and back pattern pieces.  If body measurement is less than pattern measurement,. the difference is the amount that will need to be removed from both the front and back pattern pieces. 

Example: My torso measurement is 62" ( back and front combined).  I divide by 1/2 because I only plan on measuring the front pattern piece. Half of 62" is 31" The Burda pattern front was 30". On the pattern pieces there are length adjustment lines, above and below the waist, where you can remove length (by folding the lower line to the upper), or adding length by slashing the pattern and adding more paper.

I added 1/2" at the upper and lower adjustment lines on both the back and front pattern pieces.  Note that is 2" total when considering the  torso measurement which includes back and front combined.

I also added extra S/A at the shoulder seams in case I needed extra length in the upper back (an alteration I always make for tops and jackets). And I always do a try on of the suit before sewing the shoulder seams and adding the elastic as recommended below.
 The suit is fully lined. The elastic was applied using a zig zag stitch, and top stitching was done with an overlocker.   I am really pleased with how well it fits.
Burda Swimsuit Front

Kwik Sew 3064 back
The champagne is chilling  in preparation for the countdown to the new year.  This year we have a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup to add to our champagne. The champagne bubbles cause the flower blossom to unfurl and it is so pretty. And you can eat the flower too.
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!


  1. Gorgeous bathers - love the front detail. Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year! You look wonderful in your new suit. I am familiar with that area of PR and it is lovely. Those are some scary stairs!

  3. Great looking swimsuit on the dress form and especially on you! Sounds like a great time in spite of some unexpected surprises with the house.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  4. Bathing suit looks fantastic! Lots of great info too. Have a Happy New Year and enjoy your champagne.

  5. Wow, great suit! I'm always so impressed with people that make their own swimwear. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  6. What a great looking vacation. I had to take a hard gulp when I realized that in 2016 I'm going to be a 40 year old woman (who just bought two very brightly printed bikinis for a trip to Bali). I love your suit. The colors are awesome. I also think that Activewear book is a treasure. I reach for it all the time. Happy New Year!

  7. What a wonderful post. Some dimly remembered linky trail led me to your blog recently, and this is the first new entry since I subscribed. Even if I forget how I got here, this post certainly reminds me why I wanted to follow you!

  8. I concur with my fellow sewists - this is an awesome post on how to correctly make a swimsuit! And what a beautiful swimsuit it is! So glad that you had an awesome Christmas Holidays with your family and I hope that you have an amazing 2016 too!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Happy New Year! Great bathing suit. Very pretty in pink paisley :) Some things never date and the 1997 suit is still very current for 2016.

  10. Love your new bathing suit. Very nicely done!
    Happy New Year!

  11. Consensus: the suit is terrific. I have taken a copy of those very useful elastic guide... thanks. I have just got some Jalie swimsuit patterns for lap swimming and aqua aerobics as all my other suits have died so all this info is very useful and topical in my sewing. Happy New Year too.

  12. Fantastic swimwear post and beautiful suit, perfect for the tropics. Enjoy the wonderful sunshine!!

  13. Great swimsuit and 1st class information. Happy New Year to you

  14. Awesome suit - you look so pretty! Thanks for all the good info on fitting a swimsuit!

  15. The name of the measurement for a whole torso is "girth." Costume designers include this in the list of standard measurements of each performer -- it is a must=know measurement for constructing dancer's leotards, for example. You hold the starting end of a measuring tape on one shoulder point, pass the tape over the belly and through the legs and up the back to the opposite shoulder. If your performer has a rotund front, it's helpful to have the shoulder-to-crotch center measurement around the belly separate from the crotch center-to-shoulder measurement up the back.

    I, my ownself, have to add 4" to most maillot and leotard patterns, to assure that I will not be miserable in the wearing: have both a long waist and a deep rise (measurement taken seated, from natural waist to where your buttocks hit the chair seat). Just some things to think about, as you fine-tune your swimsuit to your personal standards of comfort and style.

  16. This is a great tutorial for adjusting a swimsuit pattern! And your suit turned out so cute! Love that cute keyhole...I can see why you have saved this idea!