McCall’s5400 & swimwear musings

Spoiler Alert: This post contains bad stitching and free fabric.

Once upon a time I talked about my disinterest for swimwear making, after all, my large collection of Brazilian swimsuits needed to make their appearances once or twice a year. 

That, until last year, when I made the bombshell. I felt SO accomplished. I felt part of the cool club. Oh yeah.. take THAT unknown territory… This positive experienced really changed my mind about the subject. Making swimwear is FUN! Fierce and not that scary. I wanted more…just needed to wait for better weather.
Even having my beach holiday trip schedule months ago (even before my trip to Paris was booked) time flew by and I didn’t achieved even half of my summer sewing plans. To make the situation more challenging I only had 2 days between trips. It would be my last opportunity to sew a swimsuit for the year. 
Not often I have forced myself to sew in a rush. I like to take my time… I enjoy the creative process of adding/removing/changing/ when I’m sewing. Feeling like I haven’t sat in front of the machine for ages I accepted my self imposed swimwear challenge.

Successful sewing projects steps fall in two categories for me: great choice of fabric and great fit. Have those under control and very likely the result will be good.
As swimsuit fabric is super important to get it right I wanted to use something tried and tested. Honestly, before FunkiFabrics* got in touch, I already had fabric samples ( many were posted on my IG/Twitter) since the beginning of April. I told you, I have caught the swimwear bug.

My fabric choice was a little bit unplanned. From the minute I said yes please (I received the fabric free) this was chosen. Didn’t take me more than 3 minutes. I didn’t think about my previous plans… ohh silly girl. In my defence my mind is somewhere else.
I didn’t took consideration of print size and placement. When I arrived from Paris the package was waiting for me. A quick glance and I thought…Oh OH.

I don’t need to write details how odd the lamp/lip shape would look on my lower privates.  Should I save for a workout gear instead? A doubt that quickly got dissipated. The fabric print is gorgeous. The colours are striking. This will look lovely on a tanned skin. Digging my stash and found a complimentary solid swimwear fabric to sew the bottom.
Once fabrics were on hand, next on the list was picking the right pattern. With my pattern list in hand I narrowed my swimsuit patterns: Bombshell (done that), BurdaStyle Jessica (too sexy for a trip that involve the inlaws) and Alison , Papercut Soma and Mccall’s 5400. 
I needed something that would: 
  • Allow me to sunbath. A girl can dream of golden limbs.
  • Be a super quick project.
  • Be demure but not boring. 

What tipped the balance for the McCall’s was the fun mix of variations. I chosen view C/D without the band for the top. Using fold over elastic (FOE) and lengthening the front to create neckties. The bottom is view F as is. To marry the swimsuit pieces together I made  matching details with scraps.

I love how the top turned out. I had enough security and didn’t need to add extra support. I worn it so much on holiday.  Beach walks, sunbathing, swimming… It also matched with RTW bikinis I had. It was fun mixing up.

The bottom fitted well but I hated it. Let me share with you a not so secret little secret.  Most Brazilians hate dislike their swimsuits to be large on the backside, covering the whole bottom.  Even older Brazilian ladies would not be seen on those big pants.

It felt so alien to wear really… funny how cultural influences get ingrained on personal taste.  I didn’t expect the pattern to come up that big until I tried on.

By than I was too tired, we where due to wake at 4 am for our flight (I finished midnight). Next time I plan to use one of my swimsuits bottoms to modify the pattern, creating a mid term between super sexy and full coverage.

Lucky my scrap details worked as an adjustable sliders and I kept making the bottom smaller. 

The solid fabric I used for the bottom wasn’t as good quality as the print fabric making me feel worried when I dipped in the sea. Lucky nothing went wrong but I wasn’t impressed by the bottom bikini and really want make a new one with my improvements.

I really wished I had taken my time and not sewn so tired as not all the stitching are as neat as I can make but I decided to cut myself some slack. Recently there are a lot of bloggers posting recent mess up and it’s nice to hear things like that. No one perfect… It’s all ok.

I’m glad I sewn swimwear again and had a bloody good time wearing my new bikini!

Overall I’m very impressed with the Mccall’s pattern instructions and sizing (straight size 12). I will be totally using this pattern again.
This make is a real mix of lessons learned. Let’s roll for next year swimwear trials.
Last year HRH was cross that I posted swimwear photos of myself. We forget how much exposure we face so I promised that if he took my pictures we could choose the ones to go online together. I think he done a great job taking them. He loves and support me, and is happy that I get so much satisfaction from my hobby but he is not a big fan of “blogging’. So he taking my photos was a huge progress. Ps: But I won’t be retiring my tripod any time soon xx
  • Those bikinis are fab. Your talk of bikini bottoms made me chuckle. My first awareness of Brazillian cut bathers was probably about 1994. I was at my first international swimming comp. The Brazillians were there in normal racing togs – from the front – but the backsides were so skimpy. This was a few years before head to toe (but now illegal) swimming suits became the rage. So they were actually the Brazillian uniform – we’d never seen anything like it. The swimmers used to swap bathers as souveniers with other countries. I remember the Brazil bathers being the most popular. I missed out, but I think I scored a pair of USA togs and an Irish jacket ;-). Of all the countries, I also remember Brazil the most. I think they were next to us (Australia) for marching out for the closing ceremony. Our soccer team had just beaten England 2-1 so as England marched out past us while we were waiting our turn, our cheeky Aussies started singing 2-1, 2-1 blah blah, and the Brazillians all climbed on their chairs and started drumming and dancing – they were louder than us. LOVE!

  • I really like the bottoms! Now I wonder if they would look as good on me or dig into the fat…XD

    I think you did an awesome job! I still haven’t sewn any swimwear…to scary.

    • When we make things that fit they look good independent of size so i wouldn’t worry. You should try because its so much fun.

  • Amei o biquini, Rachel! Acho que sou a única brasileira que curte cobrir o bumbum. Ficou lindo e elegante. Fiquei com vontade de aprender porque aqui é impossível achar algo assim. Compro o GG e não esconde NADA!

    Beijão e bom fim de semana!

  • Ha ha ha!!! You are right about the Brazilians. I’m 50 y.o. and I still wear the famous “fio dental.” If I wear a large bottom covering everything, I feel like I’m on my 80’s ☺

  • You look amazing Rachell! I love the mix of solid and print.

  • Gorgeous swimsuit! And you look stunning! I totally feel you on the whole swimsuit bottom thing! I actually prefer a Brazilian cut swimsuit myself – when I can find it, which is rare. What’s the deal with all these full coverage bottoms?? Let those cheeks get some sun!! If you happen to make a successful copy of one of your brazilian swim bottoms I’d love some info (or a pattern!!) for it!

    • as soon as a copy my favourites I will send you a copy version too

  • Love the swimsuit! The right amount of exposure, although I agree with you on the bottoms being rather on the big side. Being a Greek and spent a good amount of time in the beach yearly I prefer my swimsuits on the smaller side. We put all this effort on tanning right? And by the way you look amazing!

  • Fantastic bikini ~ and those photos are all just stunning ~ looks like you are having a great time in life … J (and not many bikini bottoms that size on the Aussie beaches either, most are much more revealing)

    • thanks hun, I would love to be in an Aussie beach.. maybe one day

  • Nice combination of print and solid colour Rachel. You look fab.

    • thanks darling. I’m loving the infusion of stretch fabric into the blogging world

  • Wow, you did really well! I made some swimwear once, so far so good. They’ve not fallen off yet haha.

    • thats the way i feel when i wet my swimsuits.. its still ok, great!

  • Fab! Beautiful photos! I haven’t made swimwear yet but I’ve a feeling I will be next summer as I can never find anything RTW that is exactly what I want.

    • maybe its the time to have a go. Even when is not perfect, no one can really tell. much more forgiving than woven

  • Fantastic job on the bikini! I can’t imagine sewing something like that… yet. And I think it’s great that bloggers talk about their mistakes. I think it helps all of us learn from them… when I post about my errors, I’m also hoping for some feedback.

    • yes, so important to share either when we made a mistake or when we didn’t do our best because we all human and we get tired, and sometimes our standard change to what we can achieve at the moment.

  • Love the combination of a print and solid colour!! Looks great and the pictures are fantastic!!

  • puu

    oh, yay, i am glad you convinced HRH to play with you on this one. i am sure he was glad you went for the fuller bottom, too 🙂

    • he was super glad… the funny thing is that last time i let him loose on the camera while we were in Brasil for the world cup he did a close up on my bum while i was wearing Brazilian bikini. When i saw that I say: you would want that on the blog, would u?

  • I think the suit looks sensational. Great pictures too!

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