Monday, August 18, 2014

Peter Max-esque Soma Tankini

Watch out, swimsuits are addictive... you can't make just one! Before I had finished my first one (the Stripey Soma), I was planning my next one. Part of that addiction is the Soma pattern itself-- I just love all of the variations, I want to make them all.

An added benefit is that the economizing side of my personality is feeling quite smug. Okay, lets do a bit of a tally. My last tankini was purchased many, many years ago from Title Nine Sports, and the going rate there is... $80 for a tankini top, and $50 for a bottom. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That's $130 for the ensemble. Yikes. Of course, I probably would have done some economy shopping and found some sales or something, and I certainly wouldn't have bought two new suits for that price.

For comparison, here are my estimated expenditures:

Soma Swimsuit Pattern from Papercut Patterns: $17
Swimsuit supplies ( $50 (swimwear elastic, bra strapping, foldover elastic, bra foam, black coated metal rings, lining in two colors, and $10 shipping). Lots leftover, BTW... enough to make a couple more suits!
1 yd Striped spandex: $13+$2 shipping
1 yd Black milliskin spandex: $9=$2 shipping
1 yd Peter Max swimwear from $26

Total cost: $119 (for two tankini style suits with bottoms)

Okay, so that's not cheap, but considering the going price of quality swimwear, not bad, right? Of course, the best thing is that these suits are totally custom-- they have the fit, coverage, and features that I want in a suit, and that's worth quite a lot!

About this fabric... I've actually had this swimsuit fabric in my stash for awhile. I bought it on total whim when it came up in the New Fabric listings at It was such a cool print, and how often do you see such a great print in a swimsuit fabric! It was listed as a "Peter Max" designer print, and I'm not sure if what was meant by that was that it was actually designed by Peter Max, or it just looks sort of Peter Max-esque. I'm going with the latter, since I have no evidence that it is the former. It isn't quite as psychedelic as most Peter Max prints... the colors are (to my delight!) rather harmonious.

In looking around for great prints in swimwear fabrics, it seems to be slim pickings. I was a bit tempted by Girl Charlee, but I'm sort of glad I stuck with my stash and spandex world after Cashmerette's experience with a lack of colorfastness. I almost purchased that very same fabric! How disappointing to put all of that work into a garment and have the quality of the fabric be an issue. I'm at least glad that they refunded her purchase.

But anyhow, I went with the stash for this one and I think it is a pretty darn awesome print. In fact, I'm going to put this forth as my first contribution to Tribute Month at Sewcialists. Don't you think Oonaballoona would looooove this print? I know, there was a whole Oonaballoona month last month, but I missed out and my admiration of her style is can't be contained in a single month!

Anyhow, back to the swimsuit. It is another Soma, I was just dying to try the cross-front version. I considered the one-piece, but I was a little uncertain that the one piece would have enough chest support for my girls. I actually thought the bikini version looked more supportive, since it had a band right under the breasts, rather than all the way down at the waist. So I ended up making the cross-front bikini top variation, and adding a tube of fabric to make it into a tankini. Because, as I've alluded to in the past, my abs are otherwise occupied expanding and contracting to accommodate little human beings, and not all stages of that process are beach-worthy!

The pattern came together pretty well. I followed the instructions for the most part, and made no fit adjustments until the very end. I actually found this version easier to sew than the last one since it didn't call for any zigzag topstitching, which I had such a problem with on the previous suit. Zigzagging the foldover elastic was no problem.

The one thing that I ended up having to fix is that the fabric at the top of the bra cups, in the little triangle created by the foldover elastic straps, wanted to bunch up a bit. So I ended up needing to decrease the width of the top of the bra cup by about 1/2 an inch. I took the 1/2 inch off of the inside of the bra and graded it in toward the cleavage. This was actually a total mistake, I meant to do it on the outside near the armpit, but it was late and I was momentarily confused. As it is, my version is just a tiny bit more low cut, which is not really a problem.

The arrow is pointing to the top of the bra cup, where I had to take off 1/2 inch to prevent gaping. I'm a bit embarrassed about that topstiching though, how sloppy!

I also added bra cups. I had some removable shaped foam cups around from my former Lululemon tank obsession, and these were perfect. I just sewed the cups into the lining with a wide zigzag. I made a guess as to placement, and actually I think I probably could have placed them a bit more towards the center. I may have to fix this at some point to prevent wardrobe malfunctions, but I'm not yet convinced that it is a real problem.

I had to make some decisions on how to finish the back of the suit with my tankini modification. I decided that the back clasp wasn't going to be useful, so I went with the crossed bra straps that are used in the one-piece version. I also sewed a bit of swimsuit elastic into the top of the tankini piece that would be exposed in the back to prevent gaping. And of course I crossed the straps in the back-- as has been previously noted, I have some of the world's most slopey shoulders.

For this tankini, I decided to incorporate a bit of ruching on the sides. I simply cut a 5 inch piece of swimwear elastic, and then stretched it and sewed it down to about 7 inches of the seam allowance at the bottom of the tankini. I then topstitched the seam allowance down with my twin needle so that the elastic was encased and not against my skin. I also hemmed the tankini with a twin needle.

One thing that frustrated me a bit was that I was completely unable to find foldover elastic in a 6/8ths width, which is what the pattern called for. I could only find 5/8ths width. Why does this matter, you ask? It's a small thing, but 6/8ths folded over would make a 3/8ths inch strap, which would have been the same width as the 3/8ths inch bra strapping. I know, it is a small detail, but it sort of irks me. I considered all sorts of ways to make the straps match. I briefly considered not folding the elastic in half equally... but that was super-duper fussy. I also thought about using the foldover elastic instead of bra strapping, but I liked the beefiness and softness of the bra strapping. So in the end I just went with it, and the 2.5/8ths folded elastic meets up with the 3/8ths bra strapping at the rings. If you are not staring at it, it is just fine really. But someone please tell me, can you get 6/8ths foldover elastic somewhere, or is it only available in New Zealand or something?

The bottoms went together without a hitch. As in the previous version in black, I did all topstitching with my twin needle.

The blue in this pick got a bit crazy! In reality it is more like the previous pics.

In anycase, I love my new suit! I think the pattern provides great camouflage real or perceived figure flaws, and the styling is quite clever.

1 comment:

  1. Looks so good! A note about the FOE - when I use foldover elastic, I usually find that folding it naturally, one side is a teensy bit wider than the other - so on the front, the width would be a bit more than 5/16 - maybe close to 6/16(or 3/8)?