January 16, 2015

A Boo Swimwear Summer

Ahhhh Summer. It's a beautiful thing. My favourite season of the year hands down. It's full of sunshine and laughter, freckled noses and ice cream eating, long daylight hours and backyard cricket when dad comes home from work, BBQs and friends, summer showers and brilliant thunderstorms, shorts and sundresses, havianas and bare feet. There are so many wonderful things about summer, and woven through all of them is swimming! In Australia, swimming is part of our culture. Pools are full of kids learning how to swim freestyle and backstroke, and it's amazing how many "old friends" that you didn't hear from all winter start calling when the weather warms up and you have a pool in your backyard…

My kids are huge swimmers and I love it. They would live in the water if they could. I seem to always be buying swimmers and goggles. I've often looked at swimwear and wondered how it is made. I have even cut an old pair or two up and attempted it myself, but the binding has always had me a little stumped. So when Kristie from Boo Designs asked if I wanted to pattern test her swimmers I jumped at the chance. Kristie is clever and I knew if she was planning on releasing a pattern, she had figured out a way to make the binding doable for all the home sewers out there who don't have an industrial set up.

This pattern was released last year, in time for the Australian Summer. It is real value for money and offers the following options
*Togs (a QLD name for a one piece bathing suit)
*Tankini top
*Bikini top
*Raglan sleeve rashie
*Classic sleeve rashie
*Swimming briefs
*Contrast swimming briefs
*Shortie swimming briefs
How good is that? That's 8 pieces in just one pattern. Anyway, I really enjoyed learning how to make swimmers from this pattern and I'm pretty sure I won't be buying any commercially made ones for Zoe for a long long time.

The pattern is sized from 2-10, which covers a great range of sizes. Zoe was a size 2 when I tested and made my first couple of pairs. She is now at the big end of 2/small end of 3, so I've been making size 3's for her of late.

The easiest option I think for beginners is the Raglan Sleeve Rashie with the contrasting briefs. For people who have never sewn with spandex before, you can do it on just your normal machine, and the pattern is full of wonderful hints and suggestions for sewing with spandex. As you sew a little with spandex and get your confidence up, you can try more and more pieces.

I am not an overly frilly or ruffly girl. I do not like sewing ruffles upon ruffles and actually prefer swimmers to be fairly sensible and practical. I love the cut of the togs - the bottoms are low and comfortable, perfect for all those who have issues with swimmers riding up and the dreaded wedgie and my favourite thing hands down is the back. I love the straps at the back. So funky!

I was determined to master the binding, which I think is really the most challenging thing about the pattern. I have seen so many alternatives out there - patterns that avoid binding all together, patters that use fold over elastic instead, and other methods. I personally think that to get that nice comfortable but firm fit across the chest you have to be brave and try binding with elastic hidden inside. And learning it from Kristie's pattern makes it possible.

My first attempt at binding was OK (pictured above), and I was pretty pleased with myself. Then I took Zoe to swimming lessons and she was sitting on the side of the pool and another little girl walked up in her perfectly sewn funkita swimmers and I grimaced at how bad my binding really looked. I was determined to make more and get better at it.

It took about 3-4 pairs before I started to work out exactly what my machine/s needed setting wise etc to get a good finish with the binding, and also for me to get a good feel of how to feed the binding through the machines to get a good finish. I tried heaps of different things, as I generally do with testing, although when testing for BOO I always end up coming to the conclusion that the way Kristie has directed it to be sewn is the best way!! I had ordered a coverstitch machine and it arrived the day before the pattern, so I thought I would just use a biding foot and whip the binding on no problems....what a dreamer I am sometimes. I eventually got the binding foot all sorted, but I have to admit I am fine using it without elastic, but with the addition of the elastic, I just find it easier without the binding foot. I am sure with practice I will get there, when it works, it is great, but I can't get it to work consistently and it's frustrating to unpick. So I've just been doing as directed by the pattern and doing the final sew of the binding with the coverstitch machine instead. You can totally do this on your normal machine though, with a twin needle, or with one of the stretch stitches on your machine. I wanted to mention all this about the binding not to turn you off, but to encourage you if you have tried it once or twice and not been happy. It does take a bit or practice to get right, but when you get there, think about the awesome swimmers you can make!!

So now Zoe has loads of swimmers. Or course though, we need them all, and more because I really enjoy sewing them now. The tankini (pictured below) is easy and gives you a different alternative to the togs.

I really like the cut of the bottoms in this pattern. It does not ride up at all, even with very active children.

It was a bit of a Boo Christmas for the nieces and nephews too.

Most of my spandex has come from the Boo store. It is really nice quality spandex, it's quite light and dries quickly but doesn't fade and has great recovery. I actually sewed up a pair to test this and have really been mean to this pair of swimmers. They've been worn repeatedly in the pool and to swimming lessons (where they are exposed to very high chlorine), I've left them to dry in the sun, quite deliberately on some very very hot days and I'm really surprised to say that the spandex has not faded or stretched at all, unlike the pricey speedos. So although it seems a little expensive, I truly think it is worth the money, plus I can squeeze 2 pairs easily out of a 1/2 metre.

The pattern is easy to modify to add ruffles or skirts and I have loved learning how to sew swimwear. And if your daughter is entering into that tween age, don't be discouraged because the tween pattern will be launched very very soon. I've been testing or that one and it is a great option for teens, so keep your eye out on the Boo website and don't forget to join the Boo Designs Pattern Club to get the exclusive discount code for the tween pattern when it is released.
There is a free boys briefs pattern on the Boo website, and the rashes are totally suited to boys too.
So get sewing and bring some Boo to a beach (or pool) near you this summer!

Enjoy the sunshine,


1 comment :

  1. oh the cuteness!!!!!!!! you have made so many pairs, love that this pattern caters for the boys too, will definitely be purchasing it for next Summer!