Today was rainy but I made significant progress on the current project of sewing a swimsuit.
Yes, I am still moving in (since the first week of February) but decided to use my work room for some sewing projects. The light is great with four windows facing three different directions made of double pane glass. All of them work! I brought some house plants from my dad’s place last week so it is really cheery.
Found a printable (PDF) pattern for a vintage type “thigh length” size 10/12 tank suit on RalphPink.com. I used AppleWorks 6 (rather than Photoshop) to print the pages to tile on my beater LaserWriter 12/640 PS. I recently retrieved it from storage where it had been since July 2011. Ditched the duplexer unit a while back, but after undoing some stuff I did while playing around with AppleTalk on my iBook it worked. After a few pages the print quality was quite good too.
I had the fabric from an eBay purchase before I moved from Milwaukee. That was when I first started thinking of making swimwear. I picked up polyester thread, size 80/11 ball point needles, and swimsuit elastic on a recent shopping trip.
The main challenge was elastic. There is a lot of it — around armholes, neckline, legs, and along the bottom of the shelf bra I decided to add. Did quite a bit of ripping before I got it to look passable on the top. When I moved on to the leg openings, found that I only had enough elastic left to do one.
The other challenge was learning to sew the super stretchy and slippery fabric. I am still using a 1960s vintage Sears Kenmore portable sewing machine that I bought at a yard sale in Milwaukee and repaired with mail order parts. Did a combination of straight stitch with fabric stretched, zigzag which stretches well, and three stitch zigzag which is also stretchy but probably overkill.
I am currently using a unitard (intended for triathalon training) in the pool at the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning for the Arthritis exercise class. I prefer a simple, modest tank suit in a long torso size. The unitard is like a tank suit on the top and cycling shorts (comfy!) on the bottom. Thinking making one of those might be a good next project.
Once I get the elastic I will wear the suit in the pool to see how the fabric and my stitching techniques hold up to exercise and pool chemicals.
I go through swimsuits faster than any other article of clothing and I have been doing pool exercise off and on since 2001. Part of the culture shock of moving from downtown Milwaukee was that there was no longer a Speedo store a couple blocks away nor a Lands End outlet store accessible by MCTS bus — the two places I was buying the long torso suits.
Shopping locally is depressing — all those fashion suits with D-cup bras and [instrument of torture] underwires! Buxom is not the word to describe my physical attributes.
My mail order success rate so far is one out of three. The unitard/aquatard is a winner so far but will need to see how it stands up to pool chemicals. A two piece suit avoided the long torso problem but the bottom was cut way below the belly button — looks hideous on long-waisted women (confirmed that on Oprah’s site!). I am planning to wear that with trunks over the bikini bottom. Worst of all was a pretty suit with a tank top and skirt bottom that was sold as Medium (10/12) but was actually an extra large petite! Figured it would not stay on in the pool but I found someone who would take it.
I actually got overheated while running errands in the car on Monday. Atticus didn’t want to walk on the Armstrong Trail after my exercise class either. So I am switching back to the earlier class I was in last fall. There are not too many hot days now but probably will be by June. Yet another sign of spring.