Friday, May 24, 2013
SwimAlong 2013: Swimwear construction resources and choosing a good pattern
Kwik Sew's Swim & Action Wear and Sewing Activewear, from the Singer Sewing Reference Library. Although naturally there is some overlap between the two, I feel like they both offer solid information in an easy to understand format. The Singer book, while a little lighter on written explanation, has great full color photographs, and a fitting section that is very logical and easy to follow. The Kwik Sew book is very complete and step-by-step. It includes the patterns for several different suits and also detailed instructions for a large number of variations.
There are also a large number of online tutorials and tips. I'm going to link a few that may be helpful, but a Google search will bring up help for whatever may have you bamboozled. Of course, here at the SwimAlong, we'll be adding several tutorials and tips to help make your experience great. Stick around for that!
Creative Chicks has pulled together a collection of great Swimwear tutorials
Brown Paper Patterns gives us a collection of Swimwear resources that she found helpful, and also published a great detailed post about construction of 3416, including some awesome tips for a professional elastic strap
Heatherty Featherty extensively detailed her construction of her tankini, including her fitting process. Tons of photos and helpful tips!
Prefer video? Jalie Patterns has a YouTube channel that includes quite a few great swimwear videos, including sewing elastic
BrianSews also has an elastic application video that is excellent.
Stretch & Sew - I put this one on the top of the list because I personally think they are the best. The suits are drafted well and the instructions are clear and complete. Unfortunately, the patterns are no longer produced, but still available on Ebay and Etsy.
Jalie Patterns - These patterns are sort of the modern equivalent to Stretch & Sew. Fantastic drafting, clear instructions and the size ranges are amazing. You can also download the instructions from the website, so you know what you're getting before you purchase.
Smaller, independant pattern companies - I hate to lump these together, but there quite a few, so I will only say that in general I find the quality to be excellent and support from the designer or producer to be top notch. That said, there are going to be variations between companies, so if you are thinking of sewing up an indie design, be sure to do your homework first, and see how it has been reviewed by other sewists.
Kwik Sew - I put this here with some reservations. I find older Kwik Sew swim patterns to be excellent quality, but since being absorbed by the Big 4, Kwik Sew quality has been hit or miss.
Vintage Swimwear patterns - These can be really interesting with great styling, but depending on the era, you may be in for a lot of alterations to make these suits work with modern fabrics, techniques and machines.
One last word about the Big 4 (that's Vogue, Butterick, McCalls and Simplicity). While I sew often from Big 4 patterns, I would definitely NOT recommend a swimwear pattern produced by them, particularly for one's first attempt at sewing swimwear. Their drafting in general tends to be oversized, which is not something you want in a garment that should have negative ease, and the instructions are ridiculous for swimwear. Recently a few new patterns have been released and I bought one in the hopes that there had been some changes, but alas. It looks dreadful.
So what about you? Have you found some great resources? We'd love to hear about them? What's your favorite swimwear pattern? Please share!