Ipswich Swimsuit Part 4: Leg Openings and Straps

I’m back again with an Ipswich Swimsuit! If you haven’t already, be sure to watch the Facebook Live video (4:00 pm Mountain Time 5/13/2020) to get a better sense of how these Ipswich’s leg openings and straps came together for me. 

Wear Your Thinking Cap along with Your Swim Cap

I feel as though my main contribution to this project is to make mistakes so you don’t have to! Before I started this project, I wish I had read and re-read the notions list on page three of the instruction booklet, and that I had watched Jenny Rushmore explain all the notions in her Swimsuit Making for Curves video. Since, (spoiler alert) I purchased my notions before watching Jenny’s video, and didn’t read the list carefully, I forgot to order underwire channeling, and I am still waiting for it to arrive.  

On the bright side, if my making mistakes means that you get to avoid them, then I am happy to fall on the sword!

Be Patient With Yourself

I can’t fully sew the side seams or finish the swim bra until the underwire channeling arrives, so in order to apply the leg-opening elastics, I sewed each side seam just a few inches. I completed one leg, and I’ll do the other one live on camera! The first leg went fine, but the stitches are not beautiful. Sewing with spandex and applying elastic are techniques I don’t have a lot of experience with. Mastery will take a lot of experimentation with different needles, different feet, and a serger, which I didn’t use at all in this project… ~ deep, calming breath ~

I’m being patient with myself.

Strap In

Preparing the straps to attach them to the suit is simple, but it does require attention to detail. While the straps begin life as identical long rectangles, they need to become mirror images of each other because one will be sewn to the right side of the suit, and one will be sewn to the left side of the suit. 

Vocabulary note: The bra “strapping” is firm elastic that is folded inside the swimsuit “straps,” which are made of swimsuit fabric. The three-inch width of the swimsuit straps can accommodate up to ⅝”-wide bra strapping, but I purchased ½”-wide bra strapping, so I trimmed ¼” off one long edge of each strap (don’t ask me why I trimmed ¼” rather than ⅛”, it just worked). As I’ll demonstrate in the live video, the straps are sewn in the same manner as bias tape: Folding both long edges toward the center, and then folding the whole thing in half. The Ipswich Swimsuit has the extra step of trimming one of the folds so it doesn’t add bulk.

Not the Sharpest Needle in the Pack

Luckily, I re-tested my stitches before I started applying the elastic to one of the leg openings. They were skipping again! I changed needles, and the stitches started behaving. I know I’m using a smaller size needle than recommended (75/11 Stretch rather than 90/14 Stretch), but the swim knit definitely dulls the needle more quickly than another fabric would. I’m certain I’ll go through all five needles in the pack before this project is over. 

Challenges Accepted!

You might think the challenges I have faced while sewing this swimsuit would turn me off, but they have only piqued my interest! I hope to master these techniques and make more swimsuits in the future, so tune in next Wednesday to watch how the Ipswich turns out, and be on the lookout for future aquatic projects!

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