The Swim Suit Challenge

Mending Swimwear Isn’t A Cake Walk

Swimsuit mending complete

Swimsuit mending complete

I’ve been given the task of mending some swimwear that seems to be falling apart at the seams.  The garment is well constructed for the most part, but one of the binding threads at the strap and bodice is not hooked properly and allowing it to ravel.  Additionally, the cup in the bodice is separating causing the strap to open and separate from the elastic.  I thought, a quick tuck here and a few stitches there; what’s the difference from another mending I’ve taken on?  Consequently, it didn’t take me long to find out swimwear is different.

Bodice is pulling away from strap

Bodice is pulling away from strap

My first priority is to anchor the threads that are raveling.  They’ve raveled enough so I can cut them in half and run them through a few stitches and tie them off.  Next, I decide to tackle the cup in the bodice next.  Surprisingly, there’s a lot of layers for a garment meant to look like you’re weaving nothing.  Since I do very little sewing on stretchy fabrics, I decided to test stitch on a piece of elastic I snipped off from a roll.  The “lightning” stitch seemed to give me the most elasticity for a straight stitch (I was avoiding the zigzags).  Six layers including the elastic all with a different amount of stretch, need to come together into a “sandwich” and get stitched very close to the edge.  I stretched the garment out with T-pins on a blocking mat and carefully tucked all the fabric together and pinned.  Next, I sewed a nice straight line of stitching along where the strap and cup come together.  To no surprise, one of the layers slipped out.  Therefore, I had to pick out my stitches (now buried into the elastic cloth) and try again.  The second time I chose to only stitch half the layers down.  Then I hand stitched the design fabric in place.

Snip raveled threads and anchor them

Snip raveled threads and anchor them

The straps themselves seem easy enough.  Simply hold everything in place and run a straight line of stitching close to the edge.  Thankfully, this seam worked – for the most part.  I carried this line of stitching down to the bottom of the bodice also sewing down the remaining half of the layers.  As a result, the seam appears wavy and the strap looks like the elastic was stretched out a little.  Reflecting, I think the stitches are too close together, and pushed the elastic apart.  However, it looks like it will hold, and I won’t fiddle with it any more.  The straps have a lot of elasticity, and it doesn’t look like it’s been stretched beyond the point of where she will need it.  

Hand stitch fashion fabric

Hand stitch fashion fabric

While it’s wearable and the flaws aren’t obvious, I wish I had done a more professional job.  I’ve avoided making, altering or mending active wear in the past.  It seems to be a specialized area in Sewing, and for good reason.  All the specialized fabrics, the extra stretch, and the way the fabrics are layered seem different from other sewing I’ve done.  I’ve been sewing for over 25 years, and there’s still so much for me to learn or learn better such as set in sleeves, pattern making, and apparently active wear.  As such, I’ve learned a few things a long the way such as lengthen the stitches for stretchy fabric, sew the fabric relaxed, and baste stitching has its merits too.  Also, it’s handy to keep a sharp seam ripper at hand. 

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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