Down Under – The Blue Bombshell Bikini
Don’t mind the frosty photos. When I took them, it was a balmy 0 degrees. As I write this, it’s -50. So, in retrospect, last weekend was warm! Of course, I wasn’t thinking warm thoughts as I slogged through old moose track in knee-deep snow to get to this location.
When it came time to pack my bags for our belated honeymoon, I quickly realized that I couldn’t go to Hawaii with just one bathing suit. But living in Alaska, where was I going to get another one? It was too late to order anything by mail. Then I remembered my fabric stash. Sometime around 2005, I bought a length of blue flowered spandex blend. I had moved several times, each time packing up the fabric and thinking that eventually I would find a use for it. That fabric’s time had finally come.
I had enough fabric that I was able to make both a bikini and a simple dress. Since I was going to be living out of a backpack for a month, space was at a premium. I chose McCall’s 6074 for the dress, based on its simple styling and positive reviews. For the bikini, I went with McCall’s 5400 because I liked its halter top and vaguely vintage styling.
The bikini was a challenge. I had never made a swimsuit before. To further complicate matters, I decided to change the construction of the top. The pattern called for a hook in the back with a solid neck piece. I opted instead to make both pieces ties, which meant lengthening the straps and figuring out how to finish the edges. I was excited to finally open my cover stitch machine, but I did manage to make a few mistakes with it. One edge of the halter top features what I like to call decorative stitching. In fact, I forgot and sewed the fabric upside down, putting all the bobbin threads on the outside. My biggest mistake came when putting in the elastic on the bottoms. I put in one leg successfully, and was patting myself on the back as I put in the second. When I finished, I couldn’t figure out why the second leg was so much more gathered than the first. It turns out I had sewn the leg elastic to the waistband. Because I have large legs and a small waist, the difference wasn’t too great, so I opted to leave it in. It pinches in at my hips in a slightly unflattering manner, thus the coy “hands on hips” poses to hide the waistline. I also chose to insert liner cups into the top. They seem to float around a bit in there, so I have to smooth them out each time I wear it.
Construction of the dress went very smoothly. It’s a simple pattern. The only change I made was the location and technique for the front elastic. I lowered it to hit closer to my actual waist, since an empire style is not flattering on my body. Instead of creating a casing with ribbon, I used a scrap of fabric. During the trip, I ended up creating a tiny gather in the back of the dress with a safety pin, as I decided it was still a bit large.
Overall, I’m quite pleased.
Fabric: Blue flowered swimsuit fabric of an unknown vintage. I know I bought it at WalMart sometime around 2005. It sat in my stash for years, just waiting for the right project! It probably cost less than $5.
Pattern: Bikini: McCall’s 5400 (from my stash) Dress: McCall’s 6074 ($1.99 on sale)
Year: Bikini, 2007. Dress, 2010.
Notions: Bathing suit elastic, elastic scrap for dress
Time to complete: About 3 hours for both. Most of that was for the bikini. The dress truly was a 1-hour dress.
First worn: On the warm beaches of Hawaii
Wear again? Yes, but not in my backyard for winter photos
Total price: Under $12 for both pieces