Chanel: I'm thinking tweed jackets, little black dresses, simplicity, elegance, couture, French. Lots of basting and hand sewing.
Swimsuits: Here I'm thinking Zimmermann, Tigerlily, Hotel Bondi...perhaps even Speedo. Lycra. Elastic. Overlockers. Summer brights.
Not much overlap, is there. Well, not until I saw these images last summer.
I fiiled these away in my inspiration file, but would probably have forgotten about them if it were not for the PR swimwear contest. I was flicking through the file looking for ideas. I was a bit late to contest party, so needed something that I could make up with the materials I already had on hand. Black lycra, white lycra, elastic, lining, buttons. All in the stash. I was on my way.
The first step was to come up with a pattern. I started with a personal swimwear block that Stuart helped me with a couple of years ago. I used the lower leotard legline from the block, though after seeing the completed swimsuit, I probably should have lowered the legline even further. I took out a few cm across the bust, to account for the fact that it was basically a strapless swimsuit. Lucky I walked the side seams, because they did not match properly. I didn't walk the crotch seam and I need to fix this up next time I start from this block. I used Corel draw to draw in my design lines and decide where seam lines were to go. Before I could turn this into a pattern, I needed to know how I was going to construct the swimsuit. I knew that "V" at the centre front had to be very, very neat. It took me a little while to work this out.
Meanwhile, my family suddenly seemed very, very needy. Could you go for a walk with me? Well, only if you don't expect conversation, as I am thinking about my Chanel swimsuit. Could you come to assembly to see me get an award? Well, only if I can bring my samples with me to contemplate. I can't find my shoe. I don't have any breakfast. Have you paid that bill? Well, that is hardly important now, is it? There is a Chanel swimsuit to be made.
Needless to say, I worked it out and family life returned to normal. I constructed the suit in stints over a few days.
Because this is a competition entry, I will provide a few more construction details than I normally do.
Swimsuits are made with negative ease. Seams need to be able to stretch, particularly in a horixontal direction. This is why overlockers are generally used. An overlocking stitch allows for stretch whilst remaining sturdy. It is not so good for detailed, precision sewing, like starting and stopping at a point, pivoting corners, etc.
I will show you how I handled the corners on this suit. First I basted the seams. Basting is generally not used in swimwear, as it rips when the suit is stretched for wear. I used it here to mark my seamlines and then removed it afterwards.
Clip the corner to the stitching line.
My swimwear block incorporates bust darts. I sewed these with an overlocker.
I had to take into account that the pocket flaps were attached in a region of significant horizontal stretch. I sewed the 2 flap pieces together, around 3 edges. Clipped corners, Turned right way out. Placed upside down on fabric. Attached to main suit with a zig-zag stitch, to allow stretch.
I lined the front of the swimsuit with a nude lycra, as it was more substantial than swimwear linings. It would not be very Chanel-like to have a see-through swimsuit, would it now?
From this lining shot, you can see that the top edge is a binding, which I wrapped around a 2cm wide rubber elastic and attached to the swimsuit with my overlocker.
The "V" has a folded edge. On the outside, this "V" piece continues down until the waistband contrast piece, so as not to have a potentially messy join in a highly visible area.
I did not elasticise the "V". I am thinking that the original suit must have elastic in the "V" area, as the top of the "V" is narrower than the neck width, and I can't see how it would sit in this position and not be pulled out by the straps, unless it was elasticised. I did not put elastic in the straps, as I am less likely to get a headache from halter suits when I leave the elastic out. I think it would look better with elastic in the straps, and when I get some more elastic I may take the straps off and re-do them.
On the inside, there is a join below the "V", because I wanted the grainline of the vertical stripes and lining to be in the same direction, and this was not possible with a fold on the neck edge of the "V".
You can see that my overlocking stitches are not that great. 15 years ago I bought a bottom of the range Janome overlocker and I am still using it. Might be time for an upgrade?
For the back, I used regular swimwear lining.
The completed suit
Finally, way down the end of the post, after disinterested parties have moved on...a modelled photo of the swimsuit. Only for PR purposes, mind you.