27.3.12

Chanel + Swimsuit

"Chanel" and "Swimsuit" are not words that I generally put together.

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.

How to overlock corners

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.
 Stretch the corner so that the stitching line is a straight line.  Hold the fabric like this as you overlock the seam. 
 Remove basting stitches.
 Not too bad!
 Bust Darts

My swimwear block incorporates bust darts.  I sewed these with an overlocker.
 Faux pocket flaps

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. 
 Folded down flap.  Sewed short ends down with a satin stitch.
 The black pocket flap turned out bettern than the white one.

Lining shots

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.
I attached 1 cm wide rubber elastic to the legs with my overlocker, turned them in and stitched down with a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.

 The completed suit



 Perhaps not perfectly neat, but it turned out as neat as I was expecting!  There is a reason why the original suit is priced at $1400!

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.


50 comments:

  1. This swimsuit is so impressive. Wow! Beautiful work!

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  2. I love your amazing swimming costume. You look great in it.
    Your ability to make nylon lycra behave is far beyond what I would think possible at home. In my sewing room this sort of fabric seems to provoke very bad words and teeth grinding.

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  3. That is one of the absolute niftiest swimsuits I've seen in a long, long time! Great work!!

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  4. seriously cool - I'm sure you'll get plenty of votes for it. (mine, for starters, it looks fiddly AND it's swimwear)

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  5. I think Chanel would be proud of your inspired version!! I love what you did to come up with a beautiful swimsuit, and I think you have a great chance of winning with this one!

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  6. That is a fabulous suit - well-done!

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  7. Fabulous. You'll sure get a lot of votes for this. Impressive suit and very original.

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  8. OMG that is totally cool. I'd like to commission one!

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  9. That is amazing! I'm commissioning one, too, ok? I love the positive/negative effect of the black and white. Very, very cool.

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  10. That is really amazing. You also look amazing in your swimsuit! I love your swimwear posts they are really helpful and I keep them in mind for when I get time to make my own. Good luck in the contest! What a saving!

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  11. Fantastic swimsuit and great job! You look wonderful modeling it, too!

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  12. I have never seen Chanel swim suits. It is a really neat design and you did a fantastic job of duplicating it. I love it. It is definitely a winner!

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  13. I didn't even know Chanel made swimsuits. I love your version!! Excellent job and you look great!

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  14. Katherine your swimsuit is fabulous. I never seen anyone look so chic and sophisticated in a pair of swimmers. Maybe we should ditch camping and opt for the French Riviera instead. These just might be far too fancy for the Bogey Hole in Chillagoe!

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  15. That is so chic! I hope your family serves you lots of cocktails while you deservedly lounge by the pool!

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  16. You have done an amazing job on it. You look fabulous.

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  17. This is truly a SUIT! You will be the most stylish one by the pool.

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  18. awesome job!...and you look great in it!!

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  19. Just gorgeous. You are such an inspiration.

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  20. They are seriously gorgeous bathers - you're one talented lady!

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  21. My goodness - what utterly amazing swimmers you've made - and not only that, you've also made swimmers that look fabulous on you!

    I had mentally filed these swimmers away too (yes, surprising for Chanel) but unlike you I always knew there was NO way I could have made them.

    Thank you by the way for your kind wishes on my blog - I really appreciated them, and although my mum is still in hospital things are more positive than they were just a few days ago.

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  22. Gorgeous! You look fantastic! Thanks for sharing construction details.

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  23. Awesome! I love it! Tuxedo swimsuit. Good job for drafting it yourself as well!

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  24. I think Chanel would be jealous, hehe. Wow, bust darts in lycra? It turned out fabulous.

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  25. Fabulous suit and you look like a socialite in it :-)

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  26. Just awesome and so glamourous! I love it and want one too!

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  27. Love your suit, Karl is getting serieus competition.
    I love to design lingerie and bikini's too. I'm following you, please follow me back, www.poetsie.blogspot.com

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  28. Magnificent! Someone give the lady a glass of champagne and a large yacht!

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  29. Awesome! And it was made completely from stash? Even more awesome!

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  30. Holy cow! It IS a Chanel swimsuit! And it's fantastic on you!

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  31. Awesome! A real Chanel swimsuit!

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  32. I love it ! Congratulations !

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  33. Completely utterly awesome!!!! These gorgeous bathers get my vote!

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  34. Your swimsuit is splendid. You are an incredible seamstress. I signed up as a follower. I would love to grasp some knowledge. I agree with, themateriallady, you need a yacht to show off! : )

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  35. You really did a fabulous job on your swimsuit.

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  36. Hi
    The swimsuit looks great!
    Can i ask you please if i can buy from you (my sewing skills are really bad...)
    Thank You

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  37. I love it! it looks great & so stylish. you get all 5 of my votes! bravo!

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  38. I love all the details on this suit and you look like a million dollars in it. Congratulations on a well deserved win in the swimsuit contest.

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  39. I found this on Pattern Review and have spent ages looking through your blog. Very enjoyable! I'm now a follower. Happy sewing, Megan (www.meggipeg.com)

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  40. Go to the beach and STUNT!!!!!!!

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  41. Omg this is the cutest swimsuit ever.

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