Obon is the Japanese Buddhist Summer festival that usually takes place in the second week of August. Most companies have a couple of days off, some like mine take the whole week off! I love it! Not only is it a great to have a week off in the middle of summer, your friends probably have it off too. This makes group holidays easy – if rather expensive.
This year I was staying at my friend’s beach house on the Japan Sea side – in the middle of the countryside.
With this week in mind I rushed to complete a bunch of fun sewing projects – the sort of things I’d normally never need to make.
As there was no wifi up there I had to wait till I’d got back to write up everything.
First up: My sprout patterns bikini.
Choosing the project
This was the original reason I decided to order from sprout patterns in the first place. This was going to be a completely new style of project for me so having the pattern pieces printed directly on the fabric was going to make it so much easier.
Firstly: this would be my first “active wear” fabric project – I’ve sewn knits before but nothing this stretchy.
Secondly this would be my first “lingerie” project: Yes, of course a bikini isn’t lingerie, but I imagine it’s a pretty similar skill set and process.
Thirdly: You just cant buy this kind of stuff in Japan. As I’ve complained about before all fabric shops here are 90% printed cotton, 5% over-priced plain knits and 5% costume fabrics. In fact I actually really struggled to get the notions required for the project.
Anyway I was really excited to make my own bikini! Here’s a link to the shop.
Sprout offers 4 different variations for the bikini – 2 tops and 2 bottoms. I chose the bustier style top and low-waisted bottoms. I chose that top because I doubted if I’d be able to find a bikini clasp in Japanese shops.
For the fabric I chose bright blue ammonites and a matching dark blue for the centre triangle, sides and back.
All together it was less than $40 – such a bargain.
When you order you just get the main fabric for the bikini, the lining, elastic and straps etc you have to get yourself.
I was lucky to find a plain white lycra to use as the lining. I surprised myself by finding the right swimsuit elastic too – I was expecting I would have to find that online. It was the bra strapping that was a real challenge – there just wasn’t a good selection on offer and in the end my least worst option was a thin black bra elastic.
Either way I was set.
The instructions made this really easy! Granted it’s not the most difficult pattern, but as I normally sew Burda these easy to follow patterns were fantastic. However I did have a few issues.
This dense knit lycra didn’t really let you unpick anything. When I had to once it left clear marks on the fabric – in fact due to accidently folding the fabric back on itself I totally destroyed one of the lower cup pieces. It would have been completely unwearable. Luckily there was quite a lot of extra fabric included and I was able to recut this piece – no harm done.
I would however recommend, with this fabric, sewing carefully, as though you couldn’t unpick a thing.
Around the edge you fold the lining and the main fabric in on themselves, attach elastic, then fold the edge in again. This means your final top-stitching has to go through 6 layers of thick fabric plus elastic. I took it slowly and while my machine protested, it was just able to do it.
This did result in some pretty sketchy looking top-stitching, but alas, no unpicking! Oh well – it’s not too noticeable.
The main fabric is printed with notches – which is great! Until that is you get quite late in construction and the notches you need have been swallowed up in a seam allowance somewhere. I wish I’d marked them with pen! I rather had to guestimate where to put the straps.
This is more about my skill level than anything else but this project did really show me the importance of sewing accurately. In a dress the difference between a seam allowance of 1.5cm or 1cm is just not important – here on the top it really was!
Each cup has four horizontal seams – and I guess I was a couple of millimeters out on some or all of them. The result of this was a right boob massively bigger than the left!
Disaster! And of course no unpicking!
I was able to tighten up the most egregious seems and trimmed of some “excess” upper cup fabric from the right. That way the mistakes became less glaring – only visible to me.
Although you may notice that rather than a sharp centre triangle it’s a snazzy central trapezoid!
I think if I do another project like this I would draw on the seam allowance with pen and follow it right down to the millimeter.
I wish I’d made the overbust elastic tighter as the top gaped a little when wet. I erred on the side of caution here as I’ve made elastic far too tight before. Perhaps the pattern could have tried to specify a length of elastic that should be made to stretch over the cup.
All that being said – I really enjoyed putting this bikini together!
Wearing it out
It fit really nicely and I love the colours.
The top was a little awkward to put on and take off as it had no clasp… but then again that just meant it stayed put when I was running around, jumping in and out of the water. Better to have a bikini that stays on too much- rather than not enough!
Anyway… after I finished sewing this project I noticed I had quite a lot of fabric left over…
… and this is what I did with it