I love swimwear pattern school and think that Stuart is fabulous for sharing all his knowledge with us. Last year, I used his site to make several bikinis (you can see my review of bikini patterns) and this year I have moved onto a one-piece. I have not been able to buy a one-piece to fit since I was about 12, so this is pretty exciting territory.
Stuart gives instructions on drafting your own blocks. He also allows you to download a lazy persons block from your measurments, which is what I did. I have been gradually tweaking this block as I go. He has a few free patterns to download and then gives detailed instructions to make many other styles.
Now, I don't quite feel like modelling swimwear for you...so you will have to make do with flat photos (not as helpful, I know).
I started with his free pattern for a halter-neck (he wants you to read all the info before heading straight to the free patterns page, so I won't put in a link).
The first pair is unlined, because I was just testing the pattern. I did add a cute lace elastic along the neckline. It is so light and comfortable without the lining and without elastic in the strap, that it is the pair I wear the most...when I just want to duck down for a quick swim by myself. The neckline on this pattern is quite low (I am used to wearing conservative tankinis). I added a neck flounce to my second halter, a la Jets by Jessika Allen. The flounce is made from nylon mesh knit. This pair does not look as good as it should, partly because of lining problems which I will detail later, but mostly because the colours do not suit me.
I then drafted a palette line strapless maillot. I think this is the most sophisticated swimwear style. Mine was meant to be strapless, but I had to add straps because it didn't stay up. I think this was partly because I don't have much to hold it up and partly because I need to move the bust point on my pattern 2cm higher. I love this style, so I will have another go at it with a higher BP.
But, moving right along, I drafted an empire line maillot. First up, I put the empire line in the wrong spot (I had not realised that the BP was too low then). This turned out to be okay, because it fit in with the fabric pattern. On the lining, I used a higher position. My story gets sad here, because this beautiful pair of togs is ruined by the lining. I think the lining is not swimwear lining, just a knit lining. My fault, because I didn't get samples before I bought it. It does not have enough stretch. My block is made with 12% negative horizontal ease and 0% vertical ease. Because the lining does not stretch enough, it "shrinks" vertically to allow extra width...which makes for a very uncomfortable suit, with the lining smaller than the outside, and shortened the suit so that it barely covers my nipples. I have a friend who is skinnier than me, so I will see if they are any good for her. (Late edit: I cut out the lining, except for the crotch and bust, and added an under-bust elastic, so this pair is okay now).
So I am looking for an Australian supplier of swimwear lining...let me know if you have a good supplier.
This last pair is my own pattern, using what I have learnt from the site. I just made it out of scraps, to test the pattern, but I think it will become a favourite. It is unlined, except for the crotch. The bust design is flattering and supportive for small busts. The cross-over allows for a bit more coverage....sometimes I need a modest suit...when a stay-at-home Dad brings their child over for a swim, I feel too self-conscious to tromp around in a bikini.
That might seem like a lot of swimwear, but my fit and construction skills are improving with each pair. The last one only took me a couple of hours yesterday. I can now use my overlocker to attach rubber elastic, which is less bulky than woven elastic. I have finally sorted out the problems with my coverstitch machine. I bought it second-hand. It was serviced before I got it, but my kids turned all the dials as soon as I took it out of the box, and I was having a lot of trouble with skipped stitches and broken threads everytime I crossed a seam. Turns out I needed to increase the foot pressure, now it works like a dream.
Next up, I want to try the assymmetric one-piece, but that will probably not be until after Christmas.
I will put sewing details in a pattern review, but may not get to it for a few days...check back later if you want more sewing info.
Merry Christmas to All