Day 20 and I've completed a series of small steps to produce a finished bikini bra top!!!! Waaaa-hooooo! Just in time for the predicted heatwave to hit New Zealand (thanks Australia.)
Finishing the channelling:
Now that the underarm and band elastic is sewn in place I can finish stitching down the underwire channelling. This is carried out exactly the same as you would when making a bra by sewing two parallel topstitching lines, one next to the cup seam and the other to catch the outer edge of the channelling. I kept with the microtex needle to do this and used a straight stitch length of 2.8.
Insert the underwires and sew the channelling closed across the top of the bridge.
I decided against using the Boylston pattern piece to create wide fabric straps, preferring to go with narrow straps instead, made from fabric and reinforced with swimwear elastic.
To make them I cut a strip of swim fabric 4 times the width of the elastic (I didn't bother with what direction I cut it out of the fabric since it was 4 way stretch.)
I allowed each strap to be 50cm in length but you may want to do a rough measure if you are using a different pattern.
Using the same elastic application technique I overlocked the elastic to one long side of the wrong side of the fabric strip.
Fold the elastic over to the wrong side of the fabric and then fold again to encase the elastic in the fabric (so the right side of the fabric is now showing.) There will be extra fabric extending past the elastic edge.
Using the same three step zig-zag as used for the underarm and band, sew down the length of the strap, through the middle (stitches should almost reach each side) and with the right side up.
Trim off the excess fabric back to the stitches and there you have two strong straps!
I decided not to make mine adjustable but you could by following the pattern instructions and using regular bra rings and sliders.
I'm using a g-hook for mine but the method would be the same for a clicker type fastener.
I use a bit of 'try on - guess work' to determine this.
First, I put the bikini top on and hold the band part around my underbust/chest. Using a mirror I can see a good indication of how much band fabric I have that needs to be turned under/removed.
I thread one end of the band through the g-hook, folding back the amount of band that I determined above and pinning in place. (To be honest, I don't know if there is a correct side to attach the hook - I just go with what is easiest for me being left handed.)
I then fold back the same amount on the other end of the band to create the loop and pin this in place.
I'm now able to try on the bikini top again, this time doing up the g-hook. I repeat this as necessary, adjusting to get the fit that I want.
A straight stitch down either side secures this in place. Make sure the loop side has enough room to make it easy to hook in and out but not too much room so the g-hook doesn't sit securely in there.
If you are using a clicker, the method would be the same except you'd be replacing the loop with one side of the clicker.
I've kept this fairly simple for my bikini top.
I secured one end to the apex of the cup where the outer part of the fabric strap would have gone. I used a straight stitch and went on top of a previous line of stitching so that it wouldn't show up much.
I then put the bikini on again and got a helper (thanks mom!) to pin the straps in place at what felt like a good location and length.
I decided to cross my straps over as I thought it really suited the style of bikini and it also provides some added security in keeping the straps on.
I secured the straps to the band with a straight stitch along both the top and bottom of the band.
And BOOM - I'm done! Thank you so much for sewing along with me - it was not only a great motivator but it also emphasised to me the importance of celebrating small achievements. I hope you have gained something from this too - well, you now have a kick-butt, handmade swimsuit! Go you!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway over on Instagram, details are on the @nelliejoans feed.
Now to slap on some fake tan and see if I can manage a photoshoot...