Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bikini Bonanza

Living in Hawaii has its perks: it never gets freezing cold, the food is amazing, people are amongst the friendliest, it's not a concrete jungle (buildings, etc...), greenery galore, and...having amazing beaches and getting to soak up the sun!

Ok, ok, I may not get out to the beach on a regular basis, or as often as I should since it is literally a block from where I live, but I am SO grateful to be able to go to the beach whenever the desire strikes.  Some people don't have that luxury and that's a bummer.

About to catch a few waves at Laniupoko with one of my homegirls, Robin!
And, what goes hand in hand with the beach and the sun?  Bikinis!

Yes, bikinis.  As one could imagine, there are dozens of swimwear shops all over the island, and lots of name brands out there, but they are HELLA expensive.  I could go to, say, Old Navy, and scoop up the ones on sale after spring and summer is over for less than 5 bucks a top or bottom, but they don't usually fit that well,  all the decently cute ones are never in my size, and they certainly don't hold up that great when I go surfing (which isn't often, but it's nice to have one that does when I do go surfing!!!).  So, what I usually do, is invest in some name brand bikini, usually Roxy, Volcom, or Billabong, and make it last....for a few years (no joke).  I think they're like $40 each for a top and bottom = $80 for a new bikini.

AINT NOBODY GOT MONEY FO DAT.  Well, I mean, some people do, but, please....I'm getting sick of using the same swimsuit for years, and sometimes, you just want a nice, new, functional, cute bikini without having to spend an arm and a leg!

So naturally, my instinct tells me that I could TOTES make one myself.  How hard could it be, right? I wanted to start with the bottom, since it seemed it would be a lot harder than sewing the triangle tops. You know, start searching pinterest and youtube for tutorials and DIYs, buy the fabric, sew it together and voila!

No.  Just, no.

SERIOUSLY, I could NOT find a decent tutorial on how to produce what I was looking for in a bikini.  Usually, I am the queen at finding the perfect tutorial for whatever I am trying to make, but in this case, finding the dream bikini tutorial was a total fail whale.  Ultimately, I found a few different ones that had bits and pieces of information that I needed, and then combined a bunch of techniques from them all together to create decent results.

Making the pattern!
I must say, I did pretty well on my first one.  It didn't look horrible when I tried it on, didn't fall apart, and I will actually use it out in public, but it still wasn't *perfect* in my mind.

My first go!  Not bad, eh?
So I made two more, experimenting with stitch widths, stitch placements, adjusting my pattern, you name it!  It's coming along, slowly becoming what I want it to be, but each time I adjust something, it kind of creates another hurdle.

My second bottom.  I lowered the waistline by a mere 3/8", and adjusted the shape of the back butt area.  Looks great, but WAY too small for me, because I pulled the elastic too tight in the waistband and leg openings!

I wont let it stop me though, I am DETERMINED to create the ultimate bikini  AND when I get it down, I would love to post an in-depth tutorial on how I did it!

#3!  Looks similar to #2, but I raised the waistline back to normal, did not pull the elastic as taught around the waistband and leg holes, did not scrunch all the way down the butt, and adjusted my zig zag stitch so it was longer and not as wide.  Wrong move, as it did not make for a desirable finished edge :(  BUT, the fit was WAY better!
Until then, here are the links and videos that I have used to get me started.  I would definitely recommend watching them several times and take note of techniques that are used!

Making your own pattern - Sweet Verbena
This is a GREAT tutorial on how to make your own patterns!

Sewing Tutorials with Sasa - Bikini Bottom & Shorts
This wasn't too detailed, and she spoke really quickly, but it was a good general overview on how to sew the elastic onto the openings.  I found her tip on basting the lining to the main fabric VERY useful, and worth your time!

Jodi Lane Suits - Basic Scrunchie Bikini
This tutorial is for body building suits, but in my eyes, the techniques used here were very applicable to swimwear.  This is THE best in depth tutorial I have found so far!  I pretty much watched it over a dozen times.  Pay attention to the scrunch butt part - the scrunch butt is key to making dat ass look fabulous!  I've included the scrunch butt in all three bottoms I have made, and let me tell you, makes your boo-tay look great!  I am a little challenged in that area so any bit of accentuation helps! :P

DIY Meesha - Easy Bikini Bottom
This is one of the first tutorials I found, but I didn't make this style.  This one might be a good option if you are a beginner, since it doesn't deal with elastic - it is a tie-style bikini.  A little vague, especially in how she made her pattern, as she did not really give clear instructions on seam allowance, etc.  The result didn't look as polished as I was looking for either, but again, a good place for beginners! She is such a cutie/sweetheart too!  There is also a video she did on a matching top, but it wasn't in my taste...the back part of it was super wide and didn't really want a weird looking-tan line from it.

So there you have it!  The basics of my Bikini Bonanaza mission!  Feel free to shoot any questions my way.  Like I mentioned earlier, I WILL perfect my craft, and when I do, a sweet tutorial on how you can make one yourself will follow!  Happy sewing, everyone!