"" the girl who makes things: Beach Ready - sewing swimwear

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Beach Ready - sewing swimwear

Well hello there! I'm back on the blog for the first time this year, how did that happen?! I certainly wasn't planning on staying away this long but, as always, life and procrastination took over.

This year has definitely felt a lot busier than the last. I've been trying to do more with my free time, in particular read more, exercise more, make home improvements and work on my Portuguese. The result of this is that I've had very little time for sewing and even less for blogging as they move further and further down in priority. It's a shame as one of the few things that helps to relax is being at my sewing machine.

It's a good thing, therefore, that my partner bought me a sewing workshop voucher for Christmas, otherwise I might never have made the time for what turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable day.

I found Campanhia das Agulhas on Instagram last year. I spent a lot of time browsing their feed and searching through their workshops, almost coming close to signing up before chickening out, worrying that my Portuguese wasn't good enough to participate. In end I mentioned it to my boyfriend and he dutifully bought me the voucher.

I think it was the push I needed. Once I had the voucher and the pressure to spend it I started researching the workshops and thought I wouldn't mind trying my hand at swimwear. I've experimented with sewing lycra before but definitely felt that my skills were lacking.

Before the workshop I received an email from the teacher, asking what fabric I wanted and the type of pattern I was going to use. A bikini, trikini and swimsuit were the styles on offer so I opted for a trikini as I've never owned one, or even tried one on before and thought it'd be an interesting experiment.

The workshop was one full day with all materials and equipment provided. The night before I slept badly, worrying about spending a whole day speaking and trying to follow instructions in Portuguese. As it turned out, my worries were completely unjustified. I had a fantastic day, surrounded by wonderfully supportive women (and a man!) who helped, guided and encouraged me and each other throughout the day.

We started in the morning and our teacher talked us through each pattern and the properties of lycra. Then we went to our separate work stations and traced our patterns. My trikini consists of two pieces: a bikini top and a body. I cut a larger size for the body as I'm fairly tall and lycra doesn't stretch as far length-ways.

Next we drew our pattern pieces directly on to the fabric using a pencil - it's a bad idea to pin pattern pieces as the fabric can distort. After we'd cut out our pieces we attached lining to the front bikin top and body only.

Once I'd assembled the whole suit, I tried it on for fit. I made one small adjustment - the gusset was too wide so I narrowed it by a couple of centimeters either side. The final, and trickiest, stage was attaching elastic to the outer edges of the trikini. For this we needed to use an overlocker, and the margin for error was tight. The elastic had to be attached to the wrong side so that it could be folded over and top-stitched. By the end of the day I was so mentally exhausted that I sewed the elastic to the right side of the bikini top - an hour of unpicking ensued. Luckily I was able to finish everything at home.

The day was a challenge for both my sewing and linguistic skills, but I learnt so much, it was like fitting ten Portuguese and dressmaking lessons into one day. My head felt like it'd been pureed with an electric whisk, but once a week had passed everything settled in place.

So here's my take home message: if you've ever felt like doing a workshop or trying something in a different language, but held yourself back with feelings of inadequacy, just do it. It totally pays off to throw yourself in every now and then.


  1. Very cute! Looks like you got a really good fit. Your return is always welcome, no matter how long in between.