Sunday, July 4, 2010

My First Swimsuit: Kwiksew 3503 Completed!!! Warning Picture Heavy!!!

This is the remaining post to the last 2 I wrote here  and right here  I'm delighted to have finished my very first swimsuit. Trust me I know it wasn't rocket science, but since it was my first time, I knew I had a few things to learn. Overall it was a great experience and I think it turned out quite nice. I was reluctant (or shy, rather)  to post pics of myself in my bathing suit (sans the shorts) but after running across Annette's post wearing a bra she made (which looks absolutely SPECTACULAR by the way) I got up the courage to do so. Thanks Annette for the inspiration:)

Much props and love goes to my Hubby who was determined to get me decent shots and drove all over the beach to find what he considered the best location. What would I do without him:)

Well below is my in-depth review.  I know a few of you have commented on my earlier swimsuit posts that the thought of sewing a swimsuit was a little intimidating. Trust me I understand what you mean but I want to put your mind at ease somewhat by hopefully showing you enough of the in-and-out's of what I did. At the very least, you may feel more comfortable with sewing this swimsuit if not any other (smile)! Well here's the review......

Kwik Sew 3503

Pattern Description:
Misses' swimsuits have lined front and regular or high cut leg openings finished with elastic. View A is strapless, has shelf bra lining, and top edge finished with elastic. View B is halter style with ties that tie at back neckline and has lined upper front with gathers under bust. I made View B

Pattern Sizing:
I used both the small and medium sizes. I'll explain that in-depth below.
(Front view. Excuse the hair, it was a pretty windy day)
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Absolutely, but I changed the bodice so it looked slightly different. I'll go into that later:)

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I have to admit they were fairly easy to follow. I've heard that KwikSew had some of the best swimsuit instructions. They're pretty uncomplicated and written very clearly.  In addition to the instructions I did some of my own research and used the following information:
* The Singer Sewing Library Book "Sewing with Knits". There's a great 10 page section in this book on sewing swimsuits.
*Fellow Seamstress websites--I only saw a couple
*Looked at PR reviews of this pattern

(This is the front view. Excuse my modest tugging at the front .)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

*I liked that the pattern was easy to sew and only consisted of 4 pieces. I liked that I only had to add elastic to the waist and leg openings.
*I didn't like that the pattern was only partially lined (front lining only) and didn't have instructions for bra cups. But I was able to remedy both of those problems myself.

Fabric Used:

A swimsuit fabric I purchased from Jo-Ann fabrics. Unfortunately I don't know the fiber blend. I think it's the traditional lycra blend. This fabric was great to work with but when I cut it out it rolled up like crazy. This was no big deal, just had to pin it down alot.

(This is the back view. When I took this pic I hadn't yet topstitched the upper back bodice and the legbands since I forgot I needed two spools of thread to topstitch with a twin needle.  Can you say brain fart!!!!  After a quick JoAnn run I was able to finish the job. You can see my topstitching in the last picture below.)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Although I really liked this pattern, I made a bunch of changes to put my own personal touches on it and to refine the fit. After making a muslin I noticed I needed to make the following changes:

*When I first made my muslin I cut the size medium. This turned out to be slightly too big so much to the point that the bodice was drooping and the seat of the swimsuit was sagging. So I thought I'd grade down a size and based on Amy VG's pattern review of this pattern added a few inches on the side seam for some additional circumference.
So when I cut out my swimsuit I used 2 sizes. I cut out the size small everywhere except for the side seams and the bodice. I graded up to the medium size on the side seam to give me a little extra circumference in my waist. I use the medium size bodice so that I would have ample bust coverage.

*I reduced the length of the pattern 2". I took 1" off the 2 shorten/lengthen lines marked on the pattern. BTW, I traced my pattern on plastic sheeting (the kind used by painters--I think it was 4 or 7mil thick)

 (The 4 Pattern pieces. You can see where I shortened the front and back pattern pieces.)

* I wanted to add bra cups but was puzzled about how to go about it so I went to look at some RTW swimsuits in Wal-Mart. That's when I noticed that the swimsuits that didn't have sewn in bandeau's with bra cups had either the cups sewn in between the bodice fabric and lining or they had bodice's with 1" or so slits in the bodice lining in which bra cups were added. I liked the idea of adding and removing my bra cup so when sewing my bodice fabric to the lining I left open 1 1/4" so I could add bra cups and take them out when I washed my swimsuit.
(I bought these bra cups from JoAnn's. These bra cups came connected so I cut them apart put one in each bodice side.)

(And rolled them slightly and added them to the swimsuit in the lining opening I left (marked by the seam gauge) and smoothed them out. They fit perfectly. Although they worked fine, they're somewhat flimsy. So I'm thinking about trying a slightly firmer bra cup so they stay put and can't move around as much.)

*In my muslin there was about an inch of gaping in my swimsuit bodice. So instead of altering the bodice pattern I decided to take the easy way out by fixing the situation when I attatched the bodice to the torso swimsuit piece. Instead of sewing the bodice completely level with the torso piece, as I neared the side seam, I pulled it down the inch or so and thus raised the seamline on the bodice, removing the 1" and hence the gaping.
(From this picture, you can see where the outside edge of the bodice front is pulled down an inch or so to remove the gaping. I merely snipped off the pulled down section at an angle and sewed the bodice to the torso half.)

*I lined the back of the swimsuit as well since the pattern only called for lining the front and the bodice. I don't know why they didn't include the back piece since it was easy to do. Of course I cut out the back lining piece from the back pattern piece and sewed it in the same way. Then I stacked the torso pieces in the following manner, aligning the crotches.
1. placed front swimsuit piece right side up
2. laid back swimsuit piece wrong side up, on top of the front piece
3. laid back swimsuit lining right side up on top of back swimsuit piece
4. laid front swimsuit lining on the very top
(here are the layers pulled apart so you can see them)

(here are all 4 layers sewed at the crotch with a zigzag stitch. I think I did double stitching for reinforcement)

(Once you pull them apart you will see the bottom front of the swimsuit is lined and so is the bottom back. And of course the crotch seam is concealed. I continued with the kwik sew instructions by basting the linings to the fabric.)
* I overlapped the bodice 2" or so to give me a little more coverage. With me being shortwaisted, the original plunging neckline was pretty severe.

* FYI these are the stitches I used to assemble my swimsuit: I used the small zigzag stitch to attach the lining and bodice and to attach the lined bodice to the bottom half of the swimsuit. I serged the swimsuit torso front and back pieces together. I also used the zigzag stitch to attach the elastic to the leg opening and waistband and then I used the serger to give a clean finish to the elastic. There was so much stretching involved with the elastic that I felt comfortable zigzagging it in first instead of trying to stretch it and serge it on at the same time. I then used a twin needle to topstitch the elastic down. This was the first time I used a twin needle (can you believe it? ) and I loved the neat finish it gave. I have to admit the topstitching was my favorite part. The only I didn't like about topstitching the front waist band is the blue thread shows through on the lining side. Not really an issue, I'm just being picky!

(Here's the inside view of my swimsuit. You can see the topstitching on the leg opening and the waist as well as the side seams.)
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I definitely will! I really like the style and unfortunately when I initially went searching for swimsuit patterns there weren't alot that suited my fancy.  This one stood out because it was refined and sexy without being too revealing.
 I strongly recommend this to others, especially if you want to try your hand at sewing a swimsuit for the first time. I would say the most challenging part of the swimsuit was adding the elastic and that wasn't too bad, especially if you're used to handling elastic. Just make sure you get elastic that's especially made for swimsuits since they're better at handling chlorine, saltwater, and every other sewing element better.

This was a great pattern and I learned alot! Fitting and sewing a swimsuit of this style wasn't even difficult. The next time I make this I'll probably add back 1" of length to give me a little extra wiggle room. Whenever you add lining to a swimsuit you can lose a little stretch, especially if you don't use the stretchiest swimsuit lining. Outside of that, I'm super satisfied with the results!!!

Hope this post was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions:)


  1. You are brilliant! This looks fantastic. I might have a go for summer this year.

  2. Great job! I'm thinking of making one. But I'll have to find underwire. I *require* the same type of engineering in a suit as I would a good bra!

  3. That's a nice swimsuit. You can have a whole wardrobe of those bathin beauties now, especially considering the cost of RTW suits.

  4. Looks great and great on you! Love the fabric!

  5. Wow! Beautiful work! Thanks for all the great info... You look so pretty in it!

  6. It looks amazing on you, great work.

  7. You did a great job. It's looks beautiful on you.


  8. You look amazing in that gorgeous swimsuit. The color is perfect and thank you for all the great construction detail.

  9. Lovely bathing suit and the color looks great on you.

  10. Thank you for your compliment of my sewing on my blog and thank you that you will be putting my blog on your blog roll, too!


  11. Great results and photographs, plus all this detailed information is really clear and well written.

  12. You did a great job! Love it! I thinks I will try making one now.Good pics.

  13. Victoria WOW, beautiful job! You swimsuit turned out perfect! I love the fit, color and pattern of your fabric. This is a true "10" on you! Thanks for the inspiration. I want to make one too but as Erica B mentioned, I will definitely require the "heavy construction" of underwire! Great work!

  14. Victoria, next time you find you need another "spool" of thread for a twin needle, just wind a bobbin and put in on the top of your machine--they last quite a while, and should do all of the twin-needle stitching you would need for a project like this without needing a refill. Saves that much in thread and another trip to the store. :-)

    You did an excellent job on the suit, you look very fabulous! :-)

  15. Wonderful job! The suit looks great!

  16. Myra and Erica I understand exactly what you mean. I'm not as "blessed" as some of you Ladies (I'm only a C cup) but this suit almost didn't provide me enough support. I'd definitely prefer underwire myself.

    Country Girl Couture, what a GREAT tip. I'll forever keep that in mind!!!

  17. This turned out very nice and you look great. Your reviews are so thorough. Thanks!

  18. Fantastic job! Great tips, too.

  19. GREAT JOB! Loved your tips! I've made two kwik sew swim suits. I LOVE their patterns!

  20. I'm so happy that you posted pictures of your meticulous work - your swimsuit is absolutely inspiring! The color is especially gorgeous. Thanks for the construction advice - swimwear is intimidating.

  21. I am printing this out and hopefully will have one of my own to show you very soon!!!!

  22. It looks wonderful! That is such a fun print and it fits really well! Great job!

  23. The swimsuit (and you!) look terrific. Congratulations!

  24. Cute swimsuit, looks great on you!

  25. You are such an inspiration! I love the swimsuit! It fits you perfectly!

  26. You look great in your new swimsuit! You did a great job!

  27. Great job on the swimsuit!

    I agree with countrygirl couture on using a bobbin as your second thread for a twin needle. I can't stand to have a gazillion loose bobbins in my drawers with their tangling threads and I also use a bobbin as thread when I make a practice muslin just to use up the thread.

  28. Well done! Sewing a swimsuit is a big undertaking and yours looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing your process as well!

  29. That looks fantastic, gorgeous colour as well. I don't think I would ever dare try a swimsuit. Well done.

  30. Oh, fabulous! Love that fabric too. Thanks so much for the details about the lining - it sounds like a piece of cake. I threw mine back in the drawer because I couldn't bear to think about lining the boyshort, but I may just have to pull it back out.

  31. Victoria Hi! Would you mind me referring to this post on SewMuchTalent(gr)?


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for following me on my 10,000 Hour Sewing Challenge:)


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