With summer rapidly approaching here in Perth, Australia, my thoughts have turned to bathers and, more specifically, what am I going to wear in the water this year? Oh, the enormity of the decisions I must make!
Last year I made myself a tankini using Jalie pattern 3023. This was wearable, but I was never over the moon with myself in it. While I like the tankini, I don't think the design is terribly flattering on me. So, over the last few weeks, I have been pondering swimwear designs and patterns to try to find one that I could make which would suit me.
I have often admired the designs of Aussie company Jets by Jessika Allen. I think many of their styles are stylish and classy and suitable for women (like me) who want to hide certain flaws but still want to look attractive rather than grandma-ish. Their website is a treasure trove of such styles, actually 163 different one-pieces alone last time I looked, and I spent some time selecting styles that I thought would suit my body type. I usually swim in very casual surroundings with the children, so that was also a consideration.
I eventually narrowed it down to these:
Overall appearance: I like styles that draw the attention upwards, towards the bust and face and away from the tummy area. I think that having detailing around the top of the bathers (Styles 1, 3, 5 and 9) helps to do this and I really like the combination of plain navy or black accented with white detailing.
Bust: I quickly decided against Style 1 as it does little to enhance the bust. All the other styles pictured here have an empire seam under the bust which is much more flattering. So, with the empire line in place, the shape of the bust coverage needs consideration. There are two main shapes in these pictures - a tall triangular shape (top and bottom rows) and a horizontal figure of 8 shape (middle row). I like both of these, but settled on the tall triangular shape as it looks easier to make ;) The figure of 8 shapes seen here would probably require moulded cups to really look right and I don't want to bite off more than I can chew as a novice swimwear designer!
Legs: I prefer more of a low cut leg for me, much like the leg shape on my Jalie tankini pants. The bands on the legs on Style 3 look nice from the front, but draw too much attention to the bum area for my liking at the back (see below), so I will stick with a basic, low-cut leg shape.
My overall favourite of these designs is Style 3 in navy with white detailing exactly as pictured above. I love everything about it except the banded legs. The little tie detail and the white bands at the neckline keep the eye away from the tummy, the bust is accentuated but well covered and the overall appearance is stylish, without looking too fancy or try-hard.
There was just one more decision to make...
My favourite style (Style 1 above), has a rather boring back. I much prefer a style which is scooped a bit lower down the back, like Style 2 above. The wide straps on this style are also an interesting feature. I have decided against a halter-neck style, purely for comfort reasons, so it's looking like a scooped back with cross-over straps - if I can make it work with the front design I've chosen.
So, basically I want the front like Style 3 (top photo), without the bands on the legs, and the back like Style 2 (above).
Now what? OMG I need to actually design this! Never fear, I have thought about this as well. I have three things at my disposal:
- my Jalie 3023 tankini pattern
- an old J&L bathers pattern I found at the op shop
- a rather incredible website www.patternschool.com that details how to draft swimwear to exactly fit a set of body measurements.
As I write this, I am immersed in tracing paper and scraps of lycra (sounds a bit saucy!) as I draft a pattern and begin to make a muslin for my final, dream pair of bathers. I will let you in on this design process over the next few days.