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Aug 31, 2012

The Sewing B*tch

Readers, you know I avoid vulgar language here at MPB.  Unlike some other bloggers we know and love who swear like sailors, I never use the f word, the c word, and usually avoid the b word.

But sometimes only strong language will do, and trust me that sewing a reversible vintage Forties two-piece bathing suit is a b*tch.  All those little things we get away with on normal garments -- unfinished seams, raggedy linings, botched hems -- you simply can't get away with if you're planning to wear both sides of the garment. 

Compared to the bottom half of this swimsuit, the top (which I covered yesterday) was a breeze.

Notice that there's a center elastic channel that must go through both sides.  I didn't mind black thread on the plaid side, but I didn't want it smack in the center of my insect pattern.  So I used different colored thread (light brown) up top, and left the black in the bobbin.  Yes, it takes time but it looks much better.

Somehow the plaid matches almost perfectly.

I'm proudest of my side zipper, which is lapped on both sides.  Obviously it has to be zipped from the inside when the plaid side is out (and hence the zipper is inside out), but the underside of the zipper is hidden.

Maybe someday I'll do the side lacing the pattern originally called for; I just doubled the width of the side panels and lapped the edges (on both sides) on top of the gathered front and back panels.

Here's how I finished the bottom.  I didn't want to add black seam binding just to the leg openings.

Anyway, the swimsuit is all finished and ready to be modeled by you-know-who someday soon, I hope.

Some new acquisitions:

I received this today from Amazon -- it's sport elastic and it has channels you can sew through, so you can stitch elastic to your boxer waistband and the elastic will still recover fully.  (That's what I've heard anyway, and thank you to reader Lynn for telling me about it, unless, of course, it doesn't work.)  The elastic is super-soft, which is a relief, since I never got to touch it.

A few days ago on eBay, I won this vintage 1975 Valentino men's coat pattern in a 36 chest -- and apologies to anyone who may have bid against me.  I love it, but why does it make me think of Felix Unger?

I found another photo of the coat from the side (on the accompanying womens pattern). 

Finally, MPB reader Ellie told me about a woman whose picture she'd seen who could be my cousin Cathy's doppelganger.  Her name is Violaine Bernard (oo la la) and she's the fashion director at Velour Magazine here in NYC.   There certainly is a resemblance, though I suspect Violaine is a few years older.  Can you pick out the real Cathy Lane?

Readers, I am afraid you will be on your own till Sunday, September 10th.

Please don't forget to visit my blogroll friends and feel free to dig through the archives in my absence; a little light vacuuming is also appreciated.  I'll still be fielding your comments of course -- which, as always, I not only read, but also correct and grade. 

Have a great week everybody!

P.S. -- Cathy's Ob/Gyn says to that the blessed event is expected on Monday -- LABOR DAY, can you believe it?


  1. Oh, I love the vintage Valentino coat pattern! It has such a wonderful cut to it.

  2. Perhaps you could give that poor woman 10 minutes to get back in shape before having her model a swimsuit. Sheesh.

    Seriously, I think the suit is awesome and you're stupid for seeing any flaws. It's fantastic. Be very proud.

  3. PS: Does that comment make me a b*itch?? :-)

  4. I'm really impressed with this swimsuit. You've done a great job and I can't wait to see it on Cathy.

  5. I love Cathy!!!! She is fab... You should be proud of the swimsuit.... Looks great ...well done!!!!

  6. Oh my! I wouldn't even know where to start with such a thing. Loving the fabrics and the plaid matching. You are so incredibly talented Peter :-)

  7. Masterful as ever, Peter, that zip especially. Enjoy your break; we want pictures.

  8. Wow Peter I have no idea how you managed to sew a reversible swim bottom, and with matching plaid?? Truly excellent work, enjoy your vacay!

  9. "But sometimes only strong language will do..."

    But, but, THIS IS A SEWING BLOG!

    (The swimsuit is amazing.)

  10. Suit looks great and worth the effort! Have a great vacation! I will miss your blog. (I've already read all the archives.)

    ps: Best wishes to Cathy on the blessed event!

  11. I have followed your blog FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. (and that wasn't that long ago!)
    You are sewing a reversible swim suit bottom? You rock. (I don't even dare to attempt such a challenge after more than 20 years of sewing...)
    You truly rock.

  12. This may be my all-time favorite garment ever posted on a sewing blog, which is extra amazing given that I HATE BUGS. But WOW and DAMN. You killed that. I would absolutely die over even a mini-tute on how to make the zipper lapped on both sides, if you would be so kind when you get the time. How to install a zipper is all over the web; how to finish the inside and enclose the zipper is harder to find but available; I don't believe I've ever come across how to make a fully reversible lapped zipper. I'm in awe of your skills, and your fabric selection prowess today. WOW and DAMN again!

  13. Peter, thanks for the information about buying the sport elastic on Amazon. It is indeed great for boxer shorts and I have been through yards and yards of it, but my supplier no longer carries it by the yard. You have to buy 3 yard hanks and that goes quickly. I never think of buying sewing supplies on Amazon. It is a really great elastic and the finished product looks very professional.

  14. What types of fabrics do the pattern envelopes recommend for swimsuits with ruching or skirts? What fabrics were available by the yard? Wet cottons would be a soggy mess and could not handle chlorinated pool water. So, is it sunbathing only? The purchased swimsuits that I remember from the 1940s and 1950s were a very substantial girdle-like elastic. Heavy, but no show-through problem.
    The Valentino coat/jacket is wonderful. It could also be made longer.

    1. It's interesting: a lot of the old swimsuit patterns suggest fabrics like pique, sharkskin, chambray, cotton broadcloth, seersucker -- even linen!

  15. Wishing you the best on Labor Day. ; )

  16. The swim suit is fabulous. Tell Cathy that in the midst of labour pains strong language is not only permitted, it's mandatory!

  17. Thanks for sharing the swimsuit. I can't quite understand how you lapped the zipper on both sides. I hope you can show in more detail someday. Also, I want to try the elastic. I don't know if it is just me, but I have tried to make boxers for my husband and can't seem to get the elastic to recover after sewing. I come out with a stretched out mess. I don't know what is going wrong.
    Are you off attending to the birth and new addition?

  18. I want that swim suit!! I love your blog and am always inspired- hope I can get off the fence and learn to sew my own clothes.

  19. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Its a lovely suit. Looking forward to seeing a zipper tutorial.

    I like that you respect all your readers. Although at times an * or ** is necessary.

  20. The reversible swimsuit is amazing. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with such a project. I’m really intrigued by the zipper that is lapped on both sides.

    The resemblance between Cathy and Violaine is amazing, but there is only one Ms. Lane.

    Enjoy your week and hope Cathy is doing well.

  21. I've always thought that Cathy looked more French than British.

  22. Hi, every month I choose six blogs I like to read and add a link of these blogs on the monthly linklist on my blog 'Elke dag zaterdag'. This month a link to your blog is one of them.
    You can read about it here:
    I hope that you like it, if it isn't ok, let me know and than I wil delete the link.
    Enjoy your Saterday!
    Greetings from Janina


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