I never knew how easy I had it, buying swimsuits for a little girl. You can almost always find a cute suit, or two or three, in the girls department a Target. Or if you're feeling speedy, splurge on one from Gymboree - using or redeeming Gymbucks of course.
But tween swimsuits. That's a fresh kind of hell.
Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but really it's like stepping I to a whole 'nother world buying a swimsuit for a tween. Juniors' suits are cut so... skimpy. And they assume you have curves and want to show them off. Try finding a suit with full rear end coverage AND full top coverage. Good. Luck. My daughter is just getting her curves and she's not so thrilled at the idea of everything out there on display. She WANTS to be covered.
Even suits built with more coverage generally have shaped cups to support boobs that tweens don't have yet. And the styles tend to be more grown-up, more sophisticated than is appropriate for them to wear. When she's older, I don't have any issues with her wearing something like Cheeky One Piece Bathing Suits, but for now, I think she's a bit too young.
We hunted around and found one whole suit at Target, which cost $40 by the way. That's more than TWICE what they cost in the girls' department.
This long tween bathing suit rant is all an explanation of why I decided to make a swimsuit for my daughter this year. I've made a couple of suits for he before, just simple one-piece suits. But this year I took a new direction.
My apologies for the blurry photos. It's difficult to get good photos with a bum wrist. My hand is healing, but it still shakes when it's holding weight (even the light weight of my phone).
Instead of one piece that can be worn one way, I created a swimsuit ensemble. A two-piece swimsuit and a coordinating rash guard and swim skirt. That way she can mix and match the pieces to get different looks.
The starting point was the cat fabric I found from Spandex World. She is a crazy cat lady in training, so when I saw it I knew that it was a must-buy. The colors are kinda awful in it (but, cats!) so I color blocked it with baby blue and black to brighten it up.
The two-piece is the Ariel swimsuit pattern from Sew Daily. I liked this pattern because it was youthful and sporty, but also gives my daughter the coverage she wanted.
The pattern is a free download, but the instructions are printed in the magazine. This particular issue was published 2 years ago and I couldn't find a way to purchase an electronic copy, so I just printed the pattern and figured out the construction myself. I added in soft cups on the lining. Which, by the way, are impossible to purchase. She doesn't need full formed cups, but she does need a little bit of padding and support. I searched high and low, but the only swimwear cups you can find are formed. I ended up just buying a swimsuit at Goodwill outlet and pulling the cups out of it.
For the rash guard, I traced around one she wore last year - and had outgrown. It was easy enough to adjust it up.
The skirt is just a simple A-line skirt, pieced in panels. Here's my second rant for this post. Swimsuit elastic. Why do they not sell it in wide widths for waistbands???? The best I could find was 3/4" and that was online. I needed something wider than that and I didn't want to wait for shipping, so I used regular (non-swim) waistband elastic. I'm not sure how long it will take before the chlorine breaks it down, but I left the casing open on the inside so it will be easy to replace when it does.
I'm loving the mix-and-match aspect of a swimming ensemble as opposed to a swim suit. I think this will be my new approach for sewing swimwear.