The Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files

When I started 2016 with the idea of not buying any clothing (more in this post here), I knew a swimsuit would feature somewhere in my immediate sewing future. In the lead up to a mid-winter holiday back in June, I figured that the time had finally come to finally make a pair of bathers. I purchased a bikini pattern that is very true to the style I usually wear, chose and cut my fabric, opened the instructions and promptly freaked out. Detail was scant and with all the finicky materials and pieces, it just felt too hard. By this stage, I’d given myself two days to sew my first ever bikini before I left on a family holiday and let’s just say NOBODY needs that kind of last minute stress in their life. So I hit pause.

At around the same time, Heather released her Sophie Swimsuit pattern. After reading her pattern introduction blog post it was immediately obvious that an INSANE amount of her blood, love, sweat and possibly tears had gone into creating this pattern. The Sophie design itself is not my usual swimwear style but I figured if I wanted to make a swimsuit I should learn to make it right, y’know? I’d also been thinking about lingerie sewing and this pattern lends itself perfectly to learning bra-making skills. You’ve also got the option to purchase a video workshop series (this also includes a free copy of the PDF pattern) which walks you through all – and I mean ALL – the pre-sewing (fabrics, materials, adjustments, cutting, taking measurements etc) and sewing steps. This was my first sewing experience of being accompanied by a video tutorial and let me tell you, it is highly recommended and oh so comforting. SO comforting in fact, that not once did I refer to the written instructions.

The key with this project is to be both prepared and organised. I watched the first workshop video (Swimsuit Materials and Supplies) and learnt exactly what I needed. Then, over the course of a week, I chose my fabrics and purchased all the necessary supplies, ticking everything off the list as it came in. I brought my cup foam, elastic, underwire casing and G-hooks (see, I’ve got the swimwear lingo down now) from Booby Traps and my underwires came from an ol’ faithful bra that should’ve been thrown out three…ok, five years ago. You know you’ve got one too. The fabrics I chose are two recent additions to our swimwear range – Flower Festival Stretch and Rainy Stretch – and it was hands-up 100% inspired by Emilie’s glorious version.

In Lesson Two, Heather guides you through the measuring process which helps you get the right cup and swimsuit size. Like everything about this project, it’s not nearly as intimidating or tricky as you think it’s going to be. She recommends you make a test cup and guess what!? I do too! Here’s a little tip…make your test cup BEFORE you cut any of your outer or lining fabrics. If you’re making the swimsuit and get the cup size wrong, you’ve got to re-cut all the body pieces. After I’d made my cups, I wondered if they would be too small (or maybe just needed a minor pattern adjustment?) but by that stage I’d cut all the swimsuit fabric and lining so I couldn’t go back. I wasn’t prepared to go down that re-cutting road so I just plugged ahead with blind faith and, thanks to the uber supportive-ness and coverage of the Sophie style, it totally works.

In the video lesson on ‘Personalising and Modifying’ your Sophie, Heather explains that the design is based on an average torso length of someone who’s 5’7″ in height. Being 5’3″ (160cm), I took a blind punt and removed an inch out of the length. Good call methinks.

Construction is super straightforward and Heather even guides you through the necessary stitch width and lengths. All these details leave little room for sewing error. Things can get a little fiddly (that’s fiddly…not hard!) at the point where the cups are inserted and the underwire casing is topstitched in but, man, that finish is incredibly satisfying on both inside and out.

While the bust coverage and support of Sophie is a thing of beauty, equal credit must go to the butt coverage. Here’s my butt as proof. See? No cheeky business going on here.

It’s a beautifully drafted pattern and the design is incredibly feminine. As Heather rightly says, “it’s both va-va-voom flattering and reassuringly supportive” and that’s an impressive enough combination in a store-bought swimsuit, let alone ONE YOU CAN SEW YOURSELF!

With this pattern, there are skill satisfaction levels that are on a whole other level. My family are always incredibly supportive and (mostly) complimentary of my makes but with this swimsuit,  general reactions were along the line of “What?! You made that?!” Mum even put in an order. Go on, check out the #sophieswimsuit hashtag and be completely inspired by all these bathing beauties.
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