Frances: Tomorrow is Water Day.
Me: Water Day? What’s that?
Frances: We’ll spend a couple of periods doing water games and things.
Me: Oh! That sounds like fun.
Frances: Yeah, so I’ll need you to finish that swimsuit for me.
Me: And you couldn’t have shared this with me before?
Frances: Well, I could have, but I forgot.
I made a swimsuit.
Of a fashion.
The pattern came from the summer 2015 issue of Ottobre–the one piece, with modifications for fit. The fabric was a mystery blend on discount from Fabricland, bought to make a cheap experimental version before the “real” one.
The pattern was fantastic, which I’ve come to expect from Ottobre; the fabric was fine; the whole thing sewed up well and I was pretty gobsmacked at how well the modifications worked. Frances hasn’t had a swimsuit that fits well for many years–the ones in the stores do not work for her at all, which is why I was making one in the first place.
I made a few tweaks to the cut of the legs, and that’s where it stood until the Water Day Declaration. All I had left to do was the hemming.
Instructions: “Sew 1/4″ clear elastic to the openings, then turn to the inside and coverstitch.”
1/4″ clear elastic sewn to the openings: check. Took maybe 25 minutes.
… Houston, we have a problem.
The looper stitches were a disaster. Nothing caught. The second line of stitching completely unraveled at the first touch on the two hems I first sewed, leaving little blue loops in the inside and an incredibly snug first line of stitching that had to be ripped out, one by one, taking forever.
Now, one of the things I love about having friends who sew, is when they share gems like this on social media (this one courtesy of Laura):
This gives you a pretty good idea of what it was like in my dining room that night. Only more colourful. There may have been hitting of the coverstitch machine (I hear that helps).
I undid the stitches; reset the threads; the lower looper unthreaded itself and I’d go a whole seam without stitches. Or none of the second line of stitching would catch at all and I’d have a really ugly line of chainstitches.
I spent more time ripping out the fucked-up coverstitches than I had spent to that point making the suit in its entirety.
Eventually, I picked up the machine and removed it to the laundry room before I gave in to the mounting impulse to toss it into the backyard. (Dew also helps, I’ve been told.)
Ripped out all the stitches again, thus stretching out the spandex along the edges something fierce, and hemmed it using the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.
Took 25 minutes. And it doesn’t look as nice as it would have if it had been coverstitched properly, but since proper cover-stitching was clearly impossible, it looks a hell of a lot better than the available alternatives.
Of course, with the hems all stretched out from the repeated sew-and-rip, I had to perform emergency tweaks to the seams to tug them back in a bit. No idea if it worked or not as Frances was asleep by that point (swearing at and pounding sewing machines helps children fall asleep–try it!) and she had to bring it to school the next morning. Since then it’s also accompanied her on a camping trip, but I still haven’t seen her wearing it; she says it’s “fine.” She is 12. These days, everything is “fine.”
Also, my coverstitch machine is likely going to be taking a trip back to the dealer, accompanied by some strong words, to see if they can figure out what in god’s name is wrong with the damned looper.