Hello, readers! With some trepidation I’m sharing this me-made swimsuit. Honestly, if it weren’t for Swimwear Month and the body positive attitude we have here at the CSC, I doubt I would share this, but here I am, basically posing in my skivvies on the internet.
Pattern Name: McCall’s 7168
Size Range: 14-22
What size did you make? Graded up to 26/28
What are your…..
- Measurements: 48-41-52
- Body Shape: Pear-ish/Spoon
- Height: 5’8
- Bra size: 44D
As soon as I saw this pattern, I really wanted to make it. I purchased both the pattern and my fabric last year, but didn’t get around to it until now. I mixed the high-waisted bottoms with gathered sides and the bikini peplum top to make this suit. I pictured something similar to a tankini, but with a little more coverage.
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take? This pattern only goes up to a size 22, so I graded it as I normally do to a size 26 for the top and size 26/28 for the bottoms. I feel that this pattern runs large and I could have gotten away with sewing this in a 22 or smaller. I had not sewn any McCall’s [or any other “Big 4”] swimsuits previously, so I wasn’t certain what to expect with the sizing. I generally don’t have a problem with the ease in the woven patterns, but I’ve always had to size down the knit patterns, although I didn’t do so with this one. My focus was on construction whilst sewing this rather than fit and following the manufacturer’s directions. I ended up having to take in some of the side seams on both the top and bottom, which doesn’t look as good on the inside as the lining was already in place.
In addition to re-sizing the pattern, I found that the gathers on the cummerbund/waistband are inadequately designed. The pattern only has markings for gathering on the side seams. When I followed the directions I ended up with a lot of hanging fabric. I’m sure that those gathers are adequate for someone wearing a size 14 or below, but not for me. I added three more gathering spots to make the cummerbund “ruche” more which looks far better to me.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you? The construction part itself is fine and, for the most part, the instructions are comprehensible. There are a lot of pattern pieces to contend with, so it’s a little overwhelming. I like how the insides are hidden well under the lining, which also was a detriment as that made it difficult to alter after it was together. Granted, I’m not a swimsuit expert and I’m a little out of my field of expertise when swimsuit sewing.
This pattern calls for a 2″ swimwear hook. Neither I nor my CSC colleagues could find one that large or even like the one in the photo below. In a pinch I used a much smaller 1″ swimwear hook that doesn’t resemble the one below but is what I could find at my local Beverly’s (CA fabric/craft store). I made it work, but I plan on adding a larger one when I can find it.
I didn’t like the way the waistband is constructed, so I did it my own way, which I like better. I sewed the raw edges of the waistband to the top of the bottoms and then serged that seam before adding my elastic.
My main issue with this suit is the elastics. The instructions specifically tell you to follow the elastic guides. I accurately measured the guide pieces and re-sized them correctly and I ended up with a whole lotta ugly. The only place where the elastic is not large and rumbly is on the waistband and that is because I did not follow the elastic guide there. I honestly feel that if I followed my gut and my measurements to cut the elastic, that that simple thing may have taken care of most of my sizing problems with this pattern. I fixed a bit of it by taking in some of the seams on both pieces, but it’s certainly not as nice to look at on the interior as it was pre-elastic.
How did you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think that the design works well for your body shape? As far as the top goes, I do not like the fit at all. I managed to tweak it a bit by shortening the straps and crossing them on my back to help hold my bosom up and make me feel more secure, but I am not enamored with it. The top does give me the coverage over my belly area that I was looking for, so that helps. I adore the bottoms. My only issue being with the dreaded elastic, which made me a little embarrassed to show you the view from behind.
Will you make this pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make? I will not be making the top again.
However, I really like the bottoms and will definitely make them again with a few changes for next time. I will size them down, probably to a 22. I will also raise the waistline and lower the leg openings (not sure of the correct nomenclature) so they hit me lower with more of a retro look. I would also cut two fabric pieces for the front and back center pattern pieces for further coverage (there are already two for the each of the side panels as one part is gathered). I cut out a crotch lining piece for this pair.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources or materials that helped you sew this piece up? I do have some advice for the top, especially if you’re more endowed than myself. The top has hardly any support and I believe that adding bra cups would help it immensely. In addition, I feel that adding boning would help with support as would cutting the elastic to fit YOU and not the elastic guide. I also think this top would benefit from rings and sliders on the straps. Seamstress Erin is a great resource for these alterations with several tutorials on her site.
Pattern Rating (1-5):
- Size range: 3
- Instructions: 4
- Construction process: 4
- Final fit: 3
- Overall rating: 3.5
So, will I actually wear this suit? When I first made it, I would have said absolutely not. However, I felt better about it when I put it on for these photos. It does not live up to my Esther Williams suit, but someday when we’re out of a drought and I have a pool, I would wear it then, whilst swimming in the privacy of my abode. I wouldn’t exactly want to wear it to a public pool or beach. It was a good learning experience and I’ll consider this more of a wearable muslin than anything. Right now, I’m fantasizing about making another pair of bottoms out of the pattern combined with the Seamwork Reno swim top. I’m finding that although I don’t like halters for dresses, I do prefer them for swimsuits and that’s something that I need to remember for future swimswear sewing.