Hello, CSC! Today, I am reviewing the Nautilus Swimsuit from SeamstressErin Designs. A few months ago I volunteered to be a pattern tester for Erin, after she put out a call for testers of all sizes.
Full disclosure: I received the pattern for free for testing purposes, as well as a copy of the final pattern once changes had been made. I do not blog, and there was no promise that I would give it a good review or review it at all. So, all opinions about this pattern are my own.
The twist front on this one-piece suit hooked me in! Even better, Erin included bra sizes in the sizing chart and put a size-inclusive woman on the pattern cover. She looked so cute in that suit that I had no problem imagining myself in this design. Furthermore, it was important that the halter straps were optional only. I have neck problems and hanging my swimsuit up by my neck is no longer something I will even consider.
As I mentioned, the sizing on this pattern is extremely inclusive. The largest size has an underbust of 51″ and hip sizing to 55″, with a variety of bra sizing options, from AA to DD+. My measurements for your comparison: 44 1/2 full bust, 39 waist, 47 hip. I wear a 38 D bra, or depending on the brand, a 40D. I am 5’8″ tall, have a fairly long torso, a very full round bottom, and a broad back. I am 62 years old and appreciate coverage, but hate boring!
When I first received the pattern, the sizing was a bit different than on the final pattern and based on that I chose the size 18 D. There was no mention of torso length on the initial pattern, so even though I felt I should add length to the torso, based on my past experience, I wanted to be a good tester and stick closely to the pattern. On my next suit I will add 1″ of length to the torso on both the front and back.
This pattern is rated for difficulty as intermediate. However, the most difficult part of sewing this pattern is the twist front. It is not intuitive or quite like anything I have ever sewn before. That being said, once that head-scratching part of the suit is done, it is like sewing any other bathing suit. SeamstressErin has plans to soon host a sew along, which should be extremely helpful, if you’re new to swimwear. So, if you are an adventurous beginner, I think you can do it! Just so you know, this is not a quick pattern to make. Adding lining and stitching carefully and slowly are very important. You might get quicker on your third suit, but how many suits do you really need? You will need to stretch the elastic as you go, in certain areas only. For instance, when you sew the elastic to the leg you do not stretch at all at the front of the leg but you do need to stretch around the back of the leg to pull that suit under the butt. Each step is well explained in the directions.
Let’s talk about the details, shall we? This teal swimwear fabric is from my stash, as I’ve had bathing suits in mind for a while. For the other notions, I used a beige power net fabric for the lining, then put in cheap cups from Fabricland into the bra front. I feel there must be a better way than Erin’s to install better cups into this pattern and will update you all, if I figure this out! Right now, I’m working on another version with an underwire bra. There is an option on this pattern to put in boning right at the underarm, and I also may try that next time.
In construction, I used a Schmetz Stretch needle 75/11, to prevent skipped stitches. I understand that chlorine will “eat” cotton thread, so I also used polyester thread, throughout the suit, and chlorine-resistant elastic. All I could find for a swimsuit hook, however, was white. I would have preferred using a clear plastic one, but instead I painted my hook to match. I have gone to the pool with my grandsons already wearing this suit and the hook color held up beautifully!
I used at 3.5 straight stitch to sew my suit together. Then, for my own safety, I top stitched everything with a 3 step zig zag stitch. There is nothing more terrifying that hearing the stitches on your swim suit pop, as you jump into the pool. As a woman of size, there are more forces applied from the inside the suit than if I were a smaller size. Better safe than sorry!
This was a wonderful testing experience and I love my tester suit! Like I said above, I’m already working on a second version with some tweaks. There are quite a few things to like about this pattern. Not only is the sizing is trustworthy, but I loved the bra area coverage and felt my choice of D cup worked out well. Additionally, I love the twist. It does pull downward more than I would like, but adding length will make it perfect. The butt coverage on this suit is only OK, however. The whole suit needs to be longer anyway, so when I add length to the torso, that should improve the pulling up at the butt and give improved coverage.
My only true dislike of the pattern is the method of installing cups. I am working on that and will keep you posted! Another issue I had is, because of my broad back, I cut the back band to the longest size. It was just barely long enough. This isn’t really a dislike, but something to keep in mind. Give yourself a bit extra of extra length on both the back band and the shoulder strap, just in case. It is easy to cut off excess, but really hard to make fabric longer later!
Size rating. (1-5). I am going to give this pattern a 5 on this one. Great inclusive sizing. Bra sizing to DD+ and that cute picture of a plus size woman on the cover. It doesn’t get much better!
Instructions. (1-5). I give it a 5 here as well. Really, really thorough instructions. Also, an upcoming sew-along!
Construction process. (1-5). 4, for me. This is not a quick sewing project and some of the skill needed is really a more intermediate level. However, with the sew along, most adventurous beginners will come up with a really cute suit. The bra cup installation method is not my favorite, but does produce a good result.
Final fit. (1-5). 4 – In the final pattern, there are instruction on how to measure for torso length ahead of time, but the testing version did not include that information. As such, my suit is just a bit too short.
Overall rating and why. (1-5). I won’t give this an overall rating yet, because I have only sewn the test version. However, even that was a great pattern, with interesting design details and an expansive size range. Plus, it fits me well and will be even better next time.