Saturday, April 28, 2012

Swimsuit Empire Band Insert {Color Blocking}

Although our local pool doesn't open 'til June 9th, I've already been working on swimsuits.

It's probably because we've had such an awesome Winter, i.e. almost no snow and 70-80 degree weather in March.  It's hard to not think about swimsuits when it is that warm in MN.  It was our warmest March E.V.E.R.!  And we loved it.  O.K., well I loved it.  My kids lamented the lack of snow, but I thought it was just lovely.

One of the easiest way to "fancy" up or embellish a regular tank swimsuit is to add a contrasting band on the front piece so that it gives it the appearance of an empire style suit.  You can also add it onto the back, which I don't always do, but it is done in the same manner.

I've posted a bit about this technique before: Color blocking, as it is called.  However, today I'll give you a bit more detailed instruction on this technique.

Truly this is so easy.

Here are instructions to add an 1-1/2 inch finished inset band piece.

  • First, on the already cut out front piece of fabric, all I do is measure down about 1-1/2 inches from the armpit and cut straight across the entire front in a straight line. We now have 2 front pieces--top and bottom.  NOTE: If you are working on a little girl's suit: i.e. size 6 or less, you may not want to measure down as far to begin with. 
  • Then on the bottom half I measure 1 inch from that previously cut edge and cut another strip across. 
  • Remove that one inch strip and toss it in the trash.
  • From your contrasting fabric you cut a 2 inch strip the width of the suit. Make sure that the stretch of the band is the length of the suit--greatest stretch going around your body.
  • Sew the strip to the top half using a 1/4 inch seam.
  • Attach the strip to the bottom half also with a 1/4 inch seam.
  • And voila! you have a 1-1/2 inch empire insert strip in your suit.
  • I then carefully (on low heat--i.e. silk or polyester setting because otherwise you could melt your swimsuit fabric) press both seams towards the insert band.  This just makes it a little easier to do the topstitching.
  • Topstitch (optional, but I prefer it) with a 2,5 Stretch Twin Needle and the band is complete.

This shows the backside after the topstitch.

Once this part is done you assemble the remainder of the swimsuit as the instructions indicate.
A Note about lining:
Instead of cutting the front lining pieces to match the cut pieces above I cut one entire lining piece using the pattern before altering for the color blocking.  This reduces the bulk at the seams.  However, I primarily do this because daughter #3 is extremely particular about how things "feel".  She wants it to be smooth against her body and not "itchy" as she says it is otherwise. 

Super cute store bought Target suit that #3 refuses to wear because of these "itchy" seams.

Whenever I ask her if she likes a particular piece of fabric her response is always, "Let me see."  She then proceeds to touch and feel it before deciding if she likes it or not.  She is all about feel and THEN the look of the fabric. 

This method of color blocking is also great if you have some fun swimsuit fabric leftover and it isn't big enough to do anything else except use it for a empire band or side insert.  And really you can do this on any size swimsuit.  I recently made a 2T suit for one of the neices using this little insert and it turned out so darling (see right below).

Here's another that I've worked on to reduce some of my swimsuit stash.

You can find these 2 suits (girls size 10) and others for purchase in my shop.

And my Miss B. wanted this combo for this year.

The Hawaiian girl print I've had for quite some time.  This is what was salvaged from the flop of a swimsuit top I had tried a couple years ago.

Color blocking allows you to change an otherwise simple suit into something fun and interesting.  I've got a few more ideas about color blocking that I need to make up. This year does seem to be the year for this technique.  So why not go ahead and try it on one of your suits.

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