Print-Mixing Bikini

Aloha! We snuck off for a week to enjoy the sun on Maui. My father-in-law came along and celebrated his 70th birthday with a tropical drive around the island, Asian noodles, and a boat ride through the lava rocks. There was also lots of opportunity for sun and sand and, of course, my annual new swimsuit. Such a lucky girl!

Pattern: Orange Lingerie's Esplanade Bra and Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties
Fabric: Poly Spandex in Daisy and Crane prints
Cost: $20

Somewhere I got the idea in my head that I wanted a print-mixed bikini this year. I blame Pinterest. I couldn't stop thinking about pairing two contrasting florals in a bohemian, chic suit for the summer. In practice, finding the right fabric was much harder than expected. I scoured countless fabric stores, mocked up a few combos, was talked out of my most wild notions by my husband and the internet, and finally settled on these two fabrics from the Fabric Fairy. I like the way the black compliments the florals, and the cranes have a similar color scheme. The fabrics arrived quickly and were of great quality, so I was on my way! I also have like 20yds of swimsuit elastic on hand after buying in bulk on Amazon.

For this swimsuit, I was also dearly tempted to buy the Closet Case Files Sophie Swimsuit. As you can see, my suit is nearly identical. However, it was hard to justify when I had two very similar patterns in my stash already. The final tipping point was the reminder that I'd already fitted these patterns to my body - for a bra and bottoms, this is very important! So I dove ahead using the Orange Lingerie Esplanade Bra and Ohhh Lulu Grace Panties patterns to great results.

For the top, I made a few modifications. I first shortened the height of the band all the way around so that it was barely an inch under the cups. I then tapered the back band further until it was the size of my back clasp. Finally, I added a fabric tube as the neck strap, attached to the top of the bust cups. I didn't add any boning or supports other than underwire and cup foam and it holds up really well on my body without slipping.

For the bottoms, I had already lengthened the Grace panties so that they reached my natural waist. I have quite a long rise, so I believe I raised them by several inches. I also sewed a second pair that is low rise. From what I remember, this low rise version is lower than the Grace panties as drafted. I've been making two bottoms for my bathing suits lately and liking it quite a lot. It allows me to have a more adventurous pair, like this high-rise version or even a really cheeky version, and then have a more "normal" version for when I'm not feeling so daring. Makes the suit much more versatile!

The suit behaved well in the water. I wore it to lounge at the beach and the pool, but I also wore it out snorkeling, twice! The higher rise of the bottoms give ya more sun coverage when you're face down looking at fish and turtles. The top stays on well, although I wouldn't wear it for serious swimming. In that case, I'd want a more compression-style top, similar to how you'd wear a sports bra rather than a foam underwire bra to go running. My only gripe really is that the leg elastic is quite snug, which looks fabulous but isn't ideal for all-day wear such as riding along the rode to Hana looking for waterfalls.

It took me several years and many fails to sew a bathing suit I actually liked. The last two suits I wore to Hawaii, 5 and 8 years ago, were barely wearable. But I finally got the hang of it a few years ago and I haven't looked back since. They aren't all winners, but I have a feeling I'll be wearing this one for years to come! 

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