I have never made swimwear before… its quite bazaar because it’s never even crossed my mind as something to make. However, when I was hunting for projects, I came across Papercut patterns. They are beautifully designed garments that feel very contemporary, I knew I wanted to give one a try… then I spotted the Soma swimsuit.

The pattern contains 3 variations of swimsuit, 2 bikinis and a one-piece. Now Papercut patterns are by no means the cheapest of the pattern brands, but when the pattern contains 3 very different options within it, it definitely feels like you’re getting some bang for your buck.

When the pattern arrived, my goodness was the packaging beautiful. I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but when the cover looks like this it’s really hard not to be excited before you even open it up. Inside the pattern sheet opens (on a lovely weight of brown paper) and included on it is a section to cut out and stick together to create your own instruction book. Now I have no idea why making my own instruction book made me as happy as it did but… well, I really can’t deny that it did.

The other part of this pattern that really piqued my interest was that papercut have instructions on their website for adding extra bra support into the one-piece swimsuit…  support in swimming costumes is something I always struggle with, so the potential of a beautiful looking and supportive swimsuit was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. 

For this pattern the fabric you require swimsuit Lycra. I’m not usually a big wearer of blue but these colours really sprung out at me, I just felt they’d work really well… and I really wanted to create a two-tone one-piece so wanted to choose two colours that would compliment each other. When it arrived, I was really impressed with the vibrancy of the colour on this fabric, it’s just incredible. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of purchasing cheap swimwear you will know the feeling of the thin fabric that holds nothing in and becomes see-through when too much strain is put on it… this is nothing like that! It’s got a solid thickness to it, and not only is it very stretchy but it retracts really efficiently.  

The pattern also calls for various notions… elastics, strapping and bra rings. It also calls for swimsuit lining. For this I chose to just ensure I had enough of the outer fabrics to line the swimsuit in the same fabric, which reduces the worry of the lining peeking out. I measured in as needing the size Large, so had 1 meter of the navy blue and 1 meter of the aqua (this also gave me plenty of fabric for the integrated bra addition too).

Following the instructions for the bra insert on the website and then trying to keep track of where in the instruction book, I was wasn’t the easiest of things… but it is a relatively simple addition that I find works really well at providing support. The first part of the instructions is for drafting out the pattern piece for it, something that was really simple to follow and quick to do. (I drafted all my pattern pieces out for this pattern as I didn’t want to cut the original so I have the option to make the other variations and sizes in the future).

The pants part of this swimsuit is truly excellent… which possibly sounds an odd thing to exclaim but hear me out. I have spent hour upon hour trying on swimsuits over the last few years, and had come to the conclusion my body must be weird… because if they weren’t giving me a wedgie, they’d be so high cut I was questioning what was being covered any more. These pants however cover everything without feeling frumpy. I find my post baby tummy to be something I’ve accepted but is by no means the shape it used to be and these fit and provide cover in such a flattering way that I don’t feel self-conscious of it… which is not a small accomplishment for a humble pant.

They are also really simple to construct, using a zig zag stitch to attach the elastic to the legs. The elastic went on so smoothly, as the weight of the Lycra fabric is such that it is quite a stable sew (for a stretch fabric). I used a combination of my overlocker and a zig zag stitch to

Once the pants are made, it’s on to the top and the bra insert… where the first job is to attach the lining and outer pieces together (right sides out). This thickness will drive you mad later on down the line when it feels like there are a lot of layers of fabric to try and get through to attach the straps, but when you’re wearing it, these layers make you feel secure… and are totally necessary.

The bra insert comprises of 2 pieces with a neck edge finished with swimsuit elastic that are secured together at the bottom edge with a wide piece of elastic (this is what sits under your bust and holds you in place). This bra insert is attached to the top edge of the outer swimsuit, folding to the inside and being included in the main edges when they are finished. The extra elastic in the garment makes it slightly harder to lay the fabric out during the construction but is well worth it in my opinion.

The front edge of the swimsuit is finished with fold-over elastic, that encases the raw edges and then joins to the main straps at the rings. It creates a very neat finish and comes together really nicely. My only frustration with it is that because the elastic extends above the top (into the strap) I find it stretches a lot when on. Now some of that is due to the situation of me being a breastfeeding mother, so I’m fully aware my bust is heavier than the designers of this costume likely intended. I have toyed with the idea of reinforcing this section with something non-stretch like a twill tape to add extra support, but I have left it as is for now and find it does hold up, the ring just sits higher than I think I’d ideally like it to.

By far the trickiest part of the construction of this swimsuit is attaching the various straps and getting them the right length. I had to enlist my partner to do the job of pinning them for me (whilst I held my breath fully expecting a pin or two to stab me during this process) and then had a lot of layers to get through to secure them in place.

I have been super impressed with this swimsuit. It feels secure, I feel sexy in it, and it’s even holding up to me playing with the children in it (which is no mean feat). The fabric is so secure, and the double layer thickness holds me in like a giant hug.

Clearly in the present climate I can’t take it out for a spin at any glamorous locations, so for now the paddling pool in the garden will have to do.