Sewing sunproof swimwear

Hi there!

So if you’re not following me on Instagram, you might not know that our family holiday this year is a dream trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Obviously there has been a lot of pre holiday sewing and today I want to share 4 garments made for 3 of us using patterns from one company: Jalie.

I was unsure that I’d get photos of these makes as they’re all sunproof swimwear and who takes their camera to the water parks? But, as ever, Disney to the rescue: there was a Memory Maker photographer there who took some family shots for us as we came off a water slide.

As you can see, we’re all quite pale. Me especially! And I was worried about keeping our skin safe in the Florida sun while enjoying the water parks.

Also, I’m well aware that I look a numpty with a headscarf on and I care not a jot: it takes about ten minutes without a hat in the uk for me to get a banging headache so I’m not risking it here!

The first item I made was a rash vest for myself using the Valerie pattern. I made this a few months ago using flexcite from Funki Fabrics: the black is the recycled fabric and the patterned is the normal fabric. They aren’t cheap, but then neither are RTW rashies so I was ok with that.

Work in progress, before the sleeves were shortened

There is nothing fancy about the version I sewed up, but I could have made long sleeves, a cropped body or a zipper front had I been so inclined. The pattern also covers sizes for toddlers through to large adult sizes which makes it pretty good value.

It came together really easily; it’s essentially a raglan sleeve t so nothing too complicated. I did get the joy of finishing the sleeves and hem using a cover stitch machine whilst at the Stitch Room Sewcial this year and it did get me sorely tempted to save up for one of my own! The only mod I made was to significantly shorten the sleeves: I really only wanted to keep the sun off my shoulders rather than protect my entire upper arm so this length was plenty.

The top must have looked good, because my husband actually requested one of his own! This is just about unheard of!

I got very lucky at the Stitch Room Sewcial fabric swap table and snagged a hard copy of another Jalie pattern, the Nico top which is a generic raglan shirt. Again it includes multiple sleeve options and sizes from toddler to fairly large man. I say fairly large because Rich was at the top end of the size chart; this regularly happens to him because he’s built to scale and he’s 6’6″ tall.

Unsurprisingly, I added a couple of inches in length to his version! Easily done as it’s a straight sided shirt with no shaping at all.

Rich had enormous fun picking his own fabric on the Funki Fabrics site and came up with this floral / solid combo which gave me some serious fabric envy! We only ordered half a metre of the floral though, which gave me enough to make Katie’s dolly a new suit but not me 😭.

Again, the pattern came together really easily and, as I didn’t have access to a cover stitch this time around, I assembled the shirt on my overlocker and used the three step zigzag on my sewing machine for the hem and cuffs.

I thought that would be it for swimwear, given the availability of children’s rash vests on the high street. But I reckoned without my eldest’s unusual height and slimness. Every rashie I found came with matching shorts, and every damn pair of shorts just fell down! So I used the voucher from my Stitch Room Sewcial goodie bag to claim a third Jalie pattern, this time for swim shorts.

These were a delight to sew. They have a really cute side pocket which gives a kind of cut away effect and they include an integral knicker designed to stop you flashing your bum in the water: an excellent idea, in my mind! The construction was surprisingly well explained (Jalie patterns have a tendency to be beyond brief!) and it all came together nicely. As instructed, I used the same fabric for the shorts and knickers with some power mesh as the gusset. I do find that this makes the shorts quite bulky when wet: I might consider using power mesh for the whole pants bit another time but I’m 🤔 not sure.

And I know this because I made myself a pair! My daughter’s pair used the last of the Funki Fabrics flexcite so I used some swim fabric I picked up at the New Craft House which is superb quality.

I made my standard mod of adding 1.5cm to the centre back seam of both shorts and knickers and I can happily say that these were extremely comfy and stood up to a lot of water slides this morning! Result!

This has definitely wet my appetite for more swimwear sewing, but I’d love to know where UK based sewists get hold of their swimwear elastic? I really struggled and ended up using clear elastic on the leg openings for the shorts and quite a narrow elastic on the shorts waistbands: can anyone recommend a good stockist?

Becca x

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