His old swimshirt* was all worn out from multiple years of use so I thought to myself, is a swimshirt something one can make? Then I thought, why ever not, you dum-dum? Plus I’m all about experimenting lately. His other swimshirts have always been raglan style (sleeves go all the way up to the neck) so I used the Tee for Two Pattern by Figgy’s that gets so much use around here and $10 worth of swim material from Fields. You could definitely use another t-shirt pattern and get a similar effect though. I made him a whale swimshirt, because he’s into whales lately:
*Other (normal) people call this a “rashguard,” but the thought of my four-year-old doing anything (surfing? At least I presume that is the origin of that nomenclature?) that would require rash protection has always seemed a bit bizarre to me. So we call it a swimshirt around these parts.
This shirt just as nice if not nicer than one you could buy in a store. Why didn’t I do this before? It’s ridiculously easy. I even had so much extra material that I made another pair of trunks which are still a bit large but are shown below. And I *still* have extra material, so maybe Clementine will get a matching swimsuit. Although matchy-matchy brother sister swimwear is maybe a little much, even for me.
Then I peeled the paper off:
And ironed it, sticky side down, to the shirt. Don’t dither on this step. If it’s not exactly centered no one will notice.
Finally I used a small zigzag stitch to sew around the outside of the whale, just inside the edge.
And then sewed the side seams of the shirt. You can see here what it looks like from the inside. Not as pretty, but this is for educational purposes:
Then I sewed the side seams and hemmed the shirt.
One issue with sewing swimwear or knits is that the stitches must be able to stretch. One must be very careful to sew in such a way that the stitches can be stretched (either by zigzagging or using a knit-friendly stitch of some sort, most machines have an overlock stitch), otherwise they have a tendency to break which is obviously a problem. Not cool to have all your stitching undo itself.
To help with this, I tried something called “wooly nylon thread” in the bobbin for the first time. Wooly nylon thread makes one side of the seam more stretchy, which is nice, but then you wonder about the other side. Plus it costed just as much for the two spools of wooly nylon thread ($5 each, YIKES) as the material itself, which just about killed me. Unwilling to let it go to waste I next tried putting it in my serger, which produced a piece of fabric so hairy it could have been confused for a small furry creature and left me completely convinced I had finally busted my serger for good. After complaining on twitter that my serger was completely bazonk, it somehow magically fixed itself and cooperated (note to self: is serger following me on twitter?? Must investigate further. Also: complain more often, seems to fix problems?). So I’m not sure I have much worthwhile to report on the wooly nylon thread front.
I find the picture above particularly satisfying. It’s the inside of the trunks, seams all serged up. Which gives me a chance to mention that while having a serger is nice for trimming/finishing edges quickly and making it look all pretty, it’s really not necessary for sewing knits or swimwear. I’d like to dispel that myth once and for all. I use my serger because I have one, but I definitely think having a decent sewing machine is way more important than having a serger when it comes to sewing stretchy things. In this case I serged the edges after sewing them on the machine. I don’t actually use the serger to sew the seams themselves, just for finishing them, if that makes sense. Is that true for the rest of you who use sergers?
OK I’m sick of writing. Who else is craving pretzels with chocolate fondue? Oh by the way we are moving again this week (this time finally to our permanent location). So if I don’t post again for awhile, that’s why!