Enna has long requested a "swimsuit that matches" --one with no sleeves and one piece. Or at least a tankini that has matching tops and bottoms. This is impossible to buy since she fits in 2T bottoms but has the length of a 4-5 year old. In the past, I have purchased a swim suit and only used the bottoms or bought swim shorts and then purchased a rash guard separately to wear on top. You can sort of see the setup below.
After a number of requests, I decided to try my hand at making a swimsuit. I had her pick out a fabric she liked from The Fabric Fairy. She surprised me by picking out the black fabric with moons, hearts, and stars. Finn also needed a new rashguard (he doesn't like not wearing a shirt) and so he picked out some colors for me to make him a top.
For Finns shirt, I just used the Oliver & S school bus t-shirt pattern since I already had it. I cut out a size 5 and added length to be an 8. I didn't, however, take into account his shoulders which are as broad as an 8 year old. Also, the neckline is quite small. He has a *very* hard time getting it over his head. Next time I make this (either as a rashguard or a regular shirt), I will add to the shoulders and increase the neck opening. I also might make the sleeves longer. Despite these faults, I feel like this fits and works better than the rashguards we have previously purchased. Those shirts are quite wide on him and really flap about in the pool. He mentioned that he was able to swim better in this one.
Enna wanted a 1-piece swimsuit. I, however, do not want to help my daughter go to the bathroom while she is wearing a wet 1-piece. Instead I made a tankini. For the top, I made Jalie 3023. I asked around the internet and heard that Jalie makes top-notch swimsuit patterns. The size range is super impressive ranging from toddlers to grown women. I will be able to make myself a swimsuit using this pattern if I so choose. For the bottoms, I wanted something with more coverage than a normal swim bottom. I used 3247: low-rise gym shorts. I think they work great. I might in future pairs increase the rise a touch but so far, it hasn't been a problem as is. To figure out the size for the top, I used the instructions for a 1-piece. I picked the size for her hips/waist/chest and added the length to the top that I needed based on her length measurement. For the bottoms, I used the width that corresponded to her measurement but added a bit in length.
I had never made a Jalie pattern before, so I was a bit disoriented as I figured out how the patterns were laid out and where the instructions were written (as they are written in both English and French). However, once I started sewing, I had no problems figuring out what I needed to do. Also, they have some helpful links to tutorials either they have created or links to other's tutorials for their patterns.
Also, I didn't think that Enna's fabric was directional, so I didn't pay attention to how I cut out the pieces. Doh. Oh well. I figure that no one else will be checking her suit out as closely as I am and notice it.
They pattern doesn't say to cross the straps. However, I read other blog posts on this pattern and depending on the fabric and how it behaves when wet, the straps can loosen up and get baggy. I preemptively took care of this by making them cross in the back.
By the time I sewed Enna's swimsuit, I had received my Christmas present: a new serger! The main seams I sewed on the serger and then sewed the yolk, straps, waistband, and hems on my sewing machine. It was so delightful and easy that I was sad that I didn't have it when I was sewing Finn's top. It would have been so much easier/nicer.
I was surprised how quickly all the swimwear came together, especially for this swimwear novice. I think I will be making future more suits in the future.