I first sewed Kwik Sew 3605 for Clare, back in 2011. Then I sewed it again three times in 2014 (and bought the pattern again when I saw it on sale – I knew that I was on to a winner)! So it was the obvious choice of pattern when Stella asked me for new bathers at the beginning of this year.
One of the great things about this pattern is how mix and match it is – although each time I’ve sewn it my girls have selected the tankini top. Kwik Sew describe the pattern options a follows: Mix and match swimsuits. Halter style tops have lined cups. Tankini Top A: Ties at back neck. Top B: Band with hook closure on back, and ties at back neck. Boy-cut Bottoms C: Waist and leg openings finished with elastic. Bottoms D: Front lining and waist and leg openings finished with elastic. Pull-on A-line Skirt E: Waist finished with elastic.
This is a comparatively simple pattern to sew. I completely line the bottoms by cutting them out of swimsuit lining as well as the fashion fabric, sewing them up individually, then putting the lining bottoms inside the fashion fabric bottoms wrong sides together, then treating them as one when I finish the edges with elastic. That means that the interior seams are completely enclosed.
The fabric for both these pairs came from Rathdowne Fabrics. They have an excellent selection of swimwear fabric, both on the roll and as large remnants. The lining fabric came from them as well.
I wonder what size I sewed? I’d have to pull out the pattern pieces to check. This pattern goes from size 4 to 14. It may have been the Medium with the length of the Large.
This photo gives you more idea about construction. I use the overlocked for all the major seams and to finish seams, and use the zig-zag stitch on my machine to attach any elastic to the inside of the edges and then again when I fold the edges to the inside and secure them.
There is elastic around the underbust and along the top edge of the back of the tankini top, and on the waist and leg edges of the pants. The more you sew elastic to bathers edges, the better you’ll get at knowing just how much to stretch it as you attach it. Most of the time, you don’t need to stretch it much at all! I think that’s a fallacy when sewing bathers, that you need to have the elastic much smaller than the opening. You don’t! Think about it – bathers generally have negative ease througout, so the fabric and elastic is already stretching when it’s on the body. Add a little more stretch in places where the fabric will need to cup the body, like at the back leg/bottom, but otherwise don’t really stretch it much at all.
I notice in these photos that my zig-zag has a couple of skipped stitches. Make sure that you have the right needle in for your fabric, preferably a fresh needle! You want something that works well on spandex blends. My machine seems to prefer a sharps needle to a universal. There’s sometimes some experimentation involved in getting that right.
There are plenty of swimwear sewing references available nowadays, and I do suggest reading through many of them before you start sewing swimwear. But it honestly isn’t difficult! And it’s definitely highly satisfying, especially when you hit on just the right pattern for you. I strongly suspect that this pattern is going to get another run for the coming summer – Stella has shot up this year!