Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lutterloh Patterns Come Alive!

Supplement 297 Model #38 - Summer 2015
 Slim Figure Bikini Swimsuit

These are two swimsuits that I made for my niece K using a Lutterloh "slim figure" pattern. I have always had trouble sewing for K because she is so slender for her age. At age 11 she is now beginning to develop the figure of a teenager so choosing patterns is getting even more challenging. I decided to use this slim figure pattern as an experiment and it did prove at least partially successful. 

Pattern Drafting Hints:
Below is a photo of the pattern pieces I ended up with after enlarging the pattern. I could tell the pattern for the bikini bottom would work just fine but the top was another story. 
Even after expanding the width on all the pieces, the top was just not going to provide enough coverage for her new teenage figure. I decided the remedy would be to build the top around some pre-formed bra cups. I'll detail that change later. 

Fabric Used/Suggested: 
Because the pieces of a bikini are so small I was able to make each of these suits with just a tiny remnant of less than half a yard of nylon/Lycra plus a little lining. Since all the outer edges require elastic I did need about 1 1/4 yards of 3/8" rubber elastic for the outer edges and about 1 1/3 yards of 3/4" rubber elastic for the top and bottom band. Make sure your fabric and elastic are intended for swimwear since these will hold up to chlorine and sun exposure. I chose rubber elastic over the cotton covered type widely available only because I don't like how the covered type stays wet longer than the swimsuit fabric. Both my nylon/Lycra fabric and the rubber elastic were purchased from eBay sellers.

My favorite seller for swimwear fabric:   lycra4sale

Design Changes:
As mentioned earlier I decided to build a top for better coverage from a sew in bikini bra. 
The bra cups come in the package like the tiny photo in the gray box. Since I knew I would use more substantial 3/4" elastic I unpicked the stitches from the existing elastic to separate the cups.
Once the cups were separated I was able to draw around one to create a pattern that was similar in shape to the original Lutterloh pattern. 
You'll see from the photo above that I needed to cut the pattern from the bottom to nearly the edge of the top so I could spread the paper and add some width for gathering. The lining pattern is spread just a little less to fit better inside the concave curve of the cups. 

The lining, fashion fabric and the contrast binding were all sewn directly over the side edges of the bra cups to avoid bunching inside. I left the bottom of the cups free from the gathered edge so the elastic bottom band could stretch as needed.

Closing Tips:
If you'd like to try sewing swimwear I would highly recommend either or both of these two books.

Yes, the styles are a little dated, from the 1990's, but the measuring and construction directions are well worth the cost of the book. If you can only manage to get your hands on an old Stretch & Sew swimsuit pattern the instructions for measuring and elastic application should help with most swimwear projects.

The thing I like most about sewing swimwear is the speed with which you can produce the finished project. The pieces are so small and can even be sewn, start to finish, with nothing more than a regular zig zag stitch. I believe everyone should try it at least once! I actually had to stop myself from cutting more suits for K in order to move onto other projects.

I sure hope everyone is making good use of their Lutterloh patterns. If there's any type of Lutterloh project that you'd like to see more of just leave a comment to this post and we'll see what we can do in the future.
Happy Sewing from,
Ann in Calif.