Friday, August 9, 2013

A decision has been made

The polls are now closed and we have a winner (due to a tie breaking verbal decision from my housemate). Thank you to everyone who voted. Without further adue, behold: the Steampunk Wonder Woman Tankini design to be created!
The winning design, woohoo!
The fabric will consist of 4 way stretch metallic spandex that I already own, cream colored lace also from my stash, 2 way stretch navy spandex specifically for swimsuits from Spandex World, 2 way stretch burgundy spandex specifically for swimsuits from Spandex World, and Powermesh in nude for the lining, also from Spandex World. Can you tell that Spandex World is the best resource for swimsuit fabric on the internet, despite having an extremely girly and not well organized website? Spandex House is also (supposedly) a good resource, but I found it impossible to see all of the swimwear fabric in one place, thus making it not very useful to me, all payments have to be called in, they won't disclose the shipping cost because they don't know it until they weigh the stuff, and they were out of red spandex; though, Spandex House does have good deals on swimwear elastic and they carry it in a wide variety of colors, which is moot to me because it's hidden. 

To acquire the hardware and notions, I'm using my delightful Amazon Prime account, which sees a fair bit of action. Going to the fabric store is not on my agenda for this week because I'm a busy lady and have a very full schedule. 

For the buckles, I decided to go for metal even though it's going to be heavy, I'll just have to give proper support on either side of the buckle so it doesn't sag down. 

To up the awesome factor I got grommets (with a die, punch, and anvil) to make the holes the buckles go through strong enough to take it, despite being only spandex. Mmmm, I love grommets, they are so interesting looking. Might even put some in along the edge of the cups and have the cream lace visible underneath or in the pleating of the skirt for some extra interest, but we'll see how that goes. 

Thread is all 100% polyester, which is very important so that it doesn't get digested by salt and chlorine. Synthetic has its place and that's usually when when chemicals are involved. 

Needles are very important when making swimwear (or so I've read on many forums and blogs while doing research) so I've bought a stretch machine needle and a twin ballpoint needle, so I can make the cool double stitch along the edges. 

For the elastic, I went with 3/8-inch natural braid cotton swimwear elastic by Stretchrite and I got a lot of it because I plan to make a few swimsuits. Fingers crossed on one of them coming out well.

Still not sure what to use to highlight the gather points of the navy fabric at the hips, but that will come into play near the end, so I will hold off to see how it looks.

Now, to wait for the many packages to arrive at my door on a stream of large horseless carriage. *Stares intently at pocketwatch and taps foot.*

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Illustration for Hero Steampunk Swimsuit

Welcome back, gentle reader. After doing the preliminary research, I have decided that the first swimsuit that I would like to tackle is one based in a combination of several Wonder Woman themed cosplay outfits, doll, swimsuit, and drawings. First I will start with a drawing of what it could look like, so I can see what I need to do to make it a reality.

Outline of me wearing the bra I will be converting into the swimsuit and a pair of underwear that I will be using as a guide for the bottoms.
Version 01

Version 02

Version 03

Which Wonder Woman swimsuit design is best?

Helpful links on sewing a swimsuit

Good day, dear readers. Since I have come to terms with the necessity of making my own swimsuit, that requites that I do some research on how to do a good job of it. 

Here is a great resource for the right things needed to sew a swimsuit the right way. Basically, this delightful lady describes her trials, tribulations, and insights for sewing a swimsuit well. The main thing I will be using from her is the materials list and a few of the tips and tricks. 

Fabric: 10% lycra, 90% nylon (aka: swimsuit fabric due to the necessity of recovery, which means how well a piece returns to the original shape. overall, you only need about a yard of fabric total to make a suit, though I'm planning on using a few different types of fabric, so that figure will be divided over the various fabrics.

Swimsuit lining: again, recovery is key to prevent the droopy saggy butt that some suits are plagued by. 1/2 a yard of nude colored lining will do, but I'm considering using Powermesh or Powerknit to help stabilize the top part and suck in my gut. Might end up cannibalizing a Spanx tank top I own that I never wear because it rolls up. Clipping the top to the bottoms might solve my rolling issue. 

Thread: bulky nylon thread in either a coordinating color or contrasting color. Still have to decide on which color(s) I will need for this project. 

Stretch or ballpoint needles: Schmetz 75-11 is recommended, but I only have a regular machine and will have to see what works with what I have. 

Elastic: for arm and leg holes as well as possibly under bust, though I'm planning to use an existing bra and build upon it, so that might not be quite as important. 

Old bra: Since I really need the support, I'm just going to use an old bra as a base for the swimsuit top, similar to this DIY, but with a lot more shaping over the cups instead of gathering in the middle. 

Next up: drawing up something so I have a plan to follow and can make a pattern from things I already own.

A little bit about why I need a swimsuit so badly

Hello fair reader. A great swimsuit is not an easy thing to come by for any woman, but it is even more difficult for the busty and curvy woman who needs support and areas to hide.

Busty Girl Comics 
Since finding a swimsuit that fits is a miracle and finding one that fits, looks good, has sufficient support, and is in a style I like is a joke, that leaves me with the option of making one for myself. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Preliminary Ideas for a Steampunk Swimsuit

Welcome ladies and gentlemen. Lately I have been on the look out for a steampunk swimsuit or three to take with me upon an extended expedition to the tropics, yet I am vexed to say that nothing of the sort has made its presence known to me at a price I am willing to pay.

The solution is elementary: make a swimsuit for myself.

I have started with research, as every good scientist must, to figure out the nuances of the subject and the experiments already undertaken by those who's footsteps I shall follow in.

This tankini can be found in the Etsy shop MimiHammer
Firstly, it must be decided if a bikini, tankini, or one piece is optimum. Seeing as my middle causes me great infuriation and the one piece tends to be difficult to exit when visiting the powder room, I have opted for the lovely tankini for my premier attempt. An interesting idea has revealed itself, a high waisted bottom with a tanktop that covers and obscures. To the right is an adorable suit that looks like a one piece, but upon closer examination is really a two piece. Moving the point of contact from the standard place at the hips to the natural waist might be an interesting way to create a better illusion because the break is in an unexpected spot. Just one idea, of many.
A tutorial for this lace modification can be found at
Crafty Moods

Another idea is to add lace to an existing swimsuit, to dress it up and make it feel more luxurious. Perhaps lace can be an accent, but I would like to make sure that the suit remains fast drying, so being well informed about the fabric content of the lace will be important. Synthetic will be a requirement so as to maximize the longevity of the garment.
Body Binds

There is also the option to add lots of straps to appease the needs of form as well as function. There are many forms of harnesses that merit consideration. The first set of straps that I am considering is more about form and accents the decollage in an interesting manner, mainly by separating and highlighting the area just bellow. One thing that peaks my concerns with this arrangement is that my natural waist is small, but my ribcage is not, so if I highlight my ribcage I might be doing myself a diservice in terms of making an attractive garment that doesn't make me look like a harlot. It's never easy. My other concern is that horizontal stripes are not the most flattering on me, though the vertical strip that goes down the middle might be enough to elongate my physique.

Above is a fascinating garment that has some elements that I might draw from. The lacing that matches the edging pleases me greatly. The seam work is very well done, especially in the neck area with the boning. Asymmetry is something that I find incredibly appealing, especially when there are diagonal lines involved. The way the top attaches to the bottom with buckles and grommets is lovely. The curved shapes are delightful. Alas, she is practically falling out of this top, which is not something I'm looking to do. One of my requirements for this suit is that I can swim in the ocean without fear of flashing anyone. Also, being a buxom woman, I need support for my two constant companions. There might be a way to utilize the concepts of this design within my own.
Heavy Red

The deconstructed nature of this bikini appeals to me, but the string bikini has never offered enough support for my ample frame and the strings tend to cut into my skin. Also, the shape of these bottoms is off, the crotch is too wide, which is unflattering, in my opinion.

Black Milk
The Threepio Swimsuit is quite tempting, but it is out of my price range and size, since I wear an XL or an XXL and the biggest they carry is an L. I like the underbust shaping of the image upon the body, as well as the hip curve of the bottom part, very sexy without showing too much skin. Something similar could be achieved with lots of seaming and shaping of metallic fabrics, though it may be difficult to achieve this type of a look because that will all be a good deal of work.

Dumpster Dives Thrift Store

Here is a beautiful top. The colors are a lovely combination and the fishnet in black juxtaposed to the golden ruffled lace is delightful. One other downside is that crochet tends not to hold up very well in water as it tends to deform greatly when wet, often leading to crocheted swimsuits becoming so laden with liquid that they fall off of the wearer. Crochet is for sunbathing only, though the design aspects of this garment could be something I end up taking for my own designs. Also, another string bikini, how frightfully unimaginative and dull, not to mention uncomfortable. This full figured female needs a little more support from her support, if you know what I mean.

Misfit Leather
Here is a very sturdy and potentially supportive item, which might inform my design. The straps on the outside of the breasts are wide and hit the shoulders in a spot where they can take weight being put on those straps. The hardware is fantastic, now I just need to find a waterproof material that is flexable, able to support weight, resistant to tearing, and can be made to look good. The temptation of ironing many layers of plastic bags together and painting them with acrylic paint is very high, but in the city of San Francisco it is much more difficult to get plastic bags than it used to be. Maybe my next out of town shopping trip will bear many plastic bags. I like that there are rivets and O-rings and buckles and D-rings with the red-brown leather, gives a feeling of horse tackle, might be interesting to pair the hard with the soft and have something sheer and flowing under, or something hard and mechanical.

Comic Book Movie
This Wonder Woman outfit would make a darling one piece or tankini. I like the buckles, the way the straps extend past the breast piece, the leg holster and the use of darker version of the traditional wonder woman colors. the use of a lower on the hips set of bottoms is also something I like because it means fewer weggies as well as lowering the likelihood of sunburn on the bottom of the bum. If I were to use a style like this, I would have the straps cross in the back to provide more support as well as create visual interest. Halters are too painful for me. The closing mechanism in the back or down the front could be a heavy duty zipper, though issues of rust and jamming could arise. Perhaps a long line of hook and eyes or a few buttons would do it, have them off to the side on the front. The main problem with buttons is gapping. Maybe just rely on the stretch of the swimsuit to get it on and off with a tie for the non-stretchy bra section? This will take some tricky designing, testing, and adjusting.
Cosplay Babes
This is an adorable outfit that might be able to be translated into an equally adorable tankini or one piece. I really like the very dark red with the gold accents and blue bottom, which has a fantastic line and drape to it. Thinking that something similar could be done by putting a pleated ruffle on a short skirt that is ruched up at the sides with an accent acting to hold it up. Have to be careful not to have too many layers of overlapping fabric as that would make it not dry well after a dip in the water. Also, hurray for super hero reimaginings, Wonder Woman is awesome. 

Tonner Doll
Here is another interpretation of the Wonder Woman outfit that might translate well to a bathing suit. I like the corset like seaming done for this outfit and the use of layers, might be interesting to fake the layers like they did for the most part and just use the visual interest of how overlapping pieces look with structural seaming. The sweetheart bust line is fantastic, especially with the ability to hide support straps from the side over the shoulders, perhaps crossing in the back to add extra visual interest. An old bra could be cannibalized to achieve the top part with fabric covering it and the straps, then fabric continuing down with fun tabs along the bottom of the tank. Finish with dark blue boy shorts with ruffles along the legs, for a feminine touch.

Lastly for the Wonder Woman stuff, there is an amazing drawing of a delightfully steampunk Wonder Woman. I really like the breast area with the use of the metallic with delicate ruffles coming out of the top of that. I think that it is something I could use in my own design, but only time will tell.

Cosplay Babes
Lastly, there is the more industrial look with this Bane cosplay, which is fantastic. The great support of this garment is what draws me to it in the first place. The use of olive green, dark brown, and metallic fabric brings me great joy because it looks so raw and functional, yet complicated with the many straps and interesting angles. Even the hardware is great, I love large clips like those used here because they are sturdy while allowing easy access without relying on lots of elastic. Great use of aging, which I'm very tempted to do with paint because I don't have access to industrial fabric printing facilities. Tempted to use revets, though adding texture with fabric might have to suffice. Though, I would probably have my version go lower because middrift is precisely the area I want to obscure with my swimsuit. As for the bottoms, I would do a full coverage set of bottoms that have the same design elements as the top.

Cosplay Babes
Even the back is great. Love the split in the back with the three straps joining it to the front with a cross bracing piece, truly unique and fabulous design.