A Swimsuit!!

Here is a copy of my latest contribution to the Sew Weekly challenge – a swimsuit!!
For the additional story, you can skip to the bottom of the post : )


The Facts

Fabric: Red with white polka dot spandex
Pattern: Mrs Depew Vintage 1001
Year: 1950′s inspired
Notions: None
Time to complete: 2 hours
First worn: July 2012
Wear again? Yes
Total Cost:
Fabric $32 and pattern $9 for a total of $41

Holy Moley! This challenge was FRAUGHT with little land mines: )

First – when the list of challenges first came out this one stumped me. It was finally decided, in a very round-about way with much discussion, that I needed a swimsuit so I can get myself into a pool and get in shape. When Meg posted her vacation suit I knew that was what I wanted! Cute, vintage inspired, I wouldn’t look like an “old lady” or trying to cover up so I bought the pattern from a seller in France and then went online to Spandex World for the polka dot fabric and that was nearly my downfall. Ordered it almost 2 weeks ahead of time, it arrived Friday of challenge week. I made it Friday night, took pictures Saturday. Phew….

I must say, everything Meg said about this pattern is accurate. Not for the very beginner seamstress, and there are only written instructions, but it went together fairly well. The pattern is designed to be used with non-stretchy fabrics as well as knits so let me just say this – I cut “my” size out of the spandex and then cut at least an inch out of each side seam as well as the center back after fittings! The bra sizing is good (for me) and just like Meg said, the crotch gusset is HUGE. I always make the pattern as is the first time and I kept in mind that if I do this out of some very cha-cha woven fabric like Kazz did last week then all that extra may be needed. In the spandex I cut out 1″ on EACH side and at least 2″ out of the length and I’m still not sure it’s the way I like!

First landmine skirted (not having to go into a store to try on swimsuits) I knew the next hardest thing would be getting into a pool. I figured I’ve conquered my fears of being photographed, of being photographed in public wearing an outfit that might draw some attention : ) and that peculiar fear of just being honest and putting myself out there in a forum where others MAKE COMMENTS!

So ladies, in honor of my birthday this Thursday (the 2nd) I have put on a bathing suit, NOT worn any foundation undergarments and, honoring the 14 year old girl that started a national campaign asking magazines to stop photoshopping their models, I did NOT photoshop out any blips, blops or the owie from my kitty : ) This is it, about as “me” as you’ll ever get. Thank goodness my daughter was available for pics!!

I’m going to make 2 straps and X them across my back instead of the around-the-neck thing. I wanted to channel more of a Betty Grable pose but the back kept slipping and we kept adjusting and futsing and once I got in the water that extra support will be most appreciated.

In this week of Olympic spirit I am inspired by the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, award winning synchronized swimmers. A team of local girls, they are “12-time National Champions and winners of over 200 national and world titles. Home to 17 Olympians (8 of them gold medalists), we have come a long way since 1968 when we began with just two swimmers. Four of our 60 athletes were chosen for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team (two other Aquanuts also competed at the 2008 Olympics, representing Japan & the Czech Republic.)”

Right in my own back yard, Olympic athletes : )

I was not a swimmer when I was younger but I did swim. Just for giggles I tried doing a couple of their “moves”…

HAH! Those girls are young, in shape and practice. I am *not* but I’m working on it : ) Now I’ve got a pretty cute suit that I can wear proudly at any pool.

To get through this challenge I have to thank first my daughter, who made the very wise comment that “It’s time to evolve”. She’s right. I’d probably say “Just do it” but that’s a certain sportswear manufacturer’s tag line and I don’t like them (see bottom of this post) but that’s about it. It’s time to get on with it. We did manage a “Palm Springs Glamour” shot –

So there we are. After this challenge I can do ANYTHING : )

Here’s the back story:

Many years ago, I was about 11 or 12, my mother signed me up for basic Lifeguard training at the local swim club. I had completed the Red Cross recommended trainings at all levels, even did the first two levels of canoeing! so I was pretty comfortable in and around water. Being that it was the early 70’s women’s rights were just starting to be recognized and around that time Title IX was enacted. While the original statue made no explicit mention of sports it is best known for its impact on high school and college sports. But change, and attitudes, take time and at the time I was signed up there was no such thing as equality in sports : ) Yes, there were swim teams for boys and swim teams for girls but one did not compete with or against each other.

So I show up to class and everyone there, including the teacher, is male except for one other girl. Now this girl and I had never become friends but I didn’t think there was any problem except I wasn’t a “cool” girl and Bonnie was one of those girls who is taller, louder and stronger than most other girls. She was on the swim team and one of their star swimmers. The rest of the boys were on the swim team as well and if we were able to fast forward in time a decade Bonnie would probably be swimming on the “boys” team and outdoing them. I have a vague memory that she might have been on the diving team in high school but I could be wrong.

We start with the basics. How to approach a swimmer in trouble, how to go under them, turn them and put them in a cross chest tow. No problems. Bonnie and I were always teamed up, you couldn’t have a BOY come up under a woman, get anywhere NEAR her girl parts and then put your arm across her chest to swim her to safety, heavens no!! After we “mastered” that exercise we were supposed to go into deeper water, like we were sinking, pull the sinker up and get them to safety blah, blah, blah. My first sign of trouble was instead of Bonnie pulling me UP she was pushing me DOWN and holding me there. The first time it was only a few seconds. The second time about 30 seconds. The third time she wasn’t going to let go until I was passed out. My guess is she figured because she was on the swim team and they had contests to see who could hold their breath the longest that she’d outlast me.

She almost did. I saw enough of her face to know this was no longer a game and I needed to get away. I kicked, I was starting to black out so I wasn’t sure where she was but I connected with something and got away. I sputtered to the surface and the teacher, as he had done all along, ignored me and my choking. I had complained previously about rough handling but was told to “suck it up, if you want to play with the boys you have to act like the boys” and me pointing out that I WASN’T playing with the boys had no effect. Bonnie came up after me, said I had purposely tried to kick her in the head and I was done. I knew, more than anything else at that moment, that my safety was in my own hands.

I got out of the pool, sat down in the sun and contemplated my choices. My mom would be upset if I didn’t finish, she’d throw all kinds of fits and say how expensive classes were and I’d most likely get a lecture on responsibility. I’d just about decided to stick it out when Bonnie walked past me and whispered “Next time, I’ll get you next time.”

Done. I was never going back. I didn’t tell my mom, I would have her or the baby sitter drop me off at the swim club and hide in the bushes for the hour class. Then I’d be waiting by the street at the end of the time and be picked up. I don’t remember how I explained not passing the test but it didn’t matter. I think I went into pools in high school when we had swimming sections but it was awful. I didn’t have Bonnie in any of my PE classes but the smell of chlorine made me ill in more than a physical way. When my daughter was little my mom arranged for swim lessons for her in the summer when I was working and she will tell you that I’ll go in oceans, lakes and rivers but pools? Nope.

This week I decided to conquer my “fear” of pools AND swimsuits! I was ready to go to one of the community pools when my daughter said “Heidi has a pool” and bingo! No drama, no trauma. Heidi, it turns out, has a salt water pool so there is no smell, no itchiness, no red eyes, no nausea for the rest of the day. I could have cried it was so nice but as my daughter said, “Time to evolve”.

As an adult I can recognize bullying. I can also recognize that my reactions to chlorine and pools can be overcome. I can also take that younger version of myself and tell her it’s ok, we survived and it’s time to let that stuff go. As for Bonnie, I have no idea what’s happened to her. I haven’t gone to a high school reunion in years but the people I’ve asked that I’ve kept in touch with have no clue. No one that I know on facebook knows anything about her. Karma? One day I’ll find out.

On the one hand I’d like to ask her just what she had against me, on the other it doesn’t matter. Maybe her own home life was awful and she was acting out. Maybe she was a sick girl who needed help.

As for the Nike thing – ugh. They did the right thing initially when they kicked Michael Vick’s sorry ass to the curb after his arrest. They did the wrong thing when they re-offered him a deal once he was out of jail. Do I think he regrets what he did? Not for a minute. He regrets getting caught, he’s shown no interest in the fate of his dogs and he’s hired people to manipulate his mouth to say the right words. He is, at best, a sociopath (but frankly I don’t think he’s that smart) and at most likely a psychopath. Until he’s off the planet, or Nike decides to kick him loose again, I won’t buy their products or anything associate with them.

I’ll stick with my daughter’s take on things “Time to evolve”.

After 40 years, it seems like a good time : )

3 thoughts on “A Swimsuit!!

  1. I saw your bathingsuit post on the sew-weekly blog, but wasn’t able to comment on it. I wanted to say: You look fantastic! AND THANK-YOU for posting pics!!! I am a plus-size girl wanting to make this bathingsuit, but wasn’t sure if I liked the style or not. It looks so lovely on you, I think I will buy the pattern (rather than try and draft my own!) I am also learning to live for today, and just not waste a moment… I am trying to be braver, and wear the clothes I want to wear, and not care so much that I am not a size 4. I am learning that I can be healthy & fit, yet still fat, and it’s so freeing!

  2. I agree your swimsuit is lovely and you look so elegant by the pool, full of grace. Oh the Bonnies of the world, I have had a few encounters of Bonnie too. No explaining why people behave the way they do but you made the right choice not to continue and risk your life.

    And as for Michael Vick and Nike, it turns my stomach at how sick people can be and what a corporation will do or stand for just to make a buck. I have no need for either!

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