I've mentioned before that I'd like to share a bit more about me and my struggles with self-image as I work through refashioning clothing to suit my style and my body. This week I decided to tackle a bathing suit that I'd refashioned once, but still haven't felt confident enough to wear (I did this refashion around this time last year and don't believe I wore it once last summer). Part of that has to do with insecurities surrounding my no longer flat stomach, but more so it has to do with being small-busted. No matter what size a woman's breasts, a bathing suit needs to flatter in order to effect a feeling of confidence, and I've rarely had a suit that elicited confidence rather than self-consciousness.
Unfortunately, I was teased all through adolescence for being 'flat' chested. Even into adulthood people made comments on my chest size and likened me to a 14-year-old girl because of it. Tough stuff to let go of... Such is life, and being as shy and self-conscious as I was it just sank in and became truth for me. Nobody was negating it, so there was obviously something wrong with me. Wow! How messed up, and how sad to know that so many people who are bullied about their looks, appearance, bodies, etc feel this way.
Thankfully, I have actually advanced to a higher level of confidence in general (my husband is to thank for that!). But I still have moments when I simply feel unattractive and one of those is when trying on bathing suits. Time to take control of the suit and make it work for me instead of feeling I need to just have bigger breasts, or a slimmer waist, or thinner thighs...blah! If I can make clothes that flatter, then I will try my hardest to make my bathing suits flatter my body, as it is. Let's do it!
Now, I received this maternity suit by way of my sister who had received it from our sister-in-law. It is as old as my nephew (at least), and therefore around 7 or 8 years old. The first refashion consisted of removing the fabric that would cover the belly and creating a gather in the middle of the halter top to give it a v-neck. I finished off the bottom edge with elastic and the cutoff portion (after a bit of folding and sewing in place) became a sort of convertible piece so that I could either wear the bikini bottoms solo or make them into a high-waisted vintage inspired pair of bottoms. The original bottoms had their waistband removed (as it was larger to accommodate a baby bump) and I created two darts and inserted new elastic to take them in a bit. Here's a look at the before and after of that first refashion:
|Sorry about the poor photo quality. The two on the right were taken at night.|
The bikini bottoms actually work fine for me, so I decided that in this next revamp, I'd let them be. I'm also setting the halter top aside for now, though it needs help, for sure. I did grab that 'skirt', high-waisted thingy though and took it in along the back seam so that it would be the same width, top and bottom. Then, I pinched and pinned a gather along the top front. This will become a new strapless top. My hope was to create a top that didn't flatten me out, but also wasn't ridiculously padded.
I tried to use one bra that I'd bought specifically to either sew into a backless dress or something (like this), but it didn't have enough structure to stand up to the stretchy fabric and ended up flattening out. So, I rooted around in my bra drawer and came upon this old strapless bra that I've had for more years than I can remember. The back band's lace was ripped and it had stretched out so that it no longer stayed up. I cut off the back band, cut a length of this extra wide elastic that I thrifted last year (still have tons left!) and sewed it to each side of the bra. I also sewed down that right side that is sticking out in the pics... ;)
My last steps were to make the gather permanent by sewing it in place, then sew the bra+elastic inside the animal print top. I used a straight stitch along the top edge of the bust, then zigzagged where I sewed along the black elastic. Here's how it came out!
Not only do I feel confident in this top, I feel supported and comfortable! And, I think it's pretty sexy...even if I do say so myself ;). I love that the molded foam cups are enough to give me the shape I wanted to achieve, but are also true to my size. I think for far too long I felt that I needed to hide my size by wearing padded push-up bras but I'm FINALLY (thank goodness) finding that I can be content with my size. Finding bras (and creating bathing suit tops) that fit me well and look great is so empowering after a long adolescence and adulthood of being teased and belittled. Phooey on the bullies! Cause I feel and look beautiful :-D.
Now, if only I could get over the tummy issues...;) we'll save that for another day! Here's a last look at the before and final after. Hand-me-down maternity suit no more!
What do you all think of this one? Have you ever considered making your own bathing suit or customizing one so that you get the perfect fit for YOUR body? You may have the opposite 'problem' and may need more coverage, stronger/wider straps, or any number of 'issues' fitting into mass produced bathing suits. I always have issues with the waistband and leg holes of bikini bottoms fitting ...if the waist fits, the leg holes are too small and vice versa. I'll show you how I fixed that (on another suit) and the halter top to this one tomorrow! If you've got an old suit with 'potential' why not get to work and remake it? I dare ya!