Welcome back to fashion nomad,
when I moved to Chiang Mai, in Thailand, the first project I wanted to work on was the swimwear collection.
I didn't know how to make a swimsuit till then, I didn't feel ready.. I didn't even know where to start from, but somehow I made it and everything worked out even better than how I expected!
So, if you read this post you will find out first, how to make a bikini from scratch, secondly, how you can work out things that you think are impossible!!
Initially I gave myself one month of time to make the whole project but after three days I had an opportunity that I just couldn't miss:
my partner and I met Binky, the founder of "Blackpackers" a community of afro-travellers from all over the world (such a cool idea right?) well in this group there were mainly black people , some backpackers, some moved to Chiang Mai to stay and live there, some travelling and working.
Hanging out with these people, we met Vanessa, a fashion model from Atlanta, who seemed very enthusiastic about posing for my swimwear collection.
We were super happy, the only problem was that she was going to fly to Bangkok in three days... so I had three days to design, make a pattern, and put together a swimsuit on her measurements... help!!!
How I designed a swimsuit
First of all, I tried to figure out what kind of swimwear I wanted to create for her, but also for the future pieces that I would make after launching the collection. A two pieces bikini is what I decided to go for.
Now, the collection will have different types and shapes of bikinis so that everybody will be able to choose the perfect one for her body type, and this took me to the second important part which was choosing the shape that suited Vanessa best!
I feel I have been very lucky, Vanessa has a great body, like everything looks great on her but I also know that when it comes to swimwear it has to fit like a glove!!!
I had a look on Pinterest to find inspiration and think about the different shapes I could make and I decided to go for a quite supportive bra, but at the same time comfy and stretchy. For the bottom part I chose a classic shape with a bit of high cut on the sides.
The great idea I had (thank God for that) was to make the intere bikini adjustable. It means I added strings on the sides of the bottom but also on the top part, at the back and in the middle. With this trick, I was pretty sure that Vanessa was able to tight the bikini as she liked around her body, with the right support where needed but also room and comfort.
How I chose the fabric
The best fabric to use for swimwear is a 4-ways nylon spandex. No doubts about it, but since I already had a 2-ways nylon spandex with me and a very short time I used the one I had. To be honest a 2-way spandex works just fine, you only have to pay more attention in the cutting as you must follow the "way" of the fabric and actually was great for me because I wanted more support on the bra and hey, that's what a 2-way spandex does since it's less stretchy than the 4-ways!
I also decided to make the intere bikini double fass (just to make my life easier), because it's one of those things that make a difference when you are shopping: basically you can have two at the same price! So I picked 2 fabrics that had matching colors and started to work.
How I created the sewing pattern
Before cutting I needed the pattern, so I asked Vanessa to send me her measurements and I traced on paper the form of the bikini following the measurements as a guide. Then when I looked at it on paper, and I looked at Vanessa's pictures on Instagram (@hauteamazon) it just seemed to small to me and I drew a wider line. I did this only for one side of the bikini and then I copied the other half, so to make sure they were exactly the same.
Doing this changes on the way I learned that measurements are not the main point for a good fitting. They are obviously important but proportions are important too!
Also I suggest to take a couple of centimeters more than you think, a too tight bikini looks cheap and not elegant, and you can always make it tighter if you don't need them.
How I made a bikini in one night
Ok, this is the funniest part.. 2 days and a half were already gone, I didn't realize time was going so quickly and you know, there are a lot of distractions in Chiang Mai!! I still had the possibility of giving up the swimwear collection and just make the shooting with turbans and headbands which was fine anyway.. but I really wanted to try at least, so around 9 pm I started to cut and sew.
I took my paper pattern and put it over the fabric for the cutting. I used cups to hold the pattern and the fabric in place as I didn't have with me the proper weights for sewing.
For the bottom part I helped myself with another bikini that I own and that I like and I added the strips on both sides.
I did this process twice for the top and twice for the bottom in order to make it double fass: one side with this bright blue and one side with the other fabric.
Once I had all my pieces cut, it definitely didn't look great.. I had so many little pieces and my idea in my mind so I just carried on sticking to that idea!
Seam after seam the bikini starts to take shape and sense, the pictures are a bit dark because it was around 1 am already.....!
But the patience and the work of that night was absolutely worth it!
How I did the shooting and collaboration with others
I managed to do everything for the next day when I had the shooting with Vanessa and a great photographer that she found (@isthateliezer).
The bikini fitted her perfectly and I couldn't be more happy. Our skills naturally matched together as if we were colleagues since long time and everything worked out in a very professional way giving us great results, products and visibility.
A big shout out to the best photographer I've ever worked with Eliezer Santiago and to her lovely girlfriend Tiphany, who assisted us with pose suggestions and lightening.
As you can see from the pictures Vanessa is also wearing the MM turban. It's a must have of my brand and I think it gives a strong plus to the overall look
All these shoots are not just for social media and blog but I will also use them on my website for selling my bikinis.. who wouldn't buy it?!
I hope that everything I shared was interesting and useful and if you'd like to have more information or details regarding some of the steps please don't hesitate to ask in the comments!
But first.. one last thought about all the experience I had:
if you start, you will improve. If you don't start , you'll never know.