Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Liberty Print Well's Bay Bikini

This project is the one thing from my handmade holiday wardrobe wish list that I regret not getting finished back in January. I had the pieces all cut out but just ran out of time before we flew to South Africa. The pattern is the basic bikini Well's Bay from Halfmoon Atelier and I absolutely adore the clean and minimal aesthetic of it. The most exciting thing about the pattern is that it is completely reversible so you are effectively getting two bikinis in one! There are no fiddly fastenings to contend with as it simply ties at the back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

The minimalist design is perfect for showcasing a special swimwear print which is exactly what I chose with this Argyll print swim fabric from the Liberty range at The Fabric Store. There are some amazing prints on their website and I have at least one more squirrelled away! What I love about them is the quality of the fabric base, which is dense and matte and also that the print retains it's vibrancy and clarity when stretched. I've used this print before previously on the inner bra of my Pneuma Tank and it is washing and wearing really well. Meghann recommends using a print for one side of the bikini and a plain for the other in the pattern instructions. For the plain I used some scraps of grey lycra I had in my stash from previous activewear projects, I think I got it from Mood Fabrics way back in the day.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

I veered away from the instructions and used the plain where she suggested print and the print where plain was recommended as I preferred the print and wanted the straps to match that side. Whilst I love the print side I'm not so keen on the grey side now it is finished as the straps look a little odd. Next time I'll stick to what is recommended! What I do really love about the contrast reversible side is how it slightly peeks out and defines the edges of the style. It looks really great where it ties at the back too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

In one respect I am pleased that I waited until now to sew it up (not only to enjoy making it in my new sewing space!). Waiting has given me time to get to know my new machine; in particular explore all the stretch stitch options and work out which are my favourites! The Brother Innov-is F420 comes with a huge number of stitches, both decorative and practical. There are lots of stretch options from a regular zig zag to triple stitch and overcasting stitch. My preference so far is to use the triple stitch for any seams that need to be pressed open and the no.17 overcast stitch for any which will remain unpressed or can be pressed to one side together. The majority of this I sewed up using stitch 17 apart from attached the elastic with a fairly long and narrow zig zag.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

You can sew up this pattern entirely on an overlocker but with knits I prefer to assemble the garment on the machine, usually using the overlocker just to finish my seam allowances. I find my sewing to be more accurate that way. As this design is cleanly finished in order to make it reversible there was no need to finish the seams so I didn't even touch my overlocker. Proof that you don't need one to sew knits, swim or activewear! Both the top and the bottoms are bagged out and pulled through an opening in the side seam which made for a few worrying moments when I envisioned everything being sewn together incorrectly once I had pulled it through!


As the design is reversible it uses a few slightly different construction techniques to those I might have employed previously. This made the construction process really enjoyable, which is something I found with the other Halfmoon pattern I've tried too (the summer jumpsuit Tofo). To bag out the bottoms you sew the leg holes using the burrito method. This is a really fiddly job, particularly as you are attaching elastic at the same time. It took some patience and a little bit of skill handling stretch fabric and is the one element of construction which I would say gives the pattern the Intermediate sewing level with which it is labelled.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

The needle down function and sensitive speed control of the Innov-is F420 allow you to be really accurate with your sewing which is a great help when sewing tightly angled areas like the ends of the rear ties on the top. The pattern has a seam allowance of 1.5cm so I made sure to trim it all right down close to my stitching to reduce any bulk. With a bikini you definitely don't want any lumpy, bumpy seams showing through and to ensure a nice clean shape at the end of the ties grading is essential. To ensure even better stretch at the seams than the stitches provide I used Maderia Aeroflock thread in the bobbin which is similar to wooly nylon thread in that it has a small amount of stretch and is also soft to the touch. The machine has no trouble at all with using this thicker and fluffier thread.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

The only thing I'm not completely satisfied with is the fit of the bottoms as they are a bit snug. Meghann does warn in the instructions that the bottoms are quite low cut so it is worth thinking about that before cutting in to your fabric but it isn't so much the height of the waist that bothers me as the room in the seat and width-wise. They are particularly snug around the leg holes, although this is probably more due to my overzealous stretching of the elastic as I applied it than the cut of the pattern! As the elastic is stretched as you sew rather than pinned on in quarters I found it quite hard to judge how tight it needed to be and think I went a bit far, you can see that in how much they bunch up when not worn!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Half Moon Atelier Basic Bikini Well's Bay in Argyll Liberty Print Swim Fabric from The Fabric Store

I used narrow rubber swimwear elastic but Meghann includes instructions for elast-ish; a product of her own invention as she lives on a remote island where supplies are hard to come by! It is basically skinny strips of swimwear fabric used in place of the elastic. I'm wondering if this would have more give than the string elastic I had and so is a little more forgiving around the leg holes. I'm going to give it a try next time! I'll also either go up a size in the bottoms or use a smaller seam allowance. I cut the size 4 and the top is great as it is. Stretching the elastic tighter is good on the top as it fits snuggly and adds security, I might even stretch it a little tighter in future.


This is definitely a swim suit for sunbathing rather than too much activity as because of the ties I don't feel hugely supported in it (definitely best for small busts) but it is incredibly comfortable. I'm off to Valencia for the weekend soon and this is going to be perfect for lounging around on the beach. I've actually got a little bit of another Liberty Print swim fabric in my stash which I might try and get sewn up into a second Well's Bay before I go!

6 comments:

  1. Turned out great, you look so cute in the top!

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  2. Hi Fiona! Great bikini! I am currently, but I also totally into sewing swimwear and I found, that the only way the bottoms are comfortable are if you stretch the elastic ONLY On the rounded back part and nowhere else. I made the same mistake as you on various panties I tried out a few years ago and frustratedly gave up because they pinched always at the leg htontheoles. Check out the YouTube to the Victoria Bikini by Pattydoo (a German indie designer), she makes great videos and patterns and shows exactly where to stretch for swimsuit bottoms. Worked 3 times like a charm for me.

    Greetings from your (up until now silent😉) reader, Nina

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and such a great tip at that! I'm absolutely going to check out those instructions and try that method next time. I want the bottoms to feel secure but not quite so restrictive!

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    2. I was going to say the same thing! Stretching it all over makes me look like I have four buttcheeks, and I find that the given measurements are almost always too tight... Just apply the elastic while sewing it down and only stretch at the back, ever so slightly!

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  3. This looks really good, I've always been intrigued by the thought of sewing swimwear!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!