The Pattern That Changed My Life: P4P’s Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Bottoms

Okay, so I have at least once in my life been accused of being dramatic, but I swear the title of this post is literal. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the whole story of exactly how the Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms changed my life, but rest assured, I am a better version of myself after two years of sewing this pattern.

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In the Beginning, There Was Skepticism

When I saw that Judy Hale was preparing to release a swimsuit pattern, I was excited. Then I saw it was a two-piece and my soft mid-section objected. “We don’t wear bikinis,” it whispered to my brain. Yet there were these pictures of happy people of all sizes in their new self-sewn swimwear and the only swimsuit in my wardrobe was some previous year’s winner of the makes-me-least-sad-in-the-Sears-dressing-room prize.

After a bit of agonizing, I bought the patterns. Reading the supply lists and instructions made me a bit intimidated. I had never sewn swimwear before, so my stock of relevant fabric and notions was non-existent (as was my knowledge of these things). I could have easily put the pattern aside and moved on to other things if it hadn’t been for a text from a colleague saying she had left a gift for me at work. I drove down and found a Joann bag filled with swim fabric and mesh. After that, I kinda had to make one right?

Warming Up

Before tackling the slippery swim knit, I decided to get to know the Siren Swim Top pattern by making a sports bra with scraps of athletic fabric. The result was wearable, but more importantly, I felt confident enough to try to make an actual swimsuit. And slowly, with many curse words, that is just what I did. While I usually glance at instructions now and then on my phone or laptop, for these patterns, I printed them out and turned to them nearly constantly at first feeling like I had to be doing things completely wrong. But the instructions are solid, and they led me to successfully sewing my first swimsuit.

Here Comes the Life Changing Part…

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the first Siren/Hello Sailor pair I made, but I was happy enough to show pictures to a friend, who then wanted one of her own, and her mom, who then also wanted one of her own. Finding the fabric from Joann hard to work with, I ordered fabric from The Purple Seamstress and got started on two more swimsuits. When I finished the one for my friend’s mom, I tried it on and fell in love…with myself.

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Remember that soft mid-section’s objection to bikinis? Well, Brenda’s patriotic swimsuit shut that voice up. It’s not like I have been magically happy with my body since that point, but I have been a lot more confident about it since then, and that confidence has bled into other areas of life. Over the past two years, I have grown in some positive ways and had experiences that never would have happened if not for that red, white, and blue bikini. Who knew a swimsuit could do that?

During the summer of 2016, I sewed nine swimsuits using the Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms patterns (the collage above are seven of those from the first year showing several options and modifications). I’ve turned back to the patterns a several times since then and have always been satisfied with the results. And trust me, the pattern gets easier every time you make it. Nowadays, I only have to refer to the instructions now and then instead of constantly.

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Buiding a Better Sewist

Aside from its role of making me more confident in myself as a person, my experiences with these patterns served as a solid foundation for my swimwear making skills (some would say they also serve as a foundation for my swimwear making addiction). Whether using a different swimsuit pattern, modifying a non-swim pattern to be a swimsuit, or experimenting without a pattern, I regularly make use of the techniques described in the Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms patterns: sewing in elastic, ruching, using power mesh, and lining items. Furthermore, it has made me look into other skills which are not mentioned but are useful (e.g., understitching) and become familiar with a wide range of swimwear supplies and some of the best suppliers for them. I’ve gone from being a person with no idea where to get swim elastic to the person who orders it by the 75-yard spool (see “addiction” above).

Over the past two years, I have used a number of other swim patterns, but the Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms will hold a special place in my heart and in my pattern drawer. And if I can ever tell the rest of the story of how a swimsuit changed my life, I hope you’ll be back to read it.

Fabric Notes

Red, Blue/White Stars, Blue/Pink Damask, Blue/White/Navy print: swim knit from The Purple Seamstress

Teal/Black Geometric print, Animal print, Black: swim knit from The Fabric Fairy

Multicolor Triangles: athletic fabric from Sahara Fabrics

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5 thoughts on “The Pattern That Changed My Life: P4P’s Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Bottoms

    1. I think it is a great pattern to start with making swimwear because of the detailed tutorial-style instructions. Once you get a little more accustomed to working with swim fabric, lining, and elastic and have some confidence with the construction techniques used in making swimwear, there are so many other fun patterns to try. I have to limit myself since there is no way I need as many swim patterns as I want!

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