Kenyan Bombshell

This project started with this blue dress. It’s really slinky, with a high lycra content, in other words, perfect for swimwear.

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I actually bought this a really long time ago in the Children’s society shop in Upminster (£6.99). It was brand new with the tag attached.

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I always had swimwear in mind for this but it wasn’t until Heather released the Bombshell swimsuit pattern that this dream really became a plausible reality. I know I’m probably the last person in the world to make this pattern, but whatevs. It’s a superb pattern and I can’t recommend it enough.

Having never made swimwear before, I was unusually sensible in making a wearable muslin first to get the hang of the techniques. Heather’s posts on the construction techniques are spot on and easy to follow, even for a swimwear nOOb like me.

I managed to squeeze my View A out of 1.15m of dark blue dancewear fabric. For the lining I bought some really thin light blue synthetic knit that was described as ‘stockinette’, it worked a treat.

Bombshell

Happily, the fit of this “test” version was almost perfect. I made a few mistakes topstitching the neckline but I don’t think anyone noticed. The ruched section front and back covers a multitude of sins, making this probably the most flattering swimsuit I’ve ever worn.

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Incidentally, I also made a co-ordinating beach cover-up/robe thingy out of some African wax print fabric I bought back in London. This is a really simple shape to make yourself. It comprises a rectangles for the back, sleeves and belt, and two rectangles with the corner cut off for the front. The belt was folded in half lengthways and topstitched. I made the entire thing on the overlocker in about 20 minutes. The hem and edges were just overlocked, not even turned. I used white thread and it co-ordinated, so I left it like that.

robe drawing

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Anyway, back to the bright blue version.

Once I’d cut the pieces of the dress apart, there wasn’t enough for a View A or B bombshell, so it had to be a bombshell biniki. In fact, there wasn’t a section large enough for the ruched section without piecing, so I had to shorten it a little to fit it in. So my bikini front and back aren’t quite as gathered as my muslin, but I don’t think it impacts the design overall.

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The inside front had to be pieced (below) but that’s not visible, thankfully. I used the same lining as I did for the muslin.

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To go with the bottoms, I made a quick triangle top. I actually used the ties from the original dress as the ties for the biniki, but these can easily be made. You need one long tie (that ties behind your back) and two shorter ties (that tie behind your neck).

Here’s a quick summary of how I made the top.

1. Cut four shapes for the triangles, or two from fabric and two from lining.

2. Place two triangles right sides together with one of the shorter ties sandwiched between them at the point of the triangle. Sew the triangles together, leaving a gap for turning. Remember not to catch the tie anywhere in this stitching other than at the triangle apex. Do this for the other pair of triangles too.

3. Trim the edges, clip the corners and turn the triangles the right way out and topstitch the hole closed.

4. Fold the bottom of the shape over and sew it down at the edge. The idea is to make a tube that the long tie can run through.

5. Thread the long tie through the triangles… et voila!

bikini drawing

Here’s how the bikini turned out. I took these pictures at the Kenyan villa we rented, which was basically paradise on Earth (with a private pool).

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I’m quite happy with it, and with my first swimwear makes overall. I foresee more bombshells in my future!

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48 comments

  1. Fadanista

    I love both your bombshells! I’ve made one with another planned but love to see them on a youthful figure! The wrap looks sensational too.

  2. Jane

    You rock the bombshell look Sally! Both of them are gorgeous, but I especially like the swimming costume, it’s so chic and classy and ridiculously flattering. Must make one right away! x

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you Jane :) I wasn’t sure if I had the required curves to pull this off but it’s true, this pattern flatters everyone. Heather should take all the credit!

  3. sewlittletime

    wow – they both look brilliant! i am planning a bombshell this summer (altho UK holiday so no idea if it will see the light of day – maybe a swimming pool!). it’s such a great pattern – i haven’t seen anyone who didn’t look good in it!

  4. Heather Lou

    TWO BOMBSHELLS! Both smashing. I CAN’T BELIEVE THE BOMBSHELL WENT TO AFRICA. So proud, *sniff *sniff. And the fact that one was made out of a thrifted caftany thing makes me beyond words happy.

  5. Erinn

    You did an excellent job on all your creations! I love how easy youake it all look. I surf almost everyday and I’ve been wanting to do a swim suit for ages. I recently got a serger, now your post is inspiring me to attempt a bikini. Great job and what a wonderful vacation spot!

  6. youngseamstress

    Wow, these both look great! Don’t worry, you’re not the last person to make a Bombshell – I finished one just a couple weeks ago and I LOVE it. There are some parts I messed up quite a bit, but it’s perfectly wearable and really flattering.

  7. Elaine

    Making a swimsuit is SO impressive. I have a pattern for some so it’s down the line for me after I do some more basics.

  8. sewcookgardenrepeat

    WOW. I’ve seen the bombshell swimsuit and loved it but, if I’m being completely honest, I’m not confident enough in my stitching yet to wear a me-made swimsuit and not be thinking “OH GAWD OH GAWD OH GAWD PLEASE DON’T LET THE SEAMS COME UNDONE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE”. It has happened with refashioned pants……

    • charityshopchic

      HAHA that would be a bit of a ‘wardrobe malfunction’!!! I did test this one by thoroughly stretching the stitches before I wore it and it held up just fine!

  9. Lucy

    The swimsuit is gorgeous! Really stunning. Well done on all of them though. I love reading your posts – so inspirational! I buy lots of stuff from charity shops but never alter at all – need to take the plunge and have a go – you have a really good eye for what will work! How did you develop that? Did you read a lot or do you just ‘see’ it? Do you read lots of fashion magazines/blogs?

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much, Lucy! So glad you are enjoying reading. I read a lot of sewing and fashion blogs and I do like magazines too. Pinterest is a great way to find ideas as well!

  10. jenny_o

    Beautiful work! I love ruching; it seems to work on every figure type. Also your cover-up is a wonderfully simple design. Could be used for a bathrobe, too, I think?

  11. Kathie Turner Jones

    These both came out great! I especially love the style of the first one it is SO flattering! And the 2nd is adorable. Another winner with the African Wax print, too. I love the Wax Prints you have used in various sew-ups. :big thumbs up:

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you, Kathie! I’m a big fan of African wax prints too. I just wish I could come up with a way to incorporate them in my non-holiday (ie, boring London) wardrobe too.

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