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BOMBSHELL SEWALONG PT 5: GATHERING YOUR FRONT FABRIC, ASSEMBLING THE FRONT & BACK


Today we will be gathering our front fabric piece and attaching it to the front lining and back ruched pieces. The following steps apply to ALL views, although I am demonstrating the steps with View A.

Before we start assembling the suit, we have to insert our leg elastics into our front lining. We will not be inserting them all the way in however (that step comes later). We just want to get them started so that we can cleanly encase the elastic in our seams.

We want to cut a piece of elastic roughly the same length as each leg opening. I say roughly because we will be trimming it a little later so don’t worry about being precise. Cut two pieces of elastic the same length as the yellow area highlighted below:

We will be inserting the elastic into the front lining leg opening. Place your elastic against the lining side. I try to leave a tiny bit of fabric overhang, less than 1/8″. When it is topstitched, that small amount of fabric will wrap around the elastic so you can’t see it from the inside.

Sew about 3 inches using a wide zig zag, not stretching the elastic at all.

A note about this stitch: my sewing machine does not give stitch dimensions (it’s all eyeballing and approximations with this old beast). When I say “wide” I mean as wide as your zigzag will go, at a medium stitch length. You want to baste your elastic to your fabric and I find a wide stitch prevents the elastic or fabric from rolling. Something like this:

Do you see that tiny sliver of fabric that extends past the elastic? That sliver is your friend.

Once you’ve sewn a few inches, turn the elastic to the inside. Using a medium zigzag stitch, topstitch your elastic inside the seam for about 1 1/2″.  Try to sew as close as possible to the outside edge of the elastic to prevent it from rolling.

The medium zig zag stitch should be somewhat small so that is not highly noticeable. Try to approximate what you see here:

That is all we are going to do with the elastic for now. As I mentioned, we are just inserting it so that when we sandwich all of our layers together, our elastic gets sandwiched too.

Next up: Remember those gathering stitches we sewed on all of our fabric pieces a few days ago? Today it’s time we do something with the ones on the  side seams of the front fabric. We are going to gather them to match the length of the back side seams.

Place your completed back piece down on your work surface (just tuck the attached front lining and elastics out of the way). Evenly gather each side of your front fabric piece so it matches the length of the side seam of your back piece. Concentrate on getting your gathers as even as possible. I should have mentioned this the other day, but you get better gathering results if you use your bobbin thread to gather.

Unfortunately I realise I have failed to photograph this step, but it is exactly the same method for matching seam lengths as you used on the back pieces. Sorry guys.

Once you have matched the length of your front side seams with the length of your back side seams, secure your gathering threads around a pin in a figure 8 motion on each end of the seam.

Next up we are going to assemble the suit. This is the most potentially confusing part of the construction of your Bombshell but you’re gonna be fine.

Lay your back ruched piece lining side down on your work surface, with the attached front lining extending all the way out.

Place your ruched front piece on top of it, wrong side up (here you can see that the side seams of your front piece have been gathered to match the length of your back piece seams):

At this point you may pin your gathered piece in place, ensuring your ruching is as even as possible.

Now, flip your front lining over you gathered front piece like this:

What you should be looking at is a Bombshell sandwich: the bottom piece of bread is your back ruched piece, lining side down. Your meat is the ruched front piece, good side down. The top piece of bread is your front lining, fabric side down.

At this point we have to match our notches. Match the notch just above the leg opening on your front lining to the notch on your back lining (you may need to redraw the notches if your marking tool is chalk and has rubbed off). Pin here. Then line up the top of your front lining with the top of your ruched top and bottom. Pin frequently through all three layers together, ensuring your gathers stay even. You should remove the layer of pins you put in to secure the gathered front piece before you started to pin your lining down.

Now sew all three layers together. Either serge (not really cutting any fabric off) or use your narrow zig stitch.

For those of you not using a serger, Anna was generous enough to send me a few shots of the inside of her suit. It is surprisingly neat in there! I would just suggest making your zigzagging a little narrower to avoid broken stitches down the line.

Once you’ve sewn all your pieces together, flip it right side out and remove any visible gathering basting stitches with your seam ripper.

Phew! That’s all we will do today my Bombshell babies. Tomorrow we will be inserting our leg elastic! Exciting times!

  • Brigid

    I’m sure you’ll address this shortly—or maybe I missed it somewhere—but should we have finished the bottom edge of the skirt front before sewing up the two side seams for good?

  • Carrie

    I tried my suit on at this point and noticed a couple of minor issues. Where the leg opening attaches to the side seam it is pulling a bit causing the side seam to appear to make a little zigzag right there as it is being pulled to the front. Any suggestions what would I change next go ’round to eliminate this – length of crotch/ width of that bottom piece? Also, it seems to want to ride up a bit on the behind…this is after adding 2 whole additional inches for a long torso (even though I’m only 5’2″!!). It only happens after bending. Is this just a swimsuit curse not to be helped or should I add even more length in next time? Thanks so much for the great pattern. I am having a blast sewing it up!

  • Hi Carrie. That zig zag issue has always kind of bothered me but I could never figure out how to eliminate it. I think it is unavoidable to be honest, unless you added boning in the side seam to stabilize that point. As for the behind, you could try adding a tad more stretch to your elastic, but it’s honestly just the nature of clothing. It can’t help but move around as you do. I find it much better with this suit since your fanny is really covered up – no wedgie issues like with traditional suits. But unless you’re using garment tape, it will shift as you bend.

  • OMG I’ve been doubting myself the whole way but I tried my suit on at this point and wow it’s looking awesome!! I can’t wait to get finished!! This sewalong has been so helpful! Thanks!

  • Crystal Najera

    Would it be an issue to have the front longer than the back?

  • snarkylarky

    im a visual learner and i am totally lost on all this, even with photos. you need to do a video 🙁