August 12, 2014

A fun Bombshell! With a sad ending :(

This year, I pledged to tackle swimsuits and trousers, and I’m halfway there!
Being the sewing sheep that I am, I decided to follow the flock and make the Closet Case Files Bombshell swimsuit, which was designed with curves in mind. I am in possession of the most curviest of curves, so clearly it was meant for me. I did have to grade up, as my bust and waist were bigger than the size 18, but it was a pretty straightforward process (tutorial here).
And here it is, in all its glory! Do you like my natural pose? I hang out at the beach just like this, honest.

Hurray! So the eagled eyed among you will notice a few differences to the published pattern. The main one is that I changed the halterneck straps to regular over-the-shoulder straps. Why? Well, I wouldn’t usually put a massive weight on a string around my neck, so why should swimsuits be any exception? Much better like this, thankyouverymuch.

Not featured: an internal swim bra, and there are also real bra straps inside the straps: tutorial here!

Look ma, nothing escapes!

Obligatory back view


I felt thoroughly pleased with myself for making this. Despite the fact many other sewists have already made it and declared it to be super easy I was rather skeptical of my own abilities. But darn it if it didn’t turn out they’re right! A major bonus is not having to finish seams (I used my serger), and absolutely no ironing – therefore making the perfect mid-summer sewing project. No ironing in my underwear for this make, no siree (I’m sure the neighbours are disappointed).
I wore it out at the first opportunity, which turned out to be Nantucket this weekend. It didn’t actually go into the water (apart from this shot), but I swanned around feeling very glamourous.


And now we come to the sad bit. Oh dear. You may be wondering where this adorable fabric is from, and you’d be right if you guessed Girl Charlee, purveyor of cute prints. Unfortunately…. the fabric is a fail. This isn’t the first time for me: myΒ Maxi Moneta has already massively faded and pilled to the point of being unwearable, a lightweight knit I bought had holes in it, and just the other day Heather had a problem with her ponte Mabel.

The strap was losing dye just during the sewing process (before it had been worn), and I ended up with blue dye all over my hands:

After one wear, not swimming, there were streaks of blue dye coming off the suit and across my thighs:

And here you can see the dye seeping through the lining:

So it turns out that my victorious Bombshell is basically not wearable. To their credit, Girl Charlee eventually agreed to give me a refund (although theirΒ usual policy is that if you pre-wash fabric you are no longer eligible for one). I’m also sending the suit back to them so that they can investigate it with their suppliers.

In the meantime: I have a graded swimsuit pattern that fits me! I will be going to the Garment District soon! A new, top quality, swimsuit shall be mine, this time made from colourfast fabric! Anyone have any other swimsuit pattern recommendations?

65 thoughts on “A fun Bombshell! With a sad ending :(

  1. Mela R. says:

    Congrats on a gorgeous swimsuit. Sorry to hear about the fabric. What a bummer. Hope Girl Charlie starts fixing their fabric issues. I keep reading more and more about them.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Mela! Yes I hope they do work on them, because quite a lot of people seem to be having similar issues…

  2. Lyndle says:

    Fab looking swimsuit! And i love your ‘nothing escapes’ pose! So sorry to hear about the fabric, because it does look cute, but colorfastness is rather indispensable in a swimsuit. That is truly terrible! I’d love to hear more about your making process, especially the grading and ‘engineering’ side.

    1. Jenny says:

      Cheers! What can I say, stretching out seems to make swimsuits look good πŸ˜‰
      You can read about the grading in my tutorial post, and I will follow up with one on the swim bra soon!

  3. Lauren says:

    It is super cute – bummer about the fabric! At least now you know what mods to make to another version…with better fabric. πŸ™‚ I, too, have not had the best experience with Girl Charlee. πŸ™

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Lauren! Sorry to hear you’ve not had good experiences either – we live and learn!

  4. Heather says:

    Aw, I’m so sorry to hear about the fabric fail (although super stoked to see how the garment fit – SUPER WIN!!!). I actually recognized the fabric right away, because I originally had it and a bunch of other swimsuit fabric in my cart, ready to buy and make my own swimsuit. And then they calculated shipping to Canada, and my $45 order became a $90 order, and well, you can guess how that went afterward. Thanks for the heads-up on the quality – really glad I didn’t dish out on the $45 shipping afterall. Although sorry to hear that you learned about the quality the hard way. πŸ™

    You know, I really wasn’t a fan of this suit pattern, but I really like how yours has turned out. I might have to give this another look.

    1. Heather says:

      Also, forgot to mention, but I REALLY like your mods on the straps. I think one of the things I didn’t like about the pattern was the halter straps – didn’t even cross my mind to change it up! Thanks. πŸ™‚

    2. Jenny says:

      Isn’t it funny Heather how sometimes you can almost *forget* that patterns can be adapted! I had a similar reaction at first to the straps and then I was like D’OH! Glad you didn’t waste money on shipping, but hope you find something else good! There are lots of spandex stores in NYC if you’re ever around there.

    3. Heather says:

      Heh, and that’s the reason most of us started sewing to begin with!

      I live in the Yukon – probably won’t find myself in NYC anytime soon – but I am planning a Mexican holiday this winter, so I’d better get my butt moving and find something!

  5. Meg says:

    First off – fantastic suit! You look adorable.
    I recently received some of that fabric in a swap, so I will have to look out for the fading before I sew anything up. Yikes!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks very much Meg! On the fabric, I think it’s mostly friction that’s the problem – anywhere that the fabric was really worked on, or rubs on my body, the dye comes off – it wasn’t evident at the pre-washing stage. Give it a rub between your hands or under water and see what happens. I would use it for muslin making but I honestly wouldn’t sew it up unless you somehow have a different batch to mine.

  6. Heather Lou says:

    You look fucking beautiful. It’s a damn shame the fabric did not live up to your rad grading skills, sigh.

    1. Jenny says:

      And it is a shame, but that just means MORE BOMBSHELLS WILL BE MINE

  7. BUMMER. MEGA BUMMER. okay you gotta get to spandex world. or is it house? there are several universes of spandex stores to choose from…

    1. We usually go to Spandex House. πŸ™‚ But world is also a thing… and now there’s Spandex Lab?

    2. Jenny says:


  8. Katy Patzel says:

    Such a shame about the fabric because this turned out amazing! I can’t wait to see the next one.

    1. Jenny says:

      Next year there’ll probably be, like, seven. πŸ™‚

  9. Candice says:

    Wow, this suit is amazing!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you Candice! It was surprisingly easy to make πŸ™‚

  10. This suit looks crazy awesome on you and your hat and ‘tude are totally selling the “helllll yeah I vacation on Nantucket” vibe. Such a bummer about the fabric- I can’t imagine swimwear fabric that isn’t colorsafe! Why, Girl Charlee, why??? Their knits are not my favorite, although I’ve never experienced dye bleeding before. Ugh!

    1. Jenny says:

      Ha ha well the real intention of this post was to say LOOK AT MY FAB VACAY IN NANTUCKET SUCKERSSSS!!! So I guess I achieved my objective ;D

      And, thanks!

  11. lisa g. says:

    how disappointing in the fabric department! that sort of bleeding is ridiculous, and i’m glad they refunded it. i’ve been pretty meh over GC lately, and pretty much only buy cotton/spandex solids these days. but anyways… the suit turned out great! looks amazing, and i like your mods.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Lisa! It was disappointing, but luckily the suit was pretty quick to make, so I’ll just have to make another!

  12. Damn the fabric, but Damn! You look amazing!

    1. Jenny says:

      Damn, thank you!

  13. Sophie-Lee says:

    Why would you not be eligible for refund if you’ve pre-washed the fabric, that’s ridiculous! Glad to hear they are refunding you, though.

    The suit is so nice and I love the spots, it’s a shame it has such a bad outcome – but I guess it was a “free” practice go?

    1. Jenny says:

      Yep, it’s a ridiculous policy… it took me several sternly worded emails before they eventually agreed.

      But you’re right, I’ll think of it as a free muslin! Yay!

  14. Crab and Bee says:

    This is a great-looking suit and you look great in it! I love your strap mod. And yah, I’ve had bad times with Girl Charlee, too. I bought a knit labeled as “cotton” that clearly had a healthy mix of synthetics when I received it, and had to have several exchanges before they agreed to offer me a store credit. I ended up giving away the fabric I bought with my credit because it felt very cheap. Their prices are low, but I’d rather pay more dollars/yard to get something that will last. It’s too bad about your suit, but I’m glad we can look forward to another from you πŸ™‚

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you! And yes, I’ve had very similar experiences… customer service is oddly resistant to admitting fault. Oh well. Onwards and upwards!

  15. Michelle says:


    You look awesome in this suit! What a bummer about the dye issue from Girl Charlee–I almost bought some of that same fabric when I was on my I’m-going-to-make-a-swimsuit kick. I haven’t had any bad experiences with them, yet, thankfully. I am looking forward to your adding-a-bra tutorial. I just had one of my favorite bras kick the bucket, so I’ve got a set of underwires ready to be incorporated into something else.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! It’s great for curvy ladies. And glad you held off buying… there’s clearly better quality out there

  16. Laurwyn says:

    As I said the other day, this swimsuit is really cool and looks great on you! It is such a shame that the fabric was a let down though…
    Also, I can only praise you on the photos, it looks like you posed for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition a few years in a raw πŸ™‚ You should write down tips on that!!!

    1. Jenny says:

      Ha ha ha thanks! Lots of stretching out, that’s my recommendation!

  17. mommylap says:

    This is really SO cute on you. I’m sorry all your work has gone into something you have to return. I’m very excited about the structural tutorial!! I hope the eventual ending is happy.

  18. I’ll come out of the woodwork to say you look lovey in that suit! Well done. So sad that the fabric has bled so much and faded. I made a circle skirt out of a Girl Charlee ponte knit last December and it’s withstood all the washings and wear I’ve put it through. Actually, now that I think about it, the only issue I’ve had with the knits from Girl Charlee are the thin ones – those have pilled like mad after one wash. Sadly, it seems that often cheaper prices equal cheap quality. At least yours made a fabulous looking muslin, right? *wink, wink*

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Kristen! Glad to hear that you had a good experience with GC even if some others weren’t… clearly there are mixed experiences out there. But yes, I got one good day, and a muslin out of it!

  19. KaoruMarie says:

    Your swimsuit turned out great and you look utterly fabulous in it! Too bad about the fabric….I’ve been so tempted in recent months to buy some knits from Girl Charlee, but I’m not so sure I will after reading some of the recent troubles other bloggers have had. I made a swimsuit using fabric from Michael Levine (I bought it in store) and the dye/fabric appear very durable, something you’d expect to see in RTW swim apparel.

    1. Jenny says:

      Ooh I’ll have to check out Michael Levine swimsuit fabrics…

  20. Clio says:

    Yay for super flattering swimsuits that you can make a dozen more of!!!! Boo for fabric fails! I guess just call this one a muslin, right?

    Honestly, I’ve held off ordering from GC because the NYer in me (that little skeptical, don’t-be-a-sucker voice) kept saying the prices might be too good. I hope they are able to up their game and glad they were willing to refund you!

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m calling it a cute muslin! And I think you may well be right: too good to be true. In their email to me they basically said they were trying to balance cost and quality, and it seems that might be off-balance right now…

  21. I have $100 worth of Girl Charlee fabric to start cutting out… hmmm guess I’ll have a lot of maybe wearable muslins. They had better wise up regarding their customer service- word gets around quickly in this day and age ; ) . I was less than excited over how thin some of it turned out to be, but thought it must be me.
    On the upside, your suit is fantastic!

    1. Jenny says:

      I’ll cross my fingers you got some of the good stock!
      And thanks πŸ™‚

  22. tanyamaile says:

    Super gorgeous! At least you have the pics to remember it by. I like the mods to the straps, too. I’ve decided not to buy from girl charlee again. My black floral moneta faded after one wash. πŸ™

    1. Jenny says:

      Bummer! You should definitely email them (and ask for a refund) because they told me that they never get customer complaints so are unaware of any quality issues…

  23. ~GG~ says:

    You look GORGEOUS! I love the suit. So nice to see it on someone with Curves & a full bust. Gives me confidence that I might make it one day. Because looking at all the other bloggers, none seem to have much in the bust department and all I can think of is saggy. Bleah. So Thank you for your gorgeous rendition!

    Excellent job documenting and working with Girl Charlee. As someone who used to work in manufacturing & reliability and had to identify the root cause of a failure, there is no better way to help resolve an issue with a supplier, nor clearly illustrate an issue than returning the failed part/product along with photos. I’m glad they refunded you. The bleeding like that is an issue and I would venture a guess they will be glad to return it to their vendor for correction in the long run. Might cost them some money now, but it’s cheaper than lots of unhappy customers. πŸ™‚

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks GG! You definitely need to put support into this suit if you have a bust, but the construction of the pattern makes it very straightforward to do so. Hopefully Girl Charlee will be able to make some changes with my suit in hand… we shall see.

  24. Fiona Parker says:

    O man that’s such a shame about the fabric because I flipping’ love this swimsuit! You look fabulous. It’s fantastic to see it graded up and looking possibly even better on a plus size figure. I’ve just read through your tutorial for the bra too and it’s so helpful thank you!

    1. Jenny says:

      It was indeed a bummer! But I will try again next year, no doubt.

  25. It’s too bad that the fabric was a bomb. I bought swimsuit fabric from Michael Levine and it has held up quite well. Nothing is worse than all that effort only to have the fabric be sad.

    1. Jenny says:

      I’ll have to check out Levine’s next time I’m in LA!

  26. I love the suit, but what a pity with the fabric! I guess you won’t be purchasing from that store again?

    Also, glad you added your link to my Me-Made-Monday – I am a new follower πŸ™‚

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Marina, welcome! Thanks, and you’re right, I won’t be purchasing from them again after a few fails in a row. Oh well, we live and learn!

  27. Alessa says:

    That’s one fabulous looking swimsuit! Too bad about the fabric! I’ve also had issues with Girlcharlee, and decided not to order there anymore. It’s not really worthwhile, when I add iternational shipping and import tax on top of the fabric price…

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Alessa! Yeah agree with you on Girl Charlee – not worth the risk any more.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Jenny, you look amazing, as does your swimsuit. Too bad about the fabric quality:(

    Spandex House ( ships. I was in the Garment District last week. I popped in to see if the fuss were merited; it is.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you Basya! Yes I’ve been to Spandex House before and it’s cer-azy! I will def have to pick up my 2015 swimsuit materials from there πŸ™‚

  30. It’s lovely on you! So sorry about the crummy fabric. I’ve had bad luck with them, too. I made the bombshell but it was fail for me because I didn’t know about the lack of support until it was too late. She should really rewrite that pattern IMO.

  31. Wow…one of the loveliest most delicious Bombshells Ive seen yet…such a pity about the fabric though. I do hope you are able to find something as lovely (or better) for your next one.

  32. Eileen says:

    Great suit! I have to say I am happy to hear someone else not so happy with GC. All the blogs with the pretty knit dresses seem to get their fabric there. I bought $60.00 worth of knit and was very disappointed. It was very thin, and after prewashing even thinner, Basically a $60.00 box of knit “muslin” fabric. I did not complain (as I bought 6 or 7 different kinds), but will not purchase from them again. The price reflects the quality in my opinion,,,,,,,,,,,

  33. Tamster says:

    Looks like Girl Charlie has a terrible return policy, given that it’s nearly impossible to know that a piece of fabric is crap until you’ve prewashed or sewn in up. You did beautiful work here, what a shame that garbage fabric ruined it. For my money, GC not only owes you your money back but a credit towards a few order.

  34. mamasews says:

    I once went swimming in a city pool, when I got out, I made a beeline to the dressing rooms, because my suit was very transparent. I looked like I had nothing on. The pool paid for my suit and lowered the amount of chlorine they added.

Let me know what you think!