There's no way around it. Shopping as a big girl is an exercise in depression management.
Finding decent swimming togs is hard, in general, and finding nice togs that flatter, fit, and still allow you to actually swim? The STRUGGLE. Add in being a larger person, and it becomes a complete nightmare.
So I decided to find someone who could make me the perfect pair of togs, using my own fabric designs.
That's how I came across Swanwear again - in October last year - at the Underground Markets. I had seen the stall before, but just assumed it wasn't going to have anything that fit. It's a protective mechanism - if I assume nothing will fit, I won't be hurt when yet another place considers a NZ size 14 "plus size". And I am NOT a size 14.
I had a quick chat with Annemiek, and she said that she could help, and then, things being busy and money being tight, it went on the backburner for a few months, as tends to happen with our personal projects at Copper Catkin HQ.
A design is born
In January, we went blueberry picking for the first time, and it inspired me to make one of my favourite designs so far - my "Blueberry Bushes" design. Finally, I had the impetus to design the togs themselves.
I decided on the fabrics required, and mocked up my designs, then Annemiek made a mock-up of the costume, and I ordered fabric samples so we could see if the Spoonflower Sport Lycra fabric that I wanted to use was going to be suitable.
(Spoiler alert - it was!)
The fabric designs I chose
Once the samples were approved, we ordered the fabric. As they are a print-to-order service, Spoonflower don't offer partial yards, so I had to order more than I needed - but it will be used!
Be sure to consult with Swanwear before making your order, as the quantities may be different for your design choices!
What with one thing and another, it actually took quite a while to get the togs themselves made - we were renovating bathrooms, and it wasn't really swimming weather - but they finally came together in time for me to wear them for the first time in public on our trip to Portland, and for my very cool photoshoot with A La Mojo (more to come about that soon!).
Where to from here?
Well, I regularly get asked where I got my togs, and I tell people that they are printed from my own designs and made by Swanwear, which is met with interest.
The new pattern that we developed for my togs is available for purchase, either in some of the fabrics that Annemiek has on hand, or in any of my designs!
I thought it might help to mock up a few other options to help people visualise what they could do.
Example - Ladybird Togs - DIY swimming costume design
I have started by gathering together a few designs in related colourways and subject matter. This is a great way to help triage a large list of choices. You can make your own albums (create a collection as if you're making a fill-a-yard) on Spoonflower to help you out. Here's mine for this post:
This design allows for up to three colour choices - the front feature panel, the sides and back panels, and the frills, straps, and trims. As you can see from the mock-up below, every variation can give a different feel - and all so quirky and fun! No one else will have the same look as you.
If you are still struggling with your choices, you can contact Swanwear for assistance as part of ordering your bespoke swimwear, or we can arrange a Copper Catkin design consultation (please note that this will not be free, as I do not receive any additional commission from Swanwear - only the small payment for the fabrics themselves from Spoonflower).
I hope you feel inspired and ready to tackle the big bad world of custom swimwear now!
Now, get out there, get in the water, and #WorkYourQuirk!