Colette

Progress, Not Perfection

169

bikini-mirror

I heard this pithy saying a little while ago: “progress, not perfection.”

For me, it was a lightbulb moment. I’ve always struggled with the paradox of simultaneously accepting who I am and wanting to be better.

There is even a Zen koan that deals with this issue: “All of you are perfect as you are, and you could all do with a little improvement.” But try as I might to understand this paradox, it never clicked.

I’ve long struggled with this, in relation to my body, my habits, my work, just about everything in life. It’s difficult to simultaneously want positive change and NOT beat yourself up for falling short. Or compare yourself to others who seem to be doing better.

How can change and self-acceptance co-exist?

But when I heard these three words, I realized that the answer is obvious. Look at what you’ve accomplished and celebrate that. Let that be what guides you forward.

Why hate doesn’t help

Today, I’ve got a swimsuit to show off, but first I would like to share a little of my story with you in regards to my body.

I was not an athletic kid. As an introvert, team sports held zero interest for me, and I just didn’t think of myself as a physical person. At all.

Couple that with being constantly surrounded by junk food (seriously, how is it possible that Pizza Hut and Taco Bell can sell food on school campuses?) and some pretty gnarly emotional eating problems, and I was not a healthy young woman, in body or in mind.

In fact, I hated the way I looked. I also felt divorced from it. I rarely looked at my body clearly in the mirror, it was so painful. I also had the added impact of my scoliosis to make me feel abnormal and at war with my physical self. I just wanted to forget about it all.

I never decided to make a big physical change. But I did decide to stop hating myself. I remember reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and feeling the tragedy of so many women’s internalized misogyny and self-loathing. And I simply decided I didn’t want to be one of those women.

Slowly, I overcame my depression and emotional eating problems. I was now living in New York City and walking miles a day for transportation. I discovered that I really liked cooking, and I even might like exercise. Over the course of the next year and a half, I lost a good 40 or 50 pounds.

I never dieted; I never even set out to lose weight. But once I started, I loved seeing the progress just from making better choices, and that kept me going. I exercised more, found new activities I enjoyed, learned more about nutrition. It was a positive feedback loop.

But first I had to stop hating myself. It’s the exact opposite of what they sell you, that if you compare yourself and hate yourself enough, you’ll have the motivation to do better.

It’s a lie. You know why? Because the hate won’t stop. Self-flagellation might help you make some changes, but once you accomplish what you set out to do, you will not magically feel good enough. The hate will still be there. I’ve been there, many times.

So today, I am celebrating progress and saying to hell with perfection. I’m not going to point out every “flaw” in my body to you, as much as I want to. I will look at myself and be proud of a body that has run a marathon, can do pull-ups, and hikes in the forest, no matter what its size, shape, or level of symmetry.

It won’t be around forever. I want to enjoy it while it lasts.

The swimsuit

Now, on to the swimsuit!

bikini-standing-02

bikini-standing-2-up

I found this amazing cloud print fabric at Spandex House online. It’s a poly-spandex blend and it’s absolutely perfect for swimwear. I lined it in swimsuit lining fabric. I’ll warn you that ordering from them is sort of a weird process where you have to give your credit card over the phone. I have no idea why they don’t just use paypal or something, it’s really strange.

bikini-in-pool-02

I drafted the pattern and decided to make it in the style of a longline bra. Traditionally, swimwear would have more covered elastic rather than the decorative elastic with the little picots and whatnot, but I had it and it looks cute, so whatever.

bikini-in-pool-01

I added underwire for support, but no foam in the cups. The spandex is so sturdy with the lining that it really didn’t need foam.

bikini-back

I struggled a bit with what do to with the back of the top. I wanted to use a swimwear hook, but because the top is longline, I didn’t want to taper the back from several inches at the side seams to only 3/4 inches at the back. So I hit upon the idea of doing two sets of straps in back.

I rather like the unusual look, and it helps provide quite a bit of support. I have to fix the fact that the top strap rides up, though.

on-swan-float

The good

This suit is all kinds of adorable. I love the longline style and the simple style lines let me use this crazy print. The fabric was awesome. The cut is perfect for me.

Overall, I love it and want to make more variations!

What I’d change

Fit wise, it could use some minor tweaks. The cups are a bit minimizing, so I’d probably deepen them a little. I’d make the back band tighter. And I need to angle the top back band, because you can see how much it’s riding up.

I also would sew the bottom elastic band differently, since the cups wanted to sag over it a little.

I stretched the elastic slightly when sewing the waist and leg openings, and that really wasn’t necessary. So I’d sew it 1:1 next time.

One final note: Before you ask, this is not supposed to be a preview of an upcoming pattern! At least not any time soon. This is definitely more of a fun experiment right now. I wouldn’t mind hearing if you’re interested in sewing bras or swimwear, though. At the very least, I can recommend some great books.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 169

sara blogmixedemotions.blogspot.fr

You look terrific! As the mother of two teenage daughters, these issues of self acceptance are often on my mind (with them it’s braces, pimples etc…). Thanks for sharing your story.
I’ve never sewn swimsuits or lingerie, but seeing your gorgeous creation really makes me want to try. maybe this Summer…

Trisha

Wow! That is really nice! I like your design. The cloud print is pretty and I like the way you used it.
You give me hope that someday, I can make a swimsuit too! I’m still using training wheels with my knits, so to speak, but I can see progress. Thanks for the inspiration. Your blog always brings something interesting to think about.

Piper Springs

I am in awe that you conceived, designed and constructed a fabulous swimsuit! You are crazy talented!

Anabela blog.fieldguided.com

AMAZING!! I love that cloud print and wish I could order it but the process makes me feel so lazy. I made myself a one-piece swimsuit a few summers ago and it was really satisfying to make & wear.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Anabela, it is so you! Get some! The process isn’t all that bad, they just ask for your number and call you for your credit card, which they did pretty promptly. Or maybe you could find it somewhere else too!

Tilly tillyandthebuttons.com

You look gorgeous, Sarai! What an amazing fabric find. Oh to be in a swimming pool right now!

When I read/hear people discussing body image issues, I always think of the Regina Spektor song ‘Folding Chair’ which goes:

“I’ve got a perfect body
But sometimes I forget
I’ve got a perfect body
Because my eyelashes catch my sweat
(Yes the do, they do-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh)”

xx

Jenny cashmerette.blogspot.com

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that song! Regularly hum it to myself :)

Nicole

Same! Except I kind of hate her dolphin noise, haha.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Ha! Kenn gets so irritated by her noises too!

French Toast Tasha tashamillergriffith.com

I love that lyric too! It makes me laugh and celebrate myself every time I hear it.

anna

Woooow! I am very impressed. I love the swimsuit you made Sarai. And I would really like if you guys, at colette patterns, release a swimsuit pattern soon!!!

Lucinda sew-wrong.com

Ohhhh I love your swimsuit! That’s a great idea for a longline-type top, it makes it easy to pair up with any kind of bottom. I just finished making two bikinis for my Florida vacation, and it’s so gratifying to sew swimsuits – mine were a fraction of the cost that you’d find at a retail store, my fabric is better, and I think mine are much more flattering!

Samantha agatheringofstitches.com

I love this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these issues. I gained a whole mrs of weight about a decade ago when I met my husband. What a strange dichotomy- I was happy so I ate, I lolled about in bed (!) and abandoned all my healthy habits, but I hated the weight I gained and how my body looked. My husband still loves me, and tells me so, but I felt fat (a bad word). I have been struggling with how to address this weight for the past five years and finally feel better about both how I am dealing with it and what my body looks like. I am fit, I eat well and do yoga three times a week. Yes, I have a pooch, and yes, I would like to lose it. But it will happen slowly just the way the gain did. And in the meantime I am (kinda) enjoying my curves. Finding your patterns and learning how to sew for my new body have been a big part of my coming to this acceptance. So I thank you for all that you share. And just as a little prod, I would love to try making the swimsuit, if you decided to make that as a pattern. Hooray Sarai!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

So true. I am a big believer in the middle path – moderation in all things. That means change happens slowly, but what’s the rush?

Colleen

I LOVE IT! And you look really fabulous in it! It’s so you.

Jenny cashmerette.blogspot.com

I couldn’t agree more. I wrote a post recently about sewing, body image and Intuitive Eating – sewing (and blogging about it) has really has made a huge difference to my self-perception.

http://cashmerette.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/reflections-of-part-time-seamstress.html

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I loved your post, Jenny! I’m going to tweet it out so others can read it too. :)

Jenny cashmerette.blogspot.com

Thanks Sarai, that was really kind of you!

Daniela D

Wow! The swimsuit is beautiful and you look amazing in it!

Having struggled my entire life with a poor body image and self-loathing, I have finally accepted that I am fine, just the way I am. Your post is a gentle reminder of that for me and could not have come at a better time. Thank you for sharing. : )

I am definitely interested in sewing bras and swimwear. It would be glorious to have a custom fit for both!

Caroline

Thank you for sharing your swimsuit project. It looks great and you look lovely in it. It is always interesting seeing people experiment, especially when they leave their comfort zones. Your courage is appreciated!

Lisette vintageorbust.blogspot.com

It is a really stunning swimsuit, so bold and graphic and you look great in it. I would buy one if I saw it in a store!

Melissa craftrambler.blogspot.com

Sooo beautiful! Great job.

carolyn fakeitwhileyoumakeit.blogspot.com

It does look fantastic on you! I love all the little details – especially the picot edging! You may have come a long way in the appreciation of your body but I’m guessing that that struggle is probably partly responsible for the fact that you know your body and what looks great on it! And this looks great on you!

Jennifer b jenniferbranch.com

What a great swimsuit! Very classic glam with the gorgeous modern cloud print!
I started one last summer but got stuck on making a skirted one that didn’t look frumpy. I’d love some book, etc suggestions!

Delana

The suit is beautiful, and so are you! Kudos for your courage in addressing the topic of body hating and for showing photos of yourself in your new swimsuit. You look wonderful!

French Toast Tasha tashamillergriffith.com

I couldn’t agree more! Brava!

Lientje

I love that fabric! This swimsuit looks superb (and you too)!

Beth P

Thank you for sharing! Just what I needed to read, just when I needed to read it!

Beth P

….and the swimsuit is fabulous!

SizeMode sizemode.com

What a beautiful bathing suit! And of course a model who is beautiful as well…..

The cut on the bottoms are fantastic! Not quite boy shorts, perfect coverage, and still room for belly button freedom.

One thing I started doing in my progress toward personal freedom was to reward changes in my physical progress with a new activity (pretty much what you said in your post). The latest has been….stand up paddle boards…..which generally require a bathing suit. If you have tried one yet, I can say they create uncontrollable laughter and bring out the kid in you.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Oooh, paddle boards sound fun! Maybe I’ll try that when it gets warm. I plan to reward myself this spring and summer with lots of hikes, hopefully to some new swimming holes!

I love the high-waist look, but it doesn’t work for me, since my waist is practically in my armpits. So I just modeled these after a few favorite pairs of underwear I have and where they hit.

Catherine

I LOVE that fabric! I’ve been thinking about making a one-piece (I swim laps for exercise) and now I wanna make it out of that fabric.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Ooh, this fabric would be fantastic for a sporty one-piece! I used to swim also, and I think something like a speedo but in a cool fabric like this one would look amazing.

Carlee sewcookgardenrepeat.blogspot.ca

You look amazing! And that swimsuit is fantastic! I would certainly be interested in learning how to sew something like this (or buying a pattern down the line…)

joolzy

I tried sewing a one piece swimsuit (burdastyle pattern) and was somewhat mystified with how to handle the elastic areas around the leg bands and crotch. It was hard to sew these things on the machine so I did it almost all by hand. It felt like a couture bespoke bathing suit in the end and even tho it’s the wrong size for me now (a few years later) I can’t seem to give it away.
Hope to make another one soon that consists of a top and high bottom…. kinda like yours! Thanks Sarai.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

The elastic bits are tricky. There are a number of things I would have done differently with it, but now I know!

Katy katyandlaney.com

I love this swimsuit, especially the double straps in the back. What a great idea! Who knew you could look so effortless and cool in a bathing suit? I’m so glad you shared it with us.

Krista

I love your swim suit! It looks great on you! I don’t know any women that don’t have body image issues, thanks to the constant assault of photoshopped, objectified images we are exposed to. I have a friend that competed in bikini/fitness competitions. She had, for a time, the type of physique that won trophies and appeared in magazines. But she will tell you that it was the most destructive and toxic thing she did to herself and it took years to recover her health and balance her hormones. And she was never quite happy with the way she looked either, nor was she prepared for the way everyone else seemed to think it was ok to offer their opinions about her body to her. It did teach her a great deal and led her to focus on feeling good and moving well. One of the best experiences I’ve had was to study for a time with a teacher that offered belly dance as a healing, community-building dance for women. Dancing with women of all ages, shapes and sizes–every one looked absolutely beautiful –was tremendously empowering. Well, sorry for the rambling about body image. It’s something we all think about a great deal. Thanks for sharing your story.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I cannot even imagine what that would be like, competing in those fitness competitions. I didn’t even know that was a thing until recently.

Actually, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have any job/pursuit that required your body to be a certain way… model, actor, dancer. I have a lot of respect for those who deal with that pressure every day.

Jenny

Wow, what a lovely swim suit. I must say, without sounding weird, you have great legs. The whole body image thing is very awkward. There is no perfect body, how can there be when no two bodies are exactly the same, and this is something we should all embrace. I now shall go and dream about making a lovely swimsuit.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Thanks! The upside to being short waisted is long legs, I think. :)

They actually used to be sort of scrawny (I’m definitely what they call an “apple” shape, with all my weight carried up top). Now, I run and do lots of weight bearing exercise. I like that they’re sturdier now, but mostly I LOVE being able to squat down and pick things up without thinking about it! That feels so good.

Annette Tirette annettetirette.blogspot.com

Thanks so much for your post. I’ve gained some weight since five years ago and until recently I felt pretty bad about it, but at the moment I’m at peace with the way my body looks. I eat healthy enough and move around quite a bit for an artist with a sitting job, and it seems like my body wants to be like this at this very moment. I recently realised I was holding out on sewing or buying certain garments because I felt they would look better on a thinner me, but these days I stopped caring about it and just wear whatever the hell I want.

Katrina Blanchalle olderthanvintage.blogspot.com

Gorgeous swimsuit! I love the fabric and the cool details on the top.
I don’t think there is anyone, of any shape, who has not been disappointed, depressed, or in some way obsessed with body issues. I decided to cut that out when I thought back to how absolutely gorgeous I was at age 28, yet can clearly remember hating my body then. Now I’m 54; I don’t want to spend more decades hating my shape and then at 83, realize I was beautiful today.
Women are lovely, lush, and graceful in an infinite number of ways. It would be sad if we all looked like a photoshopped magazine model.

gabriel ratchet

you’re beautiful, it’s beautiful…. thank you.

and i love the two-strap back idea, and reworking so the top strap is shaped like the picture. i thought you did that on purpose when i first looked at the picture.

Zippy

You mentioned that you had books you could recommend on sewing things like this. What would you recommend?

The swimsuit looks absolutely fantastic, by the way! That’s a really cute print. :)

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I will try to round some up for you guys in another post. :)

Mary Danielson idlefancy.com

What a lovely suit, Sarai! I adore the longline top. It’s quite different from the usual swimsuit pattern and oh-so-elegant. You look gorgeous!

Thank you, as well, for your thoughts on body positivity. Women in our society are taught from an early age to hate ourselves for not being perfect and it takes a strong mind to break out of that mold. So glad you made it to a place of peace!

Megan

You are the suit are beautiful! Thank you for sharing this.

Christine christinehaynes.com

rock star lady! and next week, I’ll be rocking my similarly-styled two piece in Palm Springs too. flaws and all. because I’ve worked hard for this imperfect body!!!

Stephanie erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

Nailed it right there “worked hard for this imperfect body”! So true!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

You are going to have a blast. Though I think few appreciate desert sun in winter like us PNWers. It’s like ringing out a wet sponge. ;)

Betty Jordan Wester nouvellegamine.com

wow- that swimsuit is adorable! Great work!

Mirza letstweedagain.blogspot.hk

I love your story because it’s really true that hating your body does not get you anywhere. When you realize that even the people you think are “perfect” find that they have flaws, it becomes quite obvious that somehow accepting yourself might be the better solution (along with healthy eating). I love your swimsuit and the step of self acceptance it represents! Although I can’t but think it looks a bit shy… you could totally pull of something bolder! Anyway, you look great in a swimsuit and really do not need to wear one-piece to hide your body!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Maybe I’ll go a bit bolder next time I make one! I like full coverage on the bottom, not for modesty reasons, but just because I think it looks so cute. For the top, I mainly wanted something with a lot of support. But something more demi-cup would also be really sweet.

Diane

You’d look great in a balconette style top.

Carol

Saw your very inspirational article in the Spirit Magazine on a flight back from the Sewing and Stitchery Expo out in Puyallup!! You young people are so inspirational! So proud of the younger generation out there who want to do their own entrepreneurial thing – no matter what it is. Also glad to see many younger sewers out there in Washington!! Hope Spirit Magazine sent you the magazine. If not, contact me and I will send you a picture I took from the magazine!! GOOD GOING!!!!!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

THANK YOU! I didn’t know if it was out, I haven’t gotten one in the mail yet! For some reason, it seriously tickles me that I’m in an in-flight magazine.

Anyone who is interested, the article is also available online:
http://www.spiritmag.com/features/article/the_new_american_dream/

Carol, I will email you!

Nothy aftagley.blogspot.ca

Thanks for an honest post. I think we have all been there or are there now. Outstanding and strong women like you make it easier to accept ourselves. I really admire your work and your honesty. I’ve learned that as I aged, and I’ve become too busy to worry about things like this, and so consequently, I’ve learned to accept my flaws. I wouldn’t go back to that time in my life for anything. I love the swimsuit and would love for you to create patterns on swimsuits and bras. I think the whole online sewing world is so woman-affirming – in a world that really isn’t, it is a breath of fresh air.

Marie asewingodyssey.blogspot.com

Gorgeous swimsuit, gorgeous woman! Thank you for openly and honestly discussing the kind of issues that plaque so many of us. It’s lovely to hear you being positive and grateful for your body and all it can do, what a wonderful way of looking at it…this is something I’m going to try out myself!

I was totally hoping that you were going to share this pattern with us…maybe one day?!? I’d definitely be interested in links to some useful swimwear/lingerie-stitching resources please ;o)

Rachel

I adore the swimsuit. You look great in it! If you make another, I think a fun variation would be to have the double row of back straps close by tying them rather than using swimwear clips. I love it how it is, but seeing the two back straps just makes me think two messy knots would also be cute.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I thought about doing it that way too! It would be a little easier, and more adjustable. Some sort of lattice of strings that ties in the back would also be very pretty (though I can imagine the tan lines).

Stephanie erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

I really love where this conversation is going. I also love how Sarai flipped the pattern on the top and bottom of the cups. They’re winking!

A lot of old school sales people don’t like Paypal for business; it’s interesting to me how many companies are half in the mail order/catalog/COD world and half in the cloud. Order online and send in a check? Amazon covered that for a long time. A lot of sewing related supply companies still do. Interesting times.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

It is interesting, because it seems to also be going the other way now, with many brick and mortar businesses using services like Square for their POS systems. That’s very popular here in Portland, where we have a lot of young small businesses.

Becky omnivorareview.blogspot.com

So lovely!

I’ve found that I have to sort of push back a little against society in defense of my (healthy) body image: “No, I do not want my latte made with nonfat milk,” “No, I do not want diet soda,”I need to eat a substantial meal because I’m hungry and I have lost a little too much weight recently.” It feels wonderful to love my own body, but it will probably always be an irritation to have to defend it. Ahh well.

BTW, would love to learn how to sew up bras and swimsuits on my standard sewing machine.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

One cool thing about sewing bras is that they can be easily done on a refular sewing machine, because the fabrics you use are generally really stable. You just need some zigzag stitches, really.

With underwear/bottoms, I think it’s helpful to have a serger, but certainly not a requirement.

Rox roxthinks.blogspot.com

Wow, there is so much power and so much vulnerability in this post, I am humbled. Your experience about body issues and perfectionnism has really struck a chord with a lot of us: thank you for your insight and thoughts! You are inspiring, Sarai. Inspiring, gorgeous, thoughtfull and talented. No kidding!

BTW, after your january post on perfectionnism, I read Brené Brown’s book. It helped me understand why and how I see myself. Since reading the book, I’ve been exploring more about shame, vulnerability and perfectionnism and I have seen an incredible change in my behavior and perceptions… Thanks for recommending it!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Thank you so so much, Rox! And I’m really glad that book helped you, I feel the same way.

Kenn is helping keep me in line too. I was going to a photography class last week and whining about having to show my photos to the class: “Everyone else in the class is a real artist! My work sucks!”

He said, “Are you doing that thing where you compare yourself to other people?” I had to laugh.

maddie madalunne.com

Bravo, bravo, bravo, Sarai. If I could give you a standing ovation right now, I would. Unfortunately, my coworkers might think that I’ve really gone nuts.

I think this shape is universally flattering, at least for most women. I like the longline silhouette, but I especially the the mid rise boy shorts. I hate those bikini cut bottoms!

Carrie

I really needed those three words today. I’m having a terrible time with a sewing project. I’m just getting back into sewing after about 3 decades (of teenage years, college, having children, etc). I’ve been trying to tell myself that my mistakes are teaching me…..but, boy they can be discouraging!

AE

Fuck yeah! Thank you for being you, sharing your journey, and offering a radiant alternative to The Woman we’re relentlessly conditioned to be.

lisa g. notesfromamadhousewife.wordpress.com

thanks for sharing your story. body image is such a complicated thing for too many of us. i think this suit is beautiful, and you are beautiful in it!

Lisa

I’ve been waiting for this post! The swimsuit came out great, and I’d love to see a pattern for it, or even just a tutorial. Bras and panties too!

Nicole

You look GREAT in the swimsuit and the swimsuit looks GREAT on you. A win-win!

Manju sewmanju.wordpress.com

You look gorgeous and should be so very proud of all you have achieved. I hope you do consider doing a swimsuit pattern in the future…

MarrieB purlsandpleats.wordpress.com

I love that quote! It’s so simple, yet brilliant. Also, you look great in your swimsuit, the style is perfect. :)

Jen

I am a newer sewing and have made a few t-shirts, leggings, quilts. Now I want to learn how to make/sew gussets so I can design & make awesome well-constructed yoga pants :)

Kendra

The swimsuit looks great! The cloud print is adorable! And I would love some recommendations on books for sewing lingerie/swimwear – post ’em up.

holly

I’d love love love to get those book suggestions! I’m in the midst of a bathing suit experiment as well.

Tiffany tiffanysnotionsandknits.blogspot.ca

Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure most of us can relate to it on some level. I myself have only really started not hating (maybe even loving) my body since I started making my own clothes. It really does feel better having clothes that fit my curves.

krystina

You are so brave to put yourself out there like this, brava! And you look fabulous! It’s so funny how as women we look at others and think, “why does she have hang ups?! She looks fabulous! I on the other hand…” and meanwhile there is probably someone looking at me and thinking the same thing while I sit around and mope about my lumps and bumps. It’s silly when you think about it, we should all just celebrate ourselves! I have to say, sewing for myself has been so major on my own journey towards acceptance– just knowing that it’s not me, it’s THEM (RTW clothes) has been so eye opening.

Nina

You look amazing! I’d be thrilled to look like that. AND I want that swimsuit. :D

Serina

Really great post Sarai and great suit. I have some trepidation about sewing stretchy knits myself, but really want to try.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I’m going to have some help for you in the next couple months, don’t worry! You can do it.

Mica edinyarnfest.com

Awesome (both you and the swimsuit)!

Philippa gloriaandme.blogspot.co.uk

I just want to say how fabulous you look in your self-made bikini. I am definitely interested in sewing swimwear but my large cup size holds me back as none of the patterns I have found include under wires and I really feel I need them. I wouldn’t know where to start with drafting my own top piece but I am considering sacrificing a bra to see how they are constructed and using that as a starting point. Like many people I am sure reading this I indentify with those internal voices that say that your body is not up to the mythical ideal. But as I grow older I realise how much time I wasted worrying and wish I had realised that my body was actually fine when I was younger. It’s just a body after all. Better late than never, I suppose!

Marlise pomme-et-asperge.blogspot.de

Your suit is very cute and you look great! Your body looks so fit and strong! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, not just on this topic but in general!

Kathy Sews kathy-sews.com

Oooh, the fabric is killer! I wonder if it’s salt/swimming pool chemical proof? Did the material fade after swimming? I’m curious what sort of knit patterns you will be having soon, I’ve been an avid sewer with knits in the past few years because of its functionality in everyday, normal life. It’s shockingly easy to sew with them once you get to know how to use a serger/coverstitch machine… or heck, even slapping and walking foot on a regular machine does really nice work, especially with bras and undies. It’s nice to see lots more folks jumping on board with knits and not shying away from them as much. I know if you share a lovely knit pattern the sewing blog world will flip out :)

Deanna

You are such a special lady! Thank you for sharing your life with us. I know the issues you spoke of. I am so proud that you were able to lose that weight. That is amazing. Wish I could say the same for myself, but I will never give up trying. However, I would like to give up kicking myself.

Love the suit!!

miss alix cuteanddelicious.com

I love this bathing suit. The fabric is great and the design is lovely. It looks great on you and also I imagine pretty comfortable.

Personally I’d love to learn more about sewing undergarments.

Jo Britt carlseapatch.wordpress.com

I would really like to experiment with different zip insertions.

Julia cindora.blogspot.com

I can totally understand you and I have to say that you look awesome in this swimsuit!
At the moment I’m very interested in making bras and underwear. I bought some books myself to learn to make my own. Because of my asymmetry and scoliosis it’s hard for me to find fitting bras and it would be awesome if you could share some tips :)

Jane Flanagan seenandsaid.blogspot.ca

I know the point of this post was not to elicit this reaction, but I really just thought “stone cold fox”. You’re very beautiful.

I also love this post on many levels and I love your swimsuit too. This tug-of-war is very familiar for me… so much so that I often feel like I’m either improving or getting worse and never just, simply being. It’s a very distracting kind of existence and I’m also aware of that and beat myself up over thinking too much about all of this and should myself into getting over it… which ends up being lots of self-flagellation coming from so many different corners.

So thank you for being brave enough to share these pictures.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Jane, when you mentioned “simply being,” it made me think about meditation. I think it’s especially helpful if you’re someone like me, who tends to live inside her head. It gives you an aerial perspective on your thoughts so you can calm them down and actually live in the present once in a while.

It’s not a cure-all, but it has definitely helped me become a little more resilient. It’s still a struggle, but I do feel I notice more when my thoughts are dragging me around by the hair.

Heather L

“…all kinds of adorable…” You are right, your suit is that! Great job…cute fabric and it looks lovely on you! :)

meg love-and-victory.com

you’re f-ing adorable and so is that suit. now if only you’d sell those suits retail, i’d be all set. i’d better dust off that sewing machine!

Nisse whatsinatreehouse.blogspot.com

Thank you so much for sharing your story Sarai! I think part to the solutions is that more women share their stories about their bodies and issues, so the world will see that there is no “normal” size or body type. We are all different and we all have some issues with one thing or another. I think your very much right that the first step is to stop hating yourself.

Making my own clothing helped me greatly with this. Not only because I’m able to adapt clothing to my own body but moreover because it gave me a lot of confidence in and acceptance of myself. Because of the knit and sewing community I also found out that most women need to adapt their clothing to their body. I found out that I was not alone and that helped strengthening my acceptance of myself. Being a little different is not all that strange after all.

Thank you for sharing your stories and your patterns so we can continue to feel that way. Perhaps one day I will be as brave to share my own story.

susan b. westcoastcrafty.com

Fantastic! Lots and lots to think about, and so inspiring. Thanks for sharing this wonderful project. Like so many of us have said, I struggle with feeling proud of my imperfect body. The moments when I overcome all the automatic self-criticisms and just feel good about myself are liberating and free. I appreciate your encouragement and thoughtful words for yourself, and all of us as well.

Sarah

This is a beautifully done suit and an even more beautiful story. You’re awesome, Sarai.

Laura laurasinclair.com.au

Dang – I was hoping for a pattern, I love the swimmers and that cloud fabric is awesome!

And it was really great to read your history with your body – I’m trying to work on a whole bunch of “hate my body/need to stop eating so much chocolate, I’ve put on 10kg in the last year” sort of stuff and the last few years has been the first time I’ve really stopped loving my body. I needed to read this, so thank you so much for sharing!

Megan

You are such an inspiration – thank you for having the courage to share! I love the swimsuit!

Diane

You look great! Anyone who can run marathons need not compare themselves to anorexic 6′ tall models in fashion magazines. Have you seen these women in real life? Seriously, you want to feed them.

I started looking for information on sewing bras a few months ago and was astonished at the lack of information on how to sew them. That has since taken care of by sewing blogs. It made so much sense that RTW bras don’t fit correctly – who matches ALL of those little measurements? It is said that 85% of women wear the wrong sized bra and I believe it.

My aim is to make a bra that fits perfectly and remain comfortable all day long.

Michelle

I love sewing, I am a beginner, and I enjoy the email snippets, which brought me here. I think you did a great job on your swimsuit! It’s beautiful and so are your introspective words on the paradox of being both accepting of oneself and yet looking with an eye toward progress. Your words on the subject were just what I needed today. Thank you for talking about that, as well as sharing your completed work. Both were inspirational to me.

Katie P

PLEASE please PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE do a pattern for this! This is EXACTLY the style bathing suit I’ve been looking for, and it would be so kicka$$ if I could sew it myself!

Sarah rhinestonesandtelephones.blogspot.com

What a phenomenal swimsuit! The fabric is totally awesome and it looks amazing on you!

Thank you for this post! I think self-acceptance and self-love starts in the cradle. It’s one of the many reasons I work hard with my daughter to love herself for her, accept herself for her, and to embrace who she is. Beauty magazines are banned in my house.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Reminds me of the Sleater-Kinney song, #1 Must-Have:

And i think that I sometimes might have wished
for something more than to be a size six
But now my inspiration rests
in-between my beauty magazines and my
credit card bills

pants

oh my gosh, I love this post. I have always liked how you talked about body image and your own body in your posts (e.g. how you like to keep your body strong and healthy), and I really appreciate you sharing this bit of personal history with us! i think so many of us have struggled with this stuff and a lot of us still do… so thank you!
i know you are not fishing for a compliment, so I’m going to skip that part… (except to say that you are gorgeous and the suit is amazing!)

Lauren of Rosie Wednesday rosiewednesday.blogspot.com

This post was so wonderful, Sarai. Your journey sounds similar to mine, and what a triumph you’ve made of it all. The suit is absolutely beautiful, and if I may say so, looks like it suits you perfectly!

I did a sew along recently where Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic did a guest post on modifying the pattern for plus sizes. It prompted some great chatter on sewing and body image, and I ended up working with a friend to make some badges based on quotes from readers. I hope they inspire you! They made me so happy. http://rosiewednesday.blogspot.com/2014/02/shift-dress-sew-along-your-completed.html

fangaroni fangaroni.com

Huzzah! Great post and lovely swimsuit. The longline is a vintage flattering look but looks really modern with the digitally printed fabric! Two of my favorite blogs (yours and Design sponge) this year have been putting out very reflective and worthwhile posts. While i don’t want bloggers to think they have to share their personal lives in order to connect with their audience, it’s nice to have food for thought and deeper conversations online (as opposed to many fashion/design blogs I read which focus on what to buy, or how to copy or look like someone else). Anyhow hope that made sense, my fave parts of the photos was you smiling very big!

Jenn

Your suit looks gorgeous. I drafted my own suit last year by frankenpatterning a couple of vintage stretch and sew and Kwik sew patterns. I’ve yet to do an under wire although I could really use one. My favorite elastic trick is to do 1 to 1 along the front of the leg, start to stretch a little around the crotch, and then pull the dickens out of it around the butt. But I’m also booty blessed and need extra coverage back there to feel comfortable.

Katie agirlnamedkatie.com

Good for you! Thank you so much for being honest about your body. It is so inspiring!
Awesome swim suit! I can’t wait to see more!

Chloe deadlycraft.blogspot.com

I love this. I love that you are on the internet in your swimsuit (and looking fabulous, yet like a real proper person…) and I love that you discussed all of those things about the hating. I try not to struggle with it but it’s always there for most women. What strikes me is the terrible waste of it all. I feel better about myself now than I did when I was 16 and had a body I would now kill for – how can we make the next girls and women not fall into the trap of wasting all that time and energy and brain power? Hopefully one way is by being excellent role models like this!- well done. And yes yes yes, if you make a pattern I will sew a swimsuit / bra – I have enorma-boobs so it’s the only option if I want things which fit but are in nice fabrics!

Lynne facebook.com

Love the suit and it looks fabulous on you! I plan on attempting my first swim suit as soon as my fabric arrives.

Vanisha Griggs

Lovely, the post on progress, not perfection along with your swimsuit. Would love tips on sewing swimsuits.

ashley everythingelsewedo.wordpress.com

sarai,
thank you for your bravery. you do many wonderful things for women in this space–teaching us to accept our bodies as they are and to make garments that fit and flatter rather than remind us of what doesn’t conform to an industry standard. today, you did something even greater. baring body and soul so publicly is no easy task, but so healing and nourishing for so many women. this was a courageous and generous insight into your heart. the outstanding bathing suit is merely a bonus. thank you. and yes, please provide references :)

Vanessa

Thank you for your sharing such a thoughtful post and of course your beautiful bikini. Such amazing fabric! So lovely to hear you talk about your progress making peace with they way you look and loving your body. I have been so much happier since accepting and appreciating my body the way it is. Sewing is such a wonderful thing and has helped me to come to terms with my individual shape. It opened my eyes to how individual fit, shape and proportions are and how this simply can’t be captured by retail clothes. It isn’t my body that makes me look bad in clothes, it’s ill fitted clothes that look bad :)

Elle threadtension.wordpress.com

Can I just say that you are the freaking coolest? I love this post and your suit and your blog/business in general. You are always so sensible, gracious and well-spoken. Great post, great bikini, great mantra. “Progress not perfection” is something we could all stand to keep in mind more often.

Stephanie Chen

I heard a really inspiring quote from a woman I really admire, Aerial Amy. She said that it’ not about perfection, nor is it about progress. It’s about allowing yourself the confidence to feel that investing in yourself is worthwhile.

Anyway, cute swimsuit. You look awesome :)

Laura

You look stunning and the swimsuit is super cute. I started sewing because I hated trying rtw stuff and the crazy sizing. Little did I know that I’d have to face my actual measures. Somehow I felt that everyone in my class had perfect measures and mine were closer to a whale… And of course none of that was true. I’ve been also exercicing and while I’m much more in shape and have lost weight still my shape is what it is and so are my measures.
Thanks for sharing!!!

ultrahedonist

1. Cute swimsuit!
2. Progress not perfection. I like it!
3. As someone else who has only grown into exercise as an adult, making slow but definite and enjoyable progress, how awesome is it?! Also, knowing something about making that journey without being a naturally sporty person, both the marathon running and chin ups are HUGELY impressive. This might sound funny but as I slowly work up to my first marathon event (only doing 14kms this time!) your marathon running has crossed my mind quite a few times. So I’d even say it’s inspirational :)

Sarai colettepatterns.com

That’s awesome. It took me 4-5 months to be able to do ONE complete pull-up. I was so excited when it finally happened.

Marathons are kind of crazy. I don’t know if I’ll ever do one again, mainly because the training takes over your life! I love half marathons though, I’ve done 3 and want to do two this year. They’re so fun, especially the women-only one I did with my sister last year. Very powerful to see women of all shapes and sizes out there!

Kat coutureacademic.com

You’re gorgeous! You bombshell! Be loud and proud! :)

Novita verypurpleperson.com

It is so difficult to stop hating my own body, even when I feel good in something I would always find something to hate. But I’ve (tried to) accepted that too, it is also a part of me, isn’t it? :)

That’s an awesome swimsuit! The cut on the bottom is just right. I like that it is neither high waisted nor low waisted. I also love the double band! I’m inspired to use that for my next bra. Thank you for the inspiration Sarai!

Abi

Thank you for a really helpful post. It is encouraging to see such positive growth in another person.

Yay for introverts becoming confident (not extroverted) – I think what you have done in creating your business is phenomenal. I’m 31 now and every year for the last decade have felt my confidence improve and am able to things now I wouldn’t have dreamed of previously. And also, I spend less time living in my fantasy world and more in the real world.

Sally

First off, your pattern is lovely as are you. I admire your courage and openness.

Heather Lou closetcasefiles.blogspot.ca

Love this post and make Sarai! I think most of us can relate to your body image struggles. I think its a large reason many of us turn to sewing, subconsciously anyway. Sewing our own clothes inherently makes you love and know your body a little better.

The pattern is awesome, you look stunning in it, and THAT PRINT! I died and went to heaven at Spandex House last year. I may have bought 15 yards of swimsuit fabric in various prints because I am an insane person.

Jennifer fernknits.com

That’s a beautiful swimsuit! And thank you for sharing your story… it always astonishes that every single woman I’ve ever known (even “known” only online) has body issues, no matter how beautiful they are. Your suggestion of trying to focus on what we have to celebrate is a wonderful and refreshing idea! Thank you.

Ann

Beautiful suit, beautiful body, beautiful person. I love your radiant smile!

Andrea zoopolis.wordpress.com

I so adore your blog. I love how you use clothing and sewing as a jumping-off point for all of these posts about body image, self-esteem, social issues, equality, environmentalism, consumerism etc. It’s such a treat.

I have nothing to add to this specific post, but I did want to say how much I enjoy reading you (and I’m looking forward to the next Colette project!)

Nic

Blimey, I only looked at this site trying to find a dress pattern for my daughter and have been totally inspired to accept my constantly changing body for what it is and think about treating it a little better with some care and attention, good food and a sprinkling of exercise. Thank you x

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