I’m an 80’s child. Well, that’s to say I was *born* in the 80’s but sadly wasn’t old enough to experience the fashions of the time – power suits, mullets, loud clashy patterns. I’m a big fan of the fashions of the decades – luxurious 20’s flapper dresses, 60’s mod dresses, the 70’s collars. I feel we’ve been denied anything as iconic from the 90’s and 00’s. I guess you might class faded oversized denim as being 90’s, but what did we get from the 00’s apart from alarmingly skimpy, poor quality fast-fashion? Nothing. Zilch.
This 80’s-inspired bodysuit is the Ariane by Seamwork. I joined Seamwork especially for the Catarina Dress, which I made two of (here and here). On joining, I received enough credits to download two patterns. Obvs I got the Catarina, but I really struggled to choose the second one… I spent ages looking through everything else that was available, but nothing really jumped out at me (which is why I’ve subsequently cancelled my Seamwork membership). The Ariane Bodysuit seemed the best option, and in my head I pictured going back to the decade of my birth and making an 80’s neon leotard paired with a tutu skirt and leg warmers. Because who doesn’t love 80’s fashion? It’s loud, it’s bright, there’s always neon involved and usually some animal print. Power hair and/or perm optional.
I used fabric from FunkiFabrics.com, which is where I get all of the stretch lycra that I use for my bras. It’s about £20 a metre, and I used half a metre for the Ariane. I did briefly consider using a stretch velvet that I have lying around (a red leopard print number that a friend picked up for me from Goldhawk Road), but I’m so glad I didn’t as I would have been disappointed that I’d used it up on something that I turned out to be not so keen on. Instead that velvet will become a Watson bra and high-waisted briefs set (which I feel might be so comfy I don’t ever want to take them off), and a pencil skirt. On that note, I’m not sure if it’s my age, or the fact that actually this style does genuinely suit me because I’m an hourglass shape, but I’m really loving all the high-waisted things. I’m taking the plunge and making my first pair of high-waisted Ginger jeans – I really *REALLY* struggle to find jeans that fit so it seems like the only real option is to make my own. I keep seeing so many fabulous versions of the Gingers around but truth be told I’ve been a little bit nervous about attempting something that seems so complicated with a million different fitting issues that could crop up. PatsyPoo has encouraged me to just put on my big girl pants (high-waisted ones, obvs) and get on with it, so the pattern has been traced and I’ll be cutting the fabric at the weekend.
My finished Ariane looks how I thought it would in my head, but turns out in real life it’s considerably more like a swimming costume than anticipated. Instead of the 80’s fancy dress party look I was heading for I’ve toned it down a bit with some black jeans, and some über cool shoes I scored off eBay. I think they are pole dancing shoes but whatevs. They are leopard print and pink and sparkly so I don’t care what their given purpose in life was (however what I do know is that they are damn near impossible to walk in).
I’ve never made a bodysuit before, so I’m not sure of the best construction techniques, but the Ariane is really messy on the inside. There were no instructions for how to finish off the fold over elastic at the crotch opening, so I kind of winged it as best as I could but it looks a bit of a mess. And I’m not sure whether it’s just me being a fatty but the snaps they recommended you get for the crotch were nowhere NEAR strong enough to hold it all together! I need some industrial sized ones to keep this in place around my belly and bum – for these lovely photos you see here I held it together with a safety pin ?
The three-piece cups I think are the best thing that the Ariane has going for it – they are a really good shape. I’m tempted to graft these onto a bra cradle and see how it turns out. The cups are also lined, which is a good idea if you’re planning on wearing this as a top rather than underwear as you get a little bit more modesty! However it would be nice to actually construct it so that the raw edges of the lining are enclosed as it looks a bit untidy on the inside (again with the untidy seams and finishes – come on Seamwork). Also the clear elastic seems totally pointless – it’s meant to give a more ‘fitted’ look but I’m not convinced it makes any difference whatsoever. Unless I’ve sewn it in wrong, which is definitely a possibility but I was a good girl and followed all the instructions and mine does look like the illustrations so I dunno.
The fit is pretty good, but do be careful on the stitch you use for the side seams – I used a regular stitch, and the first time I tried it on the seam snapped. And again it might just be me being a bit of a chubber, but I measured myself (honestly, with no cheating) and cut the recommended pattern size according to my hip size. I had to go back over the side seams with a stretch stitch which helped strengthen it a little, but it then made the seams look a bit funny when the bodysuit was on… so I couldn’t win. I won’t be making another one of these, but my advice to others would be to size up one from what the pattern says you should be.
I used actual bra strapping for mine, whereas the pattern has you continue the fold over elastic up from the cups and over the shoulders to form the straps. Now I’ve been down this road before and found that fold over elastic is waaaay to stretchy for me to use as bra straps – it gives no support whatsoever and everything ends up heading south like it’s on a bungee cord. I need something with a little more strength to it, and if you do too I’d defo recommend using bra strapping rather than springy fold over elastic.
The crotch area is really messy. You have to cut these fiddly narrow strips to finish the raw edges, which are an absolute pain to stitch in place. I cut mine from a contrast fabric as I’d run out of the main fabric (I was saving the rest for a Watson), but they were so fiddly and kept moving around all over the show. I don’t really like working with stretch fabrics and making this did nothing to encourage me otherwise. Bras I don’t mind, but this crotch wasn’t cool.
I think perhaps the Ariane would be better as actual lingerie to be worn underneath clothes rather than as clothing in itself – a lace cup/lycra body combination would work quite well as winter underwear, also there’s the possibility of altering the pattern to work with powermesh and creating some sort of Spanx control underwear?! I’d feel a bit self-conscious wearing this out in ‘real life’ as a top, it’s EXTREMELY clingy and makes me feel like all my wobbly bits are on display. I don’t even want to think about the carnage of running for a bus while wearing it.
On the flip side, I’m not sure I would use it to make a swimming costume either (there is an actual Seamwork pattern for that, the Reno, if that’s what you’re after) as it looks a bit too underwear-y. It’s one of those patterns where it’s stuck in the middle – it’s not quite a top, it’s not quite a swimming costume. If you’re after a good bodysuit, the Nettie by Closet Case seems to be a favourite in the sewing community.
The Ariane pattern is pdf-only, but it’s only a handful of pages. It’s definitely do-able for those of us that think pdfs are the work of the devil. Cutting the pieces out of stretch fabric is ok too because you’re only working with a small amount of fabric and there’s not too much opportunity for it to stretch around all over the show – something that happened to me SO MUCH with the Kielo dress I made recently as the pattern pieces were so huge.
So, my two cents is: it looks good from the outside. From the inside, not so much. The crotch is a bit of a shambles, and I don’t like the pattern enough to make another one and try to improve on the techniques. I’ll keep the one I’ve made at the back of the drawer for any 80’s dress up occasions that present themselves in the future. In the meantime, I have *just* enough fabric left over to squeeze a Watson out – so at least I can get to wear the awesome fabric more than once a year.
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my Octopus print shirt dress ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!