Intro: Survival/Natural Swimsuit Top
So this is definitely a Mach 1 project. I'm a guy and the sizing and shape could be tweaked for better fit. But my girlfriend challenged me to make a project for the bathing suit contest...so here it is. This project is for an "emergency" bathing suit top, i.e. you were skinny dipping and someone stole your clothes, or you were dropped naked in the woods with no food or water and expected to find your way home, etc. As such, it would not likely last for more than a day or two, and you have to find the right plants to work with to give it the strength to be tied relatively tightly. Otherwise, it came it out pretty well, was sturdy while I wore it, and...well...I looked good.
Step 1: Materials
As a survival project, there were only limited, easily found, materials needed. I needed two leaves big enough to cover sensitive areas (obviously this would change depending on the person). It helps if the leaves have a study spine to tie around and maintain shape. I also tried to find grass that was long, relatively sturdy, stringy and flexible, and not too abrasive. I used blades off a healthy large lemon grass plant. They worked very well, but I suspect they would not be very comfortable against the skin long term. Lastly, I used a small pocket knife for trimming and making holes. A sharp stone would have worked just as well.
NOTE: make sure you know what you are using for the leaves. Try to avoid sharp or prickly plants, as well as poison ivy or poison oak. Also avoid plants housing insect colonies or small aggressive animals. Otherwise, you have many options.
Step 2: Prep
I trimmed off the dead or wilting areas from the lemon grass. I then ripped thin (about 1/8 inch wide) strips of the lemon grass off the larger grass blades. I ripped slowly so that I could keep them long and with a relatively consistent width.
Step 3: Grass Strings
I put three of the thin strips together and tied a knot at one end. This was for holding the leaves together over the chest, and that knots hold the "string" to the leaves.
Step 4: Threading
I then used my knife to cut and twist small holes into the leaf. I staggered the holes on each side of the spine of the leaf so that the "thread" will hold to the firmer spine.
Step 5: Threading Continued
I threaded the "string" into the farthest hole up to the knot. I had to thread slowly to avoid ripping the leaf. I worked the threading towards to the outside of the leaf.
Step 6: Connect the "Cups"
I then worked the thread over to the holes I made in the second leaf. I threaded my way to the farthest hole, the tied a knot at the other end of the "string" to hold the string in place. Spacing between the leaves should be measured as you go.
Step 7: Back Straps
I then took two longer, wider, and slightly stronger strips of grass (about 1/4+ inch wide) and split them down the middle about two inches. I cut two holes into the thick "meat" of the back of the leaf. I had to cut carefully here to avoid splitting the back to the end of the leaf.
Step 8: Back Strap Threading
I then inserted half of one end of the longer grass into each hole and tied them together on the top of the leaf. Again, I was able to tie them tight enough to hold for a while without ripping them I repeated this on the other leaf cup, so a leaf "thread" was hanging out to both sides.
Step 9: Neck Strap
Lastly, I cut a final hold through the outside spine of each leaf about an inch farther in than the back straps. I then took a few more thin leaf straps and threaded them through the spine of the leaf and tied it to itself on top. I repeated this on both leaves.
Step 10: Fitting and Tying
I held the bra in place and then took it off to tie the neck strap. It was too difficult to tie it while wearing it. Then I put the top on and tied the back strap, and voila...done.
Step 11: Looking Good!
For mach two, I need to size it better. It should hang a little lower, and held tighter in the middle. But still...fashionable, yet sensible, and completely reproducible in the woods.