Sewing a swimsuit wasn’t that hard! It wasn’t the beast I thought it would be (a mere house cat I’d say) and I’m really happy with my suit. There were a couple suits that I had been eyeballing (this Landsend suit, and this suit from Urban Outfitters (LOVE those buttons!!)), but for one reason or another I was worried they wouldn’t fit like I wanted–maybe squeeze my thunder-thighs, or not have enough support for the chesties. You know, the usual bathing-suit heartache. We all suffer from it, with the exception maybe of Martha who enjoys a perfect body. I’ve always wanted to know how to sew a swimsuit (it was an official lifegoal), and I decided it was do or die. After kicking around the web a little I found that Kwiksew is really the only company (that I could find) still producing swimsuit patterns, and apparently they’re true to size and good patterns. I would have bought one despite they’re hefty 15-17$ price tag, had I not scored three different vintage swimsuit patterns at DI. I ended up BASING my suit off this beauty. As you can see I altered the bejeezle out of it and made it a tankini (although there’s nothing “ini” about it–that sucker is LONG). It ended up fitting just like the above mentioned Landsend swimming suit. I bought my fabric from Hancock’s Fabrics— it is a spandex/lycra blend which I’m hoping but not holding my breath that it will hold up nicely.
I got my fabric, lining, elastic, bra cups and thread for about 25$, making this sewing endeavor MUCH cheaper than buying a new swimsuit.
Most of you will be extremely grateful that I haven’t posted pictures of myself IN the suit, and some of you are kinda disappointed because you’re curious to see how much cottage-cheese I have. A LOT. Which is precisely why there’s no chance in Holy Whoville that I’m getting in my swimsuit in front of ya’ll. Sorry. Don’t even ask.
SOURCES THAT WERE EXTREMELY HELPFUL TO ME WHEN I WAS SEWING A SWIMSUIT:
First of all, there’s a great rundown on swimsuit fabric and selection here at True Up.
Creative Chicks has some SUPER informative tutorials that are a must read if you want to sew up your own suit.
Sew Forth Now has a really thorough podcast and article (or episode) about sewing swimswimwear that was for me, the most informative.
And Right Sides Together has a post about inserting a bra into your swimsuit for good support, and here’s another one I found on craftstylish.com.
The only thing I would add to the above wealth-of-knowledge on how to sew a swimsuit is my experience with inserting bra cups. I sewed a shelf-bra from the lining, and inserted these bra cups from Twinkleann’s. (I actually pinned the cups on, then draped the lining over, pinned the lining to the cups, and then removed the whole thing, sewed the cups to the lining-bra, and attached it to the suit) Because the shelf-bra has elastic on the bottom edge, I thought the back piece of the suit would counter the pull of the elastic from the bra, and stretch around me nicely (This was the method used in one of the very vintage patterns my sister gave me). The elastic pulled, but the bra cups couldn’t find me, and sort of just left me hangin’. So IMPORTANT ALTERATION, I inserted elastic around the back at the point where the bra enters the side seams, creating a bra. That did the trick, and really, it provides great support. Next time I’m going to try these swim cup inserts from Sew Sassy, which by the way, is a great place if you want to get all your stuff in one stop.
I also added ruching to the sides of my swimsuit, because I feel it covers and flatters my I’ve-had-two-kids-tummy. If ya’ll want to know how I did that I might post a legit tutorial, but here’s the basic method: You sew normal 5/8 seams down the side with a stretch stitch (no overlocking, I used a slight zigzag). Then secure two pieces of 1/4 inch swim elastic (the length you want you suit to end up) on either side of this seam, under the allowance on either side, on the top side edges. Press the seams open, and stitch both sides down, creating two little casings (make sure to leave a small opening at the top for your elastic to go through). Fish the elastic down, and then secure on the bottom edge. Finish the edges normally. If your swimsuit is longer than your elastic, the elastic will gather the suit, and you’ll have some lovely ruched sides.
So now you all want to try to sew a swimsuit, don’t you!? You should! Because you’re hot! And you’ll rock a homemade suit! And show me when you do, eh?