Sewing a swimsuit! I can check it off my life-goals list!

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.

simplicity swimsuit pattern 9210

homemade swimsuit, front view

homemade swimsuit view back

homemade swimsuit, ruched side view

how to sew a swimsuit view buttons

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.


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

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.

how to sew a swimsuit, shelf bra with swim bra inserts

how to sew a swimsuit, elastic around the back of swim bra inserts

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.

how to sew a swimsuit- ruching on the 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?



  1. Posted June 16, 2010 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    it looks so so cute!
    one day i will get the courage to try a swimsuit!

  2. Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    looks great! I want to sew a swimsuit myself, and your advice (and links!) is so helpful.

  3. Haley
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Wow I really love this suit, it turned out so great! And you have a fabulous bod.

  4. Posted June 16, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Rawl:” Hi Mad Mim!”

    Mim, what a fabulous success!!! I will be reading this in great detail as I attempt sewing suits myself, but until then, wow, from the cute pictures….the cutosity levels are skyrocketing my computer! And yes, that was a Riley compliment, I guess he rubs off on me! A smashing success!

  5. Posted June 16, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    P.S. Mim, was the swim lining just near by the swim fabric at the store, or where did you get it.

    P.P.S. Here is a link to a skirt this girl has made that I have fantasies of modifying to like board short material to make a swim skirt, its a real sporty cute skirt. Personally I don’t know of the woman’s leg made without cottage cheese, and swim skirts and board shorts are the perfect solution, except your cute striped panty wouldn’t show, but then Allan will always have that treat to see the cute striped bummy. Which it is a cute bummy you have Mimmy.

    More ideas here, and some really good ideas at that for swim skirts and shorts:

    • Posted June 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Yep, the lining is located right next to swimwear fabrics!

  6. Posted June 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Mim, thanks for answering my question, I found yet another board short pattern!

    And here’s the board short fabric I found, do you like it, to go with that bright yellow solid swim suit fabric I bought?

  7. felisha
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I for sure want to make one but time is my enemy! I might finish after summer is all said and done! I might just try it out on my kids first and see how it goes! :) Awesome good though, I love the strips and buttons! Super cute suit! You have a fab bod babe!

  8. heather e
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    SHUT UP! now i’m really considering that this is a real possiblity! The buttons alone are work the 25$. amazing, really.

  9. Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    perfect body my left boot. i know you would look amazing in a bikini and i don’t want to hear another word about it. that swimsuit is flat out amazing. i don’t think there is a better one in the land. i do want to put in a plug for my target tankini, tho. 30 bucks and that thing is still my favorite above and beyond my modbe $75 ones. so, yeah, if you can’t sew (that’s me) target has some cheap goodies that actually last.

  10. Becca
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    So flippin’ cute! And I am sure you rock that suit! (If I can walk around in a suit and not be embarrassed then you can too!)
    Love it though and you are amazing!

  11. Rach
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink


  12. Posted June 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Love your suit! I was eyeballing that Land’s End one too. I was hoping my oldest would think it was awesome so I could make it for her. No such luck yet.

    Your suit looks great. I think you did a fabulous job! And way to go for being brave and attempting it.

    I am going to try and get a tutorial post up on our blog about the contrasting straps. Hopefully next week. Keep checking back–but I have a swimsuit that needs to be finished and that is what I am doing with those straps.

    As far as Kwik Sew patterns go–I would recommend getting them, pricey as they are–they really are great–and I’ve tried other pattern companies and not been as happy–cut weird, or fit off, etc. About 2x a year here they go 1/2 off and that is when I try and buy them.

    Have a good day!

  13. kelly ellison
    Posted July 23, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    That is the cutest bathing suit, you are so talented, I love it.

  14. Antoine
    Posted August 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow, amazing. I have a question I was hoping could be answered: I was wondering if anyone who has sewn a bathing suit knows if I could EASILY alter a pair of board shorts that are made from Stretch poly/spandex microfiber? Basically, they have an 8″ inseam and I would like to shorten them to a 5.5 or 6 inch inseam (just take the whole short’s leg up 2 to 2.5″). Can I use a machine? Do I need any special settings/thread? Thanks.

    • Posted August 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I think you could very EASILY hem your shorts! Just cut them off slightly longer than you want them to end up, serge/zigzag the edge and then turn them up and stitch OR turn them up, iron, and turn them up again and stitch–try to match the style of the existing hem as much as possible. I don’t think you’ll need any special thread but DO use a stretch needle, and maybe even a double stretch needle if you want a professional looking finish. Easy! Done before lunch! Good luck!

  15. Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Amazing! With a half-finished suit on the sewing table, I’m so impressed :)

    Thanks for your sweet comment, your tip on the tshirt neckband was a life-saver (in fact, I blame you entirely for all the fabulous t-shirts that are going to become part of my wardrobe as a result ;), and your links here, so helpful. Listening to the podcast now. Looking forward to your future sewing adventures!

  16. whitney
    Posted August 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    So, I’m so behind on you because you’re not on blogger anymore and your updates don’t float to the top of my screen but I LOVE that you made this suit because, here’s the kicker…I have the lands end one. And I didn’t click on your links until I saw your pictures and I was like, oh wow, she totally made my suit. FUNNY. Great taste! Ha ha. Great job too.

    • Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Wow, really?! Well, I’ll bet you rock the suit!

  17. Joy
    Posted May 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I love, love, love this suit ! I am amazed how you went from the pattern to the finished product. I don’t think I could do it.

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  • […] Pattern Parcel from Parcel #3. Sewing a swimsuit has been a secret goal of mine ever since I saw the one Miriam made (I’ve been a long time fan of hers) so when I saw the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern in the […]

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