I am super excited to have made swimsuits that actually turned out!! When I started sewing there were a few things I never dreamed I would make. A swimsuit was among those things! I actually tried making a swimsuit last year for vacation. The first one I attempted to self draft was an absolute fail. The second one I traced off a tank top. It turned out but it did not fit the way I wanted. It didn’t feel secure or tight. I set aside swimsuit making for awhile.
We just recently went to the Virgin Islands and I had a goal to make my entire wardrobe for it. That meant I needed to attempt swimsuit making again! I searched around the indie pattern world and didn’t see any I was in love with. I really fell in love with the high waisted peplum swimsuits I was seeing on Pinterest. I found a McCalls pattern that had high waisted bottoms. I didn’t really love the tops that came with it, but I figured I could modify them to my liking. When I buy big name patterns I always forget not all the sizes come in one pattern. My body type is between sizes (larger bottom, smaller top) so when I got the pattern home I realized the smallest size on the bottom worked, but the top sizes were too small. Insert a huge frustrated sigh. I wasn’t about to go buy another, I was going to make it work by golly.
I started by cutting into some fabric I didn’t really care about to make a muslin. I used the bandeau version along with the halter peplum bottom. I slightly increased the length of the bandeau and shortened the peplum. I didn’t do any modifications on the bottom for the muslin. I started by marking every single mark the pattern called for. Let me tell you, I really hate all the markings on the big name patterns. I like to sew simply and with as little markings and directions as possible. For me, it seems confusing to have a million markings while sewing. I get frustrated with it all. I followed the assembly directions for the top and found the results to be less than appealing. The elastic was sewn onto the lining and outside seam allowance. It did not lay nicely at all when flipped right sides out. That is when I pretty much gave up on following the pattern for the top portion. The bottoms on the other hand did turn out!
Now for the modifications:
Since I didn’t like the results of the top via the pattern, I modified it to my liking. First I lengthened the bandeau by 3″. I then measured my waist. I then made sure the bottom of the bandeau was as long as my waist. I ended up cutting some off on each side because it was too big. Next I modifed the peplum part to be 5 1/2″ long. I cut the the opening to be my waist measurement. I then cut two straps that were 2.5″ by 15″. The McCall’s pattern did not include any directions for adding cups, but I wanted that additional support/coverage. To determine where I wanted them, I simply laid them on me where I wanted them to hit, then bent forward and placed them on the lining. I then made sure they were both even measurements from the center front. If you do this, make sure to take into account the seam allowance at the top. Leave a good inch from the top of the cup to the top of the swimsuit. Using a zig zag stitch I sewed around the cups. I then laid the cups to the wrong side of the swimsuit. After pinning the lining to the main fabric, I serged the tops together (inserting the straps as I went). After assembling the rest of the top, I went back and cut a piece of 1/2″ wide swimsuit elastic that was about 2″ shorter than the swimsuit top. I then marked both the swim top and the elastic in fourths. Using a wide zig zag stitch I gently stretched the elastic so the marks matched up and sewed it in place. Once the elastic was sewn I folded the edge toward the inside and used a zig zag stitch again to enclose the elastic. I was pleased with the results and thought it looked much more professional than the method the pattern described.
As for the bottoms I followed the pattern. When I got done, I realized there seemed to be too much fabric around the crotch area leaving a less that attractive appearance. To fix this I ended up folding the bottom edge under another 1/2″. For the next swimsuit bottoms I actually cut off 1/2″ around the crotch from the pattern. I did leave 1/2″ on the back because I didn’t want more of my bum showing. The pattern calls for elastic in the waistband of the bottoms. I did put it in all three of mine, but it seemed uncomfortable. I think I would probably leave the elastic out the next time. It feels like there is enough negative ease to leave out the elastic while maintaining the snugness needed. I would say use your own judgement on that.
What I loved about this swimsuit:
I loved that it turned out!! It didn’t only turn out, it fit me better than any swimsuit I have ever boughten! On many swimsuits I feel like my behind is hanging out. On the top part of swimsuits I either feel like too much cleavage (haha if I had any….) is hanging out, or it doesn’t feel tight enough, constantly making me worry I may just accidentally show something I don’t want to show. I can completely say I was COMFORTABLE in this swimsuit. I was never worrying about any areas of concern, leaving me to completely enjoy the beach. It held up through snorkeling, swimming, hiking, and most importantly just sitting the beach! I seriously can’t rave enough about how comfortable I felt in it. That and the fact that I totally made something I had been eying on Pinterest at a much lower cost! I loved the look and really felt cute in it!
What I didn’t love:
I really didn’t love the pattern instructions. Like I said I totally modified the assembly process of the top and felt it turned out much nicer. I also didn’t love the elastic in the bottoms. One of the bottoms I contemplated leaving the elastic out because it felt way snug. I wish I would have just to see how it held up. Since it was high waisted it was a pain to take on and off over the hips because the elastic was pretty snug. That and I didn’t really love the way the high waist felt. In all, honesty, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I think I just prefer normal bottoms. I most likely won’t make too many more high waisted bottoms. With the top it looked cute, I didn’t like the look when it wasn’t covered. I just don’t think I can pull off that look. Even though I wouldn’t wear it uncovered, I know what it looks like in my brain ;).
What I learned from Swimsuit making:
USE A STRETCH NEEDLE! I got so frustrated when I was sewing because my thread kept fraying. It also seemed to miss stitches sometimes. I was using a jersey needle and gutterman thread but it wasn’t cutting it. I ran to Walmart and bought a stretch needle and it took care of the problem!
Finish openings with elastic. I think one of the problems I had with my first swimsuit was I did not put elastic on the top. The elastic kept the leg holes and top snug against my body leaving me to room to worry about immodesty.
The Fabric Fairy: This is pretty much your go to place for swimsuit making. They have a special section specifically for swimsuit fabric. Obviously you need a special fabric for swimsuit making. This was so handy because I didn’t need to worry about the fabric content because it was in the swimsuit section! The Fabric Fairy also has swimsuit elastic. It is important to buy swimsuit elastic so it holds up in chlorine. They just recently added foam cups to there site too! They have it all! As far as the quality of the fabric, top notch.
Girl Charlee: I used their fabric for the lining. I had boughten solid nude swimsuit lining from them along time ago. I love the feel of it, it is quality and so soft. The fabric fairy also has lining fabric, but since I already had some from Girl Charlee that is what I used! You can also find a few options for the outside of your swimsuit from GC.
Cost: I bought 5 yards of fabric, tons of elastic, and some hooks (I didn’t end up using since I modified the top). The total cost was $79.00. I made three bottoms and 2 tops. So for $15.80 a piece I got a totally custom fit to my body swimsuit. The bonus is, I still have tons of elastic and fabric left over to play around with making even more swimsuit styles! By the time I make more, It will have barely cost anything to make custom swimsuits! Can’t beat that!
Can I just say I never thought I would be posting picture of me on the internet in a swimsuit!? It feels awkward, but it’s what us sewing bloggers have to do right? The beauty of the Island does help the situation though ;).