I'm not sure if my fear of sewing swimwear came from the fact that I just don't like wearing a swimsuit in the first place, or the fact that it actually has to be snug so it doesn't fall off of you in the water, but there was definitely a fear!
Back in January 2014, I went on a business trip/winter escape to Miami. I found a fabric store that carried a TON of swimsuit fabric! I found a fun print and solid to match. That made me one step closer to making my very own swimsuit.
THEN we had a business trip planned to Las Vegas for a trade show in October 2014. October weather in Las Vegas is still pretty nice, but I now REALLY needed the swimsuit because the bottoms I kept wearing had been taken in a few too many times! So this was the start of my swimsuit sewing adventure.
|Close-up of the RTW lining - Cotton elastic on the bottom of the shelf bra.|
After doing some research on sewing with swimwear knits, I found I definitely needed to have elastic around all edges. The 1" wide elastic also needs to be cotton. The cotton will not deteriorate from chlorine.
- pattern paper
- marking tools
- seam ripper
- Enough swimsuit (4-way stretch) knit fabric to make the suit. (I had about 1 yard for the top and 1 yard for the bottom. But you may only need 1/2 yard. I liked having extra so if I messed up, I would have enough fabric left.)
- 1 yard of swimsuit lining or mesh
- Clear elastic, about 1/4" wide (enough yardage to go around all the seams.)
- Thread to match
- Stretch needles
- Sewing Machine/Serger
- Cotton Elastic, about 1" wide, enough for under your bust.
After the entire suit was taken apart, I laid each piece on pattern paper and traced around the suit. I then folded the paper in half, matching the side seams so that it would be a mirror image. The photo below shows the halter back piece. I also cut a front halter, inside lining (front and back) halter ties and the swimsuit bottoms, front and back and bottom lining using the front piece. When you're making the pattern piece for the halter front lining, mark the cup position so there's less guesswork later. (But if you feel like they should be positioned differently, you can place them where it works best for you.)
Here you can see the swimsuit lining fabric. (The nude fabric.) The black piece has the cups and RTW swimsuit lining before I cut out the cups.
After you have all the pieces cut out from the swimsuit fabric and swimsuit lining, it's time to put them together! Take the front swimsuit lining and halter front and pin them together, wrong sides together. Sew or serge around the neck seams and armhole area. Do the same for the back around the top.
Pin the side seams right sides together, having the lining fabric stitched separately from the swimsuit fabric. Serge the side seam. Fold the lining down into the suit. Try it on. It should be somewhat snug. This is a swimsuit, you know! You don't want it to be too loose, otherwise it will bubble up or fall off in the water!
Now it's time to attach the 1" cotton elastic. Measure the elastic just below your bust. (Or wherever the shelf bra should hit your upper torso.) Make it snug, but not too tight that you're uncomfortable. Stitch this along the bottom of the swimsuit lining. Tack the elastic in place along the side seams, as shown in the photo above.
We're almost done! For the next step, you will need to use a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Starting at the top of the halter straps, line up the elastic just after the serged edge. Fold the serged edge over the elastic and zig-zag stitch all the way around the armhole and neckline edges. Do not stretch the elastic or the fabric! You will get ugly ripples!
Finishing: To finish the edge, press up the hem about 1 inch, or where you feel comfortable. Zig-zag stitch or use a double needle to finish the hem.
There you have it! A finished swimsuit halter top!
Making the bottoms: I like a basic swimsuit bottom. I don't like low waist style or the high bikini lines like the 80's! But I also don't care for boyshorts on me. I feel like a horizontal line on my thighs makes them look even bigger.
I used the same techniques for making a pattern, serging the edges of the knit and then zig-zag stitching the elastic into place. You can use the same swimsuit lining for the crotch, but instead of just using it on the crotch, I cut out the lining in the same size piece as the entire front. Then I didn't have two seams in the crotch AND it also created some extra coverage and stability to the front of the bottoms.
I'm really happy with the way it turned out! It was definitely not as scary as I thought. Are you ready to pick up some swimwear fabric? Check out our selection knit prints and solids as well as swimsuit linings HERE.
Have you ever made a swimsuit? Do you have any tips about sewing a swimsuit? Share your stories!