Sewing my own bikini is on my to-sew list for years. I had to scroll all the way back in my Instagram to find my #makenine for 2018 and it involved a swimsuit with the caption reading something like “want to make my own bikini for so long”. Well, I finally did. And I’ll tell you all about it so you can too!
It all begins with the right pattern. I think my desire to sew my own swimwear started with seeing the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Patterns. It’s a great classic swimsuit and bikini pattern featuring a high-waisted bottom that is straight across the leg and the top is like a balconette bra. It has always been on the top of my to-sew list if I ever were to tackle swimwear so going for this pattern was only logical.
Besides the Sophie, another pattern had come to my attention. It is the Vernazza Two Piece by Friday Pattern co. It’s been all over Instagram this year and the top was something that caught my eye so I made that top as well.
I like the Sophie swimsuit because it’s a classic that has a very flattering design for my curvy shape. The top of the Sophie is quite structured and is basicly a swimming-bra with foam cups and underwire (both are optional but highy suggested). The Vernazza Two Piece has a more ’90-s vibe with a higher cut leg on the bottoms. The tie front of the top with a keyhole is very cute. I decided to make this top as well to have a less structured option and to use my scraps from the Sophie Swimsuit.
Adjustments to the patterns
For the Sophie Swimsuit I’ve made two toilles of the bottoms. because of my curves I often need to grade between sizes for my narrow waist. I ended up making a 20 graded to a 16. I also added 5 or 6 cm in the rise of the bottoms to hit me at the right spot on my waist. I am 1,78M so it’s something I need to do often. I also had tot add rise to the Jenny Pants from Closet Case so it’s only logical I needed to add some to this pattern as well.
Another thing I adjusted on the bikini bottoms was the width of the crotch. I found it super wide comparing to an underwear pattern I like to use. It also almost looked like shorts in my toilles. It was easily fixed by using the other pattern as a guide and adding seam allowance for the fold-under elastic. Lastly I added a wider elastic for the waistband as I found the regular 1cm elastic flipping outwards when I tried it on.
For the top I made two test-cups to test which cup size I would need. The sizing in this was a bit weird. Following the chart I was way bigger then the chart but the biggest cup (the 5 cup) was way to big. I ended up making the 3 cup and am quite pleased with that. On the top I didn’t make any other adjustments.
For the Vernazza top I followed the sizing chart and made the XXL. That was absolutely fine and didn’t need any adjustments. I did opt for adding elastic in the waistband, it felt securer on my body with the elastic.
Sourcing materials for making swimwear can be difficult. The main fabric i’ve used is lycra. The printed and the plain black lycra are both from Budgetstoffen. I also used a mesh-lycra from Budgetstoffen to line the Sophie bottoms. The Vernazza top is made out of the printed lycra, with the black as the lining and waistband.
For the Sophie top, more bra-like materials where needed. Most things for this I had in my stash for wanting to make a black version of the Esplanade. I used a mesh that’s used for lining bras as the lining of the top and a sturdier, powermesh lining as interfacing for the bridge. I also used underwire channeling, underwires and foam for the cups that are sold as bra making supplies.
An important thing in sewing swimwear is the elastic. You need to buy so called “naked elastic” that’s basically rubber without thread around it. I ordered some from a local lingerie supply shop. Because I made an extra top, I ran out of elastic. I got some at a local fabric store but it was a lot thinner and less stretchy as the one I bought online so be careful of what you buy! I also found it hard to find the elastic wider then 1cm (online and in stores).
What would I do different next time
This was the first time I made a bikini and I find there is always room for improvement.
For the next I would want the wires of the Sophie top to be closer together at the bridget (center front). I find it more flattering if they are as close together as possible. Besides that I’m not completely happy with the material I used to interface the bridge of the top with. The material is supposed to have no stretch for support and to keep the wire casings from stretching apart. The best I had, did have a little stretch in it and that contributes to me not being a 100% happy with it. For a next time it’s an easy pattern adjustment to make and just getting the right materials for the job.
Other then using a good quality elastic throughout, I’m really happy with what I’ve made.
Summers in Holland aren’t that great and so the days that I do get to wear a bikini are limited to a few a year. I will pack this bikini for my holiday in September to Greece (so exited for that!). So sewing swimwear for me will probably be limited to once a year.
Making my own swimwear is a real accomplishment for me and I’m super proud of myself. I would love to hear in the comments what you think!