Since I’ve decided that this is going to be the summer for swimwear sewing, I’m having fun combining and hacking my patterns to make some fun suits! I like using all the fun colors of Tricot from Phee Fabrics, and always used their Powernet in my swimwear, bras and workout wear for extra support. Phee fan pro tip: If you haven’t joined the Phee Fabrics Facebook Group yet, now is the perfect time to do so. They are almost at 10,000 members, and are kicking off a celebration on June 26, 2019!
The 5 Out Of 4 Shenanigans Skort seemed like the perfect basis for a swim skirt. Since the Escapade Top and Dress pattern has a drawstring front, I thought it would be fun to add drawstrings on the sides of the Shenanigans. That way my booty could be covered while walking out to the beach, then I can shorten the skirt as much as I want while playing on the beach.
You can use the shorts included with the pattern, or your favorite briefs pattern for underneath. If you use a different pattern for the briefs, make them first, without sewing the waistband. Since my brief pattern has a lower rise, I traced the Sporty Spice length in my measured size for the skirt, and cut on the low rise line. I didn’t want the sides to flare out too much, so I curved the side seam of the bottom of the skirt front in to the next smaller size. When I lay the skirt front pattern on top of the brief pattern, you can see that the front waistline curve is the same, and that it’s a couple of inches wider than the brief.
You need that extra width to make your drawstring casing, and for your skirt to have a little bit of ease. The skirt back should also match the curve of your briefs and have the same extra width. Because I’m tall and have a booty, I added a little extra length to the center back of my skirt, tapering up to the side length. It’s just enough to cover my bum when the skirt isn’t gathered up on the sides. Sew the skirt front and back right sides together with a 1″ seam. Make drawstrings by cutting four 1-1/2″ wide strips of Phee Fabrics Tricot twice as long as the side seam of your skirt. Fold each strip right sides together and using a stretch stitch sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Use a safety pin or bodkin to turn the strips right side out.
Fold the skirt side seam allowances under 3/8″ and pin in place. Stitch in place using a 1/2″ seam allowance to form the casings for your drawstrings.
Fold the bottom hem under 1/2″ and use a zig zig or other stretch stitch to hem. On the right side of your skirt, make a small horizontal slit in each casing, about 3/8″ above the hem. Thread a drawstring in each casing and tack the drawstring in place at the top.
Align the center front, center back, and side seams of your brief and skirt and pin or clip in place. Try it on to ensure everything feels comfortable and lines up nicely. This is your opportunity to trim the rise a little bit if needed for better alignment. Easing the skirt to fit the brief, baste them together. Then sew on your waistband and elastic and you’ve got a new swim skirt!
I’ve hacked the 5oo4 Escapade into a workout top before, so I knew it would make a great bikini top. I thought it would be cute to have a little cut-out in the back, although due to changes I made after basting the side seams and trying it on, the cut-out is smaller than I’d originally planned. I used Tricot as the main and lining fabric, with a layer of powernet basted to my main tricot fabric so that it will end up sandwiched between the layers. (Following the pattern tutorial and basting it to the lining fabric will save you from having to snip through two layers when making your opening for the drawstring!)
Because adding an underbust band to accomplish the cut-out added length to the top, I ended up shortening and altering my front and back pattern pieces to show a little more skin. I wanted the back bodice to end up 3″ high, so my pattern piece ended up 3-3/4″ high, with a 3/8″ seam allowance at the top and bottom. (I did not have my strap drawstring go through the bodice back. If you want yours to go all the way through, add 3/8″ to the height, since the top will be folded under 3/4″ to form the casing per the pattern tutorial.) Simply fold up the bottom corner of your pattern piece along the center back fold line to get the triangular cut-out.
I cut the front bodice on the C/D cutline, because according to the measurement chart, that’s where I should cut. I definitely need the extra length in the center front, but not so much at the sides. So I ended up tapering my bodice height starting 3-1/2″ away from the center front angling up to the necessary side height of 4-1/8″ to match up to my bodice back.
To make the straps, you basically you cut your fabric four times the width of your elastic, (in this case 1-1/2″ wide). Fold the straps in half right sides together. Place the 3/8″ elastic flush with the cut edges, then zig-zag the elastic, right at the inner edge of the elastic. Then turn your straps right side out. Take your time when stitching on the elastic, and the straps will end up nice and flat.
Sew the bodice front per the pattern tutorial until you reach the point where you are supposed to sew the front to the back at the side seams. This is when I tacked my straps at the side seams, rather than having one long strap run through the entire top of the bodice. Note: in the photo below, I had not yet made the tapered cut at the bottom sides of my top.
Lay the bodice backs right sides together, and stitch along the top using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Stitch along the triangle cut-out. Sew elastic to these seam allowances, keeping the elastic taut, but not pulling on it. This will give these seams stability, and help keep the top of your suit in place. It might seem intimidating to sew elastic, but it’s not as scary as you may think. In fact, 5 Out Of 4 Patterns has several blog post videos showing how to add elastic in their Sewing School series. In the photo below, you can see where I added the elastic. Note: The bottom of the back hadn’t been trimmed to it’s shorter height yet.
You’ll need to poke one side of the back through the narrow space at center back to turn the back right sides out. Then it’s time to sew your side seams. I hate bulky side seams, and with the straps, and elastic, and layers of tricot and powernet the seam could get bulky! So I do it a little differently than you may have seen. Since the front strap casing is folded down at the top front, my normal method of sewing the main front to main back, and lining front to lining back, lining up the top seam isn’t going to work.
So I folded the back bodice over the front bodice, aligning the seam with the top edge of the front bodice, making sure that the main fabric (tricot) front matched up with the main fabric back, and the two lining fabrics were together. Stitch down 3/4″ until reaching the casing stitch line. Then pin the main fabric (tricot) front to the main fabric back and the lining front to the lining back and stitch each of the pinned seams together.
Then clip the seam allowances so that you can press them open. I also clip the top corner at an angle to help reduce the bulk. Repeat these steps on the other side seam.
Cut a band the same width as your bikini top, adding in a seam allowance. If you use 3/4″ elastic, the band should be 2-1/4″ high (twice the width of the elastic plus the seam allowance). Sew the short ends of your band together, and aligning the seam with one of the side seams, place the band over the bodice right sides together. Pin the band to the bodice bottom, then stitch.
Use pins to mark the center front and back, along with the quarter points. Overlapping the ends of your elastic 1″, zig zag together, then mark the quarter points with pins. With the band still folded up on the bodice, pin the elastic to the seam allowance, aligning the quarter point pins. The edge of the elastic should line up with the seamline, and hang down below the bikini top. Then wrap the band down around the elastic and overlapping up to the inside and pin in place. Stitch around the bodice bottom using a zig zag set at 2.5 stitch length and 3.0 stitch width. At the triangle cut-out opening, stitch across the band at the top and trim away the excess fabric.
You can either tie the straps at the neck halter style, or have someone help you pin them in a comfortable spot and tack the straps in place, cutting off the excess strap length. Now you have a cute new swimsuit! I love being able to adjust the drawstrings to make the skirt as short or long, and the top as high or low as I want.
Because it’s boring and awkward to try and look sexy, I decided to have fun doing cartwheels instead. 🙂
Being able to laugh at yourself and act silly keeps you young, right? 😉 There is no need to be afraid of sewing swimwear. Have fun with it and mash and hack away! It’s just another pattern and some colorful fabric, customized to fit YOU! Does sewing your own swimwear give you super powers? Maybe not. But it does give you the confidence to see if you can still do cartwheels! So sew away and then hit the pool, lake, or beach.