So You Want To Sew A Swimsuit? Tips, Tricks & Lessons Learned

So you want to sew a swimsuit. With the (lack of) affordable selections on store racks, who can blame you for wanting a custom suit? Especially when the options for modesty exist only in the extremes of "Postage Stamp" or "Bed Sheet" coverage. 

For these reasons, I set out (rather terrified) to make my own! Here's what I found:

DIY High Waisted Bikini | Girl Charlee Swim Knit | Named Virna Mini Top | Jocole High Waist Briefs

DIY High Waisted Bikini | Girl Charlee Swim Knit | Named Virna Mini Top | Jocole High Waist Briefs

IT'S DOABLE. First and foremost, know that! Your hard work and patience WILL pay off. You'll need this encouragement to get you through the process :)

Expect to get creative. There are precious few PDF patterns for swimsuits but with a little creativity you can find potential anywhere! I searched my own stash and found this combo for a great DIY High-Waist Bikini: Jocole Briefs, Named Virna Mini Top. 

Keep it Simple! When you're choosing your pattern(s), know this: straight lines are your friends. Swim knit has 4-way stretch, which makes for extra slippery, extra difficult assembly. The more curves and tiny pieces you have (like the cups in the Virna Mini Top) the more creative your muttered expletives will become. I loved the design and the result, and the extra time it took was well worth having a top that is fully reversible!

DIY HIGH WAISTED BIKINI | GIRL CHARLEE SWIM KNIT | NAMED VIRNA MINI TOP | JOCOLE HIGH WAIST BRIEFS

DIY HIGH WAISTED BIKINI | GIRL CHARLEE SWIM KNIT | NAMED VIRNA MINI TOP | JOCOLE HIGH WAIST BRIEFS

DIY HIGH WAISTED BIKINI | GIRL CHARLEE SWIM KNIT | NAMED VIRNA MINI TOP | JOCOLE HIGH WAIST BRIEFS

DIY HIGH WAISTED BIKINI | GIRL CHARLEE SWIM KNIT | NAMED VIRNA MINI TOP | JOCOLE HIGH WAIST BRIEFS

If you're a glutton for punishment like myself and pick a curvy pattern to adapt, SEW SLOW, use lots of pins, and consider using glue stick in the seam allowance to help keep everything in it's place. You may also consider using spray starch to help keep fabric edges from rolling.

Size Down. Suzanne said it best when she advised me that swim suits should fit like a "second skin". Adapting patterns for use with 4-way knit means sizing down, or at least increasing seam allowances. I did both, and probably STILL have extra wiggle room! I did 1.5 rounds of muslin before I found a tight enough fit that would hold up to water play with my 2 toddlers.

Speaking of Suzanne and swimwear - don't miss her swim suit review! Click here!

Speaking of Suzanne and swimwear - don't miss her swim suit review! Click here!

LINE IT. Please, for the sake of all things modest and decent, line your suit! I know it doesn't LOOK thin or see-through now, dry and folded atop your fabric stash, but remember suits are meant to get (and be WORN) WET. With all the time you're putting into crafting a custom swimsuit, you don't need it sent to the trash bin immediately after a very embarrassing wardrobe malfunction ;) I fully lined my suit. I know you *CAN* line just the fronts.. but I'm not a brave enough woman to risk it. 

Where's the "spray tan" action for photoshop??

Where's the "spray tan" action for photoshop??

Elastic ALL THE EDGES! I stitched elastic into the seam allowance of each leg hole and waist of my swim bottoms. I cut it about 2 inches shorter than the total circumference of each hole and stretched it to fit. It made all the difference! My top, on the other hand, has a bit of gaping around the bust. I will be popping seams and elast-i-sizing the bust curves (top, under-boob, and along the bottom). This'll keep the girls nice and secure!


Ready to tackle your first swimsuit?? Browse our sponsor's full collection of swim fabric here. These are my favorite picks!

Favorite Kids' Swimwear Picks

Cassie wrote an excellent review of the Waikiki Swimsuit! Click here!

Cassie wrote an excellent review of the Waikiki Swimsuit! Click here!

  • Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop has a WHOLE COLLECTION of swimwear to browse! I know for sure my son is getting the Aloha Burn Blocker suit for our next beach trip, and big sis MUST have a matching one piece. I already have the Waikiki in my collection from the first Bundle Up! event.
  • I just can't stand the cuteness of the Ellie Inspired Swimsuit Leotard!
  • The Go To Patterns Sweetheart Tankini is perfect for a modest suit with easy access for potty training kiddos - check it out!
  • For a super simple swim-adaptation, try pairing the Jocole Mix & Match or Shoreline Tank with the Jocole Basic Briefs. (PST! This works for mom too!)

Good luck lovelies!! And don't forget to help a sewist in need. Share your other tips and tricks in the comments :) 

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Becca DuVal

Hi there! I'm Becca: a wife, momma, and serial-crafter juggling a fancy camera, sewing machine, and preschool drop-off. Here you'll find the latest in my sewing exploits, portraiture projects, and family adventures!

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