18 May 2010

Pennies swimsuit tutorial

Swimming lessons started this week.  Well, they were supposed to start, but the thunderstorms yesterday made for very little actual swimming.  I love swimming lessons for selfish reasons.  I get to sit poolside for an hour and a half with the littlest in the "kids' zone" while I do projects, watching my young flock learn the ways of the water, smiling and giving thumbs up occasionally, between stitches.  I am considering signing them up for another "round" after this one, you know, just to make sure they really know how to swim.
So, pulling out the swimsuits from the swimsuit drawer, I managed to have collected a plethora of size 5-6--snatching them up here and there on sale.  Good for Olive, bad for the rest of them.  Azure, especially.  I knew I had some swimsuit fabric from years ago in my stash that I snagged from the dollar/yard table.  I dug it out to make Azure a bathing beauty, with straps that don't make an X because that's just frustrating for a 3 year old to get those straps on right, you know?  Some days I can't even get it do it, making all other letters except an X.  


-Fabric [a scant 1/2 yard] swimsuit material
-Matching thread
-Double needle [optional--you can use a slight zig-zag stitch 
for the entire swimsuit if desired]
-Swimsuit Elastic [optional--it provides more durability to the openings,
 but you could certainly make this without it]
-Cut a strip of fabric 1 1/2'' X 40'' the straps

I used an old swimsuit that was close to her size to cut out the front and back, adding seam allowance to everything except the arm holes

Next I trimmed the back top and the front leg holes.
Pin right sides together and stitch the crotch and side seams with a very slight zig-zag stitch [I used 1.5 on my machine--this still gives it enough room to stretch while not showing on the outside as a zig-zag stitch].

Using the swimsuit elastic as the filling for the leg hole sandwich, fold edge in.
Stitch on the right side with your double needle:

Simply replace regular needle and thread two spools of thread through the top, splitting to thread the needles.  If you don't have two spools, simple wind an empty bobbin and use it as your second spool.  This gives a more finished look with the stretch, but without a zig-zag stitch. Repeat with the top front.

Centering your strap in the center back of the swimsuit, stitch wrong sides together with a slight zig-zag stitch, overlapping the two pieces about 3/8''.  Fold edge of strap over the elastic once, then again over the swimsuit body.  Pin and stitch with double needle on right side of strap.
Adjust the ends of the straps to proper length and sew in place.

There are a few things I love about making a little girl's swimsuit:

you can make it so it actually is high enough in the front,

it's not pink.  Or purple.  Or both.  We have way too much of those colors in our wardrobes as it is.

I love how the stripes on the straps are going the opposite way of the swimsuit: visual interest.

A swimsuit for pennies.  I'll take another....four.

* * *
For my "Big Splash" Swimsuit tutorial, including more detailed double needle information, go here.


  1. So brave. I dare not sew with knit...especially lycra knit. Too many bad wrinkled up affairs. The suit is adorable. I need to be more brave.

  2. I love that model! Sheesh, that did not seem simple at all. Glad it was cinchy for you.

  3. Amazing! I couldn't even imagine trying to tackle making a bathing suit. Good for yoU!

  4. Fun! Don't you love being frugal!? I just tried to call you...

  5. love it!

    it looks as though you didn't stretch the elastic any ~ is that correct? thanks

  6. So cute! Sometimes I dream about being as creative as you are...

  7. First with the amazing Easter outfits and now with actual wearable and super-cute swimsuit. I will follow your brave example and try to sew something other than a skirt for my ladies!

    Oh, and I LOVE lessons that do not require my intervention. Suzuki violin is a chapter of our lives best forgotten....

  8. @the momma, that's right, I didn't stretch it at all--it just gives it more stability.

  9. Nice swimsuit! You always amaze me at the things you sew. I love how it looks on Azure and I love that it's not pink or purple. :)

  10. Pennies is right! The family that I nannied for in the summers during my undergrad use to make me my bathing suits! I wish I would have kept them. They were so rad.

  11. p.s. LOVE the opposite stripes!

  12. Me, too. (I'll take another....four--one for me, too)

  13. oh golly. this is GREAT!
    I sewed a suit for Lucy last year and loved it and have been itching to do it again, but needed to do more research on how to improve the suit. Where do buy swimsuit elastic?
    And seriously....I NEED to use my double needle. Your lines are so lovely.

    VERY cute miss Katy!
    and yes, sign them up for another round. You, i mean they, deserve it.

  14. Wow. I agree with Jessica. That didn't seem simple at all--you and your magic fingers!


  16. i love it! so awesome...:)

  17. Hi Katy,

    Did you use a serger/coverstich machine or just a regular machine? I am dying to try to make a bathing suit. This (and Dana's blog Made) may give me the confidence. Thanks!!!

  18. Georgine--I used a double needle in my regular sewing machine that gives it the look of a serger as well as the elasticity it needs for a swimsuit.

  19. So adorable! I love everything about it, especially how high it is in the front!

    Cute, cute, cute!!!

  20. Ok now I have to go find some fabric to try this!

  21. I really like this tutorial! You're sooooo good! :)
    May I have a question? Which program do you use to edit your photos?
    I think this is an extra for your blog, I like reallllllly :)


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