In my previous post, DIY Swimsuit Part 1, I shared that I was going to tackle making my first swimsuit. Although it’s not perfect I’m pretty pleased with the results! For my first me-made swimsuit, I’ll take it.
After some lengthy research on plus size swimwear sewing patterns I decided on the Closet Case Patterns Sophie swimsuit (read this post here to get a sense for exactly what I was looking for). The Sophie bikini is a color-blocked, three-part, underwire cup with halter style straps and a high waisted bottom. Definitely has a retro, classic feel to it–exactly what I was looking for. Although this isn’t a true plus size suit (it goes up to a 48″ hip, generally a 16 in RTW) with some tweaks I was able to make it work. I opted for View B and did the longline version which is a free download through the Closet Case Patterns site.
According to the pattern instructions you’re to pick the bikini top according to your underbust measurement. At 38″ I selected the size 16 top. Then you find your cup size. There is a detailed how to on finding your cup sizes on the Closet Case Patterns site. After figuring out my underwire size (48) I had to find the cup size that correlated with that underwire. Thanks to Heather at CCP she suggested I use the size 18 band cup size 5 (which correlates to a size 48 underwire or a 38G) and then take the band in to fit my size 16 underbust.
After putting together the top it definitely fits but doesn’t offer enough support. I need to make the cups deeper and sturdier, and the band more supportive. In the future I plan to add boning to the cups (or a firmer type of foam) and sides of the bra top. Having had a proper lesson on how a bra is supposed to work, I know that the band and cups need to do a majority of the work, and that your support shouldn’t come from the straps alone. All lessons learned for next time!
For the bottoms, I graded them out about 3/8″ on each side to accommodate my 50″ hips. After stitching up the bottoms, although they fit, I found the rise to be a bit too short and the bottoms to be a bit to cheeky. So I added black bands to the leg and waist openings. This gave me just a bit more coverage. In the future I’ll adjust the pattern so I don’t have to always do the bands.
I started researching innards for my suit such as elastics, channeling, wires and was totally overwhelmed. I really didn’t know what I was looking for, what was considered good quality, how much to buy etc. so instead I purchased this kit from Emerald Erin on Etsy which made my life way easier. All the stuff you need for the Sophie Suit in one kit!
All in all, this was an awesome experience. I learned a ton and am itching to start my second suit. If you’re looking for a new, satisfying challenge I highly recommend trying your hand at making a swimsuit. It requires no special equipment (you can do 100% of this on a sewing machine, I used both a serger and a sewing machine). Gather all your necessary supplies, stay organized and give yourself several uninterrupted sewing blocks and you’ll have a suit together in no time.
I also stitched up this super-quick caftan style kimono with some vintage screen printed silk I found at a flea market. Super easy and super fast.
Will you make your own swimsuit this summer? Leave a comment below!
Happy Sewing and Styling,