The summer weather is heating up here in North Carolina and the first day of summer is right around the corner (oh wait – it’s here)! The weekends will soon be filled with adventures to the beach and pool which means we’ll also be needing the perfect swimsuit! Luckily, there are so many great swimsuit patterns available to pair with our favorite swimsuit material, Sport Lycra. Today, we’re excited to share one of the newest patterns helping us beat the heat : the RiRi swimsuit by Mimi Goodwin featured in May’s issue of Sew Sew Def Magazine (have you subscribed to this fantastic read from the Mimi G team?). Keep reading to see how Alexia Sotelo, a self-taught sewist and DIY swimsuit extraordinaire, shows how easy it is to make your own swimsuit. Beat the heat bonus : she’s sharing her own variation of the swimsuit and the secret to a custom swimsuit for just $32.00!
Alexia : I am a self taught seamstress and have been sewing for about 4 ½ years. Since teaching myself to sew, I have learned that sewing swimsuits is probably my most favorite thing to make! People often tell me they would love to sew themselves a swimsuit but are so intimidated and have no idea where to start. While I haven’t been sewing as long as some, I am here to tell you, sewing a bathing suit is really not as hard as it may seem! I think the most difficult part for me is finding quality swim fabric in a print that I like. The Spoonflower sport lycra is nice and thick and has a matte finish to it : just what I like! The only problem I have now is there are SO many amazing designs to choose from it’s nearly impossible to choose just one or two! I absolutely love the RiRi swimsuit and it’s the perfect pattern to use if this is your first attempt at a bathing suit! It has a flattering fit, an on trend vintage style, and it’s construction gives you the freedom to play around with a couple of prints to give it a fun look!
Let’s get started!
RiRi Swimsuit Pattern (available in the May issue of Sew Sew Def)
1 yard of Spoonflower Sport Lycra ( Designs used : 1/2 yard of Blue Feathers by emmaallardsmith and 1/2 yard of Linen in Cobalt Blue by joanmclemore)
Pins or sewing clips
For this swimsuit, I decided I wanted to use two different prints for my suit. I chose Blue Feathers by emmaallardsmith and Linen in Cobalt Blue by joanmclemore. For the lining, I happened to have some bright teal fabric on hand that I thought complimented the feather fabric well so I went with that. I like using regular swim fabric instead of lining fabric to give added support.
Since I decided to use two different prints, I ordered one yard for the top and one yard for the bottom but you could order just one yard if you decided to make the entire suit from just one print and use a different fabric for the lining. A fun little discovery I made while making this suit was with the new Fill-A-Yard™ option offered by Spoonflower; if you choose the vertical split template you will get two ½ yard prints in one yard and have enough fabric to make yourself a two print suit out of just one yard! You will need to use a different fabric for the lining but how awesome is that?!
Since I chose a fabric with a white background for the top of my suit I decided to line the cups with the blue fabric I used for the bottoms. I probably didn’t need it since this sport lycra is pretty thick but just to be on the safe side I decided to line it anyways. I wanted to avoid any surprises when the suit got wet! I also have a pretty long torso so I found I needed to add length to the cup pieces of the pattern to give me a little more coverage up top. Just a heads up for you fellow long torso friends!
As you might be able to tell from the photo above I like to cut my lining fabric a tad smaller in width than the main fabric. It is just a little trick I have discovered that helps suck in the tummy area, kinda like spanx!
If you have a serger I suggest using it but if you don’t, no need to fret! You can sew a swimsuit just fine with a regular machine! You will want to switch out your needles for stretch needles and select a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch. A good one to use is the “lightning bolt” stitch. It is a narrow zigzag stitch with a shorter stitch length.
Here is an example of what each finished edge will look like. The serger is on the left and the “lightning bolt” stitch is on the right. The serger produces a bit of a neater finish but either method is completely fine!
If you’re familiar with this pattern, you might have noticed from the photo above that I decided to add some extra straps and a middle connecting piece between the cups that aren’t in the original design. I like to add my own small touch to patterns to try to make them my own. If you like this look too, it is super easy to do! Just add an extra strap at the neck and the back as well as the center front. I have made this suit with and without the center connecting piece and I love it both ways but for a suit that I know I will be wearing when I am out with my kids, I like the added assurance that everything will stay in place up top when I am running around chasing the little ones, if you know what I mean!
Once you have your straps placed where you would like them, just sandwich them in between the front and back cup pieces like shown above. After you turn it right side out you will want to repeat this step with the other cup pieces like shown below.
Once you have it sandwiched in again, sew around the edges making sure you do not accidentally sew the cup piece or neck or back straps from the opposite side. Once you turn it right side out it will look like this:
Now we are ready to tackle the bottom half of the suit. To make things a little less slippery and easy to work with, I like to use my serger and sew the main pieces and the lining pieces together before adding the elastic. I find it just makes things look a lot neater and less messy in the end. This is completely optional though.
Once I serge the main pieces and the lining pieces together, I then serge the elastic on making sure it is placed evenly around the whole leg opening. If you don’t have a serger, you would use your zigzag stitch to sew on the elastic. No matter what method you use to sew it on, make sure you are only slightly stretching the elastic, not your fabric.
For top stitching you can use a regular zigzag stitch or if you have a coverstitch machine you could use that as well. I personally, love the look of the “honeycomb” stitch on my machine. This is what it looks like on the finished garment:
It’s a little hard to see with the blue thread but I love the look. Go ahead and finish the suit as the instructions state on the pattern and you will end up with a suit like this :
Hooray! You now have a beautiful swimsuit ready for the beach, pool or even your backyard sprinkler!
Ready for your next project to welcome summer? We’ve rounded up our favorite summer DIY projects to help get you started!
Alexia Sotelo is from Redondo Beach, CA but currently resides in Lehi, UT. She is a mother to her son (9) and twin daughters (6), who constantly keep her on her toes. She recently sold the small business she created, Whimsy Tails, so she now has more time to sew and create!