Katie Kortman, the queen of color, is back! In part one of Katie’s two part swimsuit series, we learned all about her top tips for sewing a swimsuit with Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra and now it’s time for the fun part – choosing your swimsuit pattern and Spoonflower design. So lather on that sunscreen, put on your shades and get ready to dip your toes into the fabulous world of DIY swimsuits.
Katie: It’s July. It’s hot. You just want to stay inside but if you must go out, there needs to be water, am I right? If you like to sew, you may have thought about sewing your own super cute, totally flattering swimsuit in a fabric more exciting than what is offered at the store. But you’re scared. I have heard people tell me this time after time. I get it. Until last summer, I was the same way. I could sew pants, dresses, shirts… anything! But a swimsuit? No, I must not be skilled enough for that. Or the dreaded thought… what if something malfunctioned when I get into the water?
I am here to tell you that all those fears are for nothing!! If you missed my first post on the ins and outs of sewing a swimsuit with Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra, click here to get all the details.
When picking a swimsuit, you will want to consider the sewing level (usually indicated on the pattern), the style, and what level of support you want. Some patterns have methods for adding additional bust support written into the pattern and some do not. It is easy to add a shelf bra or foam breast cups to a lining or power mesh and this tutorial is a good place to start if the pattern doesn’t explain how to do this.
I’m spotlighting five swimsuit patterns that are available as PDFs so you can instantly buy, print at home and get sewing (and then swimming) but #sewingswimwear on Instagram is another great place to get inspiration.
Featured design: Bohemian Rhapsody
The pattern instructions are simple and clear with only a few pattern pieces making this a good first swimsuit for an advanced beginner. There are instructions for adding foam cups and a lace-up closure, both options that can add more support and coverage for a larger bust. I did neither on my version but plan to add foam cups or underwire because I needed more support.
Featured design: Mid Century Modular TV Screens
This pattern has so many different options and you can mix and match them all! It’s a fun one to mix prints with as it has the different elements made for contrast. It’s not a difficult swimsuit, but there are a lot of pattern pieces, techniques and details making it better suited for someone who has done a bit of sewing already. There are video instructions for the trickier parts and the photos for each step were sufficient. This is a great swimsuit if you have a larger bust and need support – even without foam cups!
Featured design: Abstract Navy and Rose
The Reno (top) and Dakota (bottom) are sold separately which is great if you just want the top or bottom pattern at an affordable price. The construction is fairly simple but I would put it at an advanced beginner for the top because the bust construction is more complex while the bottoms are pretty straight forward.
Featured design: Abstract Moon
There are few pattern pieces and fairly simple construction with easy instructions BUT you do have to do a “V” which can be a little tricky and the reason why I’ve rated it intermediate. This suit doesn’t include instructions for adding cups but you could use the link I shared in the first post to add some to the lining. The friend I made it for had a larger bust and the straps added a lot of support.
Featured design: Geometric Pattern in Lime Green
I think this is the perfect beginner swimsuit pattern. The instructions are VERY thorough with many tips and general swimsuit “education” at the beginning of the pattern. There are instructions for adding a shelf bra and foam cups and for my own – view B – I did both and it is my most supportive swimsuit yet. The 2 piece can also double as a sports bra so yeah, it supports!
Now that you’ve got your swimsuit pattern, it’s time to choose your fabric designs! With over 750,000 designs in the Marketplace, you can find just the right design for your custom swimsuit, or take things into your own hands and create your own design like I did for some of the suits. You can shop all of my Spoonflower designs here.
When choosing a design for swimsuits, it’s important to make sure the scale isn’t too big since you’re working with a smaller amount of fabric. Adding terms like ditsy or small-scale to your search can help narrow down your options.
Pro tip: If you find a design you love that is too big for a swimsuit, you can send a message to the designer via their Spoonflower shop to request a custom-scale change!
If you want to color-block a swimsuit, make it reversible or get two small bikinis out of one yard, you can use the FILL-A-YARD® option. Simply create a collection of designs, choose the split yard template, select the designs you want printed and then fill that yard!
I placed the swimsuit pattern on the line that divided the two halves of the Fill-A-Yard fabric so it created a color-blocked effect without having to sew the pieces together
So, are you ready to TAKE THE PLUNGE?
There are so many other indie sewing patterns out there besides the ones we’ve reviewed. You can surely find the one that works for your needs and style. This summer, take the plunge and make your own swimsuit! You will have control over the fit, the support, the fabric design (Spoonflower has so many fun options you can’t find anywhere else or you can create your own!)… everything! It’s like making pants – once you’ve done it you’ll never look back. (I would say sewing a swimsuit is easier than sewing pants too – no closures and WAY LESS TIME!!!)
You may end up like me…. making the whole family matching swimsuits!!!
Katie Kortman is a sewist, artist, and self-proclaimed dancing queen. Over the years she has sold her artwork in galleries, worked as a display artist for Anthropologie, taught high school art, had a handmade accessories company called Blue-Eyed Freckle, and mothered her four children. She has lived in many places around the globe as the wife of a Navy Doctor, but currently resides in Virginia.
Katie enjoys combining her passions into one by using her artwork to design fabric on Spoonflower, that she can then sew up into clothing (and DANCE). She blogs at katiekortman.com and over on Instagram you can find her @katiekortmanart where she dances around in her handmade wardrobe.