‘Tis the season for handmade swimsuits! Whether it’s a trip to your local beach or backyard kiddie pool, there’s no wrong way to soak up some sun when you’re wearing a me-made suit. Want to sweeten the deal? Make it a mix-and-match suit like Wilmington, North Carolina based sewist Morgan Sitton. See how Morgan made four different swimsuits (with eight total mix-and-match combinations!) for her growing family using two yards of Sport Lycra and the Fill-A-Yard® Cheater Quilt template,
Morgan: This swimwear project comes on the heels of a very similar project I completed last summer for our son Fletcher, aka Biscuit boy. I had a vision for versatile swimwear that could offer full sun coverage when necessary, less coverage in shadier situations, and could coordinate without being super matchy-matchy. We’re a bunch of water babies so I knew I wanted more than just one option for when things needed to be laundered, but also didn’t want to spend big money on items I knew I could make myself. I turned to Spoonflower for their unique designs (and because I grew up 20 minutes from their manufacturing facility—makes me proud!) and settled on a solid and sea creature theme that believe it or not, still generally fits our chunky now 30 pound toddler!
This year I declared that making the season’s swimwear would be a new “to-do by Easter” tradition and I’d document the ins and outs of the design selection, printing process, sewing pattern choice, and eventually the final products! I have a passion for reducing textile waste in the form of sewing worn out or unwanted clothing into new clothes for kiddos + babies, and Spoonflower’s goal to only produce what’s needed speaks to my sustainable soul. I highly recommend anyone interested in their on-demand, sustainable, water-based printing process do a little research via their site.
With our second babe on the way I was even more excited then before to find designs and colors that could coordinate while also checking the above-mentioned boxes. I quickly settled on four designs by Erin Kendal because she has so many easy-to-coordinate options also available in more than one color!
Since each swimsuit pattern (more on that below!) didn’t require a full yard of each design I chose to use the 2 Yard Cheater Quilt Fill-A-Yard template. This allowed me to print four different designs on two yards of Sport Lycra, the perfect choice for swimwear. I knew I’d be challenging myself with the stripes being a directional design but felt up for the challenge. When setting up the Fill-A-Yard project, I made sure the two rust designs were touching and the two mustard designs were touching just in case I needed to squeeze parts of pattern pieces out of the “wrong” design. Spoiler alert: I did.
Before and after cutting out my pattern pieces.
Featured Sewing Patterns
Now for the sewing patterns: I decided to keep things consistent and make the same patterns from Brindille & Twig for Fletcher and babe on the way. Bonus: Two of the three patterns I used are free digital downloads!
Since I was sewing with a stretchy material I completed most seams with a serger/overlocker, but a regular sewing machine set-up with a ball point needle and zigzag stitch is also totally acceptable! If you were to sew a stretch material with a simple straight stitch, the material would no longer stretch.
I highly, highly recommend testing patterns (making a muslin) before cutting into your Spoonflower fabric, especially when wonky toddler bodies are involved! After testing the 2-3T patterns on Fletch I needed to take a few inches in on the length of the harem pants and shirts, then also the waist and length for the bummies. The leg holes were right on the money. I don’t think these are pattern flaws whatsoever; kiddos just don’t come all the same size! Had I not made a muslin, I’m not sure I would have had enough material to make all of the 2-3T items and I definitely would have wasted some precious material!
A quick try on before hemming!
With these patterns I was able to make a pair of harem pants, a long sleeve top, short sleeve top, and bummies in both the rust and mustard colors; 2-3T in rust for Fletch and Preemie/0-3m in mustard for our little one on the way because I make itty bitty babies and want these to get used this summer! In case you didn’t catch that, I can make four different swimsuit combinations for each child using just two yards of fabric.
I opted to not put cuffs on the tops to ensure I would have enough material and to keep things simple. Instead of the cuffs I serged/overlocked all the raw edges, folded them under, and then top-stitched with a zig-zag stitch to secure in place.
Our sea-Biscuit has already put miles on his swimwear between his backyard pool and quick dips in the ocean, and the itty bitty mustard pieces are on a shelf patiently waiting to be worn by someone we can only pray also loves the ocean as much as we do! I have chronicled this project in even more detail in my Instagram stories that are saved to a Spoonflower highlight. I would be so happy to share any other project details with anyone who may have questions for me!
About the Guest Author
Mama to one extra special rainbow boy named Fletcher (nicknamed Biscuit) after years of infertility, one equally special super surprise missing-IUD babe on the way (this month AH!), and wife to one for real crazy special Kameron Ray, Morgan Sitton has been sewing for upwards of 15 years. While she loves a detailed plan/pattern, she also considers herself a professional “Eh, I’ll just wing it”-er. Follow Morgan’s sewing and family adventures on Instagram @morganasitton.