Completed and Tutorial: Sophie Swimsuit Bottoms and DIY Triangle Bikini Top
I was lucky enough to test the new Sophie swimsuit. I only got to complete the bottoms, because I kept doing stupid things like cutting through the bridge of the bikini top and having to start over. The pattern was going together well, and fit awesome! Alas, I've put the pieces into a ziplock bag to attempt when I'm less prone to sew elastic onto the wrong side three times in a row or cutting through your main garment while attempting to trim seams. (WHY SEWING GODS, WHY?). Expect that review later, when I feel less cursed with my sewing.
I did whip together a little DIY bikini top. That's the great part about bikinis, you can mix and match no problem. In fact, now that I have an amazing fitting bottom, I can buy or make any top I want! I'm very excited to expand my swimsuit wardrobe this summer.
We'll start with the review of the bottoms!
The only adjustment I made, besides things that weren't covered by changes made to the pattern during testing, were to raise the height of the waistline to better match my long torso measurements. I used the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern to do so.
I really liked sewing the elastic on the edges on the suit- it's weirdly soothing because it's easy, and looks really good. I decided to sew everything on my sewing machine so I wouldn't have to change my thread on my serger out and had no problems! The bottoms are completely lined so everything is nice and neat on the inside. The instructions were well written with good illustrations.
If I made it again I would probably include the power mesh in the tummy section. It's an option the pattern recommends, but I decided to try it without for the first sew. It's nothing something I necessarily will die without, but it would probably only make me like the suit better
DIY Triangle Bikini Top
If you want to make a triangle bikini top, you're in luck because it's SUPER EASY!
- Fabric with four-way stretch, something that doesn't get water logged like spandex or lyrca.
- 1/4" wide swimwear elastic
- Matching thread
- Sewing Machine (with stretch needle - NOT A BALLPOINT, they're different.)
First you'll need to make your pattern. I did this by making a triangle with a rounded bottom. I took a piece of notebook paper, put it on my boob, and traced the rough size I wanted. Once I had the shape, I added my "seam" allowances. You'll be flipping your elastic over twice and the straight sides. So if your elastic is 1/4" inches wide, you'll add 1/2" to those sides. The bottom doesn't get elastic sewn on, but rather a channel for your covered elastic cord. I added about 1/2" inches to the bottom for the cord casing. The channel should be fairly snug, just the tinest bit over 1/4". You don't want a whole lot of wiggle room for the cord. I ended up with a pattern that looks like the image above.
I used my pattern piece to trace four copies onto my pattern. I cut my fabric opened flat, not folded, because the lycra is finicky. I then clipped the outside corner of the lining off. I use this to slip cups in and out. You could sew them in, but I just took a cue from my ready to made swimwear. I don't finish any of the edges, spandex doesn't fray. To clean up the insides I just trimmed. If you want a more professional finish you can overlock the edges of your pattern pieces. I then pinned the wrong sides together. I used a lot of pins, my fabric was slippery and it made it easier to handle. Some people don't think you should use pins in spandex because it can damage the knit. I didn't run into any problems and don't think I could have sewn the fabric without over pinning.
Next we'll baste the lining to the cups! I used the longest straight stitch on my machine. I used a 1/4" seam allowance. If your machine is eating your lycra, try using a stabilizer. I use toilet paper in a pinch and tear it away after sewing. Sometimes machines need a bit of help to sew these shifty knits.
Apply your elastic to the straight sides on your fabric with a bit of tension, stretching the elastic- not the fabric, using a zig zag stitch. You apply the elastic to the inside of the cups. Flip the elastic in so that raw edge is on the inside of the cup. Stitch again with the zig zag stitch. If you want a cleaner finish, trim the spandex really close to the elastic. It will look awesome from the outside. When you sew up the second side, trim the top edge so it's nice and clean, and fold the elastic over to square the top corner.
The hardest part of this whole sew is creating the channel for your bikini cord to go through. Use as many pins as you need too, and go slow. The inside will look 100 times worse than the outside. Make the channel just big enough for you cord to go through. Remember that this fabric will stretch and give you a little extra wiggle room. I used a straight stitch since this line of stitching really doesn't have to stretch, and if anything will be gathered under your breast a bit. If you're concerned about breaking stitches- feel free to use a lighting bolt stitch, or a twin needle. Once you're satisfied with how the seam looks, trim the excess on the inside.
Now we create your bikini cord! I made two cords that were 60 inches long. I didn't use all of the length but found that to be an easy amount to work with given that my fabric was 60 inches wide. I just sewed against the cut edge of my fabric and applied the elastic with a zig zag. I applied no tension to the elastic here. After I sewed the length of the fabric I folded the elastic over twice so everything was enclosed and sewed again. I then trimmed as close to the stitching as I could using my duck billed scissors. Repeat again for your second cord. Use one cord for the channel on the bottom of your cups, and cut the second cord in half to make your halter straps. I stitched my halter straps using a straight stitch. Place the edge of your strap so the edge is just under the top corner, stitch about 1/4" away from the top, flip the strap up to enclose the raw edge and stitch at the top edge of the cup. Use a safety pin and push the cord through the bottom of the cups. Try it on, and clip your cords according to how long you'd like them once tied! If you'd like to add cups, push them through the opening in the lining.