This post is one part of a Swimsuit Sew-Along series! If you missed the previous posts and would like to join in, just click below!
- Swimsuit Sew-Along Announcement
- Your Machine
- The Pattern
- Checking In
- Pattern Alterations (for fit)
If you would like to add bra cups, raise a neckline or add/change straps, then this post is for you. I will cover some of the most common style changes I have encountered and will set you up with some great tutorial links for all the how to’s.
Adding bra cups: Sometimes you find a great suit style but really want some inner support. And by all means! We’re making a suit so you want to take advantage of the opportunity to make it what you want! The best tutorial I’ve seen for this is not a swimsuit tutorial, but it works exactly the same. This Tutorial: How to sew a built-in bra (with cups!) has been cruising around pinterest for a while and it’s applicable to us because she makes a t-shirt with a built in bra sewn into a lining layer. This is exactly how a swimsuit is structured. Every women’s suit will have a lined front, even if only in the bust area, so you can just follow her tutorial for adding bra cups and presto-change-o you’ve got a great feature in your custom sewn swimsuit.
Altering leg hole/brief style: I had a question from one of our sew-along participants asking how to alter a brief bottom to be more of a boy-short style. After a little google research, I found this FREE pattern download & instructions at Cloth Habit. You could use this to alter a one piece suit too, by laying the boy-short pattern under some tissue paper. Line up your swimsuit pattern to match the crotch seam, for example (or however it lines up on your particular swimsuit pattern), tape the your swimsuit pattern to the tissue and draw the new leg hole. This pattern has a center seam, so to account for that in your suit (unless your swimsuit also has a center seam), draw the stitching line on the boy shorts pattern and line that up as best you can with the “cut on fold” line on your swimsuit pattern. This will ensure your boy short doesn’t turn out too wide.
Adding neckline coverage: Another style alteration you might want to make involves gaining more coverage in the neckline. For a swimsuit with a halter neckline like the one pictured to the left, you could save scraps or buy a small piece of contrasting fabric to sew in place that would act as a camisole. After constructing your swimsuit, hem the top of the scrap (to be the top of your insert), try on your swimsuit and place it where desired between the straps/bust. Pin it in place and sew down the neckline on both sides using a straight stretch stitch, twin needle or a very narrow zig zag. Other styles with a scoop or v-neck can easily be drawn higher by starting at the shoulder seam, marking the height on the center front and mimicking the line of the original pattern down to the new neck height marking. Remember, you can always take away later, but it’s definitely more challenging (or near impossible depending on the situation) to add more.
Changing the Strap/Adding Straps: After making a few halter neckline suits and a few strapless, I’ve come to realize I just feel more comfortable in a regular ol’ over the shoulder down the back strap. While criss-cross, halters using ties or bra hooks, and strapless can all be cute and flattering, I’m just not comfortable in the long run, so I’ve learned to stick with my tried & true. Adding straps to a halter is by far the easiest addition you can make. For my last swimsuit, I just took a long strip of my fabric, folded it in half right sides together and sewed all the way down. I used a turning tool to turn it inside out, attached them to the back of my suit where it seemed right and then tried it on, pinning the straps in front where I felt they worked best. Another way to make a strap is by encasing your elastic in this strip of fabric like this. This is probably what I should have done with mine, so if for some reason mine start to fail, I can always go back and do it right.
If however, you have a halter as shown above, you may have to do some legwork. Since this type of halter is designed and cut to wrap around your neck, the easiest fix is to cut the straps long and cross them in the back before sewing them in place on the back of your bodice. Any halter with spaghetti straps, intended to be tied can be done the same way and even possibly made into the regular ol’ over the shoulder down the back strap. Just try it on and have someone pin your straps various ways to see what works best.
Did I miss your specific alteration? Let me know what you’re facing – I’d love to help you out! While some of these alterations are done before cutting/sewing, some won’t be finalized until we are in the process, so be sure to tuck this post away for safe keeping if you will need to alter as you sew. Now we are ready to cut out our swimsuit so grab your pins and a yardstick, ruler or quilting ruler and I’ll see you Friday!