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PatternReview Blog > Making a Swimsuit - More About the Girls
Making a Swimsuit - More About the GirlsBy DianeSev on 6/20/13 2:09 PM

by heathertyfeatherty

I've gotten a lot of questions by email and comment, regarding support for the girls when making a swimsuit. As you can see from the first suit I made, I am dealing with two issues:

Kwik Sew 3779

1. I really don't need a whole lot of support, sadly. Sniff, sniff. And,
2. I have a lot to learn about supporting what I do have.

So I've been researching both for myself and for anyone reading along with me, and I have a little bit of helpful information to report.

First, I did some retail reconnaissance over the past few days. Which means I spent a few hours browsing through Nordstrom and Everything But Water (a swimsuit store) to study the details of how expensive swimsuits are put together. Why expensive ones? I don't know, I was hoping to find some magic that made those suits worth $125 versus the ones I find at Target for $25.

I'm happy to report there are a few differences that are immediately evident.

First, bust support is critical

You remember my first strapless tank? Well, lo and behold, not only did I probably need to stitch in bust cups and/or an underwire to defy gravity, but I also needed to add boning to the sides of the bust area for support. Boning! I forgot all about that when putting it together, and sadly Kwik-Sew didn't mention it at all. I will be going back and adding two strips of boning to the sides of my first tank to give the girls a little more oomph and keep the bust section from drooping.

Second, most of the expensive suits (Miraclesuit, Tommy Bahama, LaBlanca, etc.) had sewn-in bust support in the form of molded cups attached to the shelf-liner. So I am doing that with the current suit I'm making and I'll be sharing that technique in the first construction post, coming up.

I know a few people really need an underwire. In fact, most people can benefit from it so I think it's helpful to share this info. I found that many suits, even if they only had a shelf-liner for the bust, also had sewn-in underwires.

You can order the wires for an underwire at Sewsassy, as well as the channeling for the wires, which you'll need unless you like painful poking. A cheaper, greener way of avoiding all of that is to take an underwire bra you no longer wear and cut the banding and wire section off of it to sew onto a swimsuit liner.

Bra Cups

I found my bra cup inserts at Hancock's, and since they're a Dritz notion I'm pretty sure you can find or order them almost anywhere. They ran kind of pricey at $11, though, so I recommend you stock up when you find a 40 or 50% off coupon.

Sewsassy also has a great selection of inexpensive swimsuit bra cups, so I am ordering a few of their different options so I can report back on how they look and feel.

I've also read quite a few people have used a Microtex needle (super sharp) when sewing nylon/lycra for swimsuits. I haven't tried that needle on this fabric although I do swear by them on finer cottons, so if you have experience using them then I say go for it. 

Alrighty, I think that about covers the research I've done and hopefully my next post will be full of the putting together bits, yay!

Next installment: Making a Swimsuit - Constructing the Top


9 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
Breyan said...
Thanks so much! I would never have considered a strapless but you have given me hope. Also, I love that you called it a 'retail reconnaissance'. I did the same at Nordstrom for a DVF wrap dress and it felt adventurous. I think I'll go check out the suite to see what you saw!!
6/25/13 11:28 PM
karen n said...
I've recycled old bras into swimsuits. They've held up just fine for 10 years! I'm still wearing it after all these years and the cups are fine. It's the straps that are going threadbare first.
6/24/13 1:01 AM
LM2HYD said...
Don't use a ballpoint/jersey needle when sewing swimsuits. Use a Stretch needle. They are sharper and will go through the spandex. A ballpoint needle will bounce off of it and give you skipped stitches. There is a difference! I have used the bra cups from SewSassy and like them very much. They give shape more than support and work well in swimsuits when sewn into lining with a shelf bra elastic along the rib cage.
6/23/13 3:26 PM
Timmithea said...
It's looking good!
6/22/13 10:55 AM
weekendstitch said...
This may be a dumb question and I've never sewn any bras or swimsuits but here goes: the idea of recycling underwires from old bras is fantastic but can old bra cups be recycled as well? Assuming one takes apart the cups...maybe someone knows the answer to this.
6/21/13 5:35 PM
lamstu said...
Good idea to recycle old bras - I have a few that may be good candidates. I will have to get on without the molded cups because they make me itch so I think I am allergic to the foam. I'll hope that you can report some other options though, because I *need* something too! And thanks for presenting this series - really useful.
6/21/13 9:55 AM
beauturbo said...
I bought a really nice designer bikini (halter neck) at Marshall's for $14.95 but was probably supposed to be sold someplace else for maybe $80 to $150. Nothing in the top of that one, except a lining. I did want something in there, so I bought a underwired, and gel filled bra at some kind of stores again for $5.99 that would probably sell at big department stores for at least $28. Just cut it up, and sewed in to there even. No chlorine resistant probably, but pools are surrounded by rough cement most times, so if you are ever sitting on that, your swim suit has kind of a short shelf like in looking just perfect anyways. It is a lot cheaper and more easy for me to do that, than be buying underwires, casings, sewing them into things, and all that actually. Particular if you have to pay frieight to have mailed to you or burn a lot of gas to get them for a suit or two. So, I would not just count out doing that either.
6/20/13 8:59 PM
motorharp said...
I would think you'd need a jersey/ballpoint needle when sewing a stretchy knit? Is this incorrect? Is it really better to sew with a microtex?
6/20/13 6:24 PM
ClassicSeams said...
Thanks for the blog. Adding breast support in swimwear is a great option to enhance the girls without augmentation. Please sighing that your breasts are lack luster is just sad.
6/20/13 2:42 PM

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