Welcome back to the blogodyssey that has become the Making a Swimsuit series. When last I left you, I had reviewed a few options for bust support after making a trial version of my tankini top and realizing it needed more support and I hated the back.
Today, I will outline in detail how I constructed the top to my orange and white polka dot tankini.
As a reminder, I used two Kwik-Sew patterns for a jumping off point - Kwik Sew 3779 and Kwik Sew 3608. I loved the styling of 3779, but I hate one-piece swimsuits so I borrowed the bottoms from 3608, which is a tankini pattern.
If you're going to make a Kwik-Sew pattern exactly as it is pictured, just follow their directions as I found them to be super. The construction order I'm using is slightly altered to accomodate my suit being two pieces with a different back design. Alrighty, here we go.
First, I basted the two sides of the midsection fashion fabric, gathering the sides to match the length of my lining fabric. I have found gathering swimsuit material and then stitching it onto another piece of fabric to be the absolute trickiest part of sewing a swimsuit! Those gathers want to flatten out as you sew. So, I pinned them well and then basted the lining and fashion fabric together with zig-zag stitches, pushing the gathers under the needle in an orderly fashion with a needle.
I wanted lots of shaping in the bust cups, so I then installed my swimsuit cups. I situated the cups for placement, then pinned and zig-zagged the cups around the lining fabric.
I attached the lining/cups to the bust pieces by serging all edges together, forming one piece.
I cut a piece of clear elastic two inches shorter than the neckline edge and a piece two inches shorter than the armhole edge, and zig-zagged that elastic to the serged edge, stretching as I sewed to ensure it fit from end to end.
I turned the clear elastic to the inside, and used a stretch double-needle with polyester thread in the needles and wooly nylon in my bobbin to top-stitch down the neckline edges on both sides. As you can see, on one side my stitching got a little wonky, but I'm OK with it.
I gathered under the bust cups and pinned the bust sections to the top of the midsection piece, ensuring the lining was caught into the seam as well. Zig-zagged the seam to lock in the gathering stitches and test for placement, then serged over that zig-zagging to clean up all exposed edges.
I measured a piece of clear elastic 1.5" shorter than the width of the midsection/bust seama and zig-zagged it onto the seam allowance of that seam, stretching to fit end to end.
I was now at the point where I had to decide what to do about the back - do I make halter straps that tie behind my neck, or bra-like straps that attach to the back of the tank? I think I've decided on halter straps; they have a slightly more retro feel that goes along well with the giant polka dots. I went with halter straps.
In order to finish the back and armholes before installing halter straps, I cut a piece of clear elastic 15" long and zigzagged it to the upper edge of the back fabric. In hindsight, I think I would cut it a little longer, maybe 15 1/2".
I then turned the entire edge (back and armhole run together), and used my double needle to topstitch the edge all the way around.
I made halter straps by cutting two 2" wide strips of fabric, about 12" long (I wasn't sure how long I'd need them to tie). I serged them right sides together, and then inserted a safety pin as a bodkin at the top of each bust strap, feeding that into the strap, stitching closed, and then turning the strap right sides together.
Now for the LAST STEP!!! Double-needle topstitch your hem at the bottom of the suit. That's it, your top is done!
Wow, those are some powerful bust cups, huh? Next time, I think I'll go with a more low-profile insert. Live and learn.
Stay tuned. Next, we'll make the bottoms and then wear this baby out in the sun!
Next installment: Making a Swimsuit - Constructing the Bottoms