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PatternReview Blog > Making a Swimsuit - Constructing the Top
Making a Swimsuit - Constructing the Top By DianeSev on 6/21/13 10:14 AM

by heathertyfeatherty

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.

Swimsuit Top 1 

Swimsuit Top 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.

Swimsuit Top 3

Swimsuit Top 4

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.

Swimsuit top 5

I attached the lining/cups to the bust pieces by serging all edges together, forming one piece.

Swimsuit Top 6

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.

Swimsuit top 7

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.

Swimsuit top 8

Swimsuit Top 9

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.

Swimsuit top 10

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.

Swimsuit top 11

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".

Swimsuit Top 12

I then turned the entire edge (back and armhole run together), and used my double needle to topstitch the edge all the way around.

Swimsuit top 13

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.

Swimsuit top 14

Swimsuit top 15

Swimsuit top 16

Swimsuit Top 17

Now for the LAST STEP!!! Double-needle topstitch your hem at the bottom of the suit. That's it, your top is done!

Swimsuit Top 18

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


4 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
karlisa said... (6/25/13 11:59 AM) Reply
Looks great!
sewinfrance said... (6/24/13 11:34 AM) Reply
thanks for the info--I have a question about bust support--how do those cups act in the water? Do they get all soggy & droopy? Are they for use in suits for swimming, or suits for staying out of the water? I don't need alot of support, but a little bit would be nicer, but I need it to work when I'm swimming/doing aquafit. Thanks.
kathleen1304 said... (6/23/13 11:45 PM) Reply
Looks ok. Head em up, move em out, I always say.
Judy Kski said... (6/21/13 10:26 AM) Reply
Thanks for all the great tips for constructing a swimsuit top with bra cup inserts.

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