Bathing Beauty

You know what I find crazy? The world of swim wear and its prices. Swim suits are always, notoriously, overpriced and blown WAAAAAY out of proportion. Dontcha think? And because of this fact, I’ve never, in my 30 years so far, owned a cute swim suit. I’m really trying to rack my brain for a time that there might have a been a cute swim suit in my life and I’m drawing a complete blank. I’ve been thinking about this alot too, so I feel that I’m pretty safe in saying that I’ve never owned a cute swim suit. Now that’s all in the past. Enter the BurdaStyle Alison sewing pattern.

Yup. I jumped on this bandwagon. When this pattern was free (which sadly, its not now) I hurried and swapped it up. It is a PDF pattern, but it met my criteria of being free and under 25 pages (miracle!). I’m good with that. As per usual BurdaStyle style, this pattern is fabulous but has incredibly lousy instructions. I think its absolutely unreal that the instructions can go on and on about how to gather a piece of fabric but completely space out out by not adding instructions for how to finish the leg openings. This thing left me scratching my head in many parts.

I picked up this swim suit fabric from Yellow Bird a few months ago. Loved the color so much I simply could not pass it by. I purchased swim suit lining from Hancock’s. And even though I didn’t follow along with Dixie DIY’s AMAZING swim suit sewalong, I did follow her advice on her hook-up with Sew Sassy elastic and bra cups. I highly recommend Sew Sassy too. Great prices, great service and lightening fast shipping.

I lined the entire swim suit and am very glad I did. It adds an extra element of protection and opacity and will definitely extend the life of the suit. I put elastics in the leg openings as per very purple person and I put bra cups in but didn’t tack them down to anything and probably should have – definitely doing it Dixie DIY’s way next time. Oh well, you live and learn. I added 1/2″ to the crotch depth and were I to do this swim suit again and I will (expect to see it soon), I would raise the bra shelf up about 3/4″ – 1″. I would also add elastic to the straps and would actually do them completely different by extending the neck strap length and criss-crossing them in the back and attaching them to the place where the back strap starts, thereby eliminating the need for the back strap and swim suit hooks.

Any of you swim suit making? These are like the easiest things to make and really quite fun to tackle. I’m excited to try another one! Yay! Any tips or tricks in your swim suit sewing travels?



61 thoughts on “Bathing Beauty

  1. I completely agree that it is hard to find something that you like. Especially given all the neon and prints and bandeau tops that are on trend right now, I cannot find a suit that I like, and the majority of mine are about 5 years old! I have been looking at patterns, but I have not really found any that strike me as perfect. I may just copy an old one. Thanks for the link to the Swimsuit sew-along–it looks so helpful!

  2. what a great pattern! i am seriously scared about trying swimsuits – all that stretch! burda patterns are interesting – i’m working on a variation of one of the burda handbook dresses and they have missed out telling you to sew up the bodice side seams!

  3. This is absolutely adorable! I love it! I’m a little nervous to try swimwear, but there have been so many cute suits popping up online that I sorta want to try now!

  4. I went a bit crazy and made–count ’em, 6 suits this year. Easier than I thought it’d be, and because I found all the materials at vastly discounted prices, much, much cheaper than buying ’em.

  5. Very cute for sure! Do patterns like this come with cup sizes? While it has nice coverage in the leg openings, I can’t tell you how fast all my stuff would fall out of the top of that skimpy thing! I have thought about swim suits, because it’s nearly impossible to find one to fit my slightly odd size, and they never have any support. But frankly it seems like an awfully difficult thing to do. The fabric, the fit, all of it.

  6. Oh, what a darling suit! A nice thing about making your own suit is that you can cover up as much or as little as you’d like. Lands’ End catalog used to offer suits with a long torso option, but the prices were beyond my pocketbook, so I never bought one. I just mostly make my own, for the once or twice a year that I wear one. KwikSew and Stretch and Sew bathing suit (swimsuit? bathing suit?) have excellent value for the money. I’ve also used McCall’s patterns from the 70s and 80s, but with more updated construction techniques (does anyone really need a zip fastener to get in and out of today’s knits? No. No, they do not.)

  7. It looks fantastic on you! I just love that bright red with your ginger hair ๐Ÿ™‚ And the style is totally cute and retro. Yay!

    I admit, I’ve toyed with the idea of making a swimsuit, but I’ve always shied away for whatever reason – I guess I am afraid it won’t hold up well in water. Nevermind that I make clothing that gets PUMMELED in the washer/dryer (no dry cleaning/hand washing for this lady!) and all my swimsuits are the really cheap & flimsy ones from Target. I’m not great with priorities haha.

    1. Thank you Lauren! I had the same reservation – seriously! But after making one, I’m totally not scared anymore. Pick the right fabric – nylon and spandex or lycra blend and your good as gold! Totally holds up in water and makes you feel so satisfied that you sewed your own.

  8. It looks so cute on you! I like how the color matches your hair and skin. Alison caught my attention a while ago but many complains about the lousy instructions in the blogosphere put me off. I’d like to copy one of my old swimsuits for sure! and then try a commercial pattern.

  9. this is a wow, a total stunner. i think you got great results, and the pattern is so cute and universally flattering. thanks for the extra comments on how you might change it again as well as the link to the swimsuit sew-along.

  10. I’ve started a copy of a suit I got a about 7 years ago that finally bit the bullet. It’s been a ufo for over a year now, but you’ve inspired me to get it out and try to finish it!

  11. What a lovely swimsuit. I know, right? swimsuit prices are kind of crazy most times. I’m hoping to make my first one sometime soon.

  12. What a lovely swimsuit!

    I haven’t owned a swimsuit – cute or otherwise – for several years. We haven’t had the type of holiday, or weather, that requires one and I don’t go swimming. However, if I was to require one I’d be very tempted by this.

    I have to share my only other experience of handmade swimwear – when I was about 7 a friend turned up to our daily school swim with a new swimsuit her granny had made. It was hand crochetted, and as soon as my friend got it wet it stretched beyond belief, so that the neckline was about level with her waist!!! Cue embarrassed friend popping back down under the water quickly and waiting for someone to bring her a towel to cover her blushes.

    1. This is definitely what struck fear into me when I first started this swim suit! But I’m very happy to report that while it did stretch a little when it got wet, it was normal and to boot, it didn’t fall apart in the water either!

  13. I think this is a great first try at a swimsuit! Seriously! I don’t think I would do as well as you on my first try. I think your suggestion of extended and criss crossing the straps in the back would add a lot of support! Love the color of this suit by the way!

    1. Thank you! I was a bit scared for my first try, but I think it turned out just great! I’m very excited to try the criss cross straps – I think that will make the suit just perfect!

  14. I haven’t considered making my own suit yet, although I do agree that the prices are ridiculous! I am a big fan of this pattern, and your suit to turned out beautifully.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! They are so forgiving in the fit – which I really didn’t think they would be, don’t know why! – and they sew up so quickly. Feels like you accomplished so much in just one day!

  15. haha! I am just finishing my 2 in1 shirt dress (a little slow…) and this is the very next project on my table. Only in navy and not red because I am not brave enough. I’ve never made a swimsuit but for the price of buying one I figure I can atleast try.
    You think to sew the cups in? And how much negative ease did you use?
    Great job!

    1. I’m not sure about the negative ease but I have to say that for this particular pattern, the ease is spot on! You definitely want the swim suit to be tight because it will expend in the water a bit and I found this one to be just great! I cut a Large in the bottom area and a Medium up top – fits great width wise, and needed just a few tweaks for lengthwise. Definitely try it! I think you’ll be seriously surprised just how easy these things are to make!

  16. The color is positively fantastic – I can see why you didn’t want to pass it up! It fits you so well, and bravo for conquering this pattern! I’ve had it in my stash for awhile, but the directions seemed so vague that I was a little nervous to attempt it. Wonderful job!

    1. The directions are worthless! I found a couple of blogs that helped but really, they don’t have photos of anything so I spent some time scratching my head with their instructions too. I think I might do a instructional tutorial for how I made this one as I’m going to make another right quick.

  17. This is amazing! I love that you chose red for this, it works perfectly with your complexion and hair color!
    I’ve been wanting to make swimsuit for a while but I always felt like it would be really difficult, especially since I don’t have a small bust (it’s not very big but it does require support).
    I’m very impressed with your swimsuit and I think you’ve inspired me to try to make one!
    do you have any tips for all the missing instructions for the Allison pattern? your leg holes seem perfect! I’d love to hear what you have to say about swimsuit finishing and so on!
    Thanks for inspiring me!

    1. Actually, I was seriously contemplating doing a full post on instructions for the Allison. I mean, I’m going to make another anyway, so why not. What do you think?

  18. What a fantastic suit! Cant wait to see the next one. I havent found a suit for me that i like but i recently made one for my daughter.

  19. Yes, swimsuits are ridiculously overpriced! I’ve thought about making my own swim suit, but I haven’t brought myself to do it… even though I have a couple of darling patterns. It just seems tough, but yours turned out amazingly! I love the style and the color you chose. It looks so great on you! Also, thanks for linking to the swimsuit sew along/tutorial. I may have to check it out to have it further assuage my fears!

    1. I actually had the same thoughts and even worse kept thinking, “this thing is going to fall apart the minute I get into the water.” Really it doesn’t and swim suits are extremely forgiving. Seems so weird to say that when there’s hardly anything there to cover you up! It’s true though. Go ahead, jump in and give one a try! I think you’ll find it to be really fun and fulfilling sewing!

  20. Wow, this looks amazing! Red is a perfect color. I’ve been meaning to try out the Allison but I was hesitant because all the reviews I read said the instructions weren’t great. And thanks so much for all the link love! I appreciate it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. i love it.. made alison swimsuit twice (in green with black trimmings, and in leopard print), and i think i’ll have to do it few more times, that’s how much i love it.. i love the fact that it’s half of an outfit – just add a skirt, and you’re ready to go ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I love this!! I grabbed this pattern when it was free too, but haven’t made it yet; swimwear is still untread ground for me so I appreciate all your notes! ๐Ÿ™‚ I had some cute bikinis when I was younger but never a cute swimsuit, and I have a feeling this will be my go-to pattern too ^__^

  23. Perfect timing on this post! I was just thinking about attempting (emphasis on the “attempt”) a swimsuit. I have some leftover gold swim fabric from a costume and am thinking about what kind of swimsuit I can make without it being too gaudy. I’d love to get my hands on some red like yours, but the local Joann’s is out. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Thanks for the great tips!

  24. Oh my goodness! It’s darling! I love it! How fun… I love the color, too.

    I really need to start making my own underthings and suits – both of which are generally outrageously expensive.

  25. I love it! I bought a pattern from Joann (in a 99c sale – I forget the brand) for swimsuits but haven’t been daring enough to try. It doesn’t help that I don’t go swimming much (if at all) and wouldn’t wear it too much. (Although if it looked like yours, I might!)

    I would love to know of any kids’ patterns for swimsuits. I need to make my girls some decent swimsuits (with better coverage) but I can’t find patterns that would fit them. (They’re too young to use the adult sizes.) Any ideas? ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Nice! Looks like it has everything โ€” backside coverage and bust support. I agree about crossing the straps because I find halter styles uncomfortable to wear. You look great!

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