Recently I’ve become obsessed with the idea of making my own swimsuits. Store-bought suits are expensive and I have trouble with fit because I am so short waisted. My shape is not at all flattered by the current high-waisted retro craze and in non-retro looking suits, the material devoted to bum coverage seems to be shrinking more and more every year… either that our my derrière is rapidly expanding!
Since this obsession began in March, I’ve drafted and sewn two suits and am already preparing to start on my third. I embarked on this obsession without the aid of a commercial pattern because I felt they would present the same issue for me as store-bought suits (too much length and too little bum coverage), so I decided to draft my own pattern using a tank top and pair of underwear.
If you want to try this method of developing a pattern for a one-piece swimsuit, put on a tank top and some underwear that have shapes you like. Mark a line around the tank top where it overlaps the underwear. I marked the line with pins. Then take them off and lay the tank and underwear down on a piece of paper with the underwear lined up with the pins on the tank, and trace around them. Trace both the front and the back and there you go. You have a basic pattern to use for a swimsuit. Unfortunately I did this without taking photos but you can find a lot of tutorials online and on YouTube.
For my first suit, I used a curved ruler to draw a new, lower back on my pattern and bring the front neck line up. I lined the suit mostly by trial and error and it turned out better than I expected for my first go at it! I wasn’t brave enough to take photos of myself wearing it but I do wear it to swim lengths once a week and it has been holding up great in the water so I consider it a success.
For my second try, I wanted to be braver. My plan was a deep V in the front, an even deeper V in the back and shoulders that tied in knots, rather than being sewn. But that’s not quite what I ended up with.
I chickened out on the below-the-bust V that I had envisioned, for no other reason than my bravery failed me, and the back V is very mild compared to some of the suits I looked at online. The knots to hold the shoulders together worked but were so uncomfortable (think hard knot against bony clavicles) that I cut them off and hacked the shoulders together to lie flat. I did get a little braver with this one though and photographed it.
Overall, this suit doesn’t look too bad when I wear it, though I don’t see myself wearing it very much. I’m already starting on my third suit which will have lower cut legs again (more like my first suit), a very high neck, and a very, very low back (if I can keep my confidence). Stay tuned!