Well hiya everyone.
As most of you know, one of my versions of the Sophie Swimsuit is a tankini. I’ve written this post for those of you that have expressed an interest in making your own tankini. Hopefully, it will help you out, if even just a little. See…the thing is…I’m not 100% happy with my second tankini. It’s not a complete fail; I went for a swim yesterday and it was comfortable enough…but..I just haven’t managed to get the fit quite right. Hence, my reluctance to label this post as a DIY or a tutorial….or anything else that even remotely alludes to me having any sewing skillz whatsoevah. It’s, at best, a dialog explaining my process. And….obviously…my process isn’t perfected or I’d be singing a happier tune.
My goal has been to make a sleek, fitted tankini…a silhouette much like the one piece. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as cutting off the one piece at the hipline and sewing a hem. The pattern, like most swimsuit patterns, is designed specifically for four-way stretch fabric. When you wear the one piece suit, the fabric stretches in all directions. It stretches around your body horizontally and it also stretches lengthwise from top to bottom. When you cut off the bottom of the suit, the fabric no longer has the resistance required for it to stretch from top to bottom. Am I making sense? It will still stretch around your body but without that four-way stretch, the hemline will be ride up above your waistline in a wrinkly mess…not the sleek look I’m going for…
The solution trick is to add width to your pattern. How much is the right amount, you ask? Eep…I’m sorry….I don’t have the definitive answer. It really will depend on your body and your fabric. Having said that…I will be sharing the formula I used.
Tip: The flouncier you like your tankinis, the easier it will be. A fitted tankini with the seam lines matching….more challenging.
1. The first step is to trace off front, side front, back and side back pieces. It’s at this stage that I determined how long I wanted my tankini. I drew a hemline beginning at the side seams and about 1″ from the bottom of the one piece side back and side front pattern pieces.
2. I then slashed the pattern pieces being mindful not to distort the cup shape. I was also careful not to slash the back pieces above the point where I attached the wings. Each of my revised pattern pieces are 20% wider as measured at the bottom hemline. In addition, on this make, I added 1/4″ to my side seams in the midriff area. And this I didn’t do, but highly suggest….make your seam allowances wider than 3/8″…this will give you some valuable wiggle room when it comes to fitting your tankini.
3. The finished pattern pieces…retraced just for you. You can see I opted for a slightly hi/low hemline.
Tip: If you want the side front and side back seams of your tankini to line up with the seam lines on your bottoms…advisable if you are using two different fabrics…then I recommend that you complete your swimsuit bottoms first. Then you can baste the side front/side back tankini seams and try on your suit, making adjustments as necessary.
4. My hems are sewn with a twin needle and woolly nylon thread in the bobbin.
5. Cut 3/8″ wide strips of fusible knit interfacing.
6. Working on the wrong side of the fabric, fuse strips of interfacing to the bottom hem of your tankini. Note: lycra and heat…not really intended for each other. Be sure to test a sample if you use this method. I do not use my steam setting to apply the interfacing. I lay a damp press cloth over top of the interfacing and use a dry iron set on medium-high heat.
7. After applying interfacing, I edge finished with my serger, which is entirely optional, then folded the hem 3/8″ and topstitched with a twin needle.
13. The swimsuit I just finished and photographed for this post. Even with adding to the side seams, it appears wrinkly….actually more wrinkly than my pink tankini….so….um….yeah…I dunno. The fabrications are quite different in weight and I can only imagine that is part of the equation.
So….to sum up…I hope these tips are of help to you. As you can see, there is a degree of experimentation that is required. I think I will add 25% to my pattern pieces on my next make and 5/8″ wide seam allowances…just to be sure I’ve given myself enough room to really master the fit.
And between you and me…..I think I might just give the two piece a go…gasp. The bottoms are supremely comfortable and have a very high rise. It would just be the tiniest bit of midriff showing…Never say never, amirite? Hope you’re all enjoying summer!