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Monday, September 8, 2014

Make It Monday: Design and Sew a Sporty Bikini Top

I've decided that I want to add lap swimming to my weekly workout mixture, so I needed a new bikini that would be super cute, but also functional for swimming laps.  I'm not a fan of one pieces, which I suppose would usually be the go to swim suit for most people who swim laps...but of course I'm not like most people..haha!

After seeing this Mara Hoffman bikini on Pinterest I knew I had to make something inspired by it!
I've put together some instructions on how I drafted my bikini top pattern, along with sewing instructions.

Materials and Supplies
-Sports Bra (for tracing)
-Paper, Pencil, Eraser & Ruler
-Measuring Tape
-Swim Suit Fabric & Lining (about 1/2 yard of each, I used a polyester/spandex knit for the lining)
-Thread to Match
-Chlorine Treated Elastic (1" Wide and 1/4" Wide)
- Sewing Machine

Drafting Instructions

1.  Trace out the front half and back half pattern from a sports bra that fits you well.  Make sure you double check that all the "important" measurements on your bra match up with the pattern you traced.
2.  Draw in any design changes that you want to make to the pattern.  I raised the neckline so it would sit snug around my neck, angled the front arm hole in, drew an egg shaped opening in the back (which made me have to widen the racer back).  Keep in mind that if you raise the neckline considerably you will need to make an opening of some sort (that uses either a zipper or clasp) to fit over your head.
3.  Trace out your design onto a new piece of paper (I used tissue paper).
4.  Add 3/8" seam allowances around your pattern pieces.  My front pattern piece was cut out on the fold, so no S.A. was needed.  I made the hem 1", and the top back "strap" 1" (to give room for sewing on the clasp).
Sewing Instructions
*Use a small zig-zag or other stretch stitch*

1.  Cut out one set of your pattern pieces from fabric, and another from lining so that the greatest amount of stretch on the fabric will go around your body.
2.  Sew the shoulders, side seams and back seam together.
3.  Turn the lining fabric right sides out and pull it over the swimsuit top as shown below, pin the two together around the neck, arm holes and back hole.
4.  Now you need to cut 1 neckline elastic, 2 arm hole elastics, and 1 back hole elastic from the 1/4" elastic.  Measure around the edge of one arm opening and cut the elastic about 1 1/2" shorter than the measurement.  Do the same for the back hole and neck hole and cut the elastic for both of those about 3/4" shorter than their measurements.
5.  Use a wide zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine, or use a serger as I did to sew the elastic onto the edge of each opening.  Make sure to stretch the elastic as you sew it on, and try your best to distribute the stretch evenly around the opening.  You can see in the picture below that for the back hole opening I started sewing the elastic about an inch in from the edge, I did the same for the neck hole.
For the arm holes you will sew it all the way around by either joining the edges of the elastic (to make a circle) before you sew it on, or just overlap the ends slightly when you sew it on.
6.  Now it's time to turn in all the elastic trimmed edges, and sew them down.  Use the edge of the elastic as your turn under guide.  Sew the edge down as close to the inside edge as possible (as opposed to the fold side).
7.  Sew a bathing suit clasp onto one side by pulling the open end of the back "strap" through the opening, and then folding it under twice about 3/8" and sew along the edge as shown below.
8.  Sew a loop on the opposite strap the same way you sewed on the clasp.
9.  Take your 1" wide elastic and pull it around your ribcage so that it fits snugly.  Cut the elastic 1/2" longer than that.  The difference between the bottom measurement of the bikini top and the elastic I cut was 4", this could vary for you depending on how full your chest is.
10.  Sew together the ends of the elastic, making a circle.
11.  Sew the elastic onto the bottom of the bikini top the same way you did in step 5.
12.  Fold under the elastic, and sew it down.  Don't forget to pull the fabric tight as you sew!
All Done!
(I took it for a test run with the hubby & kidlets)

Here are the instructions for making the bikini bottoms!

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