How to Turn a Swimsuit Pattern into a Tankini

how-to-make-a-swimsuit-a-tankini

There are many reasons why you might be drawn to a tankini swimsuit, from not having to worry about fitting the length, to the ability to mix and match bottoms, to just plain liking the style. It’s actually remarkably easy to turn a swimsuit pattern into a tankini – read on to learn how! Front: Starting with your swimsuit pattern, draw a line across the front of the suit where you want the bottom of the tankini to be. (Remember that it will end ~1/4 shorter than your line because you need to hem the suit). A good rule of thumb is to slice across where the suit cuts up to go over your hips, but it’s up to you if your personal preference is shorter or longer. You probably want a slight curve to the hem line. Back: Draw a line across the back of your suit that matches …

How to Use a Swimsuit Pattern to Sew Underwear

how-to-sew-underwear-from-a-swimsuit-pattern

There are a lot of similarities between a pair of underwear and a bikini bottom, so why not use a sewing pattern for one to make the other? If you’ve got a swimsuit bottom that you like there’s no reason that you can’t use it to make a stack of underwear as well! I’ve put together a few things to keep in mind when doing so – pattern selection, fabric selection, and three different ways to finish the edges of your underwear. Fabric Selection: Swimsuit patterns are designed to be sewn with swimsuit fabrics which have some key characteristics: 4-way stretch, great recovery, and some heft. You clearly don’t want to sew your underwear out of swimsuit fabric, but when you pick a jersey, you should keep these characteristics in mind. You don’t need a 4-way stretch jersey, but you do want to make sure that your jersey has good stretch …

How Hack a High Waist Swimsuit Bottom

how-to-hack-a-high-waist-swimsuit

High waist swimsuits are a fun way to bring a bit of retro styling to your swimwear. They’re also a great on-trend way to make your swimsuit just a bit more modest. It’s easy to hack your swimsuit pattern into a high-waist bikini bottom regardless of whether you’re starting from a one-piece pattern or a low rise bikini. If you’re starting from one piece pattern, it’s as simple as slicing across the pattern on the front and back pieces where you want the waist to be. The few things to keep in mind: Remember that you have to finish the top of the suit so cut it higher than you want the finished to be (or lower if you want to add a waistband). If you are attaching elastic and folding it to the inside (like most swimsuit finishing techniques) it will only change by 1/4″ but other techniques (like …

Installing a Swimsuit Hook and Straps

how-to-sew-a-swimsuit-clasp-and-straps

Sewing clasps and straps onto a swimsuit are often the final finishing touches. There both pretty easy but somehow it’s always the last steps that seem to never get done, or is that just me? While these photographs are from construction of the Nautilus Swimsuit, you can use the same techniques to sew a clasp and straps on to any swimsuit that hooks in the back and has straps that go over the shoulders. If you’re having a hard time sourcing swimsuit hooks, I can suggest 1″ metal clasps that are up for sale in my shop. Sewing a Swimsuit Clasp: Start by threading one arm of your suit back into the closed loop portion of your swimsuit hook. You want the hook to be pointing down. Depending upon the width of your back and the width of your clasp, you may have to gather your back a little in to the clasp. …

How to Insert Bra Cups into a Swimsuit

how-to-add-cups-to-a-swimsuit

Adding cups to a swimsuit pattern is actually an easy modification that can make your suit instantly more supportive and comfortable. It’s pretty easy to slip swimsuit or bra cups into a suit or with a bit more work you can even add a cup with an underwire! Choosing cups: There are many kinds of different bra cups out the biggest consideration you need to make is whether it’s the type of cup that is comfortable to you. You can buy softer cups that don’t give a lot of support but do provide a bit of modesty. Foam cups are a great choice for both support and modesty. If your foam cups aren’t specifically labeled for swimsuits, make sure that they don’t retain a lot of water like a sponge when they are wet! I find one of the best ways to source cups is to go to a thrift …

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How to Add a Contrast or Finished Edge to a Swimsuit

how-to-sew-contrast-edge

The standard for both ready-to-wear and handmade swimsuits is to sew elastic to the inside, fold it over, and sew another line of stitching to keep it in place. For an alternative, you can add a bit of extra pizzazz to your suit with a contrast edging using one of two different techniques – fabric strips or fold over elastic. Additionally, you can use either technique to get a much cleaner finish on the inside than you can with the traditional technique. Before getting started with this finished edge tutorial, make sure you have read How to Sew Elastic to a Swimsuit. Note: Both of these techniques increases the size of each finished piece when compared to the traditional way of folding the elastic to the inside. Why is that? You lose 1/4″ from every edge when you fold the elastic to the inside. When you use the fabric strip …

Sewing Elastic to a Swimsuit

How to Sew Elastic on a Swimsuit

For most swimsuits, ready-to-wear or handmade, the edges of the swimsuit are stabilized and finished with elastic. The elastic is sewn to the inside of the suit and then folded over and topstitched. It’s really quite simple to do and with a few extra tips and tricks, you can have a perfectly awesome elastic insertion on your own swimsuit! Stitches: When you sew the elastic to the inside of your swimsuit, you should use a wide zig-zag. If you have a stretch zig-zag stitch on your machine, this is a great place to use it. If not, use your normal zig-zag on its widest setting. This will securely attach the elastic to the suit and allow it to stretch. When you fold the elastic over, you can use the same wide zig-zag, a narrower zig-zag, or a straight stretch stitch (also called a lightning stitch) depending upon how you want …

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Fitting & Grading the Nautilus Swimsuit

how-to-fit-and-grade-a-swimsuit

The principles of fitting and grading any swimsuit are pretty similar, so no matter what pattern you are using, you’ll hopefully find some helpful information to fit and grade any swimsuit sewing pattern amongst the specific example of the Nautilus Swimsuit. Before you start any fitting and grading, make sure you are starting with the best base size by reading How to Choose a Swimsuit Pattern Size. Cup Size: The Nautilus Swimsuit pattern has 4 different cup size options ranging from AA to DD+. Measure the difference between your full bust and your under bust to get your suggested size. 0-1″ = AA, 1-3″ = A/B, 3-5″ = C/D, and >5″ = DD+. However, this is just a starting point (like any other sizing) and you will want to make a muslin to determine that you are getting a proper fit. What might cause the wrong fit? The cups on …

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How to Choose a Size on a Swimsuit Pattern

choosing-swimsuit-size-square

When I’m sewing a pattern that I haven’t sewn before, I usually jump straight to the pattern pieces and measure the high bust and the hip to choose what size I will sew. Patterns often don’t list their finished measurements and sizing charts often don’t say how much ease they include but a pattern piece reveals all. However, this technique falls apart when selecting a swimsuit size for many reasons. Below, I’ll detail these reasons and explain what to consider instead so that you can best select the size of your swimsuit sewing pattern. Note: Like any sewing pattern, when sewing a swimsuit you can have a pretty good guess about the right size to start with, but you are well served to make a muslin and use that to fit adjustments specific to your body. Ease: For fitted garments with stretch, 0-2 inches of negative ease gives a pretty …

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How to Choose Swimsuit Fabric

choosing-swimsuit-fabric-square

With all of the amazing looking swimsuit fabrics out there, it can be a bit intimidating to actually choose a fabric. “What are the kind of things to look for when I buy swimsuit fabric?” you might be asking. Well, have no fear – I’m here to tell you! At least I’m here to show you the sorts of things that I look for when I buy swimsuit fabric. If there’s something you look for that I haven’t included, please chime in in the comments! Fiber Content: The first thing that I look for is fiber content. Note that there can be a fair bit of variety in the names used to label the synthetic fibers and many of them mean the same thing. Swimsuit fabric is almost always 80-90% polyamid, polyester, nylon, or another similar synthetic fiber. The other 10-20% is spandex, lycra, or elastane (all of which are …

How to Turn a Soccer Jersey into a Bike Jersey

soccer jersey turned bike jersey

If you’re a member of my family, summer means bike rides. Well, to be perfectly honest, summer means not having to ride your bike in the rain, because riding happens year-round. So summer means even more bike rides and we are all gearing up for the start of summer and the (continuation) of bike rides! My stepdad recently asked me to help convert some of his old soccer (or football since he’s a Brit) jerseys into bike jerseys so that he could get more wear out of them since you’d be hard pressed to find him on a soccer field and hard pressed to find a day that he’s not on his bicycle. You need:  – a soccer jersey (or any other type of sport shirt that breathes. Shirts from ultimate frisbee, marathon running or American football will work just as well). The shirt should be fairly fitted. – a rectangle …

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How to Sew Duffel-Style Detachable Swivel Hook Straps

swivel hook clasp options

Swivel hooks are a fun piece of hardware to add to the strap of a purse or bag. They’re easy to install and add a lot of functionality, allowing the bag to exist with or without a strap. I decided to add a strap with swivel hooks to my duffelette purse – a little purse designed like a miniature duffel bag (The pattern for the purse is up on Sew Mama Sew today!) – and wrote a tutorial so you can do the same, for a duffelete purse or any other purse or bag you sew. I will show you two different ways you can attach your handle to your bag – with a D ring or with strapping loops. Either way, you want to sew the swivel hook attachment on to the side of your bag before you assemble your bag. To sew a purse strap with swivel hooks …

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How to Cut Perfect Circles of Fabric

how to cut circles of fabric

There are often times when sewing that I want to cut a perfect circle of fabric – from sewing duffel bags, to circle skirts, to polka-dot appliques. There are 3 easy ways to draw a perfect circle on fabric. Trace a Circular Object In your kitchen I bet you’ll find more circular objects that you might think! Tops and bottoms of bowls, glasses, mugs, crocks – all will have slightly different size circles. The easiest way to cut a perfect circle of fabric is to find something that’s the right size and trace around it with your favorite fabric pen, tailors chalk, or my favorite – the clover chaco liner. Tracing around a kitchen object works great for things like applique projects where “close enough” is the right size, but what about when you need the circle to be an exact size and you don’t have a corresponding bowl? Use …

Monster Mittens Sewalong

MonsterWear Hat and Mittens 2

What follows is step by step photo instructions for sewing the MonsterWear mittens (hat instructions are over here). There’s some additional tips and tricks mixed in. If you’ve got any questions while sewing along that this sewalong doesn’t answer, ask a question in the comments and I’ll do everything I can to help. Before sewing along, you might want to read about Fabric Selection and Sizing for the Monster Wear and you definitely want to read tips for working with faux fur. Note as you’re sewing these mittens that the thumb and claw uses a 1/4″ seam allowance while the rest of the construction is a 5/8″ seam allowance. Before you start, you will want to machine wash your lining fabric and if you are using fleece, wash the fleece as well. Don’t machine wash faux fur. After cutting your pieces out, transfer the markings using chalk – I don’t recommend snipping the notches because the 1/4″ …

Monster Hat Sew Along

17 sew back lining

What follows is step by step photo instructions for sewing the MonsterWear hat (mittens sewalong is over here). There’s some additional tips and tricks mixed in. If you’ve got any questions while sewing along that this sewalong doesn’t answer, please ask a question in the comments. Before sewing along, you might want to read about Fabric Selection and Sizing for the Monster Wear and you definitely want to read tips for working with faux fur. Steps 1-3: Construction of the Monster Hat starts with the ears (variation idea: leave off the ears). The whole pattern uses a 5/8″ seam allowance, so use the same seam allowance throughout. We first sew the ear contrasts (variation idea: leave off the ear contrasts). Take two ear contrasts pieces and sew them right sides together. Trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4″ and notch the seam allowance. This helps the curve have the …

10 Tips for Sewing with Faux Fur

10 tips for sewing with faux fur

Sewing with faux fur is a great way to add a bit silliness or elegance (or maybe both!) to your projects. I adore a good novelty faux fur, and many of my favorite sewing projects over the years have used faux fur (my most recent favorite obviously being my Monster Hat & Mittens), but sewing with faux fur isn’t without some challenges. What follows is 10 tips I’ve learned for getting the best finished project while leaving behind the smallest mess. Minimizing Fluff: 1. Cut only through the backing and NOT through all of the fur. You can do this by using your scissors carefully (I find making short snips helps). Some people like using a straight razor to cut the back. Don’t use a rotary cutter because you will have to put too much pressure to cut through the backing and you will likely cut through the fur as …

Mason Jar Memories

mason jar memories 2

When I’m traveling, I like to stick little things that remind me of the trip in my pocket. A shell from the beach. A dried leaf from the forest. A candy wrapper in a fruit flavor I’ve never heard of. I used to stick these sorts of things in with my photo albums, but nowadays I make digital scrapbooks so I don’t really have a home for the little physical remembrances. Enter the Mason Jar Memory Jar, an idea inspired by a project from Martha Stewart. Mason jars can hold a surprisingly large collection of little bits and bobs, and when packed in, like this jar from my time in East Africa, it becomes like a game of I Spy. I have beads from a necklace a Maasai woman made for me and animal teeth I scrounged from the dust in the savannah. As I look through the jar, I …

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Corks and Chalk Message Board Tutorial

cork and chalk message board

I like things to be organized, and what better way to organize than in a fun, pretty, and DIY manner! I originally made this cork and chalk message board for my cousin – since she got married in a vineyard I themed her wedding gifts around cork. But I definitely have plans to replicate it for myself since I love the way it turned out! To make the cork and chalk message board, you need: cutting board TSP (use a phosphate free version as it’s better for the environment) primer paint paintbrush non-sanded grout (to make the paint into chalkboard) painter’s tape hot glue gun corks supplies for hanging picture wire (discussed below) I found a fancy cutting board at a thrift store that was already divided into two sections, but any cutting board or slab of wood will do. Start by washing the cutting board really well. You need a …

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Cabochon Keychain Wedding Favors Tutorial

cabochon keychain

I’ve always liked party favors and since a wedding is just one giant party (at least ours was!), giving out wedding favors was a given. However, I wanted the favors to be something lasting (I love getting candies but I eat them before the wedding is even over!) and I wanted them to be connected to our wedding and to be used again in the future. (It’s super fun getting sunglasses with the couple’s name on them to wear at the wedding reception, but they don’t really get worn after that, right?) So I decided to make a whole bunch of cabochon keychains using art from our wedding invitations. To make your own cabochon keychains, you will need cabochons and cabochon backs (I ordered the cabochon and backs on Etsy), mod podge, a strong craft glue that dries clear (I love Aileen’s original tacky glue), print-outs of your design, scissors, …

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Kanzashi Wedding Bouquet Tutorial

kanzashi wedding bouquet

Although I made many things for our wedding, I think the pièce de résistance that made everything feel so me was the handmade silk kanzashi bouquet. I mean it’s just so bright and silly and happy and colorful! A kanzashi bouquet starts with a whole pile of kanzashi flowers – I had previously made a whole bunch from silk that I hand dyed. What makes them sparkle is a whole bunch of vintage earrings (I got these cheap in a lot since they were all missing their partners), cleaned, with their backs removed. You will also need a hot glue gun, floral wire, fabric for the stems, scraps of felt or fleece, and ribbon. On the top of each flower, hot-glue a vintage earring (already cleaned and with the back removed). Create a bunch of rouleau cord using your favorite technique (a quick google will lead you to a bunch of …

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Painted Initials on Cork Mat

finished intial cork board

For my cousin’s wedding, I made a whole stack of projects themed on cork (since it was at a winery) and the color blue (her and her husband’s favorite color). After sewing a recycled sweaters blanket, and making a chalk and cork message board, I wanted to add another little something that was personalized for Lindsey & Max. While at the thrift store, I found a whole stack of large cork coasters and decided that I would paint their initials onto one of the coasters as a finishing touch. Lindsey had admitted to me that she knew they would be very short on decorative items to hang on their walls when they moved in together after the wedding, so I thought something like this painted cork mat would be a fun, personal little piece of art that would fit nicely into their house and hopefully make them think of their wedding (and …

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Tutorial: Zippered Roll for Double Point Knitting Needles

double point knitting needle roll

I know I’m not the only one who struggles to keep certain things organized. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love to organize things, especially craft supplies – for example my bias tape collection is neatly organized by both width and color. But somehow my drawer of knitting supplies is always out of control and one of the biggest offenders is my double point needles (dpns) that always seem to fall out of my regular knitting needle case. So, I sewed an organizer that zips shut to show those dpns who’s boss! To make the pouch, you will need 2 identical zippers, some fabric, and a length of ribbon. The exact measurements are up to you (and I’ll talk you through them below), but for reference, I used 2 – 16″ zippers, 2 pieces of fabric that were 12″ x 32″, and 2 pieces of 28″ ribbon. The zippers will determine how …

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How to Sew the Easiest Skirt

rectangle skirt in white and orange

Even the most advanced sewists occasionally crave super simple projects. Sometimes you want to wake up, have a cup of tea, and sew a new skirt to wear before you need to eat breakfast. That’s not just me, right? Beginning and advanced sewists alike, this is a super-easy skirt worth remembering because it is just that – super easy! To make this skirt you need fabric and elastic. You can use just about any kind of woven fabric. For this skirt, I used a basic lightweight woven cotton because I wanted a breezy summer skirt but you can definitely use a heavier fabric to wear in other seasons. The width of your fabric will be the length of your skirt, so go ahead and cut your skirt to the right length at this point (but don’t cut the length of the fabric as we will determine how much we need …

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Oakshott Lipari Rainbow Stripes Tote Bag and Tutorial

pieced oakshott lipari tote rainbow

This Oakshott Lipari is OMG gorgeous. They are jewel tones like none I have ever seen. After getting my hands on this fat eighth pack I immediately understood why quilters hoard Oakshott like garment sewists hoard good border prints. I was sent the Oakshott from Sew Mama Sew to make a tote bag, but I immediately started to rethink my original tote design so that I could use less Oakshott so I had more for other selfish projects. And then I had a stern talking-to to myself and told myself that I was being silly and greedy and I should go ahead with my original plan because I can always buy more fabric. Well, that bit about “always buy more fabric” was music to my ears, so I continued on with the plans for a large tote. To make this tote you need: 13 fat eighths of Oakshott Lipari, 3/4 …

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When to Underline your Sewing

Underlined Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

Adding an underlining is one of my favorite tools in my sewing arsenal.  It’s so simple to do  – just cut all your pieces out of two different fabrics and use them wrong sides together as one. Easy as pie (which is a phrase I’ve never quite understood because baking a good pie isn’t actually that easy. Maybe easy as eating pie? Because I can easily eat a lot of pie.).  If you don’t regularly underline projects or are new to sewing, you might be wondering “When should I underline my sewing projects?” Underlining is great for garments when your main fabric is: 1) Loosely woven Anything that fits you snugly has tension on its seams. If your fabric is loosely woven, it can pull at the seams, separating the weave of the fabric, and eventually pulling apart. Underlining prevents this because you have the strength of the underlining fabric …

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How To String a Pearl Necklace

finished pearl necklace

Making simple necklaces is quite easy. But, like many crafts, you can make simple projects truly special by paying attention to  craftsmanship. I wanted to make a pearl necklace to wear for my wedding so I bought some pearls and set about to learn how to string a pearl necklace in the best possible way. When working with pearls,  you need silk thread. While there are many, many options for beading threads, wires, and cords, you want to use silk because it is very sturdy but will not wear away at the pearls from the inside. I really enjoyed working with Griffin Silk Bead Cord which comes with a beading needle already attached for easing stringing. Other than using silk, there are two characteristics that set a pearl necklace apart from another necklace – pearl necklaces are often threaded on two strands of cord and a knot is tied between each pearl. …

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How to Block Knit Gloves

how to block knit gloves

Gloves, mittens, mitts, fingerless gloves – whatever you’re knitting to put on your hands, it will be even prettier after you have blocked it, most especially if there is any lace or cablework. In my humble opinion, every knitting project is improved by a good blocking (even if I thought it was superfluous for years, I shouldn’t have, trust me on this one). I’ve gotten several questions about how to block my Queen Anne’s Lace Gloves, which is important to do because they have lace and cable stitches! Without further ado, this is how to block knit gloves: I like to steam block everything instead of wet blocking because I think it is easier to control (unless the project is in need of dramatic blocking like my Red Knit Duster). There’s nothing worse than permanently stretching out ribbing while blocking, which is a lot easier to do with wet blocking. …

How to Embroider a Lazy Daisy

how to embroider a lazy daisy

Flowers make everything happy and daisies have always seemed to be one of the happier flowers. Lazy daisies are such a simple embroidery stitch (seriously deceptively easy. There’s a reason the word “lazy” is in their name!) but they can have a great impact to perk up, spring-ify, sweeten, and otherwise improve any garment you might want to stitch them onto! I stitched them all over one arm of my Bomber Jacket and it made we want to add daisies to everything I’m making these days! To embroider a lazy daisy: With your needle coming from below the fabric, bring the needle up through the fabric where you want the center of your daisy to be. Then put the needle back through the fabric from above to below, in the same place as you brought the needle up or right next to it. DO NOT pull tightly yet. Bring the …

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10 Tips for Sewing With Leather

Tips for Sewing with Leather

Leather is the oldest material used for clothing and yet is always au currant. It can seem like such an exotic material to work with, and while it certainly can bring its own challenges, those challenges can be overcome. Here I share some tips that I have learned through my experiences in sewing with leather (for some recent examples and inspiration, see my Cooper backpack, my giant leather snail and its smaller friend). Some of these tips I was taught in the PopUp Britex class where I sewed my burgundy leather clutch. Preparing your sewing: 1) Lay the entire skin out on a table and lay all of your pattern pieces out on the leather before cutting to ensure that they all fit. Remember that leather doesn’t have a grainline so you can get creative with your pattern piece placement. 2) You can use a fine tip permanent marker to draw on the …

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How to Hide Yarn Ends in Double Knitting

trim ends of double knitting yarn

Dealing with yarn ends in any knitting project is a drag, whether there are just a few from when you’ve reached the end of a skein or a whole bunch because you’re doing color work. The cool thing about double knitting, which I discovered while knitting my Floral Double Knit Cowl, is that you are creating a two-sided fabric so your loose ends don’t need to be woven-in in a hidden manner, they can just hang out free between the front and back sides of the double knit, as long as they are secured. To secure the ends of a yarn change while double knitting, tie the ends together (gasp! yes, tie them together) in a sturdy knot, right at the base of a knit stitch. You’re usually told not to tie yarn ends because knots are visible on the wrong side and can often be felt through the garment. …