Summer Sewing ~ Free Swimsuit Pattern + Tutorial

on May 31 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 116 Comments

Laura from My Little Nook joins us today with this fabulous Swimsuit Pattern + Tutorial to kick off our month of Summer Sewing! This could be the summer of your perfect swimsuit! Laura shows you how to create the right fit for your body in this classic swimsuit look. Learn more about Laura in her introduction (be sure to take a look at some of her recent sewing). Today’s suit pattern is offered in US sizes 6-12 (EU 36-42), but you can comment on Laura’s blog and she could be persuaded to offer additional sizes on her site a little later this summer! Download your Swimsuit Pattern + Instructions PDF and get started, and join us in extending a big thanks to Laura for helping us create our own perfect suit.

First download your free Swimsuit Pattern + Instructions PDF. All of the pattern pieces for the bikini bottoms (with a test square for printing) are in the PDF, with instructions for taking your own measurements and drafting your own bikini top. Laura then shows you, step-by-step, how to sew it all together in today’s post.

Supplies + Materials:

  • Lycra: cca. 0.6 yd or 0.5 m
  • Lining (nylon tricot or self fabric): 0.6 yd or 0.5 m
  • Rubber elastic 5/16” or 8 mm wide: 4.4-6.5 yd or 4.0-6.0 m
  • Elastic 1/8” or 4 mm wide: cca. 8” or 20 cm
  • Plastic “sew-in” boning 1/4” or 6 mm wide: 8” or 20 cm
  • Organza/organza ribbon 5/16” or 8 mm wide: 4-12” or 10-30 cm
  • Clasp closure

Bathing Suit Sewing Instructions

1. Lay pattern pieces on fabric and lining and cut. Place lining on fabric, wrong sides together. Retrace elastic placement marks on lining, as marked on pattern AND 3/8” or 1 cm down from upper edge of both top and bottom front. Retrace organza placement marks on lining.

2. Bottom front: Cut 3-1/8” or 8 cm long elastic, 1/8” or 4 mm wide. Mark two lines, 1-1/2” or 3.8 cm apart for Size 6 (36).

Size 8 (38): 1-5/8” or 4.1 cm
Size 10 (40): 1-3/4” or 4.4 cm
Size 12 (42): 1-7/8” or 4.8 cm

3. Pin together fabric and lining. Align marks on lining and elastic and pin on both ends.

4. Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch, 1/8” or 3 mm wide and 1/16” or 1.5 mm long. Start stitching elastic on top edge and stitch 3/8” or 1 cm without stretching. Stretch elastic (hold it on both ends)-– fabric underneath must not be wrinkled-– and stitch to the second mark. Set length of the stitch to 0 and make a few stitches to secure the seam. Trim elastic on both sides.

5. Top front: Cut elastic 1-5/8” or 4 cm longer than your (A to I) measurement. Mark two lines, (A to I) apart.* Pin together fabric and lining. Align marks on lining and elastic and pin on both ends.

*If e.g. your (A to I) = 2” or 5 cm, the elastic should be 1-5/8” or 4 cm longer than that, and the marks on it should be 2” or 5 cm apart.

6. Do the same as in Step 4.

7. Stitch side seams (with a wide zig-zag stitch, “overlock” stitch or a real overlock machine) of bottom part, right sides together. Trim seam allowances.

8. Pin crotch without lining, right sides together.

9. Turn lining inwards and pin it to already pinned crotch. The back crotch must be sandwiched between front lining and front crotch. Stitch.

10. This is what inner side of crotch should look like.

11. Measure total waist and cut rubber elastic (5/16” or 8 mm wide) 3/4” or 2 cm shorter. 3/4” or 2 cm are used for overlap: 3/8” or 1 cm on each end.

DON’T use clear elastic for this as it is too thin and wrinkles. I used it because I couldn’t find rubber elastic in our stores.

12. Stretch the elastic evenly and pin it to the wrong side of the waist. Elastic should overlap somewhere in the back. Side seam allowances should be folded to the back.

13. Stitch elastic close to the edge with a wide zig-zag stitch. Stretch elastic evenly while being stitched.

14. Fold over and restitch (start stitching on the left side seam) with a zig-zag stitch 1/8” or 3 mm wide and 1/16” or 1.5 mm long.

15. Measure leg opening and cut rubber elastic 1/4” or 0.6 cm shorter. 3/4” or 2 cm are used for overlap: 3/8” or 1 cm on each end. Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the leg opening. On the front leg line the elastic should remain unstretched. On the back leg line stretch the elastic evenly. Elastic should overlap in the lined part of the crotch. Stitch elastic close to the edge with a wide zig-zag stitch. Stretch elastic evenly while being stitched (except on the front leg line). Fold over and restitch (start stitching in the lined part of the crotch) with a zig-zag stitch 1/8” or 3 mm wide and 1/16” or 1.5 mm long. Repeat for the other leg opening.

16. Fold the strip for straps lengthwise, right sides together. Stitch a tube with one end opened and the other closed, as shown in the picture. Trim seam allowances and turn inside out with the help of a knitting needle.

17. Repeat for the other neck strap. This is what you get.

18. Stitch side seams (with a wide zig-zag stitch, “overlock” stitch or a real overlock machine) of top part, right sides together.

19. Cut two “stays” 3-5/8” or 9 cm long from plastic “sew-in” boning. Cut one end of each “stay” on an angle, as show in the picture. The short edges are sharp, so you have to melt all of them with a lighter or a candle, or they will eventually tear your fabric.

20. Place the “stays” on the side seam allowances 5/8” or 1.5 cm up from the lower edge. Sew them in with a wide zig-zag stitch. Fold the seam allowances to the front.

21. Cut 5/16” or 8 mm wide organza ribbon (or just organza fabric) to a double length of your (A to J) measurement. Pin the ribbon to the lower edge of the top, from one mark for the organza placement (J) to the other. The fabric under the ribbon must not be wrinkled. If it is, just pin it again, while making the fabric even. Just make sure the ribbon ends in the same place on both sides. Stitch with a zig-zag stitch.

22. Measure lower edge of the top and cut elastic that long. Pin it to the wrong side, stitch with a wide zig-zag stitch, fold over, and restitch with a zig-zag stitch 1/8” or 3 mm wide and 1/16” or 1.5 mm long.

23. Measure upper edge of the top and cut elastic 2” or 5 cm shorter. Cut it in half. Start pinning one half of the elastic to the back part. Stop pinning at the side seam and just pin the other end of elastic near the center of the front top. Repeat for the other half.

24. Stretch the elastic evenly and pin it; first on one half of the top, then on the other. Stitch the elastic to the upper edge of the top with a wide zig-zag stitch. When sewing the front, stretch evenly.

25. Pin the straps 1-5/8” to 2-3/8” or 4 to 6 cm away from the side seams. Try it on and adjust to your desire. Stitch them with a wide zig-zag stitch near the edge and with a narrow zig-zag stitch 5/16” or 8 mm away from the edge, right sides together.

26. Fold over the upper edge of the top and and restitch it with a zig-zag stitch 1/8” or 3 mm wide and 1/16” or 1.5 mm long.

27. Slip the clasp closure on the open ends of the back top and fold back seam allowances (1” or 2.5 cm). Pin, try it on and adjust if necessary.

28. Stitch, first with a straight and then with a narrow zig-zag stitch 5/8” or 1.5 cm away from the edge. Trim seam allowances.

Comment on any post this week to win one of our Summer Sewing prizes! You could win a new ironing board cover from City Chic Country Mouse, a $25 gift certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! or a copy of Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by Hillary Lang.

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116 Responses to Summer Sewing ~ Free Swimsuit Pattern + Tutorial

  1. Sydney says:

    OMG you made this look very easy and I love it…The internet needs more websites like these!

  2. Pat Fischer says:

    The directions are great, and the illustrations, too. Only trouble is, anyone up to a size 12 can find just about anything they want in the stores. What about us “more mature” women who don’t stand a chance in #&!! of finding a suit that flatters, camoflages, and actually fits the bust correctly?????

  3. June S says:

    So cute! too bad I’m not a bikini wearer!

  4. sara says:

    cool!

  5. Renee says:

    Cute! Swimsuits are so easy once you get the hang of strethc sewing.

  6. Colleen says:

    My daughter has really been wanting to make her own suit. This is a great tutorial and hopefully I can help her make it.

  7. carole whitridge says:

    I would love to make this and will give it a go – if I could master this suit, I’d never have to swimsuit shop again!

  8. Leah says:

    This is great! Will have to keep an eye out for lycra.

  9. A blog post with some tips for sewing Lycra is already up on my blog!

    Also, a friendly fellow blogger pointed out a typing mistake in the pdf file and I posted the correct number, too.

  10. Mare says:

    Adorable suit!

  11. Steph W says:

    OK, this would take some bravery!

  12. Miranda says:

    This is super cute! And you make it seem SO easy!

  13. Sydney says:

    What a good idea… Especially with how much swimsuits are going for these days!

  14. Sara says:

    This is a bikini I could actually wear. So cute!

  15. Helena Pope says:

    Great bikini, unfortunately wouldn’t look so great on me, but am quite sure oldest daughter would love me to make her one!

  16. norine says:

    Love this!

  17. Cute, but I could NEVER wear it… :-)

  18. Michelle says:

    So cute! Only I would probably make my daughter one!

  19. Katie says:

    I love this, although I am not bikini ready. My daughter is and she’s been bugging me to make her a suit. WIth this tutorial I just might be able to!

    I’d love to hear those tips for sewing lycra. I’m mainly self taught and have an awful time with stretchy fabric and the sewing machine.

  20. Melanie says:

    I’ve been wanting to try to make a bathingsuit, as scary as that seems!

  21. Shawna says:

    I’ve not been brave enough to try a swimsuit! If someone could figure out how to make some of the cute one-pieces from Land’s End, I’d maybe be in!

    I do like the top of this one, but I just don’t wear a bikini:)

  22. Marcia W. says:

    I’ve made two swimsuits – when a teenager – wish I had this tute way back then.

  23. Jennifer says:

    I love making clothes… but a swim suit for me has never been on my list of things to do. This might change that…

  24. Kathryn says:

    I never thought to sew my own bathing suit! Thanks!

  25. Shelly says:

    Sewing a swimsuit seems so daunting, but this makes it look attainable. Thanks so much!

  26. Christine says:

    wow! I remember my mother making a bunch of swimsuits for a trip she was going on. Bikinis! they looked good!!

    This is a great tute..thank you..that takes a lots of time and thinking to photograph these.

  27. Bailey says:

    I can never seem to find a suit that fits me right – I should try this!

  28. Cindy says:

    It’s a super cute bikini…I wish I had my pre-kids body so that I could wear it!

  29. Kristin says:

    Very cool, never thought about making my own suit!

  30. Thank you, ladies! P.S.: If you are scared of sewing Lycra, I can write a post with some tips. Just let me know if you are interested. :)

  31. Annie says:

    Tooooootally want to try this!

  32. stacey says:

    wow.

  33. Amy says:

    Excellent tutorial, thanks! I’ve been scheming and planning to sew suits for myself and three daughters, but have no access to swimsuit fabric locally. Any recommendations for ordering?

  34. Rachel D says:

    Oooh this is too cute! Thank you for all the detailed instructions!

  35. Jen B says:

    I love this suit, too bad I don’t have the body to pull it off!

  36. Steph says:

    Very cute! I don’t think I’m brave enough to try making a swimsuit, though!

  37. kathyh says:

    Thanks for the very clear photo of how the lining is attached to the crotch.

  38. Elisabeth says:

    This is really cool. I think I could adapt to be a one piece. I just never knew what materials to use!

  39. Jen V says:

    Oooo, this is lovely! If I had the figure, I would whip one up. Maybe someone wants to come up with a tankini version?

  40. Mama Lusco says:

    Great suit! Wish I had the body to wear it :)

  41. BA says:

    You make it look so easy! I may just have to try this, thanks!!

  42. If I could still wear a bikini, I’d be all over this.

  43. Anne Marie says:

    Wow wish I was brave enough to try this pattern.

  44. Oh Wow! I would really like to try to make this suit.

  45. Katrina H says:

    Have you thought of adding a full coverage bathing suit?

  46. Jessica says:

    I have been wanting to make a swim suit for awhile now! I just can’t seem to find any cute ones in stores.

  47. Janet K says:

    I love the idea of sewing my own swimsuit – but I’d be chicken to try a bikini. This one looks very flattering, especially the top.

  48. Jennifer says:

    I’m definitely no up for making my own bathing suit, but this one sure is cute!

  49. Shannon says:

    great photos: really illustrative. I have been scheming on a bathing suit for myself, in dark green. When I find the right fabric, I will be referenceing this post! thanks

  50. Tara says:

    Lycra – not usually my friend. You made this look super easy with your tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  51. Sarah B says:

    Would love to try this :) it seems easy enough as well as providing the right amount of coverage. Thanks for this one!

  52. Sarah says:

    Hmmm… I don’t really want to wear a bikini (post-baby body isn’t really too great for that), but interesting nonetheless.

  53. Jacque says:

    This is great! The tutorial is easy to understand, the pictures are clear…I think I can do this!

  54. Leigh says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am going to make myself a bikini this year. I am not in love with anything I’ve seen, I can give myself a custom fit and fabric I LOVE and will not have to pay the ridiculous prices they are asking for in stores. In fact, I am going to make two!

  55. Lauranie says:

    I love it!! Even when I know I wouldn’t be caught dead in this itty bitty teeny weeny!! ;) But, love the tips on how to measure, and could see a more conservative version!! Thanks!!

  56. Maman A Droit says:

    Any ideas on how to do a bust adjustment to this to accommodate larger cup sizes? I love it but know it’d never fit me as is!

  57. amanda says:

    That is so crazy cute!! Amazing job on the pattern – I wish my empty baby house were flat enough for me to wear this suit!

  58. Cinnamon says:

    That is seriously amazing! I would never attempt to sew a suimsuit, but she makes it look doable. Now maybe if there was a pattern for a one piece…

  59. Charissa says:

    Wonder if I could adapt this to be a tankini. Thanks for the tutorial!

  60. krystina says:

    Now this looks really amazing! I’ve been reading this blog a really long time and you guys always seem to attract the really unique and interesting tuts. Kudos to Laura as well, this is really beautiful work!

  61. Paige says:

    Love the idea of making a swimsuit, wish I had the figure for this one!

  62. Amanda says:

    This tutorial is so helpful. And what a cute suit! Maybe I can be brave enough to try sewing it (and wearing it!).

  63. Alli says:

    This is a great tutorial — all the pictures are really helpful. :)

  64. Amy says:

    I’m scared to try bathing suits.

  65. Julie says:

    I’ve also been thinking about trying a swimsuit. Maybe for my daughters, though :) I could see this top with a skirt-type added to the bottom of the bust to make more of a takini top. Now that I could do.

  66. Kristin H says:

    I’m not sure I’m quite brave enough to try sewing swimming suit fabric just yet, but the pattern and tutorial are fantastic if I do get up the courage!

  67. Kadybug says:

    I keep wondering If I can convert it into a full suit…I think it is possible though by maybe adding a skit and gathered piece in the center.

  68. Erin says:

    I am buying some swimsuit fabric right now to make this. I really need a new swimsuit and this looks perfect.
    Thanks!

  69. Robyn G says:

    Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try this out. I haven’t every sewn with stretch fabrics before.

  70. Rebecca says:

    Very nice tutorial! I’ve done bathing suits before, but they have never been quite right. If I was a bikini person, I would definitely try this one out :-)

  71. Crystal says:

    My goodness, she makes it look so easy! What a great tutorial and excellent pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  72. Marci Girl says:

    Wow, this looks pretty simple! Great tutorial!

  73. Holy smokes, this looks doable! :) Thanks for the great pattern!

  74. TriMama says:

    Looks fab! I’m looking forward to making myself a suit this summer, if it ever warms up!

  75. Katie says:

    It’s been so long since I made a swimsuit. What’s a good resource for the fabric?

  76. Sonya M says:

    It’s great to see a bathing suit pattern on here – it’s something you rarely find!
    Looking forward to more summer-themed patterns!

  77. Dawn S. says:

    Very cute! I’m so not experienced enough to even think about trying this, though. :)

  78. Abby says:

    This suit is so cute! I didn’t think I was quite ready to tackle sewing a bathing suit, but it looks so easy. Also, thank you for introducing us to Laura! Her blog is gorgeous!

  79. Diana says:

    Now, I want to make my own bathing suit! Love this tutorial.

  80. Katie says:

    I have never sewed with lycra and am totally scared to do it…but this looks so cute, I may have to suck it up!

  81. This is tempting, but unfortunately I have so many other projects lines up this summer. Maybe next time?

  82. Debbie says:

    Cute suit!

  83. Alex says:

    super cute suit!

  84. Tong says:

    I have never thought about sewing a bathing suit before, thanks for showing me something new today!

  85. Erin says:

    Wow, I thought this would be way out of my league, but this tutorial makes swim suit making seem approachable! Thanks!

  86. jessie says:

    i made a comment *just* yesterday to my husband that I should buy a bikini–would be the first in 10+ years. guess i should sew one instead…

  87. Heather says:

    I’ve just started to think about making swim suits for myself and my daughters. This tutorial makes the idea seem much less scary. Thanks!

  88. Westin's Mom says:

    WOW, I don’t know if I am brave enough to try to sew a swimsuit, I don’t even know if I could find all the supplies. However, I’m inspired to maybe try, since I need a new one that’s kind to my post baby body.

  89. Emilie says:

    I’d love to try this! Thanks for the tutorial!

  90. Miss Julie says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I had plans to attempt a swimsuit for myself this summer, but chickened out. I’m getting my mojo back! (Beautiful craftsmanship on that suit, by the way.)

  91. Laura says:

    wow, great tutorial! I’ve never thought about sewing something this “specialized” but you make it look doable!

  92. Rose says:

    Oh, I love this. I hope you show even more swimsuit tutorials!

  93. Debbie says:

    Cute suit! I admire her talent.

  94. Very interesting tutorial.

  95. Beth says:

    I sewed myself a bathing several years back without having any idea how difficult it was going to be. I completed it after many tears and after ripping out many seams and I told myself “never again”. But this tutorial might just change my mind…

  96. meghann says:

    That looks really nice! I was at the fabric store yesterday & stopped by the swimsuit fabrics wondering how difficult it would be to make my own suit. This tutorial makes it look fairly do-able… xo

  97. Andrea C says:

    wow, i’ve never though of making my own swimsuit but this looks really cool!

  98. Michelle says:

    4 kids ago, this would have been the suit for me. :)

  99. Julia says:

    How nice to have a swimming suit pattern. Now just to loose some weight.

  100. kelly jo says:

    Wow! I never would have thought to try to make a bathing suit, but I really love the look of this, and the construction looks very straightforward!

  101. Thanks for this great pattern and tutorial. I am especially liking all the photos for the steps!!

  102. What a great tutorial!! So easy to follow :)

  103. Beth says:

    This suit is darling – and looks so simple!!!

  104. Rhonda says:

    While the pattern looks easy enough, I am not sure I am brave enough to try a swimsuit. I will bookmark for one of those “bravery” moments. Thanks for sharing…both the pattern and her story – very inspiring.

  105. Wow, this is great! Thank you!! I would love to make my own bathing suit but I’ve never had the guts (or the knowledge) to do so. =)

  106. Christina D. says:

    great swimsuit! thanks!

  107. Caromite says:

    Thanks for the pattern. The swimsuit looks absolutely amazing!

  108. That looks good, although I doubt it would hold up bigger cup sizes. But I might try it for my girls.

  109. Adrienne says:

    Oh my, this is super cute! Not that I have the figure desirable for a ‘kini, but the design is fab!

  110. Jenni says:

    I love the design of this suit. Very vintage and classy!

  111. Lholy-chan says:

    Wow this is really great. I’ve been thinking of making my own swimsuit lately, this is perfect. Thank you to Laura and Sew mama Sew!

  112. TaraG says:

    Gorgeous!

  113. Amanda says:

    That’s adorable! I especially love the top. Now if only I were bikini-ready…

  114. Vanessa says:

    It looks great! I definetely have to try it!

  115. Pat V. says:

    Very interesting tutorial. Let’s get real, I haven’t worn a two-piece since high school! I’m sure there are some slender quilters out there who will try this pattern. :)

  116. Annie Mc says:

    Shall definitely give this a go. Yay summer sewing!

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