It’s the big reveal!! It was so strange being behind the camera instead of in front of the camera this time! But I’m so excited with how this tankini turned out, and mom is too!!
This suit was directly inspired by mom and everything that she’s looking for in a swimsuit: support and lift in the cups, and a little extra fullness and coverage around the middle. Mom’s body type is an apple shape (which my sister and I can take full credit for – we were both huge babies), and her waist measurement is almost the same as her hip measurement, so the ideal bathing suit is one that nips in right under the bust, then flows away towards the hip.
The basis for this tankini top is a 3-piece cup bra pattern that I designed custom for mom. The inner layer is cut & sew foam covered with a seamed layer of black swimwear fabric, then over the top I added the stretch mesh. Rather than seam the stretch mesh, which I thought would be too bulky, I just used my pattern piece to make a solid cover that is ruched at the bottom of the cup. I thought it was a really pretty solution that almost makes it look like moulded cup!
For the bra frame I used: a layer of 15 denier for stability, a layer of black swimwear then a layer of stretch mesh. The back band is just a layer of black powernet with a layer of stretch mesh over top.
I finished the top edge with black binding, and made some simple high-waisted bottoms out of the same black to go underneath.
The high-waisted bottoms are perfect, because they can still give a little bit of tummy control, and you can just see them and a tiny bit of upper-stomach through the slightly sheer stretch-mesh!
I’m SO happy with how this suit turned out, and I’m proud to report that mom says it’s her favourite bathing suit she’s ever owned! It has the comfort of a bra, it camouflages the mid-section without being tight and ruched, and it’s super light-weight and fun!
Mom is turning 50 this year (can you believe it!) and my number one goal is to only make things that I would also wear (no old- lady bathing suits allowed!) and I can definitely say that I have some serious swimwear envy over this one! 🙂
Now I have some slightly disappointing news. I was planning to have a big surprise give-away of a tankini kit with everything I used to make this suit. However, Canada Post looks like they’re going on strike very soon, which means anything I put in the mail could get stuck there until the strike is over. I’ve looked into different shipping options for the giveaway, and for my Etsy shop, but the prices are pretty steep and right now I think the best option will be to temporarily close my shop and postpone this giveaway until the strike is over or until I figure out an alternative. But I do promise that I will be having this giveaway in the future (as well as a couple limited kits for sale!), so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that!
But I’ll end the post on a happier note, with this picture of Gibby, the happiest puppy in the world, moments before he shakes and showers mom with a million droplets of water. 😀
How are your sewing plans coming along this summer? Made anything super cute?
I’m getting all ready for the submission post going out tomorrow, so if you have any last minute entires- make sure you get them in right away!!
Now you’ll want to trace the bottom of you bra frame, marking the center front, the side seam, and the center back (this is the bra hook placement- which would be the point you attach your hook & eye, or the fold point that your g-hook would sit in). In this photo I traced all the way past the g-hook fold, but please ignore that.
Now that you have this, you want to measure on your body how long you want your tankini skirt. Do this by starting at the center front of your bra, at the bottom of your bridge, then measure down your body to the point you want your tankini to end. For my mom this was 13″.
Then on your pattern measure straight down from the center front and the center back 13″, making a box.
If you left your pattern like this, you would have a very straight tankini skirt, with no allowances for your hips.
In the back of this tankini, you want to have some wiggle room to fasten your bra hook. Measure approximately 1.5″ in from the center back along your bra-frame line, and 3″ down the back of your back seam, and connect these in an arc. This will give a nice little space in the back to allow for your bra fastening.
Now this is the point where you want to add in all your volume, and I like nothing more than a lovely flouncy tankini skirt!
I like to use the slash and spread method, where you slash your pattern, the spread it to add some volume. This gives a lovely circle-skirt type of volume, so there is no extra gathering and bulk at your bra frame, but it just flounces and flows out from there in waves! Really flattering and easier to sew!
For this tankini skirt I’ve drawn lines where I want to split the pattern and add some volume: one in the middle of the back, one at the side seam, one in the middle of the front, and then I want to add some big fun volume in the front, so I’ve added 5 lines, which will all be slashed and spread. I’ve also added just a little at the center back seam that you can see!
Now to the slashing and spreading! Remember that this is one side of your pattern piece, so the extra you add will be to both sides! I find that with stretch mesh- you really can’t go too wrong- it’s so forgiving and light!
I decided that for the middle back, side seam, middle front, and the first two front slashes, I would add 3″ of width. I did that by slashing along my line, inserting a piece of paper under, and measuring a 3″ gap between the old hemline marks.
To create some bigger drama, I added 5″ to the three front slashes closest to the center front.
Also (and of course I didn’t get a picture of this step)- You need to add a seam allowance along the top frame edge, this allowance should be the same width as the elastic that you are using for the bottom band of your bra, since this will be sewn into the bottom elastic allowance on the frame of your bra.
Add a standard 1/4″ seam allowance along your center back seam (or whatever seam width you like to sew your stretch mesh with).
At the center front I’m going to be leaving my tankini open, so that it has a slit up the front. For a nice finish with this style I like to add a little extra seam allowance, about a 1/2″, this is so that I can fold it in on itself (so there are no raw edges showing) and so that I can overlap the fronts.
Once you have your skirt pieces cut out you will take you your bra that you’ve made up (just the the point of before you add your elastics)
Then you can see laying this out, just how your skirt pieces will be attaching to your bra- you want to attach them along the bottom frame of your bra.
So flip your skirt pieces so they are right sides together with your bra, and pin it along the bra frame, remember to line it up just overlapping the center front (so that your skirt pieces overlap) and you skirt should end 1.5″ in from your hook and eye.
After you’ve pinned both sides, I like to baste it down with a zig-zag stitch like this, you can faintly see that the bra is under these skirt pieces in the picture below.
Once you have it like this, with the skirt side up, you will stitch your elastic to this edge. Imagine there is no skirt piece and you are sewing your elastic to the bottom edge of your bra just like you normally would.
The next step is to sew your elastic, on the second pass, like you normally would, only when your flipping it back in towards the bra cups, make sure that you separate your tankini skirt from the bra frame, so that your skirt is going down and your bra is going up.
This way your elastic will only be shown on the inside, and your tankini skirt just looks like it’s seamed with your bra frame. It’s a very similar technique to if you were adding a ruffle there, or piping.
Then all you have to do is finish sewing up your bra as usual, however you planned, and sew up your center back seam of your tankini skirt!
It’s really super easy! And with the stretch mesh it’s even better because you don’t have to worry about hemming or finishing the edges, it’s best to keep it very simple and light!
I can’t wait to show you the photo shoot I did with my mom for this one so you can see it on her!
I also have another little surprise for you with the photoshoot reveal! 🙂 😉
So much fun stuff happening!!
Do you like tankinis? Do you think you’ll use this tutorial?
Talk to me in the comments!!