Swimsuit Sewing – Part 2

March 29, 2012 in General, Projects, Sewing supplies


In part 1, we walked through sewing basic swimsuit bottoms using McCall Pattern 5400. For “Swimsuit Sewing – Part 2,” we’re going to work with the same pattern, but we’re going to sew a top with McCall Pattern 5400 swim top B. In my short experience sewing swim suits with a pattern, bra cups aren’t always included in the pattern instructions, so, I am including them in my instructions because I think they are a must as a teen/adult :), but, this method is just one way to include cups (if you prefer another way, check out how your manufactured swim top comes and see if you can’t figure out a way to duplicate it). This tutorial serves as a guide so that you can see the process of sewing a swim top; there are of course, other ways to the same or similar results. You may follow along if you like or just take a few of the tips into your project!

I sewed the straps first. Pin the 3 straps in half; I lined up the fold of the straps up with the edge of the right side of the foot and put my stitch setting on the stretch stitch and stretched the strap as I sewed. You’ll need lots of give for swimwear straps this thin when turning them right side out and as it is worn. Just an FYI, with my Baby Lock sewing machine when you use the stretch stitch the backstitch stitches right in place.

Pointing to the fold below…

Here is a close up of the stretch stitch; it kind of looks like a lightning bolt and allows for lots of stretch.

Cut down the seam allowance small enough to where it would lay nicely inside of the small tube when turned right side out.

To turn the strap inside out, use a loop turner. Push the thin loop turner through the tube.

Hook the hook part of the tool at the end of the tube.

Push the lower part of the hook through a piece of fabric to lock it.

Pull fabric over the hooked area and continue pulling it until it is right side out. Sometimes it will unhook if it gets pushed in the opposite direction rather than continually pulled through, so be careful because you don’t want this to happen. If it does happen, you’ll have to try to push it back through the top by trying to hook onto fabric inside the tube to pull it back right side out…to then try again.

Now, we’re going to start on the cups of the swim top. I cut one fabric layer and 2 lining layers per cup (so, technically, 2 fabric, 4 lining) so that I can insert bra cups.

Pin all 3 layers together of each cup; one fabric layer to 2 lining layers.

Serge with you Baby Lock Serger (or baste with your sewing machine) 2 sides so that we can insert the bra cups in before closing up the third side.

I like these cups best shown below, but there are others to choose from. I like to be able to size these ones down as shown…

I traced cups that I had from a manufactured swimsuit that I have. Cut them down where marked and then finish the edge with a serger or with an overcasting stitch on your sewing machine.

Insert the cup between the 2 layers of lining.

Close your third side with a serger or baste.

Now, sew the first piece of elastic on with a zig zag stitch (like we did on the bottoms in Swimsuit Sewing – Part 1; my stitch width was 4.5 and length was 3.5). Stretch the elastic while sewing.

Sew your strap on according to the pattern and then fold your elastic over. I then stitched the elastic over with a straight stitch about 3/8″ from the outer edge and I used a 3.0 stitch length. Make sure you stretch it a little when you use a straight stitch while sewing to allow for movement when worn.

Below shows the other piece of elastic sewn on.

It is then flipped over and sewn appx. 3/8″ from the edge (like the first piece of elastic). Again, stretch a bit while sewing.

The pattern says that your fold line is an inch up, I’d do less than that, like 3/4″ (the inch created an unnecessarily large tube). I stitched my foldline with a basting stitch so I could see where to pin. Also, stitch a basting/gathering stitch near the outer edge for the purpose of gathering. Pull to gather slightly (not on your foldline, but with your outer basting stitch) and pin (the gathering helps fit the fabric to itself when folded over).

After folding and pinning, sew close to the edge of your folded fabric to create a tube for which a strap will pass through.

Below is one side of the swim top, finished and ready for a strap!

To thread the strap through, try pushing your loop turner through both sides of the top.

Shown here the loop turner is pushed through both sides.

Hook the strap on and pull through.

Lastly, tie a knot tightly on the end of each strap.

All done! Cute! Just a reminder, if it doesn’t come out the first time, make a note of what you could change the next time you make it and then try again! Often times when you are using patterns, it’s not perfect…it’s a learning experience through and through! The more you do it, the better you’ll get and the better the fit will get and you’ll be happy with your results!


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