A tale of two swimsuits


My swim suit making adventure started two year ago. It all began when I won some swimsuit fabric in a giveaway by Molly of Molly’s Sewing and Garage Sale Adventures in August of 2013. It’s hard to believe I’ve been sewing for over two years now! After getting brave enough to cut into it, and I went with Papercut’s Soma Swimsuit, having seen rave reviews on the internet.

IMG_9889The fabric I won from Molly is pretty wild. It is a hot pink and orange animal print. For my first attempt at Soma, I made bikini top variation two with the mid-rise bottoms, inspired by Lladybird’s fantastic stripped version. I followed the directions to a T, as this was my first ever attempt at making a swimsuit. The bottoms turned out great. They are probably the most comfortable swim bottoms I own, and have decent coverage. The top, on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. Initially I used black elastic for the straps because I didn’t have any strapping. After one wash, it was clear that wasn’t going to hold up very well (no surprise there), so I replaced it with bra strapping and made an X in the back. Because I followed the directions, I didn’t add any kind of support or insert any kind of cups into the top. It feels a little floppy, and the top seam seems to flip down while I’m wearing it. There aren’t any closures, so it just pulls on over the head.

I waited a year before attempting my second swimsuit, this time the Soma bikini top variation one with the high rise bottom. My bottoms aren’t quite high rise, though, because I managed to crinkle up my pattern and not realize it while cutting. They turned out about one inch shorter than the intended rise. Taylor Swift would not approve, as my belly button does in fact show in these. I still think the bottoms are great. Since they are in a solid color, they also mix and match with some of the other tops I already have. Win.


By the time I made this second version, I had a serger. This really helped clean up the inside finishes on the swimsuit, as you can see in the picture above. I had also gotten a little braver, and ignored some of the instructions in the pattern. I made two major (in my mind at least) changes. First, I added foam cups from an old swimsuit to the top. They are sewn to the lining of the top before the lining and outer fabric are sewn together. This was a great addition, that I had seen other sewists make as well.

My other modification wasn’t such a good idea. The pattern calls for a combination of fold-over elastic (FOE) and bra strapping. I couldn’t find any red bra strapping locally, and didn’t want to deal with covering white strapping in fabric, so I decided to use FOE exclusively. In order to make it stronger, I used the same technique as in my pajamas, where I folded the elastic over and then zig zaged it together. I then used this reinforced FOE everywhere the pattern called for bra strapping. In order to get the top to fit, I had to majorly shorten the straps and the straps in the back. Even still, it seems to stretch out while I wear it.

IMG_9903I have worn both of these suits out in public now, and am definitely more comfortable in the second. The bottoms of both are great. If I make any more swimsuits, I will use this pattern again for the bottoms. I’m not so sure about the tops, though. They don’t seem to have the same level of support as my store-bought suits. I may try to make a triangle string top next, as that’s what I tend to buy. Maybe I should just stick to what I know works for my body.

Pattern: Papercut Pattern’s Soma Swimsuit
Fabric: Animal print swimsuit fabric and swimsuit lining from Molly, 1/2 yard coral swimsuit fabric from fabric.com
Swimsuit 1: free fabric + free lining + $0.99 swimsuit elastic + $2 bra strapping = $2.99 ($19.99 if you count the cost of the pattern)
Swimsuit 2: $6 in swimsuit fabric + free lining + $5.24 FOE + $0.99 swimsuit elastic +  $2.79 clasp + $2.49 ring = $17.51 ($34.51 if you count the cost of the pattern)
Time: 6 hours each

PS: I really contemplated posting pictures of me in these swimsuits to help other sewists contemplating making this pattern. I just didn’t feel comfortable, though, due to my role as a teacher. Hopefully my descriptions above are helpful!

2 thoughts on “A tale of two swimsuits

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