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Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial


A few weeks ago I stumbled into a little sale at American Eagle. Don’t ask how in the world I found it or what made me look around (I haven’t bought anything from AE since I worked there as a bright-eyed 16 year old some 10+ years ago) but look around I did, and lo and behold they were having a blockbuster bikini sale!

Winner winner chicken dinner.

After trying desperately (and not too successfully) to find matching tops and bottoms that I liked, I landed on a couple floral/plain/bikini bottom/bandeau top combinations. Then I plunked down my credit card and became the proud new owner of $50 worth of swimsuits (and a pat on the back for my amazing money-saving abilities).

Now to be fair, I was a little unsure of the sizes right off the bat. Like anything having to do with online shopping, it’s hard to know what you’re getting until you get that box in your hot little hands. And rather than measure myself like a normal person, I closed my eyes, clicked buy and prayed for the best. Obviously not the smartest way to go about buying a swimsuit, but hey, I was riding high from my insanely good luck and decided to take my chances.

Then I waited around for a few days for the box to get here, and when it finally arrived I jumped on it like a squirrel on a nut.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

And long story short, I came out a half winner. The bottoms were surprisingly awesome. Holding them up Chuck said “What are those??!” in response to my vintagey high-waisted Angela Lansbury style bikini bottoms but they looked much cuter on. The tops, however, were total losers. Too big or too small, too bulgey or not bulgey enough in all the right places made both tops a must-return. Womp womp.

But after lots of thinking, rather than return the bottoms too, I decided to keep them and try my hand at sewing new tops to go with them. Now, I’ve never tried sewing a bathing suit before, but I usually like what comes out of my hack-job attempts at sewing and I was confident that a swimsuit would be easier than it sounds. After much digging online for inspiration and a thorough analysis of sewing abilities, I decided to make a twisted top almost exactly like the one I returned, only this one had to have a little oomph in the cups to make up for my natural lack thereof.

To keep things simple and not too matchy-matchy, I settled on a plain black nylon-lycra from Fabric.com that was running about $14 a yard.

I estimated that a yard would cover the top but I picked up 2 yards just in case I might want to make bottoms some day. Then I went to JoAnn Fabric and, armed with a 50% off coupon, I bought some elastic and a pair of padded bra inserts for good measure.

Then I rounded up the rest of the materials I needed - mainly just a sewing machine, needles, scissors and thread - and went to town. I must say, even though it looks hard, it’s reeeally easy. Essentially you just sew two pieces of fabric together, add the cups and straps, and voila. All in all it only took a couple hours and $20 worth of supplies to get a cute, perfectly fitted bathing suit top – all for less than the cost of my original AE bikini top.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial


Ok, here's what you need.

1 yard nylon lycra fabric
Matching thread
1 package bra inserts (mine were the Dritz brand from JoAnn Fabric)
Sewing machine
Tailors chalk

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

(All measurements are in inches)

Next your going to cut out your pieces like this ^^. Make sure you cut 4 for the straps and 2 for the bandeau.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Now put it all together.

Lay the two bandeau pieces together, right sides facing eachother, and pin along 1 long edge (leave the other edge open). Sew along the pinned edge.

Open the two pieces and lay flat so you have one large piece with the seam facing out. Through trial and error, determine the placement of your padded inserts by pinning them in and then holding the bikini up as if you're wearing it. I placed mine about 1.5 inches from either end, but this might vary. Once you have the placement right, pin the inserts at the top seam with one insert right side up, curve facing down and the other upside down, curve facing up (if you're having trouble, pin one insert in place, then pin the other and twist once -- this is how they will fit when you're wearing it. Make adjustments so that both inserts are facing the proper direction). Once they're placed correctly, hand sew them in place at the seam.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Next, fold the fabric in half again with right sides together and inserts on the outside. Pin along the other seam. Sew pieces together then turn right side out.

Take two of your strap pieces and lay them together, right sides facing. Pin both long edges, as well as the 2.25 inch edge. Leave the 4.5 in edge un-pinned. Next, using a zigzag stitch (to allow for some stretch), sew along all three pinned edges. Do the same for the other strap.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

When you're done, trim the seam allowance and cut in at the corners. Turn them right side out.

Take your bandeau piece, and sew a long running stitch at both open ends. Holding one of the strings, gently begin to gather the fabric until the length measures about 3.5 inches (or the length of the strap at the join).

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Pin the bandeau to one side of the strap and sew together.

Fold over the unsewn edge so it completely encloses the seam where the body and strap meet, and sew together by hand.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Finally, twist the top 90 degrees to get the twisty effect, and rock out in your new bikini top.

Here's how it's supposed to look when all is said and done. Just imagine it on my hot bod*.

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial

Sew a Bikini Top - DIY Bikini Tutorial


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