Sunday, March 13, 2011

Swirl Ruffle Swimsuit {Tutorial} Part 2 of 2

If you're just joining me for the Swirl Ruffle Swimsuit then you need probably need to head over to {Part 1} to learn how to create/cut out your pattern pieces and line the swimsuit.  If you've already gotten that far, then let's jump in for {Part 2}!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about...then go here :)

If you happen to get stuck on any part, I will be more than happy to answer any questions either in the comments or through e-mail.  Please don't hesitate to ask!

{progress so far} should have your two lined swimsuit pieces (one front and one back) and we're ready to add the elastic!  As I promised, this really is SUPER easy!  Even easier than an elastic casing :)

Step 4: Measuring Elastic and Adding Elastic to Back Piece
We will need 3 pieces of elastic for this suit:  1 for the back and 2 for the legs.  To determine the width needed for the back, measure across your child's back where the suit will fall.  I measured from the middle of my little one's side just under the armpit, across the back, to the other side.  This measurement came out to be about 10" so I cut my elastic 9" so that it would fit snugly and not droop.  For the legs, I held up a piece of long elastic and snugly wrapped it (but not stretching it tight) around my daughter's leg where the swimsuit would go and cut it about 3/4" shorter than that length.  I honestly didn't even measure this one so I don't know the exact length.  But, to ensure the legs were exactly the same size, I made sure to use the first one as a guide for cutting the second.

Now to put that elastic on...we'll start with the back as it is easier to "practice" on this method of attaching your elastic.  And, also because I somehow failed to take pictures of finishing the elastic on the leg holes.  However, it is exactly the same method, so don't fear!  To put it simply, you will basically be sewing the elastic on, folding it over, then sewing it down again.  Easy peasy!

First, mark the middle of your back elastic piece with a pin and match that pin to the middle of your back swimsuit piece and pin in place.  Then, pin the edges of your elastic to the corners of the back piece.  Pinning this way will make sure that the elastic is evenly distributed.  You could pin it in the middle of the "loose" sections but don't really need to since it is such a short piece anyway.  Don't worry about your swimsuit piece not laying flat (like in the picture below) as we will be stretching it out as we sew.

After you pin, we are ready to start sewing. Starting at one corner, you will sew along the top edge, catching both the elastic and swimsuit, while slightly stretching the elastic from the front and back so that it sits flush with the swimsuit (see below).  I am using one hand (so that I could take a picture), but you will need to stretch from both the front and the back by using both hands so that it stays even and doesn't make your stitches all crazy by pulling the fabric.  It's hard to see, but notice the swimsuit material isn't really being stretched, just the elastic enough to match the swimsuit.  Does that make sense??  It will when you start sewing, I promise!

Once sewn down it will look like this.  See how the elastic has gathered it up a bit to provide that snugness (is that a word?) we are looking for?

To finish of the back, and enclose your elastic, you will simply fold the elastic down one time and sew across again (this time toward the bottom of the elastic).  To keep the same stretch, you will again need to pull the elastic slightly so that it lays evenly as before(otherwise you'll lock in your elastic with no stretch to it...not good!).  Now you're all done with that part!  Easy, huh?

We will wait to add the leg elastic until the swimsuit is assembled.

Step 5:  Adding Crotch Piece**
**Like I explained in {Part 1}, I used an existing swim bottoms pattern to create the bottom portion of my swimsuit.  Thus, it included a separate crotch piece.  If you chose to extend the length of your patterns and forgo the extra crotch piece, you can skip to Step 6.  If not, follow along and I'll walk you through it.  There are A LOT of pictures that I hope will  help you visualize it.  It should also make sense once you start it, too!  We will be lining the crotch of the swimsuit so that all seams are inside and will not show (like the swimsuits you buy at the store...fancy, I know...ha!).  

I'm giving you fair warning that the word "crotch" (which is not one of my favorites!) is mentioned waaaay too many times!  If anyone has a better suggestion for wording, I'm open to it!

First we'll attach the crotch main and lining to the front piece.  To do this you will need to match up the "short" sides of your crotch piece to the bottom of the front piece and pin together, sandwiching the front piece in the middle.  Make sure to pin each piece right sides together with it's matching side of the front piece (lining to lining and main to main).

Here's what it will look like on the "main" side.  If you flip this around you would see exactly the same with the lining.  Again, making sure you are pinning right sides together with the swimsuit piece sandwiched in the middle.

Once securely pinned, start at one corner and sew across where you've pinned securing all three pieces to each other.  Your piece should now look like this.  

Attaching the back to the crotch is a little more involved, but not difficult.  First, turn your entire front piece (w/ crotch shown above) so that the crotch is facing away from you, and roll up your front piece toward the crotch (as shown below)

Next, open up your two crotch pieces so that your rolled up front piece is in the middle.  Then, take your back piece and roll it up as well, starting at the top and rolling to the bottom.  The picture below shows the back piece (w/ the bottom of that piece at the top of the picture) and the front piece with the crotch pieces open (right sides are shown).

Match your pieces to the picture above, then slide the back piece onto the open crotch front piece as shown.  You will now have your front and back pieces rolled up and sitting on top of the open crotch pieces (that are facing right sides up).

Wrapping around your rolled up pieces, pull the main piece of the crotch up and match it to the bottom of the back piece that is rolled up.  Also match up the lining crotch piece to the lining side of the back piece.  Lining will meet up with lining and main will meet up with main.  Again, your back piece will be sandwiched in the middle of two crotch pieces.  Pin these three pieces together with everything still rolled up between them (see pictures).  

Sew along the edge of the crotch where you have pinned, then turn everything out through the opening in the side of the crotch.  When turned inside out you should have a lovely piece with enclosed seams in the crotch area.  Whew!!  It's starting to look like a finished swimsuit now!

Step 6:  Assembling the Swimsuit Pieces
Now this is the easiest part of all.  To assemble your suit, match up the leg openings and side seams, pin together, then sew them up from the top of the legs to to the top of the back piece.  Don't sew your leg holes closed!  **Note that if you did not add a separate crotch piece you will have to sew the swimsuit at the crotch as well.

Step 7:  Adding Elastic to Legs

Sorry in advance for the lack of pictures on this part!  I will do my best to explain, and it should make sense to you once you are doing it.  The most important thing is to make sure to line up your elastic evenly with your leg holes so that the stretch is uniform.

Back in Step 4 you should have cut two pieces of elastic for your leg holes.  Take one piece, fold it in half, and sew together securely where the ends meet to create a circle.  I like to fold down the little pieces at the end and sew them down so that everything lays flat.

Just like with the back piece, we'll need to mark even sections of the elastic with a pin.  We'll need to make these in 4 places to make 4 even parts of elastic to match up with the leg holes.  To do this I simply use the seam as the starting point and fold the elastic flat in half with the seam on one side. Mark with a pin where the fold is on the other side.  Now, fold the elastic flat again with the seam and pin matched up in the middle (the seam will lay right on top of the pin you just pinned).  There should be two folds again on either side, mark each with a pin.  Now, you should have 4 pins marking your elastic circle in fourths. Use these pins as a guide for attaching your elastic to your leg holes.

Working with the swimsuit inside out, mark your leg hole into fourths just as you did the elastic.  Matching up your pins on the elastic and swimsuit, pin the elastic to the edge of the leg hole in those 4 places.  You will be pinning to the lining, as shown.

Using the same method in Step 4 (above), slightly stretch your elastic taught as you sew around the leg hole at the top of the elastic (attaching it to the swimsuit).  Then, fold it over, stretch slightly, and sew again to finish.  Remember to use two hands when stretching the elastic!  It should look like this:

{one finished and one unfinished leg hole for reference}

Step 8:  Making the Straps

Making and adding the straps is very simple, especially since this is a halter.  If you want to, you could also do really simple spaghetti straps that will pretty much attach the same way at the shoulders, then just attach them at the back.  Very simple adjustment.  But, let's continue with the halter straps as the inspiration suit had...

To make my straps, I used the straps of another swimsuit as a guide.  I liked that they had a little shape to them, but simple rectangles would work fine.

Trace or draw a pattern for your desired straps, making sure to add a seam allowance around the entire piece and about 1/2 inch extra to the length (this will fit inside the shoulder openings).  The bottom of the piece should be about 1 inch wide when finished (the approx. width of the shoulder openings).  You can see the shape of my straps below, and they were about 13" long. 

We will need to cut out 4 pieces from your strap pattern (2 for each strap).  The easiest way to make sure you cut them correctly is to fold your fabric, then lay your pattern on top and cut through both pieces of fabric (as shown below).  This way you'll have two pieces that are opposite each other.  

Repeat one more time so that you have 4 pieces total; a matching set for each strap.

Take one set of strap pieces and pin them right sides together all around, leaving only the bottom open.  Starting at one corner of the bottom, sew up and around the strap, ending at the other corner of the bottom.  Don't sew the bottom closed!  You need this open to turn the straps right side out.   

If your straps are shaped like mine, clip the corner at the top.  Then, turn your strap right side out and it's ready to attach to the swimsuit!  Repeat with the other pieces to make your second strap.
Step 9:  Adding the Straps to Finish!

Woohoo!!  We made it to the final step!!  Kudos to you if you made it this far :) 
To insert the straps, grab your swimsuit that still has the shoulders open on both sides.  On one side, fold the raw edges on the shoulder opening in all the way around about 1/2".  

While holding and keeping that fabric tucked in with one hand, insert the end of one of your straps in the opening with the other hand (make sure the strap is facing the way you want it...I wanted the points on my straps to point toward each other).  Pin the strap in place, making sure all raw edges are tucked inside, then sew straight across.  I backstitch a few times to make sure the strap is nice and secure.

Repeat this step with the other side, and...drumroll,'re all finished!!  Admire your awesome work, then admire how even more awesome it looks on your little cutie!!

Did you decide to make one of your own?  If so, I would LOVE to see it!!


  1. This is so cute, I think I'm going to have to be brave and try and make a swimsuit this year!

    I just found your blog today while looking at some other blogs and when I read about a Joann's opening in your town I thought "I wonder if she is in Huntsville too?" and I just read your about section! I'm a Huntsville mommy to a 3 year old too!

  2. If you did the elastic at the top of the back after sewing the side seems, couldn't you eliminate the unfinished, visible side seams? side seams? I'm trying to visualize this to see if it would work. You might have to leave one end of the crotch piece unsewn until you turned it RS out, then sew that end. Makes me wish I had a kid to sew a suit for so I could see!