A beginner’s guide to making your own retro style swimsuit bottoms

How to make your own swimsuit bottoms. For beginners

I am super excited to be going to Florida over spring break with my sister in a few weeks! But that means wearing the dreaded swimsuit! D: I’ve always hated swimsuit shopping, especially since I don’t wear bikinis. Luckily, making your own swimsuit bottoms isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds.

You’ll need–

  • Enough spandex to cover your bum (from now on I will call this the main material)
  • The same amount of lining
  • Traced pattern from existing clothing (swimsuit, underwear, bodysuit, etc)

Step 1: Trace your pattern

Fold the lining fabric in half, lay the pattern on top, and use pins to secure it (unless you’re reckless, like me :P). If you included seam allowances in your tracing, you will cut directly around pattern. If you did NOT include seam allowances, leave extra space when you cut (bigger seam allowances mean more room for mistakes/hemming later on). Do the same thing with the main material, but leave about 3 extra inches at the top, which will be your waistband.

**Make sure your fabric is placed so that it is stretchiest from left to right– your belly deserves to be comfy!

step 1, trace pattern directions

Step 2: Cut

After you cut around your pattern, you will have 4 pieces: two of lining and two of main material.
Step 2, cut

Step 3: Sew first crotch seam

Hold the right sides together at the crotch and sew straight across. I used a stretchy straight stitch with a tension of about 6ish. Assume this for all seams unless stated otherwise.

step 3, sew first crotch seam directions

Thread recommendation

Right side up, it should look like this:
step 4, outside view

Step 4: Sew second crotch seam (lining)

Do the same thing with the lining. I tried to be fancy and do a french seam, but couldn’t get it to look right and ended up with a regular old seam. And if you’re smarter than me, you’ll lay the material down so that the seams are on the inside, facing each other.
step 4, sew lining crotch seam

step 5: Sew the lining and main material together

Line up your pieces so that they match. You can’t really tell in this picture, but I was sloppy when I cut my pieces in the beginning. So if your pieces are a little bit off, don’t worry! It’ll probably work out in the end.

For now, you can leave the leg opening unstitched; we’ll get to those later.
step 5, sew lining and outside together copy

step 6: Fold and pin waistband

With the wrong side facing up, fold the main material over twice so that its raw edge will be lined up with the raw edge of the lining. Pin it.

step 6, fold and pin waistband

step 7: Hem and topstitch the waistband

Still using the stretchy straight stitch, sew across the waistband at the top and bottom. Remember to always backstitch at the beginning and end of seams to make them strong, because weak seams are the LAST thing you need on the beach

step 7, hem and topstitch the waistband

step 8: Sew sides together

Turn the bottoms inside out and sew the sides together. You can use a non-stretchy straight stitch on this part since this seam won’t have to stretch sideways.

I did my steps out of order, so the picture is messed up; yours should have the waistband completed already.

step 8, sew the sides

step 9: Fold and pin the leg openings

Still turned wrong side out, carefully make your way along the edge of the leg openings, folding and pinning as you go. Small seam allowances like mine are fine, but it would have been a little easier if they were a bit wider.

**You might want to practice sewing a curved hem on a piece of scrap fabric first. Working with stretch fabrics can make curved hems even more annoying than usual, but you can do it!
step 9, fold and pin the leg openings

step 10: Hem and topstitch the leg openings

step 10, sew and topstitch the leg openings

Here’s what it should look like when you’re done!

The final product


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