Thursday, 23 June 2011


On your mark, get set... Measure for your Pin-Up Bathing Suit

There were heaps o' peeps who asked for me to make a pin-up bathing suit pattern after I started making them last summer. I discounted it initially because I was so flummoxed about drafting standard sizes when women are so many different shapes... but then I thought... How about I tell you how to use your measurements to draft your own pattern*?

First, about the suit. Classic pin-up inspired shape with ruching to front, sweetheart neckline with adjustable tie, low-cut legs, and fat straps so I can wear a normal bra under it. I haven't inserted a shelf-bra / molded cups / unwired bra because: a) I can't be bothered b) I have three suits now and want to be able to wear the same bra with all of them. If you want something in-built, there are some goods tutes out there for that sort of thing. Here's proof that it's almost impossible to take a picture of your own back.

Okay then, I'm going to split it all up into several posts. First get you tape measure out and stand in front of a mirror (or get a helper), here's what you'll need to measure:
  • A: Circumference of your rib cage (where you would measure for your bra band)
  • B: Circumference of your natural waist (this is where you are the thinnest)
  • C: Circumference of your low waist (around your belly button)
  • D: Circumference of your high hip (around your hip bones)
  • E: Distance vertically between measurement A and B
  • F: Distance vertically between measurement B and C
  • G: Distance vertically between measurement C and D
  • H: Distance vertically from just under a breast, up and over the fullness, to a point that is perpendicular to the top of the armpit (where your bra strap normally starts)
  • I: Distance from point H over your shoulder to where your bra strap meets the band in the back
Next step I'll tell you how to draft the pattern from your measurements.

*A disclaimer: I'm more telling you how I made a bathing suit to fit me using my measurements. I can't promise that it will work out perfectly for people who are shaped very differently than I am. On the plus side, bathing suit fabric stretches four ways so chances are it'll work out! I will provide my measurements as I go but for those of you unfamiliar with my body, I am 5'4" and a UK size 10 (US size 6) on the bottom and no quantifiable size on top due to my 30GG chest. My torso is also very short.


  1. OMG,OMG,OMG!......I am sooo gutted that A. My sewing machine is totally Beyond resurection, and B. I return to the cold wet dreary UK next week, after spending a year on a Sun filled island where Swimsuits are my choice of clothing at least 5 days of the week. ( I soooo wish you had done this 6 mths ago!
    On the plus size I have an overlocker in the UK, which is probably best for this, and Im owed a holiday in August!

  2. You are over the top (in a good way!). I might actually attempt this after seeing how difficult it looks. And after locating at least 30% Lycra my minimum standard for bathing suit.

  3. I would so love to make one of these cossies but my summer holidays this year are a week in Scotland in August and next week sitting arond in my pants watching Wimbledon. But I shall bookmark these tutorials for a far off future in which I can wear a swimming costume as glamorous as yours.

  4. Cool. Added to my queue of sewing things (that is already infinite length). And hey, I'm 30GG too. There's more of us than I thought!

  5. Kind of an awkward thing for me to say but Maia most definitely does not get her bubble butt from you...

  6. I would love to make this! My fella gave me the original and I LOVE it. But I'ld love one in EVERY colour.

  7. You wear a bra UNDER your swimsuit?

  8. Anon: I'm a 30GG so I wear an underwire bra under everything :)

  9. Thank you very much indeed for posting this tutorial series. I am NOT your shape (a barrel-shaped H) but I have high hopes of getting a new cossie out of this exercise.

  10. Okay totally off topic, well kinda:) Will be using this as soon as the 6 "fixes" on my new clothes-to-me are done and cannot wait, cannot thank you enough. Now onto the question, after nursing two lovely babes born 18 mo apart and planning more yet to add to our family I have a whole new appreciation for well fitting bras (never thought about under a swimsuit). For some reason the really nice brands seem to be UK based-any reccommendations? Thats next on my refashion the wardrobe project!

    1. I get almost all of my bras from Brastop in the UK, they're much cheaper than retail price and quite often have shipping discounts (including international). It's worth checking out ebay too!

  11. Brilliant to wear a bra under the swimsuit. That might be the solution to all, (not really,) of my problems!! I'm going to buy some swimsuit fabric and give this a go. Love it! thanks, Ophelia