Bathing Suit Success!

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Bandeau Top + McCall's Bathing Suit M5861
Fabric: 1 yd lycra swimwear
Cost: $10

This past weekend I flew down to Palm Springs for our annual girls getaway. For the price of a hotel room in a major city, we booked a cute little house, bought enough food and alcohol to never have to leave, and holed up by the backyard pool at Rancho Relaxo for four days. We ate well, laughed our asses off, and always had a drink in hand. It was heaven!

If I sound particularly pleased with myself, it's because I also think I finally mastered the perfect bikini. After attempting to make my own bathing suits for about five years now, this is the first one I would say actually stands up to my ready-to-wear ones.

The key to bathing suit perfection? Cups. Without them, my bathing suits have been flimsy, don't stay in place, and then with tightening always end up too tight. For this one, I had some bathing suit cups on hand from a Bra Maker's Supply order, and once I slipped them between the shell and the lining all my problems were solved: the bathing suit held its shape, stayed in place, and looked great. Who knew? Probably everybody except me...

The top pattern itself is adapted from BurdaStyle's Bandeau Top, a vintage-style pattern that I modified for knits. I love the twisty look, which gives it a much more professional, interesting touch. I do have to say though that the directions were horrendous. After trying in vein to follow them, I struck out on my own. I think the main modification I made was that you cannot simply sew the whole lining to the whole front of the cups and then turn right side out, as the instructions imply. Instead you need to turn turn one cup inside out, sew, flip right side out, and then repeat with the other side. I then inserted the foam cups between the lining and shell, added a back strap and halter strap, and I was good to go. It took some experimentation, but all in all wasn't actually too difficult.

The bottoms were a mod from my trusty McCall's Bathing Suit M5861. I find that I actually like them to sit a bit lower and with the back a bit more scooped, so I muslined them a few times with leftover fabric from this failure until I got it right. Unfortunately I think the elastic could be a tad bit looser, but at least I know they should stay on in the surf!

As for the fabric, it has two different types of stripes on it, which I tried to play off of in the design. It's a bit more playful than just a navy/white striped bikini. While I used to have trouble finding bathing suit fabrics, my local stores now carry a ton, so me thinks this won't be the last bathing suit of the summer.

I'm back to the San Francisco fog for now, but it's just as well as I wouldn't survive in Palm Springs more than five minutes out of the pool. 


  1. So envious of your holiday it sounds amazing! And also your bikini is great too :-)

  2. Which local stores do you go to for swimsuit material? I'm in the Bay Area as well, and I've been looking for it! :)

    1. I usually frequent Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley, and also end up a lot at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco at 17th and Mission. If you're ever in Santa Cruz (or shop online) Hart's Fabrics also has great stuff. Good luck!

  3. I LOVE those stripes. Your suit looks completely professional. Great job!

  4. so sweet! well done! looks very professional.

  5. Lovely, looks very profesh! I didn't know you lived in SF, I'm planning a trip down the Cali coast later this year :)

  6. Great job on a very cute suit!

  7. I've been eyeing that bandeau pattern for a while, I really want to try and make it with some left over lycra fabric I have. Thanks for the tips, yours looks great! Also, kinda want to jump on the first plane out to Palm Spring now!!

  8. Take me to Palm Springs, please!!!!! Your suit looks adorable!

  9. Oh man, that warm weather sounds amazing compared to the cooler weather we're starting to have here - and it's only going to get colder. They look great!


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