July 6, 2012
I have been looking for a maternity swimsuit for a few months now without luck. Either the one I loved is out of stock or all available are all in black. So when I found this tutorial for a maternity tankini I was excited! I have been squeezing myself into my pre-pregnancy swimsuit since the weather turned warm and it is NOT working out. I needed something with room to grow and a sure fire way to make sure the swimsuit fits and that it will accommodate me as I grow is to make it myself. I have made 2 of these tankinis, one according to the tutorial as written and a second with modifications I thought would make it easier to make and to fit me better. You can choose which you prefer and make your own. It only takes a few hours and about 1/2 yd of swim knit and about ½ yd of lining (or you can self line like me and order 1 yd of swim knit). I only made the top from the tutorial opting to make my bottom from Kwik Sew Swimsuit I made last year only one size larger with the skirt. I liked the fit and the look plus I wasn't sure how well the bottom from the tutorial would work without elastic and since I needed one size bigger than my existing suit I didn't have one to trace as per the tutorial.
Back to the top: The first time I made it the measuring instructions were not clear but I waded through any way. I also could not tell where to start sew the tube to the skirt and where to stop for the peek-a-boo back so I just sewed the tube all the way around to the skirt without the peek-a-boo look. Also, I could not get the gathering to work when sewing through 2 layers of knit; my thread kept breaking. I also tried elastic thread and stretched elastic; neither gave me enough gathering to give me the look of the original. Plus once I tried on my top it was way too tight around the belly and a smidge too loose on the bandeau top. The instructions on gathering the sides were not clear enough for me and I could not get it to work out. I realized I needed to tweak the tutorial to get the fit and look I wanted and needed.
First, I put on a tank top that fit well. When I say well I mean it is form fitting and hugs my curves. I bought mine from Old Navy and they are not maternity just one size larger than my regular tank tops. The extra long length enables me to fit them over my belly while still leaving me covered if my pants slip down (which often happens with maternity pants). This tank allowed me to take accurate measurements because I had a seam that went up both sides so I used that to start and stop my measurements. First I measured from one seam to the other around my back at the smallest area (Measurement A). Next measure from one seam to the other around the front at the biggest part of your belly (B). Then, measure from your bra band down the middle of your belly to where you want your top to end (this is the length of your tankini skirt) (C). Next, measure around your bra band all the way around, not from seam to seam (D). Then measure from your bra band up over the biggest part of you breast to where you want the bandeau top to sit (mine was 7'') (E)
Now follow this formula to get your cut measurements:
A - 2'' + 1''= Cut width F
B - 2'' +1''= Cut Width G
C + 4'' = Cut length H (mine was 16'')
D - 5'' + 1'' = Cut width I (mine was 29''-I wanted this part tight since I have a bigger chest and want the support)
E + 3''= Cut length J (I cut mine at 10'' but in hindsight I should have cut it to 9'')
Cut one skirt front F by H, cut one skirt back G by H. Cut two bandeau tops (either one from knit and one from lining or both from knit) I by J.
With RS together, pin short sides of bandeau top together and stitch using zig zag to create circle. Repeat for lining. Fold bandeau in half and measure and mark opposite from seam. Sew basting stitch at this mark and also on the seam and pull thread to gather (gathers with be at center back and center front). Repeat for lining. With RS facing, pin lining and exterior together along top and stitch using zig zag. Turn RS out and pin bottom edge together, set aside.
Pin skirt front to skirt back along sides and sew using zig zag. With RS facing pin skirt to bandeau top with the bandeau seam at the back and stitch using zig zag. Stretch the bandeau to fit the skirt. Stitch in the ditch a basting stitch* on the RS from right below the bandeau top down the side seams of the skirt to the bottom edge and pull to gather as much as you need (it helps to try the top on to see how much gathering you want). Stitch over to secure. Hem bottom as needed.
*It helped me to stitch right next to the ditch on the opposite side of the seam allowance (i.e.: seam allowance was tucked to the right while stitching on the left, see above). The less fabric you have to baste through the easier it is to pull the thread to gather. You can stitch in the ditch to secure the gathers.
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