Monday, October 31, 2011

Colour Block Bikini pattern details

Here we have all the extra bits of information that you might need to get started on your colour block bikini...hmmmm, beachy, summer weather is not too far away ...

Related Posts:
psst: don't have your pattern printed out yet?  Go here to get it.

Pattern # 12011

Pattern description:  Halter style bikini with colour block detailing.  The halter bikini top has a flattering neckline, wide neck strap, moderate coverage and an adjustable drawstring underbust tie.  The bikini bottoms are low slung with full coverage in the back.  The halter and bottoms are fully lined.

Fabric Requirements: swimwear fabrics with stretch in both the vertical and horizontal direction, such as nylon spandex; swimwear lining.  Both lining and fashion fabrics should have 75% stretch.  This means that 10 cm (4") of fabric should stretch to 17.5 cm (7").  When testing the stretchiness of your fabric, use a folded edge of fabric rather than a cut edge.
  • main colour (lower stripe of halter, centre panel of bottoms): 0.6 m (5/8 yard)
  • contrast 1 (halter straps, upper stripe of halter, outer panel of bottoms): 0.5 m (5/8 yard)
  • contrast 2 (middles strips of halter, middle panel of bottoms): 0.2 m (1/4 yard)
  • lining: 0.6 m (5/8 yard)
(note: you could use 0.3 m (3/8 yard) of contrast 1 if you want to cut the neck straps on the cross grain)

  • 3.5 m  (3 7/8 yards) of 10 mm (3/8") swimwear elastic
  • polyester thread
  • stretch or ball point sewing machine needle

Sizing Chart:

Size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Bust (cm) 76 80 84 88 92 96 100
Hips (cm) 81 85 89 93 97 101 105


Bust (inches) 29 7/8 31 1/2 33 1/8 34 5/8 36 1/4 37 3/4 39 3/8
Hips (inches) 31 7/8 33 1/2 35    36 5/8 38 1/4 39 3/4 41 3/8

Elastic Chart:


Cut 2Cut 2Cut 1Cut 2Cut 1
627.0 cm27.4 cm68.6 cm49.7 cm140.0 cm276.9 cm
827.9 cm28.5 cm71.6 cm51.6 cm140.0 cm287.6 cm
1028.9 cm29.6 cm74.7 cm53.6 cm140.0 cm298.8 cm
1229.9 cm30.7 cm78.0 cm55.6 cm140.0 cm310.4 cm
1431.0 cm31.8 cm81.4 cm57.7 cm140.0 cm322.5 cm
1632.1 cm33.0 cm85.0 cm59.9 cm140.0 cm335.0 cm
1833.2 cm34.3 cm88.7 cm62.2 cm140.0 cm348.1 cm


Size Neckline Armhole Waist Legs Tie Total
Cut 2 Cut 2 Cut 1 Cut 2 Cut 1
inches inches inches inches inches yard
6 10 5/8 10 3/4 27    19 5/8 55 1/8 3   
8 11    11 1/4 28 1/8 20 3/8 55 1/8 3 1/8
10 11 3/8 11 5/8 29 3/8 21 1/8 55 1/8 3 1/4
12 11 3/4 12 1/8 30 3/4 21 7/8 55 1/8 3 3/8
14 12 1/4 12 1/2 32    22 3/4 55 1/8 3 1/2
16 12 5/8 13    33 1/2 23 5/8 55 1/8 3 5/8
18 13 1/8 13 1/2 34 7/8 24 1/2 55 1/8 3 3/4


Print out the pattern and tape or glue the sheets of paper together.

Choose your halter size based on the bust measurement (pieces 4, 5, 6, 7, 9).  Choose your bottoms size based on the hip measurement (pieces 1, 2, 3, 8).

Cut out the pattern pieces.  Cut away the pattern lines.  Each piece comes in sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 & 18.  Not all sizes are marked on the smaller pieces, but sizes 6, 12 and 18 are marked.  If you are between these sizes, just count out the number of lines to get to your size.  

Cut the following pieces in fabric.  Arrows on the pattern pieces indicate lengthwise grain.

  • 1 x piece 1 on fold
  • 2 x piece 6
  • 4 cm strip (1 1/2") across the width of the fabric, for the tie strap
-          Contrast 1
  • 4 x piece 7
  • 2 x piece 3
  • 2 x piece 4
Contrast 2
  • 2 x piece 2
  • 2 x piece 5
  • 1 x piece 8 on fold
  • 2 x piece 9

Hem and Seam Allowances:  Seam allowances are 10 mm (3/8 "), unless otherwise stated.  Elastic allowance is 10 mm (3/8").  Casing on halter top is 15 mm (5/8")

My next post will be a tutorial on making up this colour block bikini pattern.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Colour Block Bikini Pattern

Are you getting ready to make this bikini pattern?  Are you planning your favourite colour combos?  Today I am giving you the pattern, in sizes 6 - 18.  In a later post, I will list fabric requirements, notions etc and the size chart.  After that I will show you how easy it is to make them.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  First, the pattern.

(note: the first page of the downloads are blank, so don't panic when you can't see anything.  Just scroll down to the second page)

Pattern #: 12011

Download pattern suitable for printing on A4 paper. from Scribd

Download pattern suitable for printing on letter paper. from Scribd

Link to pattern on A4 paper  in google docs
Link to pattern on letter paper in google docs

The downloaded files contain 17 pages.  Discard the first page, which is blank.  Assemble pages 2 - 17 in a 4 x 4 block (pages 2,3,4,5 across the top row, pages 6,7,8,9 in the second row etc).  Note that pages 13 and 17 are blank.  Your pattern should look like this:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coming soon...

Pattern and tutorial for a colour block, halter style bikini.  A fun swimsuit for summer!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sewing swimwear spaghetti straps using domestic sewing machines

I love sewing swimwear, but it has taken me a bit of practice to get good results.  I wanted to write some tutorials so that you can get better results without having to practice as much as I did.  This tutorial shows some of the ways you can make swimwear straps using domestic sewing machines.  You want to end up with a neat strap that doesn't pop its stitches when stretched.

I cut strips of lycra across the width of fabric, using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler.  I find that using a rotary cutter and ruler give me a more even cutting width than by using scissors.  For all of the straps below, I have used powdered, rubber elastic, width 6 mm (sourced here).

(5 methods will be shown)

Method 1: Wrap around, sewing machine

For this method, cut the strip of fabric 3 x elastic width, taking into account the thickness of the elastic.  My elastic is 6 mm wide and 1 mm thick, so I have used 3 x (1+6) = 21 mm strap width.

Sew the elastic to one edge of the fabric using a 3-step zig-zag stitch.  If you don't know what a 3-step zig-zag is, click on the photo below.  You can also see that I have used a stitch width of 4 and a length just below 2.

I have used a ribbon foot to guide the elastic.  You do not need this, it just helps me keep the elastic straight.  You may have another foot with a guide to keep both the elastic and fabric straight.

 This is what is looks like after the elastic is attached.

Wrap the fabric around the elastic and stitch again, using a plain zig-zag stitch.  I have used a width and length of about 3.

Here you can see both sides of the finished strap.   The strap is flat.  You could use a twin needle or a cover stitch machine for the second pass of stitching if you prefer.

Method 2:  Wrap around, overlocker + sewing machine

This method is essentially the same as above, except that the first pass is done on an overlocker.

When attaching elastic to lycra, I usually lengthen the stitch on my overlocker to its longest setting.

On the advice of my sewing machine mechanic, I thread the needle thread through the left most tension dial, for 3-thread overlocking, even if I am using the right needle position.

For this method, I cut the fabric wider than I need, and trim it later.  I do this because I tend to have less control with the overlocker than the sewing machine, and am not as consistent with my sewing position.  I have cut a fabric with of 30 mm for 6 mm wide elastic.

First I use the overlocker to attach the elastic to one side of the fabric.  Because I have used a wider fabric than I need, it doesn't matter if the overlocker trims the fabric a little.  You do not want the overlocker to cut the elastic.

You can see that I stretched the elastic a little as I applied it.

 I then wrap the fabric around the elastic and stitch it down using a zig-zag stitch (length 3, width 3) on a regular sewing machine.  You could use a twin needle or a cover stitch machine for this second pass of stitching if you prefer.

Here is a photo of the stitched strap.

 It is fairly easy to trim the excess fabric away neatly.

Completed strap. Again, quite a flat strap.

Method 3:  Tubular strap, sewing machine

For this method, the fabric is cut at least 5 mm wider than 2 x elastic width.  I have used a fabric width of 25 mm for 6 mm elastic.

Fold the fabric strip in half, right sides together.  Align the elastic a little to the right of the fold.   If you align it right on the fold, the tube will not be wide enough.  The distance away from the fold should be equal to the width of stitching into the elastic, but a couple of millimetres will do if you are not sure.

Use a zig-zag stitch to stitch down the right edge of the elastic.  You want to catch the elastic in the left swing of the zig-zag but go off the edge of the elastic in the right swing of the zig-zag.  I used a width of 3 and a length of 3, but I recommend closer stitching, as you will see later.

Make a snip in the folded edge of the elastic, about 1 cm from the end of the tube.

Slide a bobby pin over this end of the tube and then into the tube to turn through.

Completed tube.  This part looks okay but...

Some of the stitches popped when I was turning the tube.

You can tie a knot to neaten the end of the strap.

 I repeated this method, using a zig-zag stitch length of 2.

This results in a beautiful strap with no popped stitches.  The seam line sits in from the edge of the strap, so the strap does not sit perfectly flat. If you look at the straps of commercially produced swimwear, you will see this same effect, so don't worry about it.  These types of straps are often used as ties on bikinis.

Method 4:  Tubular strap, overlocker

This method is similar to method 3 above, only using an overlocker.

I found I did not have as much control as using a sewing machine.

The fabric and lycra slipped around, making it hard to keep a consistent distance from the folded edge.

The final result looked okay though.  Of course it would look better with matching thread.

Method 5:  Plaited strap.

Some days you just can't get the results you want.  Your machine may not be feeling friendly.  Some elastics don't behave nicely.  Perhaps you have broken your last stretch needle?  Well, don't despair.  You can make pretty straps without a sewing machine.

Cut 3 strips of fabric, each 1 cm wide.  They don't have to be contrasting colours.  You can use a printed fabric.

Knot the strips together.  Secure the knot in position.  I usually open a desk  or kitchen drawer, put the knot inside and close the drawer again to secure.  Plait away.  The strips tend to curl, so if you are using a printed fabric, try to get the fabric to curl inwards so that all the colour shows in the plait.

Finished strap.  I started with 50 cm lengths.  The final strap was just longer than 50 cm, so the fabric must have stretched whilst I was plaiting it.  The final strap still has good stretch and recovery, though perhaps not quite as good as the elastic straps above.

My favourite methods are 2&3 as these give me the neatest results for the least hassle.  I would choose between 2 and 3 depending on the use for the strap.