Saturday, June 21, 2014

Swimsuit Surgery

Swimsuit shopping has to be one of the most annoying things ever for women! It takes a wonderful thing, shopping, and totally ruins it! It's so hard to find something in store, that you can actually try on, that actually fits properly. Add in wanting to be modest and an almost 40-year old body and the chances of finding something are practically zero. (My troubles seem to be compounded by wearing a smaller size but not wanting a bikini.)
I was tempted to order something online but decided not to having just had some frustrating experiences with clothes shopping via the internet (great companies with great customer service just not able to find something that fit).

I really needed a second swimsuit top though. I ended up finding a tankini top on sale for $20 at a local department store which is mostly okay. Then I had the thought that I could do some "surgery" on my current top to make it more of what I want, giving me two suits to alternate wearing.

After searching for hours online and not finding many tutorials or help, I decided to put one together myself, just in case you're in the same boat!

So here's the before:
This is my "I can't believe I'm putting this pic on the world wide web". Perhaps it gives you an idea of how frustrated I was trying to figure out how to fix this swimsuit and not wanting anyone else to be as frustrated. 
So you can see, it's not terrible but it's sagging low in the front and has no support whatsoever. It's really a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.
Here's the back... you can see how high the back strap support sits.
 And the non-supportive side view.
 My plan was to take an existing, kind of yucky, old bra that still had decent elastic and sew it into the thin lining of the tankini top. First step was to pin the bra into the top, being sure to only pin it onto the lining and not all the way through the front layer too. Then I carefully (very carefully) tried it on.
After I tried it on and made sure that the cups were sitting in the right place and not peeking out anywhere, I cut off the straps.
I flipped it right-side out and checked again to make sure the bra was not showing anywhere and to be sure it was centered and looked okay.
Pre-sewn version; looks okay.
I flipped it wrong-side out and used my sewing machine to sew the bra onto the lining (regular thread, straight stitch). I just sewed around the edge on the inside of the bra seaming. It was a little thick in places but I didn't have any trouble getting the needle through. As I sewed, I tried to keep the cups formed in a rounded shape because the lining is so stretchy.
The next step was to fix the bra's band size. It was a 36... currently, I wear a 30 (Europe) or a 32 (US) so it didn't really offer much support. I did a really ugly fix and just folded the band over itself and sewed a new seam. I had to do both sides to get the size I needed.
I didn't sew the back band into the suit because I figured it would be easier to fasten that way. (I was right.)
Because I'm short, I figured shortening the back strap of the suit would offer more support. It was pretty easy to use the seam ripper on it, then reattach it lower.
Here's the final result:
It has a slightly higher neckline now and plenty of support. Which means no inadvertent flashing.
The actual pinning and sewing took maybe 20 minutes. The most difficult part was trying it on about 10 times! I hope this helps you make swimsuit wearing a little bit easier. Because it's way more fun to be in the pool or on the beach than worrying about your swimsuit!

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