I was super excited to see that the North Shore Swimsuit is one of the GreenStyle patterns of the month (which means it’s on sale through July 2019). I’ve been wanting to try the pattern ever since I decided that this is the summer of swimwear sewing. It is a classic pattern with options for a monokini, or two piece with a deep V or full coverage front, and a halter or U back, in pullover, tie-back, or S-hook closure. The bottoms can be scoop, low, mid, or high rise. Whew! And you can mix and match the options for an entire wardrobe of swimwear. If you are completely new to sewing swimwear, there is a great video tutorial series for the GreenStyle North Shore on YouTube, linked here.
For my first version I went with a mid-rise bottom, and a deep-V full cup front with the S-hook U-back. It turned out great, and is a classic two piece that looks like RTW. Using Tricot as the main fabric was a no-brainer, as it is a classic swimwear fabric that can withstand lots of use. As always when sewing a swim top, all of the top pieces were cut out of the Tricot, high quality powernet for support, and swim lining. For the bottoms, I used powernet in the front only. It adds a little bit of tummy control, without giving a “muffin top”.
Basting the powernet to your swim fabric makes sewing so much easier. I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I can keep multiple layers lined up without basting and a bunch of pins! The pattern has an elastic chart that makes adding the elastic easy, especially if you are new to swimwear sewing and not yet comfortable with just sewing it on by feel. Definitely follow the directions about sewing the elastic around the legs. The extra stretch in the back keeps the bottoms sitting properly on your bum, rather than riding up uncomfortably!
Since the first version turned out so well, I decided to have some fun with the pattern, and turn it into a strappy bikini. I folded down both sides of the deep-V full cup front, shaping it into a curvy triangle. I used the halter S-hook back, and cut both pattern pieces out in my nylon spandex fabric, swim lining, and powernet.
Baste the powernet to the main fabric, and sew the front and back together at the side seam. Sew the lining front and back together at the side seam. Lay the lining on the main fabric wrong sides together and baste. Knowing that “triangle style tops” don’t normally have a whole lot of support, you need to add support by stretching the elastic tighter to help the top hug your body.
To figure your elastic lengths, measure along the front edge from the top of your triangle down to the center front. Subtract 3/4″, (because you don’t want elastic in the 3/8″ seam allowances) then multiply by .75. Exercise your swim elastic before measuring to that length. Rather than cutting the elastic, just use a pencil to mark your line. This makes it easier to hold on to the elastic and stretch it while you are sewing. Use a zig-zag stitch to sew your elastic to the center front, starting 3/8″ from the top, and stretching the elastic so that the marked point ends 3/8″ from the bottom of the center front. Then repeat the process to measure from the top of your triangle, down under the armscye to the end of the back piece. Again subtracting the 3/4″ for the seam allowances and multiplying by .75. Mark the elastic, start sewing 3/8″ from the edge, stretching the elastic to fit and zig-zag, stopping 3/8″ from the other end.
Then fold the edges under enclosing the elastic, clipping it in place. Topstitch with your zig zag set at 2.5 length and 3.0 width. The elastic will want to curl up a bit until it is topstitched down.
Then add the underbust band and elastic, and sew on the S-hook as per the pattern tutorial. Because my bust is apparently more close set than average, I overlap my front pieces 1-1/2″ before attaching to the band. You may or may not want to overlap depending upon the shape of your bustline.
Now it’s time to make some strappy straps! Cut two strips of fabric 1-1/2″ wide by 16″ long. Fold them in half, right sides together and clip in place. Lay your 3/8″ clear elastic (you can use cotton swim elastic, but the clear elastic makes flatter straps and is listed as chlorine safe) along the cut edge, and carefully zig zag so that your zig goes just off the edge of the elastic and into the center of the fabric, and the zag is completely on the elastic. Once the strap is completely sewn with the elastic, use a safety pin to turn it right side out.
Baste or pin the straps in place, and try on for fit. On the back, my straps are stitched in place 1-1/2″ from the S-hook. You may need to cut some length off the straps in order to pull the front up to where it is comfortable. But better to have extra strap length to cut off, than to have too short of straps!
Since I made a sexy top, I decided to make the bottoms a little sexier by cutting them about halfway between mid-rise and scoop bottom. To finish the top of the bottoms, I zig-zagged elastic along the top edge at a 1:1 ratio to keep the top snug, but not tight. Top stitch just like you do the elastic around the legs or swim top. The scoop shaping is flattering and comfortable, even on a 50+ year old Grandma! 🙂 At least my husband certainly thinks so! 😉
While I probably wouldn’t run in this bikini, let’s be honest- I don’t run! (Hence the jiggly bits that would make me feel uncomfortable while running.) Hahaha! But I definitely feel comfortable and supported while walking the beach and playing in the waves.
All of my fabric came from Phee Fabrics, the Tricot, powernet, and swim lining, as did the matte palm nylon spandex print. Sadly, this particular print is no longer available, which is why I’ve been hoarding it, and was so excited to play with this pattern. There are however, so many pretty colors of Tricot and a couple of stripe prints to choose from.
Never be afraid to try hacking a pattern! Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly like you envisioned, you always learn something from the experience. I’m contemplating double straps next, maybe criss-crossing a set. It’s another opportunity to add a pop of color and create a new look. It’s just sew much fun to play with patterns! 😉
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