Before I went on my mini-vacation, I made myself a couple bikinis. Bikini tops have always been a hard fit for me. I have a petite band - about 28", and a comparatively large bust, about 36". Ready to Wear tops never fit tightly under the bust, nor do they provide adequate coverage. So, using the Jasmine Bra Pattern and the Grace Panties Pattern I whipped up a couple bikinis with some minor alterations.
The Jasmine Bra is really easy to alter. First, it is cut in stretch fabrics so the fit is forgiving. Second, there is really only one seam to alter - the side front princess seam. To fit me, I adjust the height and the curve of the cup. Here is an example of how I would adjust the Side Front Pieces to accommodate a large bust:band ratio. For myself, I only added about 1/2" to the total height of the bra, and about 1/2" to the bust apex (the fullest part of the bust). I then blended those extensions into the existing lines. I then did the same to the adjacent Center Front princess seam. Depending on your size, and stretch to the fabric you are using, you might want to add more or less. I wanted a tight fit across the bust to prevent any slipping and to take some weight off the halter ties.
The second alteration I made was to the band. I wanted to use a 1/2" wide hook to fasten the back of my bikini top, so I had to reduce the width of the CB band, as well as add a small extension. To do this, marked on my CB line the width of the hook opening, which was 1/2". I then added Seam Allowance to the top and bottom, and ended up with a band that tapered to 1.5" wide. I also extended the band by 1/2" so I could thread the band through the hook and create a loop on the other side.
I did a few things differently when I sewed the garment. First, I lined the entire thing, including the band with knit lining, which is important for a bikini top - it provides a little more support and prevents the suit from clinging. I also added some gentle ruching to the CF seam. To do this, I flat lined the CF pieces (but do not baste these pieces together!), pressed the Seam Allowance (SA) open, and using pinking shears, trimmed the SA back. Using a wide Zig Zag Stitch, I tacked down a length of elastic, then pulling the elastic, continued applying it over the center front seam, on the inside. The tension of the elastic should create gentle ruching. If you want more exaggerated gathers, run two rows of baste stitches along either side of the seam, pull to gather, then apply the elastic over top of that (not applying tension to the elastic).
|Flatline your CF Pieces, and press your seam open.|
|Add soft ruching with elastic down the CF.|
I wanted a bikini that I wouldn't have to worry about folding over or slipping, so I decided to add plastic boning to the Side Front and Side Seams. This does not really support the bust, but gives the top shape and prevents it from folding down. I stitched the Side Front Seams of my exterior fabric, so that the seam allowance was on the inside (just like you normally would). The lining should be left loose at this point - only attached at the CF.
I had some un-covered plastic bones in my stash. I cut 1.25" strips of swim lining, to use as casings. I wanted to use a casing that would allow my suit to keep stretching. Layering two strips, I stitched the casings on to the inside of the Self (fashion fabric), overtop of the princess seams creating a 1/2" channel, then using pinking shears, trimmed back any excess. I then cut my bones approximately 1" shorter than the length of my opening, maybe even slightly shorter. I rounded the ends with scissors, and inserted it into the casing, between the 1st and 2nd layers of lining. In the photo below, you can see a sample I sewed where I also boned the CF seam. Do not bone the CF seam if you are adding ruching.
|Bone casings are added to the inside of the Self Fabric. Use a double layer of lining to prevent your bones from working through. Do not bone the CF seam if you are adding ruching.|
|Insert your bone into the casing, between the two layers.|
Now that the Side Front Seams are boned, I sewed on the Side Front Lining to the Center Front Lining piece, so that the seam allowance would turn towards the inside and would be completely incased. Once the entire front of the garment was sewn and lined, I stitched on the band at the side seam, treating the self and lining as one. I finished the side seam and then top stitched it down, 1/2" away from the SA, to create a side seam bone casing. I then added a small bone to each side seam. I did not stitch on an interior casing here, because you will already have a lot of bulk, between the Self + Lining of the band, and Self+Lining of the Side Front.
After that, the constructing is pretty straight forward. I added elastic along the top and bottom, stitched on my back hook, and added long, thin halter ties. You could easily add straps, or a wider ties, whatever your heart desires.
Below you can see how nicely this method works... you end up with a boned top that also has fully encased seams.
The bottoms are much more straight forward. I cut a size medium for myself. I fully lined the Center Front and Center Back pieces with knit swim lining. I also added elastic around the leg to prevent it from"creeping" while in the water.
|Here it is at the beach!|