Morning to all of my friends at the CSC! Today, I present to you my second version of the Nautilus Swimsuit by SeamstressErin.
I am really happy with how this suit turned out, AND I managed to install an underwire bra into the suit. I have been hoarding this fabric–a ribbed swimsuit knit that’s the color of a shiny new penny–for a few years, waiting for my perfect swimsuit pattern. I’ve finally found it in the Nautilus! Once again, I used a nude-coloured power net to line the suit. In the bulk of this post, I’ll show you a mini-tutorial on how to add the bra into this pattern, if you’re interested.
I will start with the changes I made to the pattern, based on my first swimsuit:
- Added 1″ length to both the front and back, along the lengthen lines on the pattern.
- Added 1″ to the centre of the top of the back of the suit tapering to nothing at the side seam. I wanted the back of the suit to be a bit higher.
- Added an underwire bra to the inside of the suit.
The underwire bra was, obviously, the biggest change here. The method I used was taken from another bathing suit pattern, from Beverly Johnson of Pinup Girls. This method involves cannibalizing an existing underwire bra, which is inserted into the swimsuit pattern. You can either use a cheap bra that fits well, or construct the front cups from a bra pattern you already love.
First up, I tested the method using a scrap piece of lining. I not only wanted to make sure it worked with the pattern, but gauge what size bust alterations were necessary. I took a remnant of fabric and marked an X, with legs of one inch each, where I wanted my bra cups to sit. (If you have a larger bustline, your X will need to be a bit bigger to accommodate your larger bra cups.)
Next, I cut along each line of my X, to accommodate the addition of a bra cup.
I then pushed a tester bra cup through the hole and pinned it into place. Voila! It worked!
After finding the correct size marking, I proceeded with the top of the suit until the directions for cup installation. I then found a bra in my drawer that had uncomfortable tiny elastic bra straps, but that fit me quite well. I cut off the straps and the band, then cut the centre cups apart. Be careful not to cut the underwire channelling.
Next, mark your X in the center of the swimsuit lining bust, then cut the lining like in the test. Be careful not to cut the fashion fabric, only the lining!
Once you’ve cut your X in the lining, push your bra cups through the x. This will spread the lining over your bra cups, which we’ll then secure down. We’re essentially making this existing bra part of our swimsuit lining. Here’s a finished picture, to help visualize this:
Notice how I’ve pushed the bra cup through the power mesh, but left the fashion fabric free.
In our next steps, we’ll attach that lining mesh to our bra cups.
Once you’ve pushed your bra through and pinned it in place, use a zigzag stitch around the inside of the cups to secure your bra to the lining. You’ll have to stop and start a few times, as the underwires gets in the way, but take it slow and steady around the lining fabric and the bra cup. Again, be careful not to get the fashion fabric caught up in the stitching.
When you’ve finished, your bra cups will look like the ones below. See that nice ring of zig-zag stitching, which keeps our cups attached to the lining? If you’d like, you can use a zipper foot while stitching to get even closer to the channeling than I did.
Once you’ve finished both cups, take a peek and see the beauty of what you have done. Voila! A swimsuit pattern that you really like, complete with the support of an underwire bra. After wearing this to the pool, I also further added to the support of this suit by using a small piece of duoplex (a bra making fabric) to reform a bridge at the center front. This keeps the bra cups from moving outward, with activity.
Now that I’ve added these cups and made a few fit alterations, I am very happy with the suit and how it fits my body.
A Note on Straps for the Large-Busted
I do have a further bust fitting caveat. The straps have been made according to the pattern: double fashion fabric and no lining. This means the straps stretch! My girls are not really heavy in nature, so this still works for me, but if you have heavy breasts and need “hoist” this will not work. You will need to change the nature of the straps to make them non-stretchy. Based on my own adventures in bra-making, I would recommend adding a third layer of duplex. A plain lightweight poly cotton would also work, in a pinch, but be sure to test any fabric you use in a swimsuit. You want a non-stretchy stabilizing layer that won’t disintegrate, when exposed to chlorine!
In my mind, the easy addition of underwire bra cups elevates this pattern to a 5/5. The only thing that could bring it down would be the rating for intermediate sewers. A pure beginner sewist would find it difficult. If you are a real beginner with a bit of moxie and want to give it a try, however, go for it! Get the help you will need by following along with the sew along.