Olivia Bralette and Knickers as a Swimming Costume

Designer Stitch* has just released the Olivia Bralette and Knickers/Briefs/Panties pattern.  It's an absolutely gorgeous set, and I can see lots of possibilities. But the first that sprang to mind was a swimming costume (we mostly call them 'cossies', but sometimes 'togs' or 'swimmers' in our part of the world).

There are a few things I like in a cossie, easy to take on and off, comfy to wear, secure in the surf and I just love a boyleg cut. And the Olivia meets all these requirements.

To make them 'safe' for swimming I made a few minor adjustments. As a general disclaimer, I'm no expert in sewing swimwear. I've made a few pairs of cossies for my daughter, and one for me. So I've picked up a little bit of knowledge, but only enough to know that there's a lot I don't know. And I didn't make these for swimming laps in the local pool. More for having a bit of a splash with the kids, then reading a book on the sand. Although I did wear them in the surf and they were (mostly) OK.

To start, I recommend making a toile out of some suitable fabric (such as cotton lycra). I made a few adjustments to the height of the waist, and it took a while to find my favourite leg cut (there are quite a few options in the pattern). And I'm still adjusting the cups a little on subsequent bralettes for a closer fit (have a look here for my lingerie version). If you're using a very stable knit with lots of recovery, then you may need to go up a size, but mine was fine in my measured size.

I used a swim fabric that I had in my stash. It was a one metre cut from The Remnant Warehouse. I also had 10mm swim elastic, and 20mm fold over elastic - both a little wider than the pattern recommends, but they worked OK. Not sure how well the FOE will hold up with exposure to chlorine and salt water, but we'll see.

First, I used swim lining in the gusset. The gusset construction is my favourite technique for gussets, gives a great finish, and lends itself well to the lining.

As I was using a light coloured fabric I also lined the front of the bottoms. I wasn't sure how see-through it would be when wet, and didn't want to find out in public. I cut a second front piece out of my swim lining, and treated the two pieces as one, basting them together around the leg holes and waist.

I lowered the waist height by close to 2 inches (personal preference), and adjusted the length of the waist elastic accordingly.

Rather than use exposed picot lingerie elastic, I used swim elastic around the leg holes and waist. Sewing it to the wrong side first, then folding the fabric round the elastic to the wrong side and stitching in place with a twin needle.

Aside from all that, the bottoms were constructed as per the pattern. No changes in sewing steps etc.

When it came to the top, I wanted to have a cup insert so that it would be more suited for wear in public (no nipple bumps). In order to do that, I sewed a set of cups in the main fabric, and then in the lining, and basted the main and lining together to start treating them as one piece.  Except, when it came to sewing the side seams, I pulled the lining away from the main at the middle of the seam, so a hole was formed to allow the cups to be put in and out.

One of the cup liners did manage to fold over on itself in the surf (it was rather rough, and I had swum out past

the breakers). So I'm considering hand tacking them to the lining at the corners. Or I'll see if I can find some from an old sports bra that are a bit thicker and less likely to shift about.

The rest of the bralette was left unlined. Rather than use lingerie strapping for the straps, I folded my FOE elastic in half and zigzag stitched it shut, then with the help of my husband, sewed the straps in place.

So that's it, my swim version of Olivia. As I've mentioned, it's been great at the beach, and I've also worn it in a pool - so far so good - and I was complimented on it by friends (hooray!).  I have also made a lingerie set (another sneak peek here). And I have plans to make some in comfy cotton lycra to wear when I've showered in the evening, and it's just a little to early to go braless in my jammies (comfy bralettes FTW).

You can grab the pattern from Designer Stitch.  It is on sale for release, so if you want the cheaper price, don't delay.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself. I received a copy of the pattern for the purposes of testing. All sewing and opinions are my own.


Popular Posts