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DixieDIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 3: Cutting

Wow guys, my bad. I realize it’s Saturday and not Friday so I’m a day late on the next sew-along post. Oh, well, I just gave you an extra day in case you were waiting for fabric in the mail or something like that…

Anyway – onward!

(If you’re just joining us be sure to read Pt 1: Supplies)

Picking a Size

Swimwear and activewear patterns have this strange phenomenon called “negative ease” which is a fancy way of saying your body has to fill out the garment rather than hanging loosely on your body like, say, a t-shirt. So the final measurements of the swimsuit will be slightly smaller than your body measurements.

The pattern comes in five sizes, XS-XL and in my experience Kwik Sew sizing is pretty accurate. I’d say pick the size closest to your measurements. If you are smack dab right in the middle of two sizes you can cut in between those sizes on the pattern pieces. That might be easier to deal with than having a slightly too big or two small suit later if you go up or down a size.

One change I’ll make this time –  I’ll need to lengthen the body of the suit by about 1/2″. The pattern gives you lengthen and shorten lines on almost all the pieces. Compare your shoulder to waist measurement to what’s listed on the envelope if you think you might need to do this adjustment. I’m adding 1/4″ to both the higher line and lower line.

If you need to do an FBA, you can! Snug Bug’s tutorial is great because the bust piece is a similar design to the front bodice piece in our swimsuit. Just bear in mind that because of that “negative ease” thing, you won’t need to add as much to your FBA as you normally would. Try adding 1/2″ less in the length and width. They idea is the same (yet opposite) for SBAs. Here’s another tutorial from Lazy Stitching for a gathered, under the bust, empire style pattern piece which is similar to our swimsuit piece. You’ll end up with more fabric to gather at the bottom seam.

Cutting the Fabric

I don’t pre-wash my fabric because it tends to curl at the edges and becomes unruly. Since your fabric doesn’t have natural fibers it won’t shrink much, anyway. If you have to iron use a low setting and a press cloth.

The pattern pieces usually have two lines drawn labeled “Grain of Fabric” and “Greatest Degree of Stretch.”


The GDoS is usually on the cross grain for most knits. The fabric rquirements state that you need a 2-way stretch fabric with 75% stretch. (There’s a guide on the back envelope flap to use). My fabric is four way stretch (common for swim fabrics) which is totally fine for this pattern

Remember that for knits the front side has predominately vertical ridges and the back has horizontal. The selvedges may curl towards the back.

If you remember from the Never Fear Knits sew-along it’s best to use pattern weights and a rotary cutter and mat to cut out pieces to prevent the fabric from stretching with shears. If it helps you can trace a full size piece for the front lining rather than placing it on the fold.

Now I’ve cut out my pieces and I’m ready for stitching!

In the next installment we’ll work on piecing together the lower, gathered part of the suit.

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

Comments (11) for post “DixieDIY’s Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 3: Cutting”

  • Even though it’s winter here all your swimsuit-related posts have been really tempting me to try sewing my own… I’ll definitely come back to follow your tutorials when the weather heats up for us!

  • I cried this weekend. REAL TEARS. My suit almost killed me. I did a gather up the back and then zig zagged stitched it together but the damn thing would not stay gathered despite me seam ripping and redoing it 3 times. And then I remembered you saying something about “clear elastic” in your list of supplies and then I thought maybe I was supposed to sew the gather to the elastic? What say you Swimsuit Sensei?

    • Yeah, unless the gathers are attached to a seam (giving it some stabilization) you’ll need to do elastic to kind of “hold it together” otherwise the gathers will just stretch back out. Good luck!

  • I sewed my first version of this in October 2011 and struggled with the FBA. So glad you’ve posted this since; I’m making some new suits for an upcoming cruise and my old suits are too worn to be of much help LOL.

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