[UPDATE: Wore this baby several times on vacation in 2013 and it was AWESOME – fit amazingly and looked dang good. Only thing I would change is the back closure – a sturdy hook and eye panel using something like Dritz Hooks & Eyes Nickel Size 2 would work WAY better than those clips. Something to keep in mind. Thanks for visiting!]
[UPDATE 2: I did make bikini bottoms but took zero pictures like the professional that I 100% am not. They’re really easy though. Take a plain, well-fitting pair of underwear, cut it at the seams to make a “pattern” of sorts. Cut and assemble the pattern with stretchy material. Viola! I added a contrasting color waistband so those suckers would stay on my butt. If i ever make another pair I PROMISE that I will update this post with a tutorial on bottoms. Until then, just use that favorite pair of undies you’ve been holding on to for way too long… You know you have a pair of those.]
Disclaimer: I have never worn a bikini in my ENTIRE LIFE before this one.
“The Well-Endowed” would be me. FYI. What was once a minor issue of “maybe I should look at something with support” has now (after 15 years with these things) evolved into an elaborate system of wire, straps, containers, and gym workouts designed specifically to slow the vicious (viscous) creep of age. Also, my bubbilies are larger, proportionally, than the rest of my body. While this is great news for hiding weight gain, it causes problems when I shop for clothes.
Enter swimwear, the holy grail of my shopping quests. I don’t even try shopping in stores for tops anymore, but swimwear is impossible to find anywhere! Bravissimo (a UK-based company) has an AWESOME selection – I even went so far as to try an order – but my VISA card was confounded by the overseas purchase so it didn’t work out.
After trying several States-side companies like Victoria’s Secret, Land’s End, and Soma with no success, I went on the hunt for a DIY option (via Pinterest, the coolest site in my LIFE right now) and found a fantastic (simple) tutorial from Tasha Delrae on how to re-purpose a bra top into a bikini. It works because most bras are made from synthetic materials that actually have no issues with getting wet (unlike the devil cloth – cotton).
I had to change several things (I suspect Tasha’s endowment isn’t quite as generous as mine) and thought I’d share the awesomeness. I am SO HAPPY with this project. I have this incredible bikini top that actually covers the bubbilies and it is INSANELY comfortable because I was able to make large, weight-distributing straps instead of relying on flesh-cutting spaghetti straps.
Oh so good. I can’t wait to share with all my well-endowed friends and relatives.
- Go guy a cheap synthetic bra from Wally World. (Don’t buy an all cotton t-shirt bra – it doesn’t like water.)
- Cut out enough fabric to fully cover both cups with some fabric to spare. (When you’re buying fabric, I recommend a full yard. I went with a 1/2 yard and ran out of fabric for the bottoms. More on that later.)
- Pin around the underwire. I started on the outside and worked my way in.
- Cut off the straps before you pin the top — I parted ways with Tasha for this bit (below).
- Use the first strap as a template for cutting off the other one. So things are even. Because when they’re giant cuts, you kinda notice uneven.
- Pin the top OVER the edge of the bra.
- Sew the top the same way you pinned it, making sure you’re catching fabric on the front and backside for a “finished” look. (You can see steps 3-4 on the Tasha Delrae tutorial if you need a pic.)
- At the bottom, fold up what fabric you can right at the southernmost point and try to catch it as you sew along the underwire line.
Another bit glossed over in the original tutorial that I spent some serious time on was the middle gather. Tasha’s tutorial uses a smaller cup size, so the gathers were not so… numerous. Here’s how I managed them.
- Pin all the gathers together in a pattern you like. This took some time for me because there were many folds.
- Sew up the center to “fix” the fold pattern. I hand-sewed but you do what you want.
- Create a fabric tube a bit wider than the widest point of that center gather-area.
- Wrap around to measure how much length you’re going to need.
- Sew in place. Again, I handsewed. I think you kind of have to for this step. I also spent some time adding some well-placed single stiches on the back so that center bit would stay put.
- Trace out the two sides of the body strap on some paper and then use that as a guide for cutting fabric. If you want a tie-back bikini, extend the length of the fabric substantially.
- Cut off the existing fasteners. Pin swimsuit fabric side straps over the existing side straps, making sure to pin both over and under (front and back) for a “finished” look.
- Fold the front end (closest to cups) under and pin in place. I started my side straps a little before the underwire for a bit of added support on the fasteners. If you’re not as concerned with support, move that start line back a little and save yourself the trouble of navigating around underwire.
- Sew it all in place. If you’re doing a tie-back (like Tasha), finish all four sides with a seam. If you’re adding clasps (like me), leave that far seam alone and read on.
I can’t do tie-backs because they cut deep into my skin, making me an unhappy beach bather and a cranky post-bather. Also because the halter tops hurt my neck.
- Try on and mark a good, slightly stretched, length for the body straps. Use that as a reference point for how long your loops should be. (For mine, the end point is indicated by the white line – I did some significant folding back before I added the fastener loops.)
- From a fabric tube the width of the plastic fasteners, make two loops and sew on. I gave mine several seams for sturdiness.
- On the other side, slip on the plastic fasteners before sewing on the loops.
- Try on before continuing. The whole shebang should stay on/up at this point. If it doesn’t, it must be tighter!!
I knew I was going to do fully attached straps even before I began the project, because of the aforementioned aversion to flesh-cutting tie-back straps. I ended up doing a cross-back strap situation for some added support, which worked out really well. Part of what I love about this DIY thingy is that I can make WIDE straps. Oh so nice.
- Using a fabric tube with a width made to your comfort and at LEAST as long as your bra strap (that you cut off a while ago), sew on to the body strap.
- Multiple stitches right now. The back seam isn’t going to change, so might as well make it solid.
- Try on and, while you’re wearing your almost-complete creation, pin straps into place on the front. This ensures evenness, and also ensures that you’re taking advantage of the stretch.
- Follow the top seam if you like. I did that and then did another seam for added sturdiness.
This thing looks DANG GOOD on my body. I’m tempted to try to make at least one more before we go. It did take several days to finish so it’s not a “quick” project. However, it was like a 3-4 day thing, working on it in the evenings. So it didn’t take too long.
Also it is INSANELY COMFORTABLE. Fellow well-endowed ladies, believe me when I say that wearing a two piece need not be an exercise in misery. I plan on wearing this thing around everywhere on vacation, whether or not water is nearby.
Good luck! And let me know if you try this, or how it goes.
Other DIY stuff: