DIY Bikini Top for the Well-Endowed

[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 anywhereBravissimo (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.

photo a

  1. Go guy a cheap synthetic bra from Wally World. (Don’t buy an all cotton t-shirt bra – it doesn’t like water.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Pin around the underwire. I started on the outside and worked my way in.
  4. Cut off the straps before you pin the top — I parted ways with Tasha for this bit (below).

photo b
The tutorial I was following was just like “cut ’em off!” but I’m dealing with some heavy duty straps.

  1. 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.
  2. Pin the top OVER the edge of the bra.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

photo c
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.

  1. Pin all the gathers together in a pattern you like. This took some time for me because there were many folds.
  2. Sew up the center to “fix” the fold pattern. I hand-sewed but you do what you want.
  3. Create a fabric tube a bit wider than the widest point of that center gather-area.
  4. Wrap around to measure how much length you’re going to need.
  5. 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.

photo d
For the first part of the body strap I followed Tasha’s lead.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

photo e
The last two pictures involve many try-ons because they determine the fit of the body strap and the shoulder straps. If you’re doing tie-back straps you can skip it and just make all straps long.

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.

  1. 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.)
  2. From a fabric tube the width of the plastic fasteners, make two loops and sew on. I gave mine several seams for sturdiness.
  3. On the other side, slip on the plastic fasteners before sewing on the loops.
  4. Try on before continuing. The whole shebang should stay on/up at this point. If it doesn’t, it must be tighter!!

photo f
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.

  1. 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.
  2. Multiple stitches right now. The back seam isn’t going to change, so might as well make it solid.
  3. 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.
  4. Follow the top seam if you like. I did that and then did another seam for added sturdiness.

photo g
WhaaaaT?! You’re done.

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:
Homemade Bagels (from scratch)
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
Convert a Cheap WalMart Bike into A Badass Cruiser

 

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72 thoughts on “DIY Bikini Top for the Well-Endowed”

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! I made a beautiful red bikini top. I was at the beach from 12-7 in it yesterday. I did not slip any nip in the Huntington Beach surf. I ran in the sand- my “bubbilies” stayed put. My neck didn’t hurt. Quite simply the most comfortable beach day since puberty! And I got compliments from people who did not know my top was my creation.

  2. I HOPE YOU FIND MONEY ON THE GROUND OR FORGOTTEN IN A POCKET SOON.
    I work at a rather nice gym, so I’ve lost a lot of weight… except in my 36Gs. By May they’ll be the same cup but smaller band size. I can find kind of what I’m looking for online, but at almost 100 bucks a pop? Yeah no. My inner designer kept cringing at what was available too. I need something that says ‘I’m a comic book villain on the weekends.’ not ‘This is just a bra. Really. That’s it.’
    I don’t know why I didn’t think of getting cups from walmart, but it’s brilliant. I’m gonna be the most BadA** looking bikini girl at the pool! Might even attempt removable straps for sunbathing.

  3. This tutorial is exactly what I need. Even though I am super jealous you have the option of buying a bra at wally world. Even at specialty bra stores they have to order my size. I have found ebay to be a cheaper place to find my size, which is 32-34i. Finding a bikini top is impossible and one pieces never fit my body either since I also have a larger bottom. It will be nice to have a top that I am not worried about falling out of and more modest for a mom.

  4. Great idea! Considering walls world may not carry my size in a decent bra, I’m thinking of using an old one that is warn enough to be recycled but not bad enough to toss yet. Will definitely try.

    1. Good luck! Remember all you need from Wally World is cups – all the straps get redone so band size that fits isn’t really an issue. Hope it goes well for you!

  5. Really great tutorial. But I wanted to let you in on my bathing suit heaven. It’s in Marathon in the Florida Keys and it’s called http://www.lionslairdesigns.com

    They have a HUGE variety of swimwear for us with more endowment. I love the Freya line personally.

    Ok well thanks for the tutorial!

  6. LOVE THIS! Pinterest is the best for finding just what we need. LOL

    I’ll be working on some this winter so they will be perfect by swim season.
    My bubblies are huge too, even after a reduction. (They came back with a vengeance but the 38HHH went to far and I needed bigger, just couldn’t find them here at that time.)
    So this is perfect! I can have a pretty one that will fit perfect.

    One tip I have is you can buy the cups at sewing supply stores for those not wanting to cut up a pricy bra and can’t find a cheap one. Just use the measurements from a fav good fitting bra along with the bought cups. You may find making your own bras awesome as well. 😉

    Thank you do much for the info.

    BTW, we should do a #sundriedbikini on socile media so we can see what everyone made. 😉

  7. Not only am I impressed with the tute, but just relieved to see that I’m not alone in this whole swimsuit top issue. I have a couple of suggestions per the other commenters. ROSS and TJMaxx type stores sell $40 bras for about $7. It’s the only place I buy bras, ever. Really good bras. Some people might not be confident enough in their sewing skills to chop up a $40 bra, so this could make it more comfortable for the initial experiment.

    The other suggestion is for the questions about fabric type. JoAnn’s sells fabric called swim/dancewear fabric. It has 4-way stretch. If you’re unsure about the fabric, pull it both lengthwise and crosswise of the grain. If it has a good elastic stretch in both directions, it’s suitable. Most of that fabric will be about 90% spandex.

    I am over 50 and have a new problem (as if those things haven’t been a problem for my whole life). I’ve lost 175lbs and now they have the consistency of tube socks. I can do this origami thing where I roll them up and tuck them in to fill up a 32G but there is a gap at the top underneath the section where the straps attach. This happens with every.single.bra.top I’ve tried. Still, I’d rather have that than have them exploding like yeast dough. Can’t wait to find a non-surgical solution for that!

    1. I like your visualizations. Hehee. I can definitely relate to being well- endowed. I’m thankful that mine are like exploding yeast dough still. *wink. That description made me giggle.

    1. I need wider shoulder straps so the weight distributes evenly (and doesn’t cut into my shoulder). If I covered the existing (skinny) strap it would just be for looks, wouldn’t get the right tension to get that wide-strap support.

  8. I am definitely going to try this for my daughter! However the “go buy a cheap bra at Wally world” made me laugh. Neither one of us can buy them there. They only go up to DDD. When you are a 36H it is a minimum of $45 from a specialty shop. Did I mention she’s only 15 😕

    1. All you need is the cup! Cup sizes increase proportionally with band sizes so for a 36H bra size you could grab a 44D and the cups should work!

      1. What would be a 38G? I would love to do this but I have the same issue there isn’t any cheap bra options for me.

      2. 44D or 46C. General rule of thumb is that for each letter change it’s a band size change, too. So you’d get the same size cup in a 40F and a 42E.

  9. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I’m making swimmable mermaid tails for me and a friend and we need matching tops 🙂 (plus, being a 32 H/I doesn’t make it easy to find swimsuits.) I’ll definitely do this with one or two of my old bras!

  10. What kind of fabric did you use? I have never been able to find a swimsuit that I like and I love this tutorial. I happened on it while scrolling Pinterest today.

    1. I don’t actually have the exact specs. My local fabric shop has a “dance and athletics” section with stretchy spandex-type stuff. I grabbed a few yards from that area!

  11. Oh….. this is so cute. I wonder if I could make it work on a long line bra to cover a bit more “fluff”. Awesome tutorial.

    1. Several readers have reported using the tutorial to make a “tankini” that covers the whole torso. I think that will be my next project!

  12. I have the opposite problem and I am going to use this tutorial to help me out. I am so small that I have to buy bras in the children’s section. But I’m not a kid. Kids suits don’t fit right but adult/teen suits are way too big on the bust. I get a horrid gap on top that shows any passerby my little bits. Not to mention the chafing! A loose top and chlorine/salt water are a bad combo for the least-endowed. Now to find a kid’s bra that isn’t cotton…

    1. That sounds excellent! I bet you could make a good triangle top without even using the bra, since you don’t need the underwire. Just a good long fabric tube for the ribcage base, some triangles or even a fabric shelf and good shoulder straps. Please let me know how this turns out for you!

      1. You could also use a fitted tank top or try finding a dance leotard and adding elastic under the boob area to keep it from moving around.

  13. This is the most fantastic thing. I’m a 28DDD/E and being only 20 years old it kinda sucks when your friends can be all carefree and run around at the beach while you’re sitting there with a tank top on continuously checking to make sure everything is still covered (I’ve had one too many accidents where I flashed a poor unsuspecting stranger) so this really is like a gift from the Gods. Thank you for posting this!! You are amazing!!!

  14. I love this!!! Shame I don’t know how to sew or else I would attempt to do so. What sort of material would you recommend for the bikini?

  15. OMG!!! You are a life SAVER 🙂 I am going on a vacation next week with my girlfriends and bought a bathing suit online (i know i know) but I got an XL bc of the girls and what a disappointment….. from the rib-cage down it fit well but the seams started to bust so I’ve decided I am going to take it apart and redo it. Just bc I got big “bubblies” (love the name btw) doesn’t mean I can’t be sexy right?!?!!? But I don’t wanna be busting out everywhere. I really like the suit! Last night I spent hours looking at tutorials on how to sew a suit together and THIS is IT! I am going to do exactly what you said and I am going to add a cover around the belly area. I’d like to send to you once I’m done so you can see!!!! THANKS-A-MILLION!!!

    1. Good idea! I would LOVE to see what it looks like; I’ve actually been considering doing that belly-cover myself. I think it would be pretty easy – the only hiccup being the back side of the bra where the clasp is. But ACTUALLY you could probably avoid re-fitting the whole back (like I did) and just hide the bra clasps with the tankini fabric. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

      1. Instead of the clasps use a tie closure and leave an unseamed vent below where you’ll tie so you can pull it on. Or just leave the whole back unseamed and let it just flutter.

      2. I struggle with tie closures because they’re a tradeoff between ease of closure (in the back) and support (in the front). To be really supportive, a bra top has to be snug around the ribs. And with big bubblies that gets hard to do – tie closures always cut into my skin a bit. I wonder if a double-tie (instead of a single-tie) would fix that…

    1. For the bottom I used a pair of plain undies as a pattern (had to cut them up) and also added a waistband over it so the bottoms wouldn’t fall off my butt!

  16. Awesome tutorial! I am also very well endowed with a 32 inch band so bras are almost impossible let alone swimwear! I did this but wanted to keep the integrity of the bra straps and clasp. I made the top over the complete bra, it took a bit of patience and alot of hand sewing but I was so glad I did! I also don’t wear bikini tops so I added material at the bottom to make a tankini. By far the best most flattering suit I’ve ever worn!

    1. Hi! I am going to attempt the exact same thing…. Can you send me some pictures or any advice when adding the cover around the belly????? It will be greatly appreciated! 🙂

      1. My biggest piece of advice would be to not care too much what it looks like on the seam-side (or “inside”) when you’re doing a project like this. I got SO caught up in making it all look perfect on both the body side AND the “world to see” side. Once I stopped caring what the bits on the “body side” looked like it all came together pretty smoothly. As long as it fits well and you feel like you look great in it you’re good!

      2. My method for adding a tummy cover was to make the bikini top as per the tutorial. Then I used the lower part of a shirt for a pattern and fit it to myself under the bust line. I attached the lower piece to the inside of the underwire of the bikini top. I ran into the problem of it being hard to get on because of lower piece being attached to closely to the claps. My soulution was to cut the lower piece into a swoop beneath the clasp, making an open back beneath the clasp. I’m not sure that made any sense! Explaning things is not my strong point!

  17. What do I think? I think that is brilliant, looks amazing AND a very thorough tutorial. WTG! I’ve been looking at these kinds of tutorials for a while now and THIS one has convinced me I can do this. I’m not really “well endowed” with the girls, it’s unfortunately my belly. (I take all the “credit” for that one) but I can never find halter tops really, ever, never mind ones I like. I think I’m going to try this but I”m going to add fabric on the bottom so to turn it into a shirt. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  18. I work at a small boutique that sells bras and swimwear sizes 30AA to 56M. There are many companies mostly in the UK that have exactly what you are looking for. Try looking up Panache, Elomi, and Fantasie. 🙂

    1. There are a TON of UK companies that have what I need. I did try to buy one once but the combo of overseas purchasing (my bank card flipped out!) and the short timeline before my trip meant I couldn’t do it for this one. I actually have Pepperberry bookmarked on my computer!

      1. Barenecessities.com is an American company and sells those brands as well as others. As a 34J, I understand your pain. I think they also sell swimwear by bra sizes. I haven’t bought any because it is a touch expensive for me and I don’t swim often, but I can buy bras for about $40-$60 there, typically. I even managed to get a spaghetti strap with built in bra (in my bra size) and a sports bra (again, in my bra size) from there and they both fit really well.

  19. I am DEFINITELY going to try this… I am also well-endowed at a 36G. Finding a swim suit top is literally impossible without spending a fortune! This is wonderful! I will let you know how it turns out!

      1. It was a synthetic stretchy blend. My fabric store has a “swim and dance wear” section so I picked something from there. Stretchy synthetic is the way to go because it holds its shape better and dries more quickly.

    1. Wow Thank you so much for this! I too am WELL ENDOWED and need extra support (all natural of course – hence the extra support) hahaha

  20. Thank you for this tutorial!
    I’m not that endowed, but my coco pops tend to jump out of the top each time. I think for this one though, I will invest in a plus size swimsuit and use that fabric to cover up the bra.

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