Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bathing Beauty Sunsuit Tutorial

Summer is fast approaching and my little lady needed some new swimwear for the season. I wanted her to have a combo of bathing suit & rashguard since she's still got delicate toddler skin, but didn't see anything quite right for both top & bottom.  

So when I got my hands on some swimsuit fabric I thought making an old-timey style bathing costume would be just perfect (and work well over a diaper!).  I was picturing those loose-fitting, navy bloomers and tops from the turn of the century.
And I think it totally worked out!  

Now let's get to how to make the Bathing Beauty Sunsuit!

You'll Need:
- 1/2yd of swimsuit fabric (it's 60" wide so a little goes a long way which I love!)
- 1yd 1/4 inch wide elastic
- 3/4yd 1/2 inch wide elastic
- 1 1/2yds 1 inch wide Fold Over Elastic (FOE)
- 1yd of ribbon/decorative trim (optional)
- Pattern for a basic child's t-shirt and shorts
- Sewing Machine & Notions (pins, ruler, marking pen/chalk, twin needle, thread, scissors/rotary cutter)
*To make a boy-style version of this set, just keep the sleeves normal width instead of cap-style and don't apply the 1/4 inch elastic on the sleeves and legs. 
**Sewing Knits Tip: Refer to yesterday's post on sewing knits without a serger for more info on the stitches used here.

Making The Bloomer Shorts - 
Cut short pieces from pattern and lengths of FOE to match the bottom edge.  Also cut two lengths of 1/4 inch elastic that are one inch wider than the wearer's thigh measurement.

Fold the elastic around the edge and stitch together with a twin needle, close to the open edge of the FOE:
On the wrong side of each leg, mark a line 1.5 inches inward from bottom edge.  Take a piece of the 1/4 inch elastic and sew along marking with a wide zig-zag stitch, stretching it taut as it's being sewn.
The finished elastic will give the proper gathered effect.  Repeat on the remaining leg.
With right sides together stitch each leg closed with a knit stitch.  Turn one leg right side out and slip into the other leg, matching up the centers from front to back.  Pin & knit stitch together.  Then trim seam allowance.
Pull bloomers wrong side out, fold waistband 3/4 inch over to wrong side and straight stitch close to raw edge to create the waist casing.  Leave a small gap and insert the 1/2 inch wide elastic (cut to fit waist measurement).  Snake all the way around, sew ends of elastic together and stitch opening closed.

Making The Rashguard-
Cut shirt front & back pieces as the t-shirt pattern specifies.  For a better fit using this type of fabric I recommend cutting the neckband 1 inch wider than the pattern piece.  To create the cap sleeves cut down the center of the sleeve pattern:
Spread the cut of the pattern 3 inches wide and redraw the cuff line with a ruler and cut out sleeves with this new, widened shape.
With right sides together stitch front and back shoulders of shirt together with a knit stitch.  I chose to top stitch with my twin needle to give the shoulders some extra support and to stitch down the seam allowance:

Mark the center top of the sleeve and 3 inches over on either side and baste all the way along:
Sew the FOE to the bottom edge of each sleeve, mark a line 1 inches inward from bottom edge and attach the 1/4 elastic (as shown above with the bloomers):

Create gathers for the cap sleeve by pulling up the bobbin threads of the basting, then pin sleeve to shoulder and stitch together, trimming raw edge.
Take the collar piece and fold widthwise with right sides together.  Stitch along short side with the knit stitch:
Turn right side out and fold collar lengthwise.  Make seam the midpoint of the back and mark the sides and front so collar has four equally distant markings.
Match up markings to shoulder seams and center of front and back and pin.  Stitch into place, stretching collar to fit along neckline.
Trim the excess off the seam allowance.  Careful not to cut the stitching, clip into the raw edge of the collar to create a little extra ease
Pin sides together and sew from cuff to bottom of shirt:
I folded up the bottom hem an inch and stitched in place with my twin needle.  Then I sewed this flower trim directly over the stitching for a little more dainty detail:

Now you're ready to outfit a little Bathing Beauty!
Ours has already seen a lot of use in the kiddie pool and out in the sun. It's worked a treat and she loves wearing it!  I kind of want to make one for me now.  Why shouldn't mom get to be a "bathing beauty" too?
Sharing this with my FAVE LINK PARTIES too-
Click HERE to check them out!


  1. I really really think this is so gorgeous. It's a pity it didn't come with the pattern pieces too ;)
    Great tutorial though. Thanks, Sherry

  2. This is awesome!You have great talent! I would love to try something like this.

  3. Hi Cheryl!
    Thank you so much for linking up your adorable projects in our Crafty Showcase! You are so creative and your tutorials are awesome. We are thrilled that you can link up in the ETSY/Craft Business linky. We are hoping to get more craft businesses to link up. If you know of more, please share with them or let me know so that I can invited them.

    Keep up the beautiful work!
    Susie @Bowdabra

  4. WOW! This little sunsuit is adorable. Your tailoring always wows me. Wish I had your sewing skills!

  5. That is such a sweet bathing suit! Thanks for linking up! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

  6. Replies
    1. It's both Nicole, so you're right on both counts. We've used it in the pool and just for running around and it works great. That's the "beauty" of it;)

  7. That is sooo darling. Thank you for linking it/your tutorial up at our party at . We'll have "Featured"- projects + a whole new round of entries tomorrow, Wednesday! See you then!

  8. This is adorable! It reminds me of a sailor suit!

    Thanks for linking up with me for Friday Favorites. I'm featuring you this week!

  9. What an adorable outfit! Your tutorial is amazing - so clear! Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!

  10. Thinking you will be ablee to get another summer outof it this year? The bloomers will fit w/o a diaper, and you could lengthen the top perhaps?

    1. Definitely - these were roomy last year so I'm sure they'll still fit this summer. I tend to make everything so it'll get at least two full seasons of wear to make it worth the time;)


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