Bathing Suit
Dance Bags

Retro Collar
Skirt Rayon

Window Quilt



ManyTracks Sewing and Knitting 
Sue Robishaw







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Designing & Sewing a

Bathing Suit

skin-on-frame mint green kayak


How-to  ~  Ideas  ~  Inspiration
 From more than forty years having a good time living a sustainable life
in the northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Want a bathing suit the really suits you? That fits in all the places it should? Forget hours of shopping. Do yourself a favor and spend those hours designing and sewing your own - just the way you want it.

Winter 2019 - Finding a bathing suit that matched my design desires and body just wasn't happening. It had been quite some time since my last suits, one factory, one hand-made, had gone to the rag bag. But I was long past wanting a bikini anyway. But we live in a land of lakes and rivers so I felt I should have a swimsuit though it had been ages since I'd gone swimming. But I'd occasionally look through the offerings at the local thrift store now and then, without much enthusiasm or success. I wasn't committed to put any more effort into it than that.

Though Steve and I both spent our summers in the water when growing up that didn't remain part of our adult lives. One can only fit so much in a day! But that changed when Steve (and I) built our first boat - a skin-on-frame dory. What fun! The next year he built me a SOF kayak, and I fell in love -- with kayaking (I had fallen in love with Steve many decades ago!). Suddenly we were involved with the local waters, though ON the water instead of in it. Our clothing needs changed to suit the activity. Synthetics replaced cotton. And though shorts and shirts were adequate for boating I realized I wanted something that would allow me to comfortably slip into the water when we had hot days and warm waters, rare though that might be. I started playing around with ideas, thinking about what I wanted, what would suit my multi-use criteria.

A  rough idea of my design was beginning to form, though I hadn't worked it all out. But when I was ordering fabric for other sewing projects I decided to get the material for my swimsuit. I'd work the details out later. I knew it was going to have a basic underwear style bottom and as I was sewing up some skivvies at the time I went on to make the swimsuit bottom. It was basically the same pattern, just a little higher rise. See the "Skivvies" page for details. The rest of the outfit went on hold.

March 16, 2020 -- Looking Aheadcutting out bathing suit skirt

The snow is melting and it will be summer before we know it. OK, we do have a ways to go before we'll be out on the lakes (on water not ice) but the snow is receding and the temperature is showing above freezing now and then. And I realized I better get to those winter sewing projects before the ground is bare and my focus switches to outside. What better one to start with but a lively cheery bathing suit fabric. It looked a lot less wild on the little swatch I'd ordered from but the turquoise had caught my eye - it would go well with my kayak. Somehow I'd missed the neon pink and orange. It now reminded me of a bathing suit and matching pants (bell bottomed, of course) I'd had back in the late 60's. Oh well, I have plenty of muted "blend with the woods" fabric for hiking clothes so why not go with the wild. Besides, the somewhat odd design pleases me. If it makes you smile go for it!

When I bought the material I had a vague idea of a regular two piece suit made of a plain color with some sort of cover  made of the print, but I hadn't figured out what. Last year I did make the plain bathing suit bottom, worn with a stretchy tank top which worked fine. I don't swim much but kayaking is definitely a water sport and it's nice to be able to slip into the water on those rare warm days when the water is likewise warm. Now it was time to decide on this fabric, which turned out to be a short skirt, something to wear when I get off, or out, of the water as well as comfortable when in the boat. A pattern wasn't too hard to come up with as I had made many 6-gore dance skirts, one of which was conveniently made of similarly stretchy material. It took a bit of tweaking but it was nice to have a project that didn't take so very long. Now I just have to come up with the top, and wait for a bit warmer weather (though the skirt looked pretty snazzy over black tights which one might want on the all too typical chilly summer water days). See the "Skirt Rayon" page for sewing details.

Maybe next year for the rest of the outfit? Who would think a "simple" bathing suit would turn into a multi-year project! But one doesn't want to rush into things, good to give them time to fester.

Winter 2021 - Will this be the year for the final piece? A top that matches the bottoms?

Copyright by Susan Robishaw

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