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S***suit Inspiration


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That word has always been a dirty word to me.
That is, until this past year where I’ve learned quite a bit about sewing and realized I could make my own swimming suit (mind blown). I’ve always had a very short list of must haves in mind when buying a swimsuit as an adult.

Here are my criteria:

  • Full booty and tummy coverage.
  • Supportive top.
  • The ties can’t give me a headache from it being too tight around my neck.

I’m sure there some out there that can relate to my list of “must-haves” and definitely plenty of people who can add to it. It seems like a simple list, right?! Although, everyone knows it is somehow impossible to get all you want in a ready-to-wear swimsuit. At least, I’ve never found one.

Body image has been a huge conversation in the advertising industry these past 5ish years, which I really love. It’s been a truly positive experience for me to see women of all sizes and ages being represented throughout popular culture. Like most of you (hopefully), it’s opened my eyes and made me more comfortable with what I look like.

We still have a ways to go, of course, but having a plus size model on the cover of sports illustrated, the swimsuit issue, is a HUGE deal.


Swimsuits have been on our minds at Colette here, chatting about whether or not to get the donut or cat swimsuit fabric. As well as what pattern we are going to try out this year (I’ve seen some teaser’s out there, ‘eyyy Closet Case Files?!). As a beginner to this type of challenge, I’m going to give the Dakota pattern a try, and I’m going to vow to feel wonderful and amazing in it, especially since I made it!

“Swimsuit” will no longer be a dirty word in my vocabulary.

Here are a few images of inspiration for what I’d love to see in my dream swimsuit:


I love the small details here. The ruching on both is so nice, and the delicate straps on the black one make this one-piece so elegant.


Love me some classic Marilyn inspiration. I really enjoy the cut on this swimsuit, as well as it not being a halter. Halter’s always end up hurting over time!


The neck lines on all of these are super neat. As well as the ruffles and the pom pom are a dream!

So now that I shared my swimsuit dream inspiration, what are some of yours?

Taylor Pruitt   —  

Taylor is an enthusiastic maker. As the graphic designer at Colette she infuses her creativity into all of our projects from print to web.

Comments 39


Someday I will make Wednesday Addams’ bathing suit. Not just to cosplay, but because I really lover her suit!


*love, not lover. Doh!


I fully support this decision!


Yes! That’d be so fun. :)


You know, this is the first year that swimsuit is a bad word for me. As a teen I was slim and toned, and only wore one-pieces because my dad wanted it so. As I got curvier, I wore sturdy bikinis, knowing that my (huge) boobs stole the show, then I got pregnant and my body changed a lot. I wear the plainest black one-piece for Baby-Swimming now, because it was the only thing available for my new body. But I want to find a sexy one-piece that says: “Mommytummy, saggy boobs and rocking it…” Because I really don’t care. And I want to show that.


Mommy tummy is something to be proud of! The past few years I’ve gotten my swimsuits at swimsuits for all, and I love them. They do a great job of giving you all sorts of options. Ya gotta rock that sexy bod of yours!


look at Lands End. seriously. There are two piece suits that looks like they are one piece suits. reminds me to shop today to get my swimsuit.


Oh, good suggestion!


I love Land’s End suits! They’re the only one-pieces I can wear (long torso), and they look good for a long time. I think one of my LE suits is 4 years old.

Patricia Clements

When I was a teenager in the 60’s, I had a swimsuit similar to Marilyn’s and I felt so beautiful in it.


Where do you find cat swimsuit fabric??!!?! :D


I know some ladies here were looking at spandex world, and spandex house…maybe try there!


You could also maybe use Spoonflower’s sport lycra? I don’t know if it would stand up to chlorine, but you can get it in an endless number of prints, including cats!

Kristin P

I just really really hate tropical floral prints and want something more interesting than solids, so it seems like that rules out about 95% of all rtw swimwear. Last summer, I found an amazing Brooke Shields for Mccall’s pattern from the late 80’s/early 90’s and managed to find some fabric I actually like, and now have a swimsuit that suits my taste and my body!


That sounds so fantastic!

I feel you on the tropical prints. I’m picky about my patterns, and it takes a very specific tropical print to make me happy :).


Brilliant so glad I read this piece. I have just finish making a rash vest for the summer when I’m in the water body boarding with my boys, I wanted to make some bottoms to go with it. I totally forgot I had the Dakota pattern. Then I’m on for a Bikini with enough coverage to be comfy.


You’ll have to send us some photos when you’re done! Sounds like you’re going to have a lot of fun in the sun this summer.


After a life time of sewing and a recent change of life (weird body changes resulting), I made a one-piece for doing laps. Easiest item I have ever sewn. It fit great (not perfect, but then no other RTW suit fit perfectly either). It was shocking to see just how easy it was. Today’s active knit fabrics help a lot. I suggest trying a simple suit at first, and then building on that, if you have any hesitancy.


That gives me a ton of motivation to just try sewing one up. Thanks Robin :).


The bathing suits in “Neptune’s Daughter” are always inspiration to me! Who could not love Esther Williams style???


I absolutely agree! My mom taught me how to swim when I was just a toddler. She took to calling me Esther because every time I was underwater I would have the biggest smile on my face. Thus started my love of Esther Williams. Nuptune’s Daughter has some amazing costumes! We published a piece on Esther last summer, she was such a fascinating woman and was a driving force in revolutionizing swimwear.


I love that movie!


I like the look of and feel much more comfortable in a “boy short” style bottom. I have always had a tummy that hangs low and a lot of underwear and swimsuit are cut so a bit of my tummy shows on the top of the leg. Total confidence killer when that happens. I also like a tank top style if I’m wearing it on a beach. When I used to be able to swim lengths I wore a boy short bottom with a sports bra style top I found on a reduced rail at a holiday park quite by accident. I felt great in it, It was a UK 18/20 and I still have it and wear it in the garden in the summer. I am tempted to use the suit as a template and make myself another! I love the vintage styles too, sexy with out showing too much flesh.


That sounds dreamy. You should send us some photos when/if you sew up a new one :). Swimsuit makes are always fun to see!


Using it as a template is a great idea! I can’t remember where I learned it but you can copy the pieces into paper without cutting by poking a pin repeatedly through the seams so you have a dotted line on your paper! Not sure that makes sense.

Paula Moraes

It is perfect! Confortable and we can fell safety anywhere. How didn’t I think this before?!?

Sandi Pratt

I love the one with the ruffles ! If I knew where to get the pattern, I have it in a heartbeat !!


I just made a bikini from a vintage 1960’s pattern and it was easy to make. The bottoms are nice and big and the straps go over the shoulder rather than dragging your neck forward like halter necks do. Good Luck


Did you use a swimwear fabric? I have some 60s swim patterns that call for wovens, and I’ve always wanted to make them with modern swim fabric.


I made a swimsuit for my January Hawaii trip out of my panties pattern and the Florence soft bra pattern! I turned it into a halter out of necessity (no matching lingerie elastic and I couldn’t quite make a rouleau strap behave) and the fit isn’t 100%, but it’s a swimming suit! (I have a d/dd cup for the record)

Just commenting to give a little “you can do it” boost.


My dream is to make a swimsuit with a high back. They’re so hard to find these days!


They really are. I used to be self conscious about the scar on my back when I was a swimmer. I think Speedo does some racerbacks, at least.


I’m always on the hunt for high-backed suits for sun protection. Tried to buy one online last year, and the fabric was so thin and cheap! This is why I sew…guess I should bump that project to the top of the list.


Look at Jalie’s swimsuit and swim shorts patterns. They fit well and are flattering and practical designs.


Great timing for this discussion! My body has changed so much in the last 2-3 years that I’ve been VERY challenged to figure out how to dress it. Thank you Monetta, Wren and Selene! I made a Bravo Bella swimsuit last month. It turned out to be a bit short in the torso. Monica was super about emailing me a bunch of information to customize the fit. I’ll try it again. In the meantime I’m making KwikSew 4113 skort with a Mrs. Depew Vintage Beach Bra top. The KwikSew pattern has a cute tank I want to try as well. And of course, the Bombshell from CCF! I also have three lovely adult daughters needing swimsuits just in case I get bored!


“The ties can’t give me a headache from it being too tight around my neck.” I am SO glad I’m not the only one who suffers from this! Being tall and larger than average up top, finding a swimsuit is always a challenge – you can buy extra long, or you can buy suits for larger cup sizes, but not both at once. I’d love to try making my own but I haven’t found a good source of swimsuit fabric in the UK yet – can anyone recommend one?


So I’ve drafted my own swimwear from a slower that I created based on a pattern from a vintage ’79. I’ve ruched that thing to the high heavens but it is quite current looking now. Swimwear is so damn easy. The hardest part is the bust support. I marred up my last creation trying to create a power mesh bra cup shelf bra. It pulled in at the sides and left a crooked side seam, making me think I’d have to do a full bra. But now I’m thinking I’m going to skip the cup next time and make the top one size smaller lined in power mesh. I’ve got a RTW that works for me exactly that way. RTW suits are cut very tight to help hold us in and though I hate this on bottom, I’m starting to think that the reasons for this make sense. I’ll get this thing perfect eventually…..without having to insert a full bra for breasts that need a lift but certainly don’t need much else.


And I meant sloper. Man I detest spelling correction.

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