DIY Retro Bikini – Seamwork Reno & Dakota

I think I may have caught the swimwear sewing bug. It’s a tough one and the only cure is lots of cotton elastic. (lol! what a dork ;) But seriously, I made my first swimsuit earlier this year and when I saw the pattern for this bikini from the August issue of Seamwork magazine, I just had to “dive” in again (somebody stop me!).

The bikini is made up of two patterns–the Reno top and Dakota bottoms. The bottoms are what hooked me first. They are so perfectly retro and perfectly cover my sometimes poochy belly. And because it was more cost effective to get the subscription (just $6 a month!) I got both both the top and bottoms. I also took the chance on a monthly subscription and so far I'm really glad that I did. I'm really excited to try the Moji pants released this month. 

I had black swimwear fabric leftover from my last suit and there was just enough to make this two piece and a leotard for my niece. I can't exactly remember where I bought the fabric. I suspect it was from the FIDM charity store in downtown LA. I've been there two or three times now and there's always been a ton of swim wear fabric. The selection is pretty limited so you never know what you'll find but it's super, super cheap. As in, $2 a yard cheap. I also have about four yards of teal swim fabric that I have yet to use. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought all that swim fabric. 

The top is a bit more complicated than the bottoms but still very do-able. I haven't tried my hand at bra sewing but I imagine the steps are similar. The pattern pieces are small and can be fiddly–especially when trying to stitch a tiny bit of elastic to a tiny bit of cloth. I read this article on Indie Sew a little while ago that recommended having a tail of elastic to hold onto so that it doesn't slip around under your presser foot. In order to avoid any waste, I marked my length of elastic with a pin, placed the pin at the edge of the fabric, held the "tail" and then stitched to the end of the elastic. Then I just trimmed off the end of the elastic. It was much easier to sew and there was no waste. Yay!

DIY Retro Bikini – Seamwork Reno & Dakota | Sew DIY

By the way, the kimono in the photo above is also DIY (of course!) and you can check the details of it here. I really love the kimono as a cover up. What a great duel purpose garment!

For the bottoms I made version 1, which has three panels for the front instead of one. They were very easy to put together. The hardest part is probably the elastic but with practice, it's something that I've gotten better at. The application is very similar to the one used for the Nettie bodysuit. I didn't change the pattern at all and boy are these truly high-waisted. I'm 5'11" with a rather long waist and these still hit at my natural waist. In general, if I'm making shorts or pants, I need to make adjustments for my longer rise. If you're short waisted, you might want to shorten these. I made a size M and the fit is really good. I could possibly take in the waist a smidge and if I make these again, I'll probably just use a bigger seam allowance at the sides as it tapers to the waist. 

DIY Bikini Seamwork Dakota & Reno Patterns | Sew DIY

This pattern instructs to do a triple zig-zag stitch for the top stitching. I found it a little fiddly to sew and if I do this pattern again I will probably just do a regular zig-zag. I was pretty skeptical about whether the top would fit. I made a size M. In bras, I wear a 36D so I was worried about the cup size but I read that Colette patterns are sized for a C-cup so I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't really feel up to trying to make a pattern adjustment By the way, most patterns are for a B-cup and I don't think that would do. I tried on the top midway through, before inserting boning to test it out. It seemed to cover but definitely lacked structure. I had been considering skipping the boning because I was having topstitching issues. But the top really needs the structure the boning provides. I had some black boning in my stash that was a little wider than called for but I just stitched a slightly bigger channel and it worked great. 

DIY Bikini Seamwork Dakota & Reno Patterns | Sew DIY

I really love how this bikini turned out. I have never been a bikini girl. I've always gone for a one-piece or tankini to cover up the midsection. It's the area I've always been most self-conscious about. But this suit with the high bottoms covers up the pooch perfectly. I feel like the cut really creates a pinup style curvy shape even where there isn't necessarily one. The next real test will be in water of course. With my last DIY swimsuit I found that the fit really changed once it was wet. As in it stretched. Out of the water, the swimsuit is really comfortable and I actually feel covered up. Double yay! I also think my swimwear stitching skills are only going to get better the more I work on it. I have McCalls M7168 to try out and of course the Bombshell too. Lots of things to fill my closet and I probably only go swimming once or twice a year!

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