Completed: The Watson Bikini

11 May

I don’t know about where y’all are, but swimsuit season is BASICALLY upon us over here. Sure, they haven’t opened the pools – yet (that always happens on Memorial Day weekend, coincidentally right around my birthday as well. Pool parties every year for this kid!) – but it’s only a matter of time. Plus, I want to be ready when the water is warm – and not be scrambling to finish something the night before I hit the pool. Last-minute sewing is for people who work well under pressure. Which is not me.

Watson Bikini

So, anyway, I made a bikini! Yeah!!!

Watson Bikini

If this pattern looks familiar, it’s because I’ve made it before (not to mention it’s made some ROUNDS ’round the internet). It’s not a swimsuit pattern, per se – it’s actually a lingerie pattern. This here is the Watson Bra & Bikini pattern from Cloth Habit, modified into the swimsuit you see here. And yes, I realize that these pictures basically mean y’all are seeing me in lingerie. Whatever.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

I have made this pattern before a couple of times (see one and two), so I knew I was good with the fit and I had strong feelings that this pattern would work equally well as swimwear with a few modifications. It was just a matter of finding a good swimwear lycra and figuring out how to stabilize that cradle in a way that wouldn’t deteriorate in chlorine and salt water.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Since I’ve gone into detail about the making of this pattern before, I won’t talk too much about the sizing or construction outside of making it into swimwear. I sewed my regular size – the 30D – and the fit was good except a did have a bit of gaping right between the side of the cup and the underarm. I think it has more to do with my elastic application – it might not have been stretched enough – but it was on both sides so I dunno. It may have been due to the stretch of my fabric, but the rest of the top fits great and the 4 way stretch is similar to the millskin I used for my first Watson. Anyway, I fixed it by taking in a dart and topstitching it down (at this point, the swimsuit was complete so there was nooo way I was unpicking all that shit haha). Not the most elegant solution, but the print is super busy so you can’t really see it, plus it’s right at my armpit. If anyone is looking and notices that shit, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Other than that, the fit was good! I add a little bit of extra to the bottoms – about 1/2″ extended out from the back for more butt coverage, and about 1/2″ extended at the top to make them slightly higher. They’re still a little cheeky, but I think it’s pretty cute πŸ™‚

Watson Bikini

Like I said, there were a couple of things that needed to be addressed in order to convert this into proper swimwear. For one, I knew it needed lining (maybe you wear unlined swimsuits, but I don’t!). I cut an extra of every piece out of swimsuit lining, and was able to origami it so that there aren’t any raw edges, except where the cups meet the band. Couldn’t figure that one out, so I just serged the seam. I also needed to change out aaaall that elastic to be swimsuit elastic- the picot and lace edges elastics that you use in lingerie are beautiful, but they aren’t made to hold up to salt water and chlorine (not to mention, they totally make that shit look like a bra). This was easy – I used braided swimsuit elastic and attached it opposite of how you attach lingerie elastic. Meaning, you sew the first swipe on the inside of the garment (I used my serger, but you can zigzag this), and then fold it one more time and zigzag topstitch. I did this everywhere except at the top of the cups, where I sewed it as you normally would for a bra (hadn’t thought that far ahead, whoops).

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

The strapping at the back band also totally stumped me for about a month. In the pattern, the top of the back band is finished with strapping that extends to go over your shoulders. It’s beautiful, but it’s not really good for swimwear (again, can’t stand up to the elements/chemicals, and – again, looks like lingerie). Of course, you can just finish the top edge with elastic the same way you finish all the other edges – but I liked the look of the strapping, plus, I have a feeling it’s sewn that way to help with the fit. After a bit of thought, I decided to do elastic covered straps and apply them the same way that the strapping is done on a regular bra. I used Ada Spragg’s tutorial on making elastic swimsuit straps (GIRL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SHIT), and they turned out pretty nice! I left off the adjustable sliders since the elastic was so thick, but I did keep the little O-rings at the top.

The only downside is that I wasn’t quite precise with my seam allowances, so one strap has a tendency to twist (I’m pretty sure that’s from the elastic inside trying to roll up). It’s annoying, but not enough to make me unpick and start over. We’ll see how I feel after I get back from the beach πŸ˜›

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Another thing that needed to be addressed was changing out the hook and eye for something that looks, you know, not like a bra. I used a swimsuit hook and eye – I know it doesn’t match, but it’s all I had on hand and anyway, you can’t really see it when it’s on – and just adjusted the back to fit the hook. I did this after the swimsuit was assembled, but before I attached the straps. There’s a tutorial on how to do this over at Cloth Habit, it’s for a bra, but same concept. For the opposite side, I just folded over the edge and sewed it down to make a tunnel for the hook to go through. Easy!

Watson Bikini

Finally, I had to figure out a way to stabilize the cradle while still making this thing hold up in water. For most lingerie patterns, this might not be a problem – but with this particular pattern, the cradle (the part of the band that attaches to the cups) needs to be stabilized so it does not stretch. The pattern has you use lightweight tricot, but I wasn’t sure if that would deteriorate over time. Instead, I cut two pieces of heavy powermesh running in opposite directions, and stacked them on top of each other with the swimsuit lycra on top and the lining on the bottom. Powermesh is water-friendly (well, so I’ve been told!) and it does a pretty good job of keeping everything stable.

Watson Bikini

The rest of the bikini was as straightforward as making lingerie. All pieces are cut from swimsuit lyrcra and swimsuit lining (other than the powermesh to stablize the cradle), and I included lots of zigzag topstitching to give it a sporty look.

In case you were wondering, my swimsuit lycra is from Spandex House in NYC. I bought it while I was in the Garment District in March. My lining is also from Spandex House, and the elastics I used are from Joann’s. I think the bra rings came off an old bra, and I don’t remember where the swimsuit hook is from. Other than using the serger to attach the elastic, I sewed everything on my sewing machine. Even with me stopping and researching and scratching my head, this shit only took a couple of hours to make. And just like that – I’m ready for the beach! Yay!

Oh, and how ’bout that AWESOME necklace I’m wearing?? I can’t take credit for choosing that – its from Rocksbox, which is a new online service where you rent 3 pieces of jewelry every month, chosen for you by a stylist. You can swap out the jewelry as much as you like during the month, and any pieces you buy are discounted. I’ve been trying it for about a month and it’s really fun – and definitely got me wearing jewelry that I otherwise neverrrr would have picked up. I was given a couple of months free by the company to try it out, but I’m seriously thinking of maintaining the account afterwards because I like this shit waaaay more than I thought I would! It’s only $19 a month, the shipping is free both ways, and I’ve received (and bought :I) some really cool pieces! So there’s that. Anyway, bringing this up now because you can use the code lladybirdxoxo and try your first month of Rocksbox for freeeeee. Who doesn’t like free, amirite? Also, SHINY.

Watson Bikini

Can’t wait to try this bad boy out in the water when we go to the beach in a couple of weeks! Also bonus for having a suit that no one else will be wearing (I used to buy aaaall my suits at Target. Do you know how many Target swimsuits run up and down Santa Rosa Beach? Do you know how many of those said swimsuits look better on the other person than they do on me? The shame.). I have tons more of this lycra – the minimum cut was 1 yard and you really only need like 1/4 yard to make a bikini – so I’m already trying to justify having a fleet of geometric swimsuits. We’ll see!

61 Responses to “Completed: The Watson Bikini”

  1. Kit May 11, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    Again! Another totally cool project. It turned out so adorable and YOU write the BEST sewing blog. LOVE IT. thank you.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:01 am #

      Well, damn, thank you!! πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous May 11, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Woah! so brave. I made knickers last week but didn’t blog them on me! It looks fantastic. Jo x

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      hahaha well, to be fair, I wouldn’t pose in my undies either! Swimsuit feels a little more ok since I’m going to be wearing it out in public anyway πŸ™‚

  3. sallie May 11, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    Yes! This is awesome! I think this pattern works SO well as swimwear! And I adore your fabric. I’m pretty sure every swimsuit I’ve sewn in the last few years has been inspired by you – and this suit was no different. As soon as I saw that shit on IG I totally broke into my swimsuit lycra to whip myself up something quick. Not as cute as yours, but I love how you can really customize your swimwear when you make it yourself, and avoiding the ubiquitous Target swimsuits is totally a bonus! Hope you’re making all this swimwear because you’re going on vacation again this year!

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Omg but your Insta-swimsuit was sooo cute! I’m so happy to hear that my swimwear inspires you because EVERYTHING ELSE YOU MAKE INSPIRES ME! I think if we were in the same room sewing together, the world might explode πŸ™‚

      And yes, we are going on vacation this year! Back to Florida for a beachy weekend, and then Peru in June (probably won’t wear this shit in Peru. Well. I might :P)!

  4. Nathalie May 11, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    It’s a beautiful bikini and the finish looks amazing! I’m making a bikini at the moment I’m using the soma pattern from Papercut patterns but it is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      Oh I love the Soma! I want to make another one of those as well (so many suits, so little timeeeee. So little BEACH!). Sorry to hear you’re having issues with the difficulty; are you finding the instructions confusing?

      • Nathalie May 18, 2015 at 12:24 am #

        no the instructions are fine, its the fold over elastic that doesn’t do what I want it to. So the finish isn’t great…

  5. Indoor Kitty May 11, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    You and your sexy bikini bod. (Looks at squashy tummy and c-section scar. Thanks the Lord for whoever invented rashguards.)

    Actually, a rashguard might be a fun use for your remaining print fabric. Knowing you, you have enough fabric stashed for contrasting sleeves. And then you can figure out how to fake a flatlock seam on a standard sewing machine. And then post about it so I can learn how to fake a flatlock seam on a regular sewing machine. Yup. That’s what you should do. No ulterior flatlocking motive over here. Nope.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:07 am #

      lol, you mean “me and my childless, 29 year old body.” πŸ˜› It’s not gonna look this way forever! I gotta enjoy it while I can! πŸ˜›

      No rash guards for me, unfortunately! If I’m gonna bare it all at the beach, I’m gonna bare it ALL (well, all within reason hahahaha). But, faking a flatlock seam sounds like an interesting challenge, albeit probably one that would require a serger. Maybe I should get cracking on that workout wear that I’ve been planning for the past year πŸ™‚

  6. Kelly May 11, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    THANK YOU for linking to the strap tutorial. I’m sure I saw it when posted, and skimmed over because it wasn’t applicable to me at the time, but I’ve been making some pretty homemade straps for sports bras and Watsons over here lately. Your suit looks pretty amazing too πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      You are so welcome! I saw it when it was posted too, and then promptly forgot about it until recently. It took a lot of creative googling to find it again, so I’m happy to provide the link so y’all don’t have to experience the same struggle. Those fabric-covered straps are pure magic!

  7. Pam May 11, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    This suit is fantastic! Yeah!! Wonderful — I’m favoriting this one — I can’t wait to make it myself!

  8. Beth May 11, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Betty Page would have SO loved this!!

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:10 am #

      Yesss, and she would have looked amazing in it!! πŸ˜€

  9. caroleknox May 11, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for all the tips. I’m going on holiday in a couple of weeks and want a Watson bikini. This saves me a lot of head scratching
    Your bikini looks fab on you.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:12 am #

      You are so welcome! I’m happy to share my discoveries with y’all so you don’t have to scratch your head quite as hard to figure it out πŸ™‚ and thank you!

  10. Teri Poole Augustine May 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    I was thinking when I bought the Watson pattern that it would make a great bikini. It looks awesome on you.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:13 am #

      Thank you! It does make an awesome bikini for sure πŸ™‚

  11. Caroline Joynson May 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    You bad-ass bikini-babe!
    Loving the abstract print, it showcases your awesome new tat pretty well too.

  12. Stephanie Barringer May 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    You are the most talented person in the sewing craft!

  13. Colesworth May 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    love the fabric, this came out pretty perfect!

  14. Reana Louise May 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    That fabric is rocking, and despite looking closely I could hardly notice the dart (side note, so glad someone didn’t walk in while I was staring at your side boob. “No! Nothing suss! I’m just looking for construction details! Swear!”). But seriously THANK YOU for sharing a photo of the Watson set on your body! I’m loving everyone’s versions but it’s nice to see what it looks like on a human rather than as a flat lay.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:18 am #

      Haha you are welcome! I agree, you can’t really see much with flat shots of a garment – but it’s really hard when it’s lingerie, because (understandably) no one wants to model that on the internet! A swimsuit still feels risque, but I tell myself it’s somewhat ok because I’ll be wearing this shit in public regardless.

  15. Marike Smit May 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Your bikini is really cool, and it looks great on you! ( although a floating ghost bikini in the forest would have been awesome as well) I am loving the gorgeous forest backdrop – wish I could live there:)

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:20 am #

      Omg I WISH I had the ‘shop skills to make a floating ghost bikini in the forest. How awesome would that be!!

      And man, living in the wood is AMAZING! It’s so beautiful and serene here.

  16. curvygirlsarechic May 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Awesome swim suit really good job.

  17. catherine May 11, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    I say all you need for a good trip is a cute bikini, sunscreen, a good hat, lipstick, and a credit card. You could surf in that bikini, come to California, I’ll give you your first lesson free. Nicely done.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:32 am #

      Oooh I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf (although tbh I’d probably be terrible at it – I am super uncoordinated and have awful balance, though I’m working on that with yoga haha)! Might have to take you up on that offer πŸ˜‰ haha

  18. Heather M May 11, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

    This looks fabulous! Great fabric too. I had no intention of diving into lingerie, this plus a zero bra shopping run might change my mind.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:33 am #

      I thought the same thing, but it’s addictiveeee!! So much fun and SO MANY THINGS TO MAKE!:)

  19. Ines May 12, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    This bathing suit is a bewt! Hands down awesome. I can’t tell you how much I love the fabric, I had a bathing suit as a kid very similar patterns, I loved how it looked under water in the pool, the turquoise and all the geometrics…it was like a kaleidoscope. Love, love, love it! AAAAnd it has all the things in a bikini girls want, every thing in it’s place and a place for everything, I think it must be men designing those uncomfortable ones you can’t even move with something popping out, anyways, this one is sexy and has a fancy pattern and cut and wearer friendly, once again a home run!!! Primo bikino!

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:34 am #

      Thank you so much! I am SUPER happy about finding this fabric; I had something exactly like it in mind and I spent foreeeeever looking through spandex to find it! I think I had something similar as a kid, too, and I’m excited to see how cool is looks underwater πŸ˜€

  20. BeckyLeeSews May 12, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    Nicely done! I love doing that to patterns. It’s like when I cook with a recipe. I make it alll-most like the directions say but I have a compulsion to customize it. I think this talent is evident in your customizations on a lingerie pattern, brilliant use of a stiffer stabilizer in the band, more cover on the chibs, etc. I love how wide the band is in the back too. If I made this suit, I’d do that too – not for your reasons but because I have a nice little (ha – if you could call it that) roll of back fat that needs a serious cammo job and that wider band would do it. Sadly, my bikini days are gone, except for daytime dips in the backyard hot tub where I don’t want my neighbor behind his mower to get a glimpse of me in my birthday suit. Now that I’m over 50, I’d never, never, ever go out in public in one again. As progressive as I am in some areas of my life, to me a bikini over 50 is like you without a lining in your bikini top; it just simply isn’t done. So bravo! You did a great job.

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      Hahaha, well, I hope to still rock the bikini when I’m over 50 – but we’ll see how I actually feel when the time comes πŸ™‚ My mom is 53 and she still wears them – and LOOKS AMAZING – so hopefully I’ve got some good genes cooking up in there πŸ™‚ Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

  21. Kelly May 12, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Gah, gorgeous! Love it, love it, love it! And thank you for doing the hard part of converting it into a bikini friendly pattern so that the rest of us can just follow your instructions πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD May 12, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      You’re so welcome! No point in making everyone else figure out the hard stuff if I’ve already done it myself πŸ™‚

  22. Alicia @ Pandora Sews May 12, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    Am I the only one seeing that this lycra looks very Pucci-esque? A Pucci bikini runs about $500 and would NEVER fit you as well as your Watson bikini does! Bravo chica, great job.

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2015 at 6:36 am #

      I WISH I had a Pucci bikini! I will totally take that comparison and run with it πŸ™‚

  23. Eryn @ May 12, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    It came out beautifully! You lost me with the mods, but I’ll have to refer back to it when I actually have a pattern to work with in front of me. Have fun at “de beech”!

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      Haha yeah, the mods can sound super confusing if you’ve never sewn the pattern before πŸ™‚ It’ll make more sense when you have it in front of you πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  24. LyllosMig May 12, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    I was taking a break from sewing a Watson Bikini myself and checking out some blogs and was happily surprised that you had made one too! I finished mine tonight but will probably have to wait a while to wear mine outside 😦 Great job as usual, it looks awesome on you!

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2015 at 6:38 am #

      That’s awesome! Great minds think alike and all that πŸ™‚ Well, not awesome that you can’t wear it outside anytime soon, but at least you will be ready when it is πŸ™‚

  25. Lauren Durr Designs May 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Yes! That looks great! I am trying my hand at a high waisted bikini for the summer and the Watson was on my list of possible hacks. The two I have are great but maybe some foam inserts, ya know for that smooth finish. I don’t need to blind people with my headlights while chasing my children on the beach!

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2015 at 6:41 am #

      Ha, I felt the same way about my foam inserts but man, I just had to give up on those this year. All the bras I make as soft bras/single cloth layer, and I just decided that I don’t care if anyone sees my nipples. Literally everyone in the world (well, minus a few because there are always gonna be some curveballs!) has nipples. People should get over seeing a little nip. Hahaha

      • LinB May 14, 2015 at 11:27 am #

        Some people have more than two. Not me, mind you, but I knew a nursing mother who had an extra nipple on the side of her left breast. Weird.

  26. Melanie May 12, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    I love this! I can’t wait to get to that point where I can make things like swimsuits; I just mastered pillowcases and half aprons! I love that there are so many awesome things I can look forward to making!

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2015 at 6:42 am #

      Yes there are! Soooo many awesome things await you πŸ˜€ (although pillowcases and half aprons are pretty awesome, too, don’t discount those!)

  27. kierams May 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Thank you SO much for doing this! I’ve been dreaming of doing the same, but hmmm’ed over it for a while, and you’ve answered SO many of my questions! I’m wondering if you think you could have gotten away without the stabilizer in the cradle, or if you find that double thickness to feel bulky at all?

  28. LinB May 14, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    I can’t help but hear the dulcet strains of “Dueling Banjos” when I look at these photos … Cute suit.

  29. Birgit May 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Love your bikini! Great fabric!

  30. Mel May 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    you did a great job! what online sites do you recommend for bathing suit material? or any nashville local shops?

    • LLADYBIRD May 26, 2015 at 8:08 am #

      At this time, I’ve only bought swimsuit fabric in person while shopping in the Garment District, so I’m afraid I can’t recommend any online sites or local Nashville shops. I believe Spandex World and Spandex House (both places where I’ve purchased swimsuit fabric) have online stores, but I’ve never ordered from them that way.


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