Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Hip, hip hoorah, summer has arrived. So we're planning ahead for days at the beach and nights in resort destinations. Think bathing suits, bikinis and cover-ups!

In the years I lived in Trinidad, I made the acquaintance of several local designers and retailers. According to them, bathing suits and free flowing, colorful dresses that can be worn by women of all sizes and shapes accounted for the majority of their sales. We've already covered how to make the maillot (1 piece bathing suit) and panties, so today you'll learn how to make two bra tops, a popular variation of the maillot as well as two super simple cover-ups that require no real skill.

A quick and easy way to create a bra top starts with a tube. Measure the doll for length over the bust as well as length. Stitch leaving one end open then pull it inside out to reveal the right side. Find the midpoint of the tube and twist your tube twice. Pin. Adjust the folds then stitch in place. You can use snaps at the back to hold in place. However, if the top tends to slide off the doll, feel free to use embroidery yarn or narrow ribbon to create straps.

For the skirt cover-up, I used a square of hand painted silk folded in half. Pin at the waist and mark. Then make a row of hand stitches where the skirt hugs the waist or hips. At each end of these stitches I added a hook in eye.

The next doll wears a typical Caribbean style cover-up. I started out with another square of silk (you can also use a scarf). I folded over the edge and pressed it down. In the middle, make 4 folds and pin. Then stitch along the edge. Pin at the back. Replace the pins with a hook and eye. I added two straps (from braided embroidery thread, knotted at both ends) which wrap around the back of the neck and tie.

Those of you who prefer a one piece bathing suit....start with the maillot pattern you have already created. Trace the left side of the front, the entire back and about a 1/4 inch up the right side of the maillot. Put a pin at the upper left hand point then swing the front maillot pattern to the left about 1-1/2 inch. Draw the top of the maillot. Now on the right side of the front maillot, draw in the curve so that it joins the existing draft just under the waist.

Gather that side of your pattern to just below the waist. Pin the seams shut. Adjust the gathers and stitch.

For the bikini bra, I draped the pattern on the doll using paper tape (available at the pharmacy). I started with length of tape over the bust. Cut a slit under the bust and fold the tape over itself. Add more tape to the side, extended to the back. Draw in your style--over the bust, along the side and back. When you are finished, carefully remove from the doll.

Slit the pattern under the bust and flatten on graph paper. You now have your pattern. Add seam allowance.

For my bra, I have added a wire eyelet in between the breasts as well as straps.

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