Hot! The “Beach is Closed for Winter” Bathing Suit

The Facts

Fabric: 4-way stretch jersey
Pattern: BurdaStyle’s “Alison
Year: 2009
Notions: Bra cups
Time to Complete: 18 hours
First Worn: Indoors. It is winter after all.
Wear Again? Maybe if my husband requests it ;-).
Total Price: $8

This bathing suit was NOT going outside. Not with me in it anyway. Here’s why in a nutshell:

  1. It’s cold. (I mean, I love y’all, but not enough for hypothermia.)
  2. Backyard photos would’ve given the neighbors’ teenage kid a treat from his second story window.
  3. Three prototypes and I still couldn’t construct a proper home for the girls. After a few minutes of wearing the suit, a case of side-boob develops.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my experiment. This is probably the best a swimsuit has ever fit me. However, it won’t be ready for prime time until I make one more anti-spillage tweak to the pattern. And, THAT won’t be happening until REAL summer comes along. You know, the time of year when it’s safe (and appropriate) to be half-naked outdoors.








Making (and screwing up) three bathing suits in the middle of winter put me in a HULK WILL SMASH kind of mood.  Perhaps in May or June I’ll start thinking about making another one. Until then, I’ll stick with fabrics that behave less like jello.




Najah Carroll is a project manager by day and seamstress by night. Once it became clear that ready-to-wear was never gonna support her five feet of curves, she taught herself to sew and make pattern alterations. In January, she lost her mind by signing up for this 52-week garment sewing challenge.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow Najah! That looks amazing. Well worth 3 prototypes and need to destroy. I’ve never been able to find a swimming costume that I was totally happy with (there seems to be an assumption by the fashion industry that fat* birds like me want to hide ourselves in black shapeless bleurghs and I’m an 18 on top with a 24 hips, which isn’t as bad in swimming costumes as in dresses but still challenging). But your post/creation has totally inspired me to have a go sometime this year in making my own….7 or 8 prototypes in the hope of one acceptable creation. Thank you!

    *I have a mission to reclaim the word ‘fat’ as simply the descriptive word that it is, like tall, short, blonde or brunette etc….and wrench it back from those who use it as a put-down.

    P.s. wow you have fab legs! Totally jealous.

    • Bless you, Dear. Given my proportions, I was afraid I’d look like a Hobbit centerfold.

      If you do end up tackling a swimming “costume” (I’m SO gonna use that word from now on) later this year, let me know and we’ll do it together.

      • ‘Bathing suit’ similarly cracks me up (though not as much as ‘pants’ for ‘trousers’).

        To Brits ‘bathing suit’ summons up images of Edwardian ladies and gents in one piece swimming costumes :P that were often stripey and had legs, or navy blue with white piping collars and bloomers…and you’d change into them in a wooden caravan on wheels that would be pushed near to the tide.

        What do you picture when a Brit says swimming costume then? I was being posh, we usually say swimming cossie, or even just a cossie.

        And yes, I’ll let you know, though I’ll want to try some basic sewing knits before I tackle 4-way stretch anythings.

      • I’m gonna call it a swimming costume from now on too!! Your ‘swimming costume’ is great. And I know what you mean about indoor pictures right now!.

  2. Najah, it’s terrific, and better yet, you are! What a terrific job on the ‘costume’. If your husband doesn’t ask you to wear it…he must bed bonkers!

  3. You look adorable and your hulk comment made me snort tea out of my nose!

  4. I love it! I don’t have the side boob problem and didn’t even make my suit out of anything suitable for swimming. I don’t get IN the water just lounge around near it with a good book. I hope you’re able to make it work-it looks great on you!

  5. This is absolutely amazing! I love the retro look- so flattering and so freaking cool! Wonderful :D

  6. vavavoom! love it!

  7. That is an amazing suit and you look scrumptious in it! Such cut retro styling! I don’t know if it would help you, but I once had a suit that didn’t have enough support up top, so I grabbed an old underwired bra and handsewed it in, backstrap and all. It worked like a charm to keep everything contained…

    • OMG, Helen!! That’s exactly what I did. Now I know that I didn’t invent the trick — Yeah, thanks for that bubble burst ;-).

      For this suit, I sewed in a set of cups from an old bra after cutting off the shoulder and back straps (there’s little coverage in back of the suit). The bra cups I purchased were complete jokes – when I return them to the store, I’ll point to the cups, then to my chest and say, “Seriously? Do these look like they’d fit THESE?”

      Ultimately the fitting issue was the uni-boob pattern piece (it’s scrunched in by a front tab). Because the 4-way stretch is…well, stretchy (as hell), it was difficult to gauge how much extra width I needed. The piece has to be wide enough for shelter, but not too wide because you must take advantage of the fabric’s stretch to get it to snug up to your chest.

  8. The fit looks perfect!

  9. Makes me want to go to the beach. Love the material, and you look like a star-especially with those cool shoes. Making bathing suits-you’re a genuis. Never having to step inside a dressing room and deal with the humiliation again. I suspect you are starting a whole new revolution for women.

  10. I think a few of you are ready to guide us through a swim-suit sew-along! It looks like you have worked out al lof the kinks and made one heck-of -a fabulous bathing suit! How about it Najah?

  11. Najah, i’m so impressed, the cut looks amazing on you, sorry about the side boob but as you say one more go and you will be sending all the boys on the beach to get you cocktails. I just love it. Well done.

  12. Three Cheers for you and your wonderful togs (just to throw in another word for bathers. They look fab and I hope you sort out the side boobage issue.

  13. I love the way you write! :)

    A suggestion for the constant side-boob issue? Widen the straps, towards your armpit if that makes sense.. I have to do that.

    It’s really cute! I love it.

  14. Those of us who are still waiting for the titty fairy to visit *in our 40s* were always jealous of you girls, but we never thought about how hard it is to get a good fit on top! I usually just remove darts because they serve no purpose for me….

    I think the suit/bathers/cossie looks great on you! Maybe save it for posing lusciously on the sand?

  15. Love the hulk comment! :-). The suit looks fantastic!