A couple of years ago, I ordered some clearance swimsuit fabric from Chez Ami, and let me tell you, this is good stuff! It is thick and the prints are just too cute. Their clearance fabric is sold in minimum increments of 2 yards. Well, 2 yards of 60-inch wide swimsuit fabric is enough to make quite a few swimsuits for little girls.
Yesterday, I made a tankini for both Allie and Jenna. Allie's bottom is Kwik Sew 2605, which is out of print, but is a great pattern if you can get your hands on it. . .especially if you've never made a bathing suit. Kwik Sew patterns are excellent when you need a little hand-holding. Her top is Ottobre's Gilda bikini from the summer 2009 issue lengthened to tankini length.
Jenna's suit is an adaptation of Seahorse swimsuit from the same Ottobre issue. I simply traced the bottom and then cut it off at what I though would be a good height for her bikini bottom. (I miscalculated, and will probably redo hers. She has RTW syndrome when she wears them, but more about that later.) Then, I traced the rest of the top and lengthened it a bit, so it would overlap the bottom.
I also decided not to make Jenna's straps tie at the shoulders and instead finished them in the same way as Allie's suit.
The bottoms of both suits are fully lined with swimsuit lining from Joann's. The elastic is serged on and then folded over and secured with a zig zag. I didn't have matching all-purpose thread, so I used embroidery thread to top stitch the suits. . .hopefully, I won't regret that when the suits are used in chlorine.
The tops are partially lined. . .think a shelf bra, but without the elastic in the bottom. I hemmed the tops with my coverstitch machine and did the binding and straps with the double-fold binder (LOVE that gadget!).
Okay, the real question is why would I make swimsuits when I can get them both a suit at Walmart for less than $20. There are a few reasons that I can think of. First, I can't buy suits of this quality at Walmart. Second, I prefer for my girls to have a little more coverage in a suit than you typically find in RTW. It isn't that I don't let them wear bikinis. It has more to do with the lack of coverage in the bottom. . .just go to a public pool and watch the little girls who are constantly having to pull their swimsuits out of their bottoms. That's what I mean. Third, I want to control the style of their suits, meaning I don't want their suits to look like mini adult swimsuits.
Swimsuits are also quick and easier than you would think to make. Plus, they look great when you finish!