Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dress to Swim Dress: Get the How To

Disclaimer: There's a long story to this one, feel free to scroll down to TUESDAY's TUTE.
I've been hunting a swim suit, or the fabric to make one, since March. I didn't think I was overly picky, but I couldn't find either. I guess finding a swimsuit when you're not particularly happy with your shape and skin coloring (read a little fluffy and very pale here...it's ok), putting on something with stark coloring and big patterns is an issue. And, add to it that that something is tight and doesn't cover much of said body. lol
I hunted everywhere. I even googled for one. Swim season is here, and I'm getting desperate. Too add to the problem, my old standby suit of six years, fell apart. The fabric in the skirt lost it's elasticity last week at the pool and looked really weird by the time we left.
The children and I were at the mall, not our usual shopping place, this week. Kohls was having a "great swimsuit sale", 50% off. I thought it was worth a try at that price. Six years ago I paid $40 full price for 3 pieces, so half off and desperate for a suit makes this a worthwhile trying on experience.
With two children, I quickly scoured the racks for a skirted tankini for a fuffly, pale mama. I found one that would "do", and in my size. In the dressing room we discovered that my "size" must have changed...hmmmm. It fit on the bottom, bustline, but the middle was waaay too tight. Out we go. Curly likes a mini dress that we pass coming out of the dressing room. I do too, but what do I need a mini dress for.
Well, now I'm on a mission...not a good thing with two little children at naptime, I know. I've heard great things about Landsend, so off to Sears we go. They are having a sale, too. This time I happen to notice the tag....what $50 for each piece...are you kidding me. This "will have to do" swim suit is going to cost me $70. Well, if it fits, I'm told they "last forever". Off to the dressing room we go with two pieces that are close to my size (alternations will be necessary). These don't fit either. Now, what am I going to do.
I know...that mini dress! It could be a tankini top. Just cut it off and weight it somehow, as without weight it would float up. I try on a medium and it fit, with a slight bust adjustment, which is quite normal. I already had a bottom to match from an earlier hopeful purchase that I hadn't returned. I think we're going to get a bathing suit...and for less than $40, both pieces.
After trying on the dress at home to check for the bust adjustment and ask my dh what he thought, he suggested I not cut it and use it as a swim dress. Great idea and much quicker. Now, all I needed to do was weight it down....secret ingredient below.
Thanks for listening to the story now for the tutorial.


Knit dress (any length will do): The key is the type of knit. From what I can tell, polyester/spandex blend is best. It will give you the feel that you need, stretch that you need, and is quick drying. The dress also will need to have some sort of built in bra, without much pad (won't dry otherwise).
Weights: The ideal weight would be curtain weights (metal beads encased in fabric). I didn't have those, so my dh suggested brass (won't rust) washers. After a thorough sink/float test at the beach, we determined that six (in groups of two) washers would be just right.
Heavy-duty thread or fishing line and a well tied knot.


1. Make your knit dress the proper length, if it isn't already, by cutting it off. No need to hem, knit doesn't ravel.

2. Sew the weights into the side seam near the bottom of the dress. Sew them in well so that they don't break the threads or come un-tied. I'll be sewing mine in a bit better today.

That's it...

I wore my new swim dress to a homeschool picnic the other night and it got rave reviews from the other mamas. I like it so much that I ordered another dress with a different print. It should be here in a few days. And, my dh has more of those washers. lol
I'd love to hear how this swim suit idea works in your world!

Happy Sewing!


  1. I love this Idea, and I will be on the look-out for a Spandex Knit summer dress. I am wearing shorts over one that was a gift 20yrs ago, when I had a figure.(built like a Brick-humm, you get the idea=) Now I am best described as "Built like a Tank", not much on top and wide at the bottom. =)Thanks for sharing this idea. GyspyMary

  2. I love this idea! I have gained a lot of weight and do not want to be seen in a swimsuit! I also have issues with breaking out after shaving the bikini line. This would help solved the dilemma. Thanks for sharing!


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