I wrapped on Epic Project on Sunday, and I’ve moved to my next sewing mission: a swimsuit.

I’m fixing to make the retro-inspired two piece from Seamwork magazine: the Reno bikini top and high-waisted Dakota bottoms.


I want to make a new suit for our Northwoods Wisconsin cabin vacation. I’ve got about two weeks until I’m kicking it lakeside.


I originally bought two swim fabrics: a hot pink and a metallic rainbow leopard-print foil (grrr-yow!). I thought, if I’m going to hand make a bikini, it’s going to have personality. The leopard print reminded me of a swimsuit I had in the late ’80s — black and rainbow leopard print, with a heavy Barbie and the Rockers vibe. It was a bikini that was connected at the sides (remember those!?!); I think now they’re called monokinis. But I digress.

The hot pink is a legit swim fabric (well, according to Jo-Ann, anyway). The leopard-print foil fabric, however, is active wear fabric — think gymnastic leotard. I don’t know how it dawned on me, but I got thinking that perhaps the active wear fabric wouldn’t hold up for swim. Hungry for answers, I posed this question in the comments for a Closet Case Files post about sourcing swimwear fabric and notions. A fellow reader pointed out that foil could fail in chlorine, and a swatch test likely would reveal all.

I opted to get different fabric. I don’t have great access to a pool for a swatch test. And I can make some namaste-cray-cray yoga wear with the leopard-print foil.


My new fabric, also bought at Jo-Ann (it’s like a mile from my house, guys — too easy), is OK. I wanted a print, and this mint zebra print was my only option. I picture the hot pink and mint green will have a Barbie ’57 Chevy vibe, which is great for a retro-looking suit. (I was deeply into Barbie, if you hadn’t guessed).

I’ve got everything I need for the suit, except two notions for the top: 3/8-inch plastic boning (half a yard) and 1/4-inch rubber swimwear elastic (1.5 yards). Jo-Ann couldn’t deliver, and I’d like to order both notions from the same vendor to save on shipping. Plus, chasing notions all over the Internet is a drag. Any suggestions where I could find these goodies?

Let’s talk suit details: I’m not yet sure if I’ll put the mint green in the middle or on the sides of the front. I want the back to be hot pink because even though I’m lining the suit, that would be a lot of light-colored fabric stretched over my bum and TRANSPARENCY. Better safe than sorry.

I also plan to insert cups into the Reno top for modesty and added shape. I found good tutorials at Helen’s Closet and Seamwork magazine.

Fitting the top will be a trick. I’m currently a 32C, which is a medium-ish cup size but a small-ish circumference. I split the difference and cut a size small (B cup). I hope, because this is a soft-cupped top with ties, the fit can be fudged a bit. I don’t want the cups to be too small, which throws off proportions, or too big, which likely would mean the top part of the cup where the breast is less full would be floppy. Maybe Reno will be my first bust adjustment! This post from 110 Creations could be very useful — looks like blogger Beth had similar bust-fitting concerns.

Over to you: How do you feel about the retro, high-waisted swimsuit? Do you have a favorite era for swimwear? What are your favorite shops for securing swim fabric and notions? Please share in comments!

P.S. For your reading pleasure, here are some other swimsuit-themed posts!

Swimwear sewing tips: 8 can’t-miss resources in one place
Revealed: Retro Reno and Dakota swimsuit
Slicing a Swimsuit: Underway on Reno and Dakota
The latest: Ready, set, swimsuit!