Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Sailor Swim Bottoms and Designer Stitch Willow Wrap

My last sewn items in 2018 were all for our trip to Cuba. I made two bathing suit sets using the Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms, Blank Slate Forsythe Trousers in a capri length (I’ll review this in February since I plan on making some more fit tweaks for a pant length version and do not have any pictures ready for the capris), Designer Stitch Willow Wrap, and a pair of Blank Slate Barton shorts in a hot pink nylon for wearing around on the beach (I have more of this material and want to make a couple more pairs of these in various lengths).

I first made the Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms back in the summer before we went to Niagara Falls for a fun weekend. I made 2X in the top and 3X for the bottom.

The construction of both was not easy for me at the time. I actually dislocated my left thumb for the first time trying to sew on the elastic. That plus the fact that they didn’t fit great PLUS I cut the anchors upside down made me not want to wear them. We didn’t end up swimming during the vacation anyway. I wasn’t feeling confident about the construction and didn’t want to accidentally fall out of my suit. 😦 It’s a complete bummer when you have such cute fabric! The fabric is from Emerald Studio and very nice quality. I decided to buy more of it so that I could make it again. Erin doesn’t have any more of the matching hot pink fabric, but there was a suitable replacement at Water Tower Textiles along with a bunch of other ones! Both Canadian shops! 😀

I learned a lot during construction of the suit, but wasn’t motivated to make another until we booked our trip to Cuba. I knew the alterations I needed. I needed to add two inches to the top length to accommodate my bust and add two inches to the centre back of the bottoms since I have booty. I also needed to reduce the width of both the bottom band of the top and the waistband of the bottoms to really get a good fit. The pattern has cut lines based on the difference between your overbust and full bust which is an okay method, but not perfect. Even though, my difference is 7 inches, I still needed to add a bit more length. Of course, part of that has to do with using powermesh to line it and making it less stretchy, but the pattern doesn’t really accommodate for projection or underbust. For the anchor version, I added powermesh to the front and not the back of the top and then lined the whole thing with swimsuit lining. I lined the bottoms with swimsuit lining also from Emerald Studio.

In the next two versions, I used powermesh to line the top and lined the bottoms with swimsuit lining or black swim fabric depending on what I had left. I believe the black/mermaid scales are lined mostly with black swim fabric (except in the crotch area that has swimsuit lining) and the purple bottoms lined with swimsuit lining. I like the structure the black swim bottoms have in comparison to the purple bottoms. The purple fabric is also a bit thinner than the black fabric so there is less structure overall in that suit.

Both are constructed much better than the first pair and had no issues with dislocating my fingers during the construction process. I really love the backs of both suits. The criss-crossing straps are really lovely. The additional length changed it so that the 2-piece suit now looks like a 1-piece suit, which is more to my taste. I loved the original suit I made, but I definitely feel more comfortable in this look. The 2-piece is easier to get on that a 1-piece for me, but I didn’t want to be exposed in my mid section. Mostly due to having to apply more sunscreen and not wanting a burn there!

I did not like the suggested construction methods for a lot of things in the patterns. The bottoms have you sewing the elastic in and then turning the hem over leaving the crotch a lot smaller than I would prefer. I added bands to the legs and sewed the elastic on with one side of the band and then folded the other side of the band over to enclose the elastic in the band. It was much easier for me to do and meant I could wait to cut the elastic and had more of it to grip. I stretched the elastic as I sewed in order to get everything cinched in perfectly. I used this swim elastic from Emerald Studio. It’s seriously good quality and I highly recommend it. I used the same method of enclosing the elastic in the bands for the waistband and the bottom band on the top. The top has elastic at the neckline and under the arms. These are enclosed in the lining already.

I used the serger for all construction. The only alteration from these two versions would be to either cut the straps shorter or stabilize them somehow. I found that as I swam they stretched out. I also plan on making the bands a bit shorter still on the waistband and the bottom band for the top. I may actually line them with powernet. The powernet was from Emerald Studio again. Yes, the post is one long advertisement for Emerald Studio. Hah. I was not paid in any way for this. I just really love Emerald Studio.

The cover up I am wearing is the Designer Stitch Willow Wrap. I won it during the Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern month. I made it with a lovely cotton voile and it is soft and drapey for a cotton. I trimmed it using a fringe for the and pom-pom trim for the arms. Construction was fairly easy and the overall structure of the pattern is easy. It’s 5 pieces of fabric: 2 front pieces, 1 back piece, and 2 pieces for the band for around the neckline and sides. I would definitely make it again. I made size 10 based on my measurements. It fits large and makes a nice beach coverup. I would have been far far more sunburnt without it.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Hello Sailor Swim Bottoms
  • Pros: I love the result for the black and purple swimsuits.
  • Cons: The pattern without modifications isn’t perfect and the method for adjusting the bust isn’t solid. The instructions are in pictures, which I personally find difficult to see versus illustrations.
  • Make again?: Absolutely. I’d be interested to move on to more complicated swimsuits, but this is a great beginner pattern.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars
  • Pattern: Designer Stitch Willow Wrap
  • Pros: It’s a great pattern!
  • Cons: I’m not sure there are cons. It’s a simple pattern with a decent size range.
  • Make again?: Absolutely!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars


23 thoughts on “Patterns for Pirates Siren Swim Top and Sailor Swim Bottoms and Designer Stitch Willow Wrap

  1. YES! You look marvelous darling!
    I love the fringe on the purple suit & the mermaid fabric on the black one.
    They both look great on you. Your beach cover up coordinates perfectly
    with your suits & the added touch of fringe & pompoms are just the right thing to kick it up a notch from nice to fabulous.
    Most of all you look so dang happy.

    1. Thanks so much, Becca! 🙂 It definitely made me happy to be in the sun and surf and wearing two fabulous swimsuits made by me. 😀

  2. Swimwear seems like such a challenge to sew (not to mention wear–I find it hard enough to put sunscreen on face, neck, hands, so I can’t recall the last times I wore a swimsuit and then would have additional acreage to lube). GOOD FOR YOU to stick with it and figure out the mechanics that work for you and make you happy–that is great. I love that you both seem smiley and enjoying–yay! I especially love the black fabric.

    1. Thanks so much, Donnalee! It was on my list to get it done and I am glad I revisited it. It’s amazing how wearing a handmade swimsuit boosted my confidence, too. 🙂 I wasn’t at all shy about wearing it.

      1. That’s great. You did an excellent job. I would be reassured knowing that it fit me and also that I had done good solid construction so no unexpected seams would give way as they might in cheap storebought!

  3. You look SO GOOD in these. I love them!

    I need to go back and adjust mine because in order to make the bottom band tight enough to be supportive, it’s now really hard to get off when wet. I had to get my partner to help me out of it! Also I need to either make the bottoms higher or lower, the sit right where my stomach is largest and so they roll down. I agree with not liking the way the bottoms elastic is put in – I actually needed to take some width out of the crotch area, but I didn’t like the way their finish method makes them sit on my body. It’s summer here now and I’d fully intended to make another set (mostly to wear under rashies, for sun safety) but haven’t gotten to it due to a sewing slump. Maybe this post will motivate me? I love how it looks like a one piece on you, I agree about the sun screen aspect of it!

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 I hope you are motivated to sew another set. I definitely find that the top isn’t the easiest to get on and off. With the adjusted bust, it is a lot easier than the first top I made, though. I’d love to find a suit pattern that has a back closure (or even a front closure) to make it a bit easier. If I weren’t such a novice swimsuit sewer, I would mod it myself, but I am not skilled with it yet.

      1. I bought a simplicity sportsbra pattern (8339) that has a clasp and a cutout at the widest part to make the putting on process easier, I’m planning on making it in a swimwear fabric. I noticed when I looked up the number that they also have 8560 that does the same – it’s not out here yet though. If you’re interested in that I could buy it next time they’re on sale and send it to you, or I could just trace/scan one of the versions and send that so you can see what the shape is like? Not much work in tracing off a small shape like that and it might motivate me to make it while it’s still warm here! Obviously I haven’t made it yet so I can’t vouch for how good it is. It goes up to 44G

        I did sew some steeplechase shorts for swimwear, and they have been getting a real workout! I think my ideal swim getup is shorts + a sportsbra type top + a tshirt type rashie over the top. The sun is BRUTAL here and also that way it’s warm enough I can swim into autumn.

  4. Ahhh! I actually gasped when I got to the black swimsuit scrolling down. It looks amazing on you! I love the fringey one too; it’s so on trend and I bet the movement looks great. Thanks for such an in depth description of your process as well; I’m planning to try my second swimsuit this summer and am soaking up all the tips I can get.

  5. Awesome job! You should be so proud of yourself. Last year as a very new sewer I decided to make some bikinis for my upcoming trip to Europe…. Being a new sewer (having made a couple of simple woven patterns only) I was seriously oblivious to how hard it would be. I swear that sewing the elastic on the first pair almost killed me – but clearly you came away worse off by dislocating your thumb you poor girl! I can fully see how you could do this! After the first bikini top, the next two tops were far easier, and the bottoms were a comparative breeze! I found the pair I made with black elastic to be heaps tighter (than the two pairs made with white elastic) and a colleague subsequently told me that black elastic can have quite different properties to its white equivalent. In future I’ll always use white elastic. I’m so glad we both persevered with our swimwear and wore it too! I hope your thumb is doing okay! I took almost two months (and many needles) to make my bikinis, but I am a much better sewer because of this project.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying! My thumb is doing okay. Thanks. 🙂 I’ve made bras before, but was actually surprised at how difficult the swimsuits were. The rubber elastic I used is super difficult to stretch. Once I figured out how to do it safely for myself, it got a lot easier. 🙂 I am also a much better sewer as a result! 😀

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