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Tie One On: DIY Swimsuits

Snip, twist, wrap, and knot. That’s all that separates you from a new poolside outfit. We know what you're thinking: Why make a bathing suit? Our answer: It costs less than $20!

Photography: Johnny Miller

Source: Blueprint, May/June 2007


Before you assemble our bandeau suit create and cut your pattern.


  • Swimsuit Fabric (Lycra/spandex fabric)

  • Scissors


  1. Fold one yard of swim fabric in half. Print and cut out our templates. If you prefer, you can use a bra and expendable underwear from your dresser.

  2. Fold bra in half and lay along the fold of swimsuit fabric*. Fold underwear in half, and place along the fold. (Folding both in half gives you a more accurate cut which means a better fit) *For the Simple Suit, place bra front toward the fold. For the Twist-and-Tie, latch bra and place latch end at the fold of the swimsuit fabric.

  3. If you are using our templates, place top and bottom pieces on folded swimsuit fabric.

  4. Leaving a generous allowance, trace around top and bottom shapes, extending the lines at the top of the bra straps and the band below the bustline. Be sure to extend the lines at the sides of the bikini bottom shapes as well. This is an important step as this type of fabric curls. Tracing beyond the end of the templates or materials will give you a shrinkage allowance. If you are using your own bra and underwear, see our templates to get a sense of the finished shape you want to achieve.

  5. Cut out the top and bottom.

  6. Make your pattern using our template.

  7. Fold a yard of spandex in half width-wise on a smooth, flat surface. Fold 1/3 yard of a piece in a complementary color in half widthwise and lay it over the first piece, at one edge.

  8. At the fold, pin the top's pattern through both colors, the bottom's through one, then cut.

  9. Tie the bottom in a double knot at both hips and tuck the ends under.

  10. Holding both layers of the top, twist it, wrap it around your chest, and double-knot the ends in back.

  11. Print the pattern pieces; tape them together and cut them out.

  12. Fold 1 1/2 yards of sheer fabric, such as chiffon or organza, in half lengthwise, then again width-wise. Lay it on a smooth, flat surface.

  13. Pin on the pattern and cut with pinking shears.

  14. Unfold the fabric and slip it over your head as you would a poncho. Let the sides overlap a few inches, wrap 1 1/2 yards of cord around your waist, and tie.

    Note: If you would to make a longer cover-up, buy an additional 1/2-1-yard of fabric. Follow above directions. Add the length between rows B and C on our pattern.

  15. If you use your own, cut sides of underwear along the seams.

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