Just like ready-to-wear clothes don’t fit most bodies straight off the shelf (that’s one of the reasons you sew, right!?), sewing patterns often won’t fit you perfectly without some adjustments as well. Here I’ll show you how to grade and make fit adjustments specifically for the Laminaria Swimsuit. Pop over and read “Choosing a Size for a Swimsuit Pattern” before delving further here. If you need to shorten or lengthen your Laminaria, read that tutorial here. All of these adjustments are shown for the plain view. You can use the same principles to adjust the view with the inset, carrying your adjustments across both the main and the contrast fabrics.
Sewing a “muslin”: It may be kind of funny to call it a muslin since you most definitely can’t sew this pattern out of actual muslin, but it’s always a good principle to sew a draft of something before cutting into your good fabric. Unfortunately for swimsuits, tiny differences in stretch make a big difference in fit so sewing a draft out of cheap fabric may not actually reflect how the “good stuff” will fit you. To minimize the difference, sew your draft out of a fabric that feels as similar to your good fabric as possible – make sure you can’t detect a difference in weight or stretch. Also, use the same lining fabric. In the examples above, I sewed these two suits the same week using the same pattern pieces and the same lining. The pink suit with the inset feels great on. The purple suit is uncomfortably tight – the fabric was ever so slightly thicker with ever so slightly less stretch and it’s noticeable when wearing it. (The purple suit has three pattern hacks – contrast edging, wide straps, and wide strap joins).
Grading between sizes: Grading between sizes is probably the most common alteration for people to make. To grade between a size, mark on the pattern pieces your correct size at the bust, waist, and hip and then draw soft curves connecting the points. You do this when your bust, waist, and/or hip put you in different sizes. For example, my measurements are 36-29-40 so my bust and waist are a size 8 but my hips are a size 40 according to the Tuesday Stitches size chart. Therefore, I start with a size 8 and use it for the bust and waist and grade it out to a size 10 at the hip. The image above shows what my pattern pieces look like.
If you are larger in the bust measurement than waist and hip you can do the reverse. The image above shows what your pattern pieces look like. However, remember that you select your size based on your High Bust measurements NOT your Full Bust measurements. This is what it would look like if you have a wide back (independent of the size of your breast tissue) and proportionately narrower waist and hips. Though our pattern pieces come in A-C and D-F cup sizes, you can also use this method to accommodate an even fuller bust (G+ cup) by choosing the D-F cup size option AND grading up a size at the bust.
Generally, you should never grade more than 2 sizes larger or smaller. Generally, if you have a more dramatic difference you’ll need to use more complicated pattern alteration techniques for a best fit. You may find this unnecessary in a swimsuit because of the amount of stretch in the fabric or you may find it easier to sew a two piece swimsuit where you can select disparate sizes for your top and bottoms.
Removing waist shaping: If your figure is less hourglass than the pattern is drafted for (i.e. your bust and hip fit into a size but your waist is larger) then it’s pretty easy to remove some of the waist shaping (or, in other words, add a bit of fabric to the waistline). The adjustment to the front pattern piece is pretty obvious – connect the bust and hip without having the fabric nip in at the waist. (The fabric can also curve outward a bit if you need even more room at the waist). The adjustment for the back is a little less obvious because the fabric at the side seam is fairly straight already. One option is to connect the bust and hip at the side, though this adds only a bit of extra fabric. If you need more, you can actually add to the center back seam. Though this primarily adds to the low waist/upper hip, swimsuits fit with negative ease in all directions, so adding fabric in next to where you need it can be enough to help you where you actually need it.
Multiple adjustments: It’s totally possible that you need multiple adjustments. For example, the pattern pieces above show how to grade to a larger size at the hip while also removing waist shaping. Remember that the more adjustments you do the more we encourage you to sew a draft swimsuit.