Reinventing Ready To Wear Again {Using Megan Nielsen’s Rowan As A Base}


I know it seems like I’ve been sewing a lot of swimmers lately and that’s because I have. Ha. There is a real gap in the market for one piece swimsuits for women that aren’t keen on the whole backless, flimsy, high and cheeky cut or the full bottomed, ruched and paneled offerings. Like a huge gap. I’m 36 and struggle. My mum is 60 and struggles. Bikinis seem to offer a little more variety, but one pieces? Nup. Your choices decrease even further if you can’t deal with halternecks. I can’t and incidentally neither can my mum. Instant headaches for both of us. Plus there’s the whole ‘go into the shop and try on at least 10 pairs under ugly lights and try not to cry’. NO.


So what’s a girl to do? Well, you know the answer to that. You sew your own. Minimal melt downs and swimmers that fit just how you want them to. For me, that means lower legs, thicker straps that run over the shoulder and nice bust support. But no ruching – no matter how ‘flattering’ everyone likes to tell me it is. Plus, this way you get to have nerdy Nintendo swimmers. And match your husband if you want to. Even though he might not be so keen.


Fabric is Spoonflower’s sport lycra and it’s a ripper for swimmers, it’s a polyester lycra blend with 75% stretch across and 50% stretch up and down. It’s colourfast in saltwater and chlorine and therefore ideal for swimwear. I’ve lined mine with swim lining from The Remnant Warehouse.


See this top? I bought it. GASP. I love this high neck style, the wide back band without a clasp and this is one of the first I’ve found with thicker straps that run over the back instead of around the neck. It’s a bit low for me around the armholes, which is a common problem for me with this style  (hello side boob) and I hate how those bra cups float free and move around. Incidentally, the one on the right looks like it’s turned sideways. Annoying. I bought it specifically to make a pattern from.


So I clipped that sucker down flat with wonderclips and I cloned it – adding seam allowance and also raising those arm holes.


I compared my new pattern pieces to the Megan Nielsen Rowan pieces and look at that, they matched up really well. The Rowan pieces are folded down because I’ve been too lazy to trace and cut new ones for my swimmers.


I added swim cups for support again, these ones came out of an old pair of swimmers and really, they are too small for me. But they work well enough with the tension in the fabric when they’re on. I recently watched Beverly Johnson’s class on sewing swimsuits and used her starburst method for adding the cups, which basically entails zig zagging them onto the lining and then cutting into the lining over the cups which then makes the lining and fabric sit better over the bust. As long as those cups don’t move around, I’m happy.


I decided that I’d attempt to finish the neck and armholes the same way as the RTW top – sew the lining and outer together right sides together so no raw edges show and then add elastic to that seam for support. At least, I assumed that was how I did it but I’ve made a mistake somewhere there because my lining wants to roll over at the edges a bit. I have to think about it a bit more for next time. It’s not such a big deal because it’s black and tends up blend in pretty well. It’s worth noting that RTW uses pretty specialised machines for their construction, so it’s not always something that’s easy to replicate on the home sewing machine.


Other than that though, I’m pretty pleased. Once again I finished the legs with this method of binding and used this method for my straps. Learning both of these methods has been a game changer for me, I think it makes handmade swimmers look pretty damn professional.


I’ve been swimming laps at my local pool almost every day recently, so a good solid one piece really is a wardrobe staple for me at the moment.

18 thoughts on “Reinventing Ready To Wear Again {Using Megan Nielsen’s Rowan As A Base}

  1. Hello! I came across your blog fairly recently, and I’m loving all your great one piece swimsuits! You are so right, there is not a lot of variety if you’re not into the ruched “evening gown” swimsuit, or something skimpy. I recently purchased a load of swim fabric, despite the fact that summer has ended here in Canada, and I only made it to the beach once! Perhaps having new and exciting swimwear will make the difference next year. Thanks for all the inspiration!


  2. I love your suit! I haven’t ventured into the world of bathing suit sewing YET but I have Beverly Johnson’s class in my Craftsy classes just waiting for me to get there. To have a bathing suit that fits great, comfortable and resistant to the ravages of chlorine – I’m in! My present suit is pretty good but that “side boob” thing is there and ANNOYING. Also it has these removable cups that are a total pain -they end up all scrunched up inside and so I end up removing them every time to dry them out and then spend 5 minutes struggling to get them back into position again. This was not a cheap suit either ($120 CDN- Made in Canada) so these annoyances are beyond the pale. What I do love about the suit though is the boy legs (not sure if that’s what they’re called) but essentially the bottom are like shorts which means…well you know what that means 🙂


  3. Love this! You somehow manage to make nintendo fabric look so classy! Also not a big fan of ruching… soaks up so much water and then you never feel dry.


  4. Like some of the other commenters, I, too, have only just found your blog. As in yesterday. I spent a good chunk of feeding my baby time reading it yesterday. Love your dresses and when breastfeeding is over for this one I’ll be looking back to find dresses without boob access. Anyway, bathers. Halter necks are so uncomfortable. Why do a lot of manufacturers think big busted women need to use their necks for support in swimwear? I feel like I become more and more stooped as I wear the one halter neck pair I was convinced to buy. Maybe one day I’ll make a pair. In the meantime I’ll wear my newer pair which aren’t ideal but at least I stand straight.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. really love your swimmers. As a pear shaped lady with a 10 top and 14 bottom + a really long torso its impossible to find a once piece that fits. Bikinis aren’t always appropriate. I’m inspired to try and sew my own pair. Will read through your archive for tips.


  6. Oh this is effing gorgeous. What a great neckline on you!!! And what the hell is it with those tiny floaty bra cups anyway. They’re always SO tiny and I totally don’t get that. Surely swimsuit makers know that the majority of the female population is grapefruit sized in the boobage area, not apricot sized (which is what those little triangles are designed to support/cover). Anyway. This is one hellava gorgeous onepiece and you look smashing in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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