nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise

Kwik Sew 3608 – converting a tankini swimsuit pattern for nursing

Kwik Sew swimsuit with nursing openings in the shelf bra (can't see em on the outside!)
Kwik Sew swimsuit with nursing openings in the shelf bra (can't see em on the outside!)

I used Kwik Sew 3608  vieweB to make a nursing tankini swimsuit. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to convert a bandeau tankini swimsuit pattern to nursing. If you have never sewn a swimsuit before, here’s a few tips:

Kwik Sew (and another nursing swimsuit I reviewed, the Elizabeth Lee Nursing Classics swimsuit) are fabulously instructed.

Buy natural elastic – it’s cream colored – that is made from rubber, as it won’t break down in chlorine. Do NOT use any other white elastic or you’ll be super sorry later when your suit falls down.

All you need is a zigzag machine. A serger is handy but not required.

1) Trace a copy of your swimwear’s inner shelf bra.

2) Hold it up to your bust and mark your bust points (yes, those!)

3) draw a line from the top edge to the bottom edge of your shelf bra through the bust point. This is the slice line. Add 1/2 Seam allowance to each side for some overlap (you can use 1/4 if you are smaller busted).Mark the spot where you cut the pieces to begin with. Transfer that marking when you cut your fabric.

3b) cut your shelf bra pieces – you now have left, center and right pieces of the pattern.

4) Overlapping the seam allowances at the markings, your shelf bra will now be exactly the same size as the uncut original pattern. You can hold this up to yourself to check the nursing openings now if you want to. Don’t finish the edges, the fabric won’t ravel and you’ll need the stretch to open it up for your baby’s mouth.

5) Baste top and bottom edges where the shelf bra pieces overlap.

6) Sew your shelf bra as directed by your swimsuit pattern. Sew the rest of your swimsuit as directed by your pattern.

7) to nurse, lift the tankini bottom, open the overlapping shelf bra opening and adjust the fabric around your baby’s mouth.

I did a nice job on the top of 3608 EXCEPT I didn’t actually baste the shelf bra top in place. I zigzagged. Which meant that since I wasn’t entirely straight, it ended up waggling onto the finished side when I was done with the elastic (oops!) So I covered myself by zigzagging a fun wave pattern over the sewn-down elastic on the top, which adds a fun detail and looks like I meant to have that stitching there. Yeah. that’s it.

Seriously, though, it’s a nice detail, the stitching. I like the fit of the suit too, with the new bottoms, it’ll be a good mama belly cover, with the longer tankini top.

The bottoms, however, are too big. Well, the elastic measurements they gave were too large for me, and I did not realize it until I had sewn them on. I guess I could safety pin it on and try them on or something. But anyway, I’ll be making a second bottom. Surprisingly, this suit is somewhat fussier than the Nursing Classics one I just made, or maybe I’m just more cocky with this suit after my success with the last one.

So if that’s the worst of the swimwear project – sewing three seams and some elastic on a tiny pattern piece or two – that’s not so bad! I have enough left to sew Kwik Sew toddler swimsuit. Hubs didn’t like the ruffly bum, but I LOVE it, so I’m making it! She’s a girl! She can wear ruffles on her tush for a while.

I will say this: I may never buy another RTW swimsuit again. I love making them. It’s so easy! Really, I kid you not. I’m not the most detail-oriented sewist ever, but these are coming out so well. Just buy extra fabric if you’re not sure of your size, to make a ‘muslin’ and make adjustments to it.

And I did check out all the groovy patterns at

By paradise

I'm Ann. I've been sewing since I was 9. My first project was a denim wrap skirt. Thrifting is a way of life for me - both eco-chic and financially savvy.

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