Tag Archives: @katiemakesadress

Inspired by Surfing: Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

I’m really excited to share today’s garment with you.  This one was a long time coming, because I thought about it for months before finally starting on it.

In the past few years, surfing has become a fun spectator sport for me, and I’m also inspired by the fashion aspect of surfing.  In my perusal of current surf culture, I’ve noticed a lot of wetsuits/swimsuits that look like long-sleeved, one-piece swimsuits (see some of my inspiration here, here, and here).  I wanted one of my own…and I knew that I had the power to make it!

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(front view, above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(back view, above)

As I thought my plan over, I realized that the perfect pattern for this project wasn’t a swimsuit pattern.  The one that looked closest to what I wanted turned out to be the Nettie Dress & Bodysuit pattern by Closet Case Patterns.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl was kind enough to order a few copies so I could get on with my project.  Next I started looking around for fabric and inspiration.  Pinterest and Instagram were great for ideas.  And fabric?  Etsy to the rescue–specifically a shop called Ameritexx Spandex.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear


Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Design & Technical Choices

This project was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects.  I chose the long-sleeved bodysuit with the high neck and low back in a 12 at the bust and waist and 14 at the hip.  I didn’t want to put a zipper in, so while I originally chose the medium back, I got a little bit worried about how easy it would be to get into and out of, so I decided to go with the lower back.  I also added in a shelf bra (included in the pattern) and padding (traced from other swim cups) for modesty.  I chose to line the body of the suit, but not the sleeves.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside, front (above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside back (above)

As far as equipment goes, I made this on my home sewing machine (an Elna 3005, if you are interested) with a stretch needle, a walking foot, and a zigzag stitch.  I used polyester thread (from Gutermann) in my needle and woolly nylon/bulky nylon thread in my bobbin.  My elastic was swimwear elastic and the foam I used in the shelf bra was poly-laminate foam from Sew Sassy.  It’s good for lightly padded bras or swimwear.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

the underside of the shelf bra, where you can see the poly laminate foam

When I cut my pattern, I made sure to trace out a full pattern piece (rather than a standard half pattern piece) so that I could cut my fabric in a single layer rather than cutting on the fold.  I also used a rotary cutter.


I always get nervous when I want to sew a swimsuit.  There are so many layers and the fabric is slippery.  You also really need a swimsuit to work–to stay on your body in and out of the water.  Thankfully, this went together really well.  I told myself I would try it on as I went and adjust as necessary.  Usually I just make the thing and hope for the best, but not on this project!  With the exception of including a lining and treating the lining and outer fabric as one, I followed the directions of the pattern to about the point where it was necessary to add leg and neck elastic.

I did make a few modifications, although not many.  I raised the front leg openings about an inch.  I shortened the length of the shelf bra, and decided to sew over each seam twice for extra security.  I also realized very quickly when I started to add my leg elastic that I needed more width of fabric in the crotch area if I was going to stitch and turn elastic and still expect coverage.  To take care of this issue, I got out the pattern for the bottoms of Jalie 3023 (a tankini), traced it out, and used it as the crotch section of my suit.  I also changed how I applied the elastic.  I used the techniques in this blog post (which I’ve printed out so I won’t lose it), using bound elastic for the neckline and gathered, turned, and stitched elastic for the leg holes.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Bound elastic at the neckline

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Gathered, turned, and stitched elastic at the leg openings


I’m really happy with how this turned out, although I’m sorry to say that I finished it so late in the season that I’ve only worn it while swimming once.  It stayed on well, and I felt good in it.  In fact, I think this is my most successful swimsuit to date.  The only thing I might change is to take in the sleeves from elbow to wrist slightly.

As it is now, the suit stays on well, despite the open back.  If it loosens eventually, I could always add a strap across the back.  I’m excited to try this out over time and see how I like it.  It wasn’t overly hard to make (despite my fears) and I like how it looks.  I definitely recommend this pattern if you want to give it a try.  I found that using the sew-along on the Closet Case Patterns website in tandem with the directions was really helpful.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

With only about a week of summer left, I have one more garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list to sew up as well as a second version of my black silk shirt.  I want to charge through them, but my back has been messed up (I really have to find a way to prevent that!).  I hope I can do it!  I’ll report back here soon!

Lastly, tomorrow is my blog’s four-year anniversary.  Hooray!  Blogging has been a great way to take part in the fun of the sewing community and a great personal journal of the things I’ve sewn.  Thanks for coming along with me on the adventure!


  • Around the time I made this suit, Rosie Martin of @rosie_diycouture and Katie of @katiemakesadress also made long-sleeved swimsuits.  Rosie used the Nettie, while Katie tried the Rowan Bodysuit from Megan Nielsen Patterns.  There must be something in the air!  We all caught hold of similar inspiration!
  • Have you seen the new Lander Pant and Short pattern from True Bias?  I’m really tempted by those pants.  I mean–wide legs and patch pockets!  Right up my alley.
  • I decided I wanted to look at the fashion designs of Ralph Lauren and Valentino more closely so I requested some books from the library.  Two out of three turned out to be kids books, but…they were great!  It was the perfect way to get a brief biography of each designer’s life and career.  I’m going to have to try this for other people I’m interested in learning about.
  • I never realized all the similarities between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings until I watched this! 😉