Tutorial | Fun In The Sun Any Size Swim Cover Up | by Christina McKinney
GUYS!! It’s been a little while since my last post – So so happy to be back and bringing y’all another fun post! I’m hoping this will be a favorite for you guys. It is very versatile, quick to sew, and CUTE. And how perfect is Beyond the Sea for this project? I am so in love with this whole collection!
I designed the Fun in the Sun cover with a few things in mind – I wanted it to fit a wide range of ages and sizes. ANYONE can wear this. Size up, size down, make it work for you! I also wanted stylish because well, who wouldn’t want that? And lastly, comfortable!! Something that I would want to hang out in after a day by the pool or at the beach. You could even make a few tweaks to customize it. Add pockets! Use a bias binding around the edges rather than poms…sky is the limit!
Some notes/tips before we get started sewing –
- The head hole templates I’m including are just a jumping off point. You may find that you need a smaller/larger opening. When making adjustments, keep in mind that knits do stretch. Your best bet is to cut what may seem like a small head opening, and then widen as necessary from there.
- I recommend prewashing your fabric before sewing.
- There are a few places in this tutorial that pinning will be required but I DO NOT recommend sewing over your pins.
- If you are using a directional print, you can cut your piece in half width wise and have a shoulder seam. (Be sure to add your seam allowance if you do this.) OR, you can decided that you don’t care about upside down prints and keep it all one continuous piece. I promise not to judge.
- Adult cover – 2yds knit (*this will be more or less depending on your measurements.
- Child Cover – 1 1/4yd knit (*also will vary depending on the size child you’re sewing for)
- 2in strip of coordinating or matching knit print for neckband. (length of this piece will be determined by your head hole sizing. The bindings used here are 27 1/2in long for the adult size cover and 19 1/2in long for the child sized cover.)
- Pom pom trim – I used about 7 1/2yds for both of these covers. You will need to calculate your pom needs based on the size of your cover. Add up the length of all 4 sides, then add a few inches for wiggle room.
- Head hole template
*To determine the amount of fabric required, you will need two measurements – Across the shoulders widthwise and front to back over the shoulders to determine length. (See photo example of front to back shoulder measurements) I measured from the spot on the front of her leg I wanted the cover to fall and up and over to the same spot on the back of the leg.
For the shoulder width measurements, I just measured from where I thought a good “sleeve” length would be. An example of my math – I made the adult cover 28in wide. My models shoulders measure 18in across, but then each side had an added 5in for the “sleeve.”
Because we will be stitching on the pom pom trim and leaving the edges unhemmed, you will not need to add anything to your length or width measurements. So, once you have your numbers, you’re all set!!
You will start by cutting your fabric to the correct length and width. Take time to press your fabric and fold it carefully if necessary when cutting. Nothing worse than ending up with wonky cuts!! You’re going to end up with a long rectangle.
Fold your cut piece in half lengthwise matching up the short edges. Mark this folded edge with a pin on each end and a finger pressed crease.
With the piece still folded in half lengthwise, fold it in half again widthwise. I used a small pencil dot to mark this spot. This is the exact center of your piece and what you will use to line up the head hole template.
Unfold your fabric piece and lay it flat. Position the template on your fabric, making sure to match the “crease” line on the template with your horizontal crease line. Use the center dot you made as well to get the template positioned correctly. You will notice the template is placed unevenly on this line – that is so that you will end up with a cover that has a distinct front and back scoop. Trace around your template with chalk or a fabric marker. With your fabric open completely, carefully cut out your neck hole.
Refold your piece in half lengthwise, making sure to match up the bottom and side edges.
I included the optional step of rounding the lower corners of the cover. Using a cup/bowl/plate/something round, trace a rounded edge on each of the lower edges and carefully cut it out. Along with being super cute, this actually makes it easier to add the pom trim later.
Your lower edges should look like this –
Grab your mountain of pom pom trim and find the beginning. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…. 🙂 Find a spot near the center back of your fabric piece to begin pinning your trim. You will want to pin a couple inches of trim in place but DO NOT start sewing there. Leave the beginning couple inches pinned and not sewn because this will be used later to hide your start/stop point. *Disclaimer – I don’t care for pinning much, so I did not pin the pom poms all the way around before sewing. I got it started by pinning but then just held it in place as I sewed for the rest. Do what works best for you.
I lined up my pom pom trim so that the bottom edge of my fabric was just a hair above the bottom edge of the trim base. I used a double needle to stitch this in place. Go slowly and carefully, making sure to catch both the fabric and trim as you go. This was the part that took the most time, but it’s so cute and well worth the effort! Be sure to let the fabric feed evenly and do not stretch. I have recently discovered the awesomeness that is a walking foot and I use it almost exclusively on my machine now. It’s great for holding the layers together without stretching.
When you reach a curve, just carefully guide your pom pom trim around the edge.
Stop a couple inches from your pinned edge once you have worked your way all around. I left my original pinned edge flat, overlapped the pom pom trim a bit, and then folded the edge under 1/2in to cover the raw edge of the trim. I adjusted my pins to hold this in place. When you stitch this last piece down, make sure to take a couple stitches back to reinforce your folded trim edge.
You made it through the hardest part! Wasn’t too bad, was it?
**If you are NOT using the neck hole template provided, you will need to measure your neck hole for this next step. (It’s probably a good idea to measure even if you are using the template since the stretch in knits can vary widely.) Be sure to not stretch the neck while you are measuring. Whatever your neck hole measures, subtract 2in and you have your neck binding length. This can vary depending on the amount of stretch in your knit fabric. If your fabric has a lot of stretch, you may want to subtract 2 1/2 – 3in to keep from having a droopy neckband. If the fabric isn’t super stretchy, maybe only subtract 1in. My measurements were – Adult: 29 1/2in neck hole opening, binding cut to 27 1/2in. Child: 21 1/2in neck hole opening, binding cut to 19 1/2in.
It’s a good idea to sew your neck binding in place with a basting stitch if you’re not sure you have the length right. Then you can test it out without having to pick out tiny stitching if it needs adjusting.
Once you have your measurements figured out and your binding cut, you will need to prepare the piece. Your neck binding should be cut 2in wide and should stretch along the long side.
We are going to be making this in to a double fold neck binding. Start by folding each long edge under 1/4in and press. Once both long edges are pressed, fold the strip in half widthwise and press.
Open your neck binding up and without twisting it, put the two short sides together. Sew this in place with a 1/2in seam allowance.
Your neck binding should now be one continuous piece. Refold along the pressed lines. With the neck binding folded, find the center back of your neck opening and pin the binding in place. You should have the neck hole fabric sandwiched between the layers of the binding. The seam of your neck binding should be place in the center back of your neck hole. There are a few ways to pin the rest of the neck binding in place. You can just stretch it a little as you go and pin in place, or you can divide it up and to make sure it is evenly stretched. I chose to do the latter. With the back binding pinned in place, I matched the center of the neck binding with the center front of the neck hole and pinned in place. Do the same with the sides. You should now have 4 spots pinned.
Gently stretching as you go and place a few more pins between your original 4 pins to hold everything in place. I may not like pinning, but this is one place I will always PIN PIN PIN! Your neckband should fit in to the neck hole with a fair amount of stretch to ensure it will hold it’s shape once sewn. If it is too easy/too hard to stretch in place, you may need to make an adjustment.
Going slowly and using a double needle, stitch your neck binding in place. Take your time to make sure you are catching all the layers evenly.
The last step is totally optional, but I feel like it gives the cover just a little extra something. Put the cover on your model and have them stand with their arms straight out. Take a pin and mark a spot a couple inches down from the armpit and from the side. Remove the cover and using a zigzag stitch, put a few tacking stitches in this spot. Make sure your cover is folded evenly with edges matching up before sewing this in place. I placed my stitches in a slight downward angle starting at the highest point and going down toward the side edge. I did about 12 zigzag stitches forward and then reversed back over the same stitches for reinforcement. To make sure the placement of your tacking stitches are even, fold your cover in half and use the first set of stitches to mark the spot for the second set.
This small extra step creates a “sleeve” of sorts and holds the cover in place just a bit. The cover still works just fine without these tacking stitches, but its nice to have those in place in case it’s windy and also to keep the cover from sliding out of place while it’s being worn. (I highlighted the tacking spot with a yellow zigzag because my stitching is white and a little hard to see.)
That’s it! In just a few easy steps you have created a cute swim cover!! I think this calls for a day at the beach or lounging by a pool. You know, for testing purposes.
I hope you guys enjoy this project as much as I enjoyed creating it. Till next time y’all!!