In  Swimwear

Sewing Adventures – Soma Swimsuit and Bikini

By Susan | Comments: 5 | March 14, 2016

Over this summer I’ve been making plenty of swimsuits. I’ve taken up paddleboarding which I find it wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable. With views like this it would be hard not to. It also means new outfits were needed.

Sydney Harbour

I enjoy making swimmers and it’s so nice to use the gorgeous prints from Pitt Trading.

lycras from Pitt Trading
One of the styles I tried was the Soma pattern from Papercut patterns. I measured myself, I measured the patterns, I went by the guide and I cut myself the one piece.

papercut patterns Soma swimsuit
It’s huge. Like 2 or 3 sizes too big. It uses none of the lycras stretch at all. When I try it on it feels slack and if I added water it would most certainly fall down. The back gapes open as the cross over straps are not tight enough to sit flat. It’s clearly way too big.



soma back

Not too discouraged I cut out the bikini. I went down a few sizes and tried them on part way through the process and took them in some more. This worked much better, the stretch of the fabric was now being used and they sat firmly. I’d say I ended up cutting an XS which is a bit shocking as I’m not an extra small size.

soma bikiniThis photos is before I added the straps.

Now for the true test, in the water. The bottoms were quite good. I have a slight issue at the lower leg at the back, the elastic tends to fold back when I walk, swim or paddleboard. Not a huge problem but I like my swimmers to stay in place during activities. The bottoms come up nice and high and give good waist coverage.


This is a GoPro photo from when I’m out paddleboarding. I like the fish eye effect but it makes for terrible selfies, hence the no photos of me in the bikini shots.

The top was ok, if I make it again I’d potentially do a Full Bust adjustment as I felt less than secure and covered while swimming and moving around. Not badly but just felt like I wanted to keep hiking the top up as I didn’t feel support/covered enough?
Overall the patterns went together well and the instructions were clear. However the sizing doesn’t seem to take into account the stretch of the fabric adequately? I’d certainly recommend trying on your swimwear mid way through your sewing process and adjust as necessary.

The fold over elastic for the one piece makes getting a neat edge super easy and is a great technique.

soma swimsuit foldover edge

Fabric: Lycra from Pitt Trading

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Soma swimsuit as one piece and bikini.

Alterations:  One Piece – size down a few sizes, fill in back panel and not have the thin cross over straps. More support there would be helpful in not having the swimsuit move around so much during activities.

Bikini – full bust adjustment on top and potentially add to the cups to give more of a full coverage? Reshape lower back leg so it doesn’t fold over.


  • Beth - Sew DIY
    March 14, 2016

    Thanks for posting a review! I bought the Soma pattern last year but haven’t tried it yet. I made my first swim suit last year and definitely noticed the in-water sizing change. I’ve read that only swimwear specific (I think 100% cotton) elastic should be used for swimsuits because chlorine can degrade the others but the fold over looks so pretty!

    • Susan Goodwin
      March 14, 2016

      100% cotton elastic won’t dry at the same rate as the rest of the swimsuit causing not only damp issues but sagging and pulling due to the fact it will hold so much more water. Honestly the lycra/elastane in the fabric will break down at a faster rate or same rate as that in the elastic. So you may as well use the good elastic and accept that swimsuits will have a limited lifespan.

  • Jillian - SewUnravelled
    March 15, 2016

    They look lovely! Quick question. I also have the issue of the flipping up lower back leg thing happening too. What’s the cause. Not tight enough application of elastic or an ill fitting leg hole? I’m not sure how to fix it for next time and I find it mucho annoying 🙂

    • Susan Goodwin
      March 16, 2016

      it’s the shaping of the leg being different to what the body requires or it is sitting in the wrong spot. Unless the elastic is VERY tight it’s normally a shaping issue not an elastic application issue.

  • Sharon
    March 19, 2016

    So glad you reviewed this pattern one to keep away from due to the sizing. Love the colours you have used and thank you for the information about the back leg opening issues.

Comments are closed.




Hi, I'm Susan. A designer living in Sydney, Australia.

Here I share tales of my sewing, my pattern collection and insights into what it's like to work as a professional fashion designer.

Other recurring themes include cat photos and an ever changing hair style.



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