Sewing Swimwear – Soma Swimsuit

I grew up loving the water and spending every moment at the beach. My first email address was beach_chick. However, in recent years I developed a fear of drowning after a series of horrible nightmares. Looking back it’s sad that I  let nightmares hold me back from enjoying the water.

Recently Paul and I decided that we would like to spend more time swimming and enjoying the beach. Because I haven’t been swimming for many years I didn’t own any swimsuits. This led me to look at patterns as my previous experience of buying ready-made swimwear was not been an enjoyable experience.

Fun facts! In New Zealand swimwear is called Togs,  in Australia it’s called a Cossie.

I decided on the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns. The pattern is for a one piece and a two piece. I was drawn to its athletic style lines and its pieced bikini top.

As was my first time sewing a swimsuit and working with foldover elastic. I had stashed several meters of black swimwear fabric along with a bag of athleticwear scraps. Keeping the togs simple meant I could mimic the models look and use some of the scraps for the lining.


It was interesting making swimwear. Initially, the shapes of the fabric pieces were hard to figure out. I sewed a few parts together incorrectly.

As swimwear fabric has two-way stretch I struggled to figure out if there was a right way to cut the fabric. I followed the normal grainline rules.

I didn’t want to put pin holes in the fabric so used pattern weights to hold down the fabric while cutting. I used quilting clips instead of pins to hold the pieces together while sewing. I also marked the wrong side of the fabric with washi tape.


I’m really happy with the fit of the two-piece. I went with the low rise bottoms as the higher rise emphasised my belly. As per the instructions, I overlocked the lining fabric to the outer fabric to make it easier to work with. I used a 2.5 width zigzag on my sewing machine but will use my Coverstitch machine in the future.

Our local store didn’t have all the bra findings so thankfully I had some stashed from a worn-out bra. If you are in New Zealand Lynda from Elle Jones stocks an awesome range.

Part way through making the two piece I decided to cut out the one piece. I find it helpful to practice my newfound skills straight away to reinforce my learning. I also wanted a one piece so it made sense to work on them at the same time.

The fit of the one piece is pretty good, It is a little more booby than I expected. I followed the instructions for the length of bra elastic for both swimsuits. The fit was far too loose so I removed about 10cm from the length of the straps I guess it depends on the stretch of the elastic. Overall I found the pattern instructions clear and easy to follow.




The back is where I had most of my issues. I tried sewing in elastic which made the gaping worse. It was still happening when the crossover straps weren’t in place. I have given up trying to diagnose the issue, so will rock this suit as is. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions. I’m wondering if the length of the back band is too long.


I made a variation of the Suki Kimono to wear as a beach cover-up. Helen has a tutorial  on her blog which I followed. I added short ties to the inside of the front band to keep it closed. I love wearing this cover-up with togs or as a lightweight summer jacket.


I’m hoping for lots of fine days to swim at the beach this summer! I have tested the two-piece and confirm that it’s an excellent fit. I’d love to know if you have any swimwear tips or favourite patterns.


Pattern: Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit

Size: S

Fabrics: Black Swimwear Fabric and Swimwear lining. 

Findings: Bra O rings and plastic clip. Bra strap elastic and foldover elastic.

Alterations: adjusted strap length for togs and swimsuit.

Sewing needle: Stretch

Machines used: Overlocker and Sewing Machine.

Other version: Melissa from  The Curious Kiwi 

Places to buy swimwear fabric: The Fabric Store, Pitt Trading, Elle Jones, Levana.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve been planning to make a swimsuit – yours is lovely! Great fit and suits you to a Tee 🙂 I bought a Jalie pattern because it was the only one I could find with a boyleg which I prefer – it’s a one piece as well so I’m “working towards it” 🙂 I’m tall (5’8″) with a large bust so I need the length that’s often just not there in RTW suits which is not comfortable and I swim all the time (at our local pool) which means I go through a LOT of suits so if I can make up one that fits in a fabric I like that would be so helpful!


    1. Thanks Kathleen! That’s how I felt about making togs then got so hot. The thought of going shopping for swimwear made me more uncomfortable that the prospect of sewing togs.

      Your suit sounds lovely! I hope you get a chance to make it soon. Swimming is such a great way to keep fit good on you 🙂


  2. Danielle says:

    love it! Im making these next in time for my trip back home to Aus. Fun fact…in Queensland we also call them togs.


    1. Thanks Danielle! Oh I didn’t know that! 🙂


  3. Zéphine says:

    I’ve been thinking of making togs for a good year now. I even have all the notions (fabric, special lining that cost an arm, fold over elastic). All I need now is courage and… A good pattern! I was thinking of drafting one myself, something simple like a triangle bikini, but you now I want a Soma!!! I love the aesthetic of the straps, and I know I would, as you did, make both the one piece and the bikini. Oh well, I guess i’ll use my credit card soon 😉

    About the gapping in the back, have you try shortening the shoulder straps? It seems to me that they might be a little bit too long. If not, a solution might be to add some light boning enclosed between the lining and the outer fabric. I have a RTW bikini with a back similar to the Soma, and it has boning on the side to keep the shape. And I’m just checking right now and the bra I’m wearing also has boning as well (yep, you can picture me palping my underwear in the open space at work!)


    1. Ahh awesome! you should totally go for it girl! You would wear it so much! So excited to see your togs now! We can be twins? 🙂

      I love that idea of adding boning! I think the back might be slightly too long for me.

      Also love the fact that you were doing that at work .


  4. lapeche79 says:

    Another fun fact….. South Aus, WA and the NT togs are called Bathers….. Cossie (pronounced cozzie) is a NSW thing, New South Welsh people also say swimmers….. and us Qlders say togs…. we don’t have many accent/language variations…. but this is still a strong indicator of where you grew up!


  5. lapeche79 says:

    PS – really excellent togs!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so impressed!! My dream is so sew my own swimsuits so I am so happy to find your blog! I hope you keep sewing. You are so good!


    1. Thank you so much! 💕 It definitely felt like an amazing achievement to concur. I hope you work towards making your own swim suit.


  7. Anna Chiesa says:

    Hi Emma, would you have a copy of the Soma suit that i can buy from you? they have discontinued the pattern and i have looked everywhere … with no luck… Please let me know!


    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi Anna I had the physical pattern but I can’t find it. I think I gave it away.

      Hopefully you can find a copy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s