Making an Atomic Bikini

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone looking for jeans or bathing suits, will almost always be SOL. I know this to be true, especially for women, as I know not a single woman who has ever looked forward to buying either of these items. Whether too big, too small, too short, too tight, or just sitting poorly in all of the wrong places, pants are a nightmare. With swimwear, it’s all of the above, plus having to worry about your personal bits flying out of it. We all sigh a collective sigh at the idea of jean/bathing suit shopping.


I buy a new bathing suit maybe once every two to three years (I was shocked that people have multiple bathing suits?!). I’m a one-and-done kinda gal. However, I’ve never been pleased with any of them. I like the security of a one-piece, as it holds in everything while you’re trying to frolic (essential requirement) but you can’t get a very nice tan. For this, I like a bikini but I’m always thinking about sucking it in and trying to keep my boobs from falling out the top or sides or wherever. Recently, tired of yet another summer in the same bathing suit, I decided, as I eventually do with all things, that I would “just make my own damn (bathing suit)!”

Project mode: engaged. I have an hour-glass shape, so I was settled on a 1950s bathing suit. Almost all styles from that era are flattering to my body, so that was easy. I have a bathing suit pattern from Mrs. Depew, and the top and bottom bathing suit patterns from Seamwork, so now it was decision time. The decision was honestly pretty easy, as though I absolutely love the Depew pattern, I wanted to get this thing done quickly and didn’t feel like drafting a pattern, so I went with Seamwork (kind of regretting it now, but we’ll get to that later).

Marilyn Monroe + bathing suit + polkadot 2
Yesss all of the coverage!

If you read my last post, you know that I’m grappling with a bit of an identity crisis regarding my personal style. So while I had the shape nailed down, now I had to think of the next hardest step: what fabric would I use? I had bought a big chunk of this light blue nylon spandex (what I read was good for swimwear) some time ago, so I was originally just going to do that and add some small embroidery details, but then I went to the movies.

I saw Atomic Blonde, and I fell in love. Quite possibly the only movie I’ve ever seen that has made the 1980s look visually appealing (fight me on this). I loved the colors, the music, the neon, Berlin, all of it. I felt inspired to bring some of that into my bathing suit project, and I do like a bit of wackiness in my clothes. Straight to Joann I went!

What resulted was this.

I love the idea of mixed eras in my clothes. A 1950s bikini with 1980s/early 90s colors sounds just like my kind of fun (wait until we get to the Victorian projects my friends…). This may be one of the first projects of mine that I know for a fact I will wear the shit out of.

Now down to the technical nitty gritty and what I learned from this project.

  1. I hate this fabric. Despite going through most of my life wearing knits, I despise sewing them. Oh god do I despise it. Especially this fabric, as you can see literally everything. Very unforgiving.
  2. Building on that, I did not like the pattern very much. I finished it and am overall happy with the end result, but the pattern suggested a zigzag top stitch on every edge, which I thought made it look rather cheap (I don’t like the zigzag anywhere on the suit but alas, I had to surrender..). I also found that as soon as I did the top stitch, it made the fabric look wrinkled and pucker slightly. I prefer it without and may go back in at some point in time to do a catch stitch or blind hem. The edges without the zigzag stitch (edge of bust and leg holes), I stitched down by hand.
  3. Equally as important as the fabric and pattern, I learned the importance of the right tools. I used a ballpoint needle and a non-stick presser foot, and it was a LIFESAVER. God, you really do have to pay attention to these things, because I cannot imagine how many tears of frustration I would have shed trying to do this with a universal needle and regular presser foot T____T.
  4. Also a new experience in pattern grading. While I do enjoy the general accuracy of Seamwork’s sizing, a project worn this close to the body was tricky. As my cup size was an XL, but my band size was a S (same with the waist vs hip size), so this was my first experience fiddling with pattern grading on a pre-drafted pattern. Fun times and pretty simple!

Overall, I feel super proud. The more I sew, the more confident I feel in my abilities, but really it’s projects like these that make you learn. Swimwear and lingerie seem to be the most intimidating areas of sewing that I know many are like “nope, pass.” I understand that inclination, but I say HA! and laugh in the face of sewing danger!


Also, just a heads up that my Etsy shop (and subsequent brand/account – Rebelde Creations) is now up and open! I’ve only a few things on there at the moment, but slowly and surely they will come. In the meantime, give us a follow and I’ll be steady posting 🙂

Also also, included here is the Atomic Blonde soundtrack, for musical deliciousness.




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