Gathered Tankini Swimsuit Top Hack


Hi sewing friends! 

I am so excited to share my latest pattern hack with you because I have been thinking about trying this hack FOREVER and I finally gave it a whirl….and I love the results! I purchased the Gathered Tankini swimsuit when it launched a few years ago, but I really don’t wear swimwear that often (but this does not stop me from buying multiple swimwear patterns!) I love the gathered neckline on this one, and when I would browse my patterns every now and again, I would say, I think that neckline would look so gorgeous on a top. So FINALLY – I decided to give it a go and hack this swim top into an everyday top. And then I thought, why not take it one step further and hack the “hacked” top to have sleeves?? So I happily present you with the Ellie and Mac Gathered Tankini Swimsuit top hack 

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the beautiful design of this swim top. It’s a relatively simple process to get this gorgeously gathered neckline that adds an interesting element and has a flattering fit for all body types. The swimsuit top is finished with a lining, but for the everyday top hack, we will be creating a neckband instead.

So let’s get started!

First, I want to point out that when I was researching past Ellie & Mac blog posts, I found one where the sewist did modify this swimsuit to have sleeves (but it was still a swimsuit). The sewist found that the sleeves from the Discoverer top actually worked pretty well just attached to the tankini bodice without modifications. 

Here is the link to the post:

Adding sleeves to the gathered tankini swimsuit

So if you own the Discoverer top and you want to give that a go, that’s a quick option for sleeves! I wanted to try other sleeve types and lengths, so I decided to modify the bodice of the tankini to accommodate sleeves from other patterns. To do this, you will need to modify the bodice to adapt the armscye to add sleeves, and in order to do this, you will need to select another pattern with sleeves. I decided to first make a version using the bodice from the Tres Belle dress. 

I also want to point out that there is ALSO a blog post on how to modify armscyes to interchange sleeves across patterns. You can find it here:

How to use any sleeve on every pattern you want

There are so many great ideas on the E&M blog – I highly recommend spending some time there!

I will take you through the steps I followed so you can see how I did it for this pattern:

First, trace two versions of the bodice – one from the gathered tankini suit and one from your sleeved dress or top of choice. Here are my two bodices (I started with the back but you will do the same process for both the front and back).

Next, overlay the bodices on top of each other. You want to be careful to line them up at the top corner of the armscye. 

Next, use tape or pins to secure the two bodices together so they don’t shift for the next step.

You will now trim away the sleeved bodice around the neckline so that you are using the neckline of the gathered swim top. Note that my photo shows the back bodice. The front bodice piece of the gathered swim top will be significantly wider than the other pattern because it has space to create the gathers. So expect your swim top front bodice to extend out with a wider bodice.

You now have a modified back bodice to use for your new top! Repeat the same process for the front pieces. Remember to also cut out two sleeves from the pattern from which you took the bodice. Then use your new pattern to cut out your front and back bodice pieces. 

You will also need to cut out the waistband pieces from the swimsuit pattern. When I sewed up my first version of the non-swim top from this pattern, I noticed that my waistband was a tiny bit short – I really had to stretch it! I think this is because swim fabric does have a lot of stretch. I would suggest adding an extra ½ inch to each of the two waistband pieces to accommodate for this.

You will now follow the original pattern instructions for the gathered swim top to attach the front and back bodice pieces together at the shoulders, and then to create the gathers on the front bodice. Before you do the next step, I highly recommend you secure your gathers in place with a row of stitching as close to the edge of the neckline as possible. We will be attaching a neckband and you don’t want your gathers moving around while you do this. Note I usually attach my neckband before attaching my sleeves and doing the side seams, so this is how I have written the instructions.

Look at these lovely gathers!

To create a neckband, measure the full distance around the neckline of your new top. Multiply this number by 85% to calculate the length of your neckband. Cut a piece of fabric with the stretch going lengthwise to this length with a width of 1.75 inches. Attach the neckband as you would with other patterns. Here is my neckband pinned before attaching it.

Next attach your sleeves, and then sew up the side seams. Sew your two waistband pieces together right sides facing each other, then attach your waistband to your top as you would a normal waistband.

And…now you have a lovely new everyday top with beautiful gathers and an on trend look! 

I also did a version using the Be Dreamy dress bodice so I could use those amazing flounce sleeves. I followed the same process but using the Be Dreamy bodice and sleeves. What do you think of this version? I think it’s….dreamy!

Here are the links for the Gathered Tankini Swimsuit, the Tres Belle Dress, and the Be Dreamy Dress in case you want to pick them up. I hope you enjoyed this hack! If you give it a try, please share your make in the Ellie & Mac Facebook group and tag me so I can see it!

Happy Sewing!

Andrea @Happy.Things.Here

(Written by: Andrea Mulford)

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