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Turn a Bikini into a Tankini for under $10!

Have you ever noticed that there are a million cute bikinis and ZERO modest swimsuits! Drives me crazy! My friend Carly is amazing – she just buys the cute bikini’s and transforms them into a tankini! Why this is so awesome…bikinis can be way more supportive than a regular suit, there are a million styles that go on super sale, and its super cute that the top and bottom match with a solid block of color in the middle! The bikini we are transforming today only cost $5 for both pieces.

bikini button

I thought it would be somewhat difficult, but is not! I can not sew and after watching her do it, I know I could do it too! She spent $3.40 on the material by using a 40% off coupon at Joanne’s. That means this whole bathing suit cost her less than $10!

Carly let me take pictures while she did this suit and I’m going to walk you through 2 ways of doing it. The first is the simple tankini pictured above. The second adds ruching on the side and a ruffle at the bottom like this:


To start you need to get your bikini as well as some coordinating fabric. You want to buy Lycra or swim/dance wear. She doesn’t use any stretchy thread, just regular thread. To figure out how much fabric you need measure from the top of your ribcage (where the bottom of the bikini lies) to where you want the tankini to hit. You will need to add about 1/4 inch extra for seam allowance. For example if you want your tankini top to be 15 inches long you would want to get about 16 inches of material.  Most Lycra comes 45 inches wide so if your ribcage measurement is under 45 inches this will be wide enough to go around you. With this material you don’t even have to hem it, so you don’t need to add any material for the hem!

Now, measure around your ribs and also your hips.


You need to find out how far out you need to taper your extension. For Carly’s suit she just needed a slight taper. She cut one edge tapered.



Then she measured the material the same length as around her ribcage measurement and cut it with a slight taper too.


Put right sides together and sew using a zigzag stitch the length of the material so that you have a tube.



The back of this bikini had a clasp and so she unpicked it and took it out.


Then she sewed it right sides together.


She really likes bikini tops that tie in the back. With those she just stops sewing about an inch apart in the back where it ties so it can still be tied. You can see that on this other suit she has done.



Next she took and put pins in the top of the tube so that the tube was divided into quarters.


You do this so that you can line it up with the front, back, and sides of the suit so it will be even. Then she lined them up and pinned them.


She pinned the material on the inside of the bikini top and worked her way around pinning the suit to the material.


In some spots you will find that you have a little spare material but just pin it evenly and you can work that out when you sew it.


She sewed along the edges with a zig zag stitch.



On the parts where there seemed to be too much material she pulled it tight until it evened up.



It’s done! See that really wasn’t that hard! Carly says that it looks better and lays nicer to just leave the bottom edge unhemmed. With this material you cant even tell!



If you feel like its too long at this point you can just line it up with your cutter and trim off length.

With this suit she wanted to add a ruffle to the bottom and also some ruching.

bikini button 2

So with the same Lycra material she cut her second fabric as wide as she wanted the ruffle. She wanted it really ruffled so she doubled her hip measurement to get the length of her material. To make it long enough she sewed two strips of the material together.


She used a basting stitch and did two lines through the white material and then pulled it so that the material gathered. It didn’t gather as much as she wanted so then she pinned it scrunched together.


Then she sewed it to the bottom of the suit, right sides together.



She also wanted ruching on the sides so she used Lightweight Elastic . You need to cut the elastic a little shorter than the length of the area you wanted ruched.


You can see here how it’s a little shorter because when she pulled it the entire length the fabric hung down.


Then you pull the elastic as you sew it (zig zag stitch) so that the elastic is sewn over the whole length you want it to cover.


When its done it will be all cute and ruched on the side!


Here is the inside:


Here are a couple other suits Carly has done:



Its not on these suits but she also sometimes adds a little triangle of the Lycra in the bust area to make it more modest too! This would be awesome to do on a little girls suit!

Thank you so much Carly for teaching us how to do this!

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Previous author of Over the Big Moon. I shared my passion for home and family life! I love graphic design, DIY projects, cooking, and working in my garden! My favorite role is taking care of my husband and our 3 amazing and busy boys!
  • Carie A.

    I love this idea! I have a few bikini’s that I got as gifts that never wear. Now I can! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chelsi.biehl Chelsi Grant Biehl

    Oh my goodness, i can’t believe I haven’t thought of this before. Thank you for the new idea. I have made my own swim suit from scratch, but I love the idea of making one semi-homemade! Also, I believe I know you Lisa. I am Chad Grants sister and I am married to Kevin Biehl, who is your husbands cousin, or something like that. I love you blog and we did the ice cream honesty fhe last week. My kids we so upset I ruined the ice cream!!!

    • Lisa

      Hey Chelsi! Glad you liked the post! ! I totally remember you! We didn’t get to the Biehl reunion this year but hope to be at the next one. It would be awesome to see you there! Its such a small world!

  • Shannon

    This is SUCH a smart idea! So many cute suits but not many that are modest! Thanks for sharing!

  • bethany dearden

    Awesome idea! And such a great tutorial!

  • chealse

    i LOVE this! i hate wearing bikinis, but some of them are just so cute! i will defiantly be using this!

  • Alyse

    Do you think this could be done on a top that is underwire too?

  • anon

    I would love to do it for my girls, but these examples are so ugly.