My daughter loves wearing the Made for Mermaids Women’s Reagan Rash Guard each summer, because we are very active in the water. This year, she wasn’t comfortable not having any support in front. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea of adding cups to the lining. My solution was to add a shelf bra to the front piece. I started thinking that this would also be great for me. However, the steps for the larger bust are a bit different.
Additional Supplies Needed (not listed in pattern supply list)
- 1″ wide swim elastic
- Power Mesh
Determining Your Cut Line
For my tween daughter, I first determined how long I needed the bra piece to be. I matched a ready-to-wear bra to the armscye of the pattern piece. Start measuring 3/8″ from the top of the piece to allow for the seam allowance. Unfortunately, there is a bit of trial and error. Given that it’s a shelf bra, you need it in the correct place for a shelf. This is a bit different depending on the wearer.
I have about a 4.5″ difference between my high and full bust, but I wanted to also use this hack for me. The same approach as for my tween’s rash guard did not work well for my size. I gave it a try, but the shelf bra was too short. It actually ended up being an even easier process than for my tween daughter. For mine I just cut the power mesh on the crop suit line and that ended up being the perfect length for me. For my daughter, her shelf bra line ended up about 1 3/8″ from the crop line. So, this would not have worked for hers.
Cutting Your Fabric Piece
Once you’ve made a pattern piece for the shelf bra, cut that piece out of power mesh. I read some posts that said make the power mesh larger due to the lack of stretch or smaller to make it have better support. So, I went with just the same size. You can definitely adjust this based on your experience, but this worked for us.
Cutting Your Elastic
Next, I cut the swim elastic for the bottom of the power mesh. I used 1″ wide swim elastic. You’ll want to cut the length of swim elastic an 1″ or 1 1/2” shorter than the pattern piece/power mesh piece. You may want to play around with the measurement a bit until it gathers just a tiny bit as illustrated in the pictures down below.
Attaching the Elastic
To get the placement correct, you can mark the middle and then quarter points of your elastic and the middle of your power mesh piece and the elastic. Then, you can make sure the stretch is even.
Attaching Your Shelf Bra
After I sewed the elastic in place, I basted the bra piece on the wrong side of the front piece of the rash guard. This pattern has a 3/8″ seam allowance, so I basted with a the 1/8″ – 1/4″ seam allowance.
I added a lining, because I thought it could be scratchy with the elastic and power mesh against our skin. I cut the entire front piece out of swim lining to make the lining per the pattern instructions. I basted the lining with a the 1/8″ – 1/4″ seam allowance. You could potentially try to baste the shelf bra and lining in one step. But these fabrics are very slippery, so I prefer to baste the lining and power mesh separately.
After this, I just used the front as one piece and followed the directions.
My daughter was so happy with this fix. She feels much more comfortable. It was a great solution for me, because I’m often supervising her and her friends. This way I can be active and confident that my suit will stay in place.
Hope you enjoy your Reagan with the shelf bra addition! Happy Sewing! – Nicole
Nicole is a late deafened sewist and knitter. She started significantly losing her hearing in her twenties. Now, she cannot hear spoken words without hearing aids, but can lip read very proficiently. Her day job is in Learning and Development at a major pharmaceutical company. She lives in a suburb of Indianapolis with her husband and daughter. Her husband takes all her pictures and does a lot of hearing for her. She’d love to connect with you. You can find her on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sewhardofhearing. She’s also active on Facebook. She has a blog where she shares sewing makes and tips at https://sewhardofhearing.com/
Stay tuned for more swim fun this week as we share more tips, tricks, and hacks with you as part of our Swimming Into Summer week!