I’m on a mission to use up all of my fabric stash this year! So far I have been successful. I had quite a bit of fabric left over from last years striped swimsuit project that needed to be used, but who needs two striped suits?

What if I could figure out the design and draft Barbie’s swimsuit? My stripe was not to scale so I knew an exact replica would be impossible. Well, heck, even if I had the correct stripe scale Barbie’s original suit was knitted, with no side seams, and was made for an impossible figure. I was up for the fun challenge anyways.

I played with Barbies to what some may consider an unreasonable age. The dolls had a dress shop under the treadle sewing machine in the background of this photo. My mother made the dolls clothing on a 1974 Singer. We didn’t have a lot of money but I had a plastic toy car and if I bent Barbie’s legs just right she could fit in. I tied a shoe string to that fake Barbie convertible and roller skated with them up and down the streets.
My favorite Barbie was from 1984, named Twirly Curls. She came with this small mixer contraption that her long hair attached to and when you clicked the mixer style button it would twist her hair in braids. She also had this beautiful iridescent opal gown.
When a customer that works for Mattel picked up his alterations he gave me one of the 60th anniversary Barbies as a gift. It brought back wonderful memories.

The first thing I did was study her suit and problem solve it like a puzzle. What would the pattern look like with no side seam. The only real way to figure this out was to draft a flat pattern out of knit and check it for fit issues.

Just like any pattern drafting the first one was too big. The second had even more issues but I did get closer to the correct fit. I wound up making the swimsuit mock up muslin three times before getting it even remotely close.


Crotch oddities on swimwear has always been a challenge for me in the front and in the back. Most times there is an inch too much, it can be too narrow or too thick as well. It really is a pain in the butt!

When it came to cutting the fabric it was pretty easy because the suit is only two pieces. I cut one piece at a time and with just center seams it was pretty easy and fast to sew.

Once again it was too long in the crotch. I wound up taking it apart and fixing it to get the correct fit.

I was happy the stripe matched up much better this year. Everything is always better the second time because the first is a practice run.

See you at the pool!

Thank you for reading,

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
Latest posts by Tracy McElfresh (see all)