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Pattern Review: McCall’s 4301 Swimsuit or how not to spend $230 on a swimsuit

2012 August 9
by elizabeth_admin

I was able to get my trusty photographer, Jack, to take some pictures of me in my new swimsuit, despite his headache this afternoon.    Are all 5 yr old boys this dramatic?  It took quite a bit of coaxing and a promise he could play with the iPad though.


Pattern Description:  Palmer & Pletsch Creative Tank Swimsuit with different design details for each view.  I chose the simplest one to “muslin” this pattern, View A (but without the 80’s scrunchie and large bangle).   I also used the bra and front lining options.  



Pattern Sizing: Sz 14 with cup sizes for A/B,  C/D and DD.  This is an older pattern judging from the envelope art and “accessories” shown as well as the single size per envelope.  It’s out of print, but you can find it on Ebay or Etsy.  I made the C/D cups and found the FBA to be just the right amount of increase and room.


Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes!  Except for the fact that I did not use a metallic solid fabric.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Very!  They are step by step with great tips and suggestions along the way.  

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 


  • Loved the simplicity of the pattern
  • Loved the different cup sizes
  • The instructions were awesome
  • I also like that I could change up the design with the other views.  
  • AND, they included lining options like crotch and bra, bra only or bra and front lining with separate pattern pieces for each.


  • NONE!

Fabric used:  A print swim suit fabric with 2-way stretch from Michael Levine’s online shop, Low Price Fabrics.  Most were about $10/yd, like this one.  I bought 2 yds of this one so I could muslin the pattern first.  I made the front without the C/D cup pattern piece and there wasn’t enough room for the girls.  


Pattern changes or design changes made:  As I mentioned above, I tried the pattern without the FBA, but then used the C/D cup pattern piece.  Other than that, the only thing I changed was use a wider seam allowance for the shoulder straps by 1/4 inch to raise the neckline.

bra/lining with elastic


Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern?  All problems encountered were strictly user error.  Unfortunately.  

  • I screwed up the construction order by sewing the side seams too early, but it didn’t cause much frustration in attaching the elastic to the neckline thankfully.  
  • My serger and sewing machines (both the Featherweight and the Viking Emerald) HATED the swim elastic.  HATED IT.  I was so disappointed to not be able to use my serger to attach the elastic.  It would have been so much faster and the differential feed would have helped to make it look so much more profession.  Cidell has an elasticator foot (photo credit to Cidell) and now I think I need to get one.  I ended up using the teflon foot that came with my Viking Emerald and controlling the feed by pulling in front of and behind the presser foot.  




Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction?  I used them all!!!  I used the Featherweight for the darts, the Viking Emerald for all zig-zagging, the serger for the construction, and the coverstitch for topstitching of the neck, arm and thigh edges.  

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others?  Yes, I might make it again, but I did buy a couple of other swimsuit patterns too from Kwik Sew and want to try those out first before I return to this one again.  If I do make it again, I will add 1/2 to 1 inch to lengthen the pattern in the torso.  I feel like the bodice is drooping a little from stretch to accommodate my length.  I do recommend it to others if you can source it.  It’s a great basic swimsuit with a lot of different views and lining possibilities.  The different cup sizing is amazing and the directions are really worth it.

Conclusion:  This is a great swimsuit with different variations to try.  Attaching the elastic takes some practice to look professional, but once you have that down, making a swimsuit is super easy.  I love that I paid under $20 for swimsuit (fabric and notions included) when the RTW one that just wore out cost me $200 two years ago and now retails for $230 on-line.  Sewing swimwear is definitely economical and so worth it.  You get to choose the fabric and fine tune the fit.  And you don’t have to break the bank.  What can be better than that?


And now for some photos of the swimsuit on me.  (I can’t believe I’m doing this!)


Notice the tan lines from my old swimsuit. Nice. Not!



I’m off to test my suit in the pool.  Wish me luck. I hope there are no wardrobe malfunctions, otherwise the construction workers next door will have an eyeful.

Happy sewing everyone!


34 Responses leave one →
  1. August 9, 2012

    Oooh, sassy and bold! (You and the swimsuit) 🙂

  2. August 9, 2012

    That is amazing!! You look great and are so CA. I don’t even own a swimsuit and I’ve lived here for 5 yrs. Geesh.

  3. August 9, 2012

    That looks awesome! Your new swimsuit making skills will come in very handy in your new west coast life.

  4. August 9, 2012

    This looks fantastic! I love the print and the fit is great. And I LOVE the price point. 🙂

    I have the same serger and also recently made some swimwear. I, too, had some headaches with the elastic. I found that by decreasing the pressure foot pressure on the serger, as well as increasing the stitch width to 4 (to the max) I could apply the elastic with no problem whatsoever. (Otherwise there was a LOT of thread and it wouldn’t feed through easily.) It is much easier and slightly less fiddly than using the sewing machine. I thought I’d pass that on, as I was tearing my hair out until I came across that tip (I think on Pattern Review but it might have been on a random web site). Worked like a charm. BTW, I don’t have an elasticator foot of any kind and the Brother one has mixed reviews.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      August 10, 2012

      Thanks Tina! I will definitely try that out for the next swimsuit!

  5. August 9, 2012

    Oh… do you want my swim cups? I am not sure the point of them. But, I know they aren’t big enough for me. But, I *think* they may fit you well. Allegedly they will give more support.

    I really like the seat coverage. I am liking my pattern in general, but I want more butt coverage!! But, I’m not sure that’s physically possible. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say you could have a higher cut leg. Not much, just a teensy bit.

    I quite like your suit! And, thank you for posting full on photos. It’s good to see what it is we’re looking at. You look awesome! Great job!

  6. August 9, 2012

    You look very good in that, and I love the fabric. I’m glad you don’t have super-slanty shoulders to make the straps fall off.

  7. August 9, 2012

    I’m happy that you’ve made a great new swimsuit for your new life! I mean this is friggin awesome…but I’m sad because you’re wearing this great new piece 3,000 miles away! But boy have you figured out how to sew for your new life and I can’t wait to see the next versions.

  8. August 9, 2012

    It’s very cute and classic on you. Nice job! I definitely think there’s a learning curve with swimwear, but once you have it down it’s pretty simple. That being said, my hat is off to you! Your first effort is very nice. How was it to swim and lounge in?

  9. August 9, 2012

    Great job Elizabeth! I am totally in the market for a new swimsuit, but I only have a regular sewing machine, so I don’t think it would be up to the task. You look great it in this one!

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      August 10, 2012

      Hashi, you can definitely make a swimsuit on a regular sewing machine. It’s zigzag stitches all the way. And if you have a stretch overcast stitch option, then you can overcast the seam allowances. Try it out!

  10. August 10, 2012

    I think you did a fabulous job and were very brave to post photos of yourself wearing your new suit. I’ve been thinking that making my own suit would net me something that fit better than what I find in the stores (at least for a price I’m willing to pay!)…thanks for inspiring me to keep thinking along those lines!

  11. Wendy permalink
    August 10, 2012

    Great swimsuit! Honestly, you and other sewing bloggers inspire me every single day. Sewing a swimsuit has just been added to my to-do list, something I would never have considered a couple of months ago. Looking forward to seeing your next one.

  12. August 10, 2012

    Great swimsuit Elizabeth – and you’ve got a great figure too 🙂
    I’ve just bought that pattern on Etsy (wrong size for me, too small hehe, but it was cheap & I wanted the instructions LOL!).

  13. August 10, 2012

    Love the fabric, love the fit. The whole thing is so professional!

  14. Lizzie permalink
    August 10, 2012

    I’m impressed with how quick you made this one, It looks fabulous x

  15. August 10, 2012

    I love it! The finish work on the inside is beautiful too

  16. August 10, 2012

    oh wow! This is very inspiring and helpful. I really want to make a swimsuit, too. My hack job swimsuit fit the low-price criteria, but I need a nice professional looking suit like yours. Well done!!

  17. August 10, 2012

    It turned out great! I am impressed with the quality of the inside of the suit – it looks very professional. You go girl for posting pics too! Next up – a bikini! I honestly think they are even more flattering on our body type if they fit right and are the right style!!!

  18. Rosie permalink
    August 10, 2012

    You / the swimsuit look great! Good job on the construction!!

  19. August 10, 2012

    Very nice. I really like the fabric you’ve used, the print is very pretty. And super neat on the inside as well as the outside. Good stuff, keep rockin’ =D

  20. August 10, 2012

    You look so hot! Great job on the (wearable) muslin.

  21. Margo permalink
    August 10, 2012

    You look fantastic! I really like the fabric, and you did a great job. With seeing all of the swimsuits people are sewing, I’m really inspired to sew my own.

  22. August 10, 2012

    That turned out fabulous. Way to go.

    Just a concern – if you’re going to be swimming in a pool all the time, did you use the special thread for chlorine? Might be something to consider so the thread doesn’t rot.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      August 10, 2012

      Myrna, I hadn’t thought about the thread! I just used ordinary thread. I guess I will find out how it does.

  23. August 10, 2012

    Elizabeth, YOU TOTALLY ROCK.
    Not to mention GORGEOUS!
    The suit’s also nice.
    I love your brave. L-O-V-E.

  24. August 11, 2012

    Fabulous. Respect to you for trying in the first place and completing a very successful swimsuit – just gorgeous.

  25. August 11, 2012

    fabulous! i still love this print – super summery & perfect for a swimsuit. :o)

  26. August 11, 2012

    The finished product looks great! I love your fabric choice and had to check out the website you got it from. BTW…I know how weird it feels to post pics of yourself in a swimsuit. I made two this year and posted them on my blog. I’m sure your readers appreciate the pattern review and the tips. I know I did when I was new to swimsuit sewing.

  27. Jeanettec permalink
    August 13, 2012

    You look GREAT in your swimsuit. I’ve been collecting fabric to make a few swimsuits that actually fit me, but haven’t gotten up the courage to make one. I have this exact pattern, so now I’m going to give it a try. Thanks.

  28. August 13, 2012

    Fabulous! (Both you and the swimsuit.) Can’t wait to see what else you make for your new San Diego wardrobe.

  29. August 23, 2012

    Love the suit! You look great! I have been trying to get up the courage to make a swimsuit. What type of elastic did you use and where did you get it? You have inspired me to give swimsuit making a try!

  30. August 27, 2012

    Love the suit. It suits you. I keep watching the suits people make and say ‘someday’ to myself.

    And…all kids can be dramatic.

  31. nonye b permalink
    November 18, 2014

    Found yur blog while looking for a swimsuit pattern. This looks really good!

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