tribeca teen swimwear

The Tribeca Knit Cami has become such a versatile pattern! Erica from the Advisor’s Circle used the pattern to make a bathing suit top for her teen daughter. In this post, she demonstrates another easy method to add bra cups to the pattern.

Teen girl wearing swimwear top made from Liesl + Co Tribeca Cami Pattern

Using the new Tribeca Knit Cami for swimwear was not the first plan I had for this pattern, but it turned out to be a great success for my teenage daughter. So when we were struggling recently to find a bathing suit that she could wear to lounge around with friends this summer—one that would provide both comfort and style as well as some modesty in the water—I remembered this new pattern.

Without consulting the other members of the Advisors’ Circle, several of us were thinking along the same lines. Virginia already has made a version of this top in swimwear fabric for her teen daughter that can be worn as both swimwear and daywear. And when I mentioned that I had made this swim top already, Lyndsey shared that she had just finished writing a post about adding cups to her daywear Tribeca. We decided that since my approach to adding bra cups was slightly different from her approach, it might still be helpful to see another method. There are many ways to achieve a similar result!

Adding bra cups

Most notably, I added the cups to the shelf bra lining before constructing this top. Using just the shelf lining front and back pieces, I stitched the side seams and then added the bottom elastic per the original instructions. I then basted on the same shoulder elastic I would use for the shoulder straps to the locations marked on the pattern. So, essentially, I first started by constructing the shelf-bra lining. Next, my daughter tried on this shelf bra with basted straps, and we spent time figuring out the most comfortable and flattering position for the cups. Once we decided on their position, after much deliberation on which way should be the top or bottom of the cups and how far apart they should be, we pinned them in place. (Note: I purchased pre-made cups in her bra size labeled for swimwear, which are supposed to hold up well in chlorinated water.) They were also labeled as designed to be worn directly against the skin, so when fitting them to the shelf bra, we sandwiched them between her skin and the fabric.

Liesl + Co Tribeca Cami shelf bra with bra cups positioned and pinned in place

I then used a zigzag stitch around the perimeter of the cups to secure them in place.

Liesl + Co Tribeca Cami shelf bra with bra cups added

Another method I considered for positioning the cups would be to pin them directly on top of the lining fabric so that the fabric would be sandwiched between the cups and her skin. Instead, I chose to put the cups directly against her skin to take advantage of the lining fabric: the lining would help to smooth out the outline of the cups when the top is wet. Since her cup size is small, I did not feel cutting away the fabric inside the zigzag stitches was necessary. However, I can imagine that if one was using a larger cup size, if the fabric is stretching very tautly over the cups, it might help to cut out slits in a “+” shape in the lining fabric over each bust apex to allow the fabric to mold more smoothly over the cups when pinning them in place. Then, after zigzag-stitching the cups to the shelf bra (lining fabric), one could carefully snip out the lining fabric inside the circumference of the zigzag stitches.

With the shelf bra completed, and the swim cups securely attached, I proceeded to finish the construction of the tank as indicated in the pattern instructions.

Final swim top


Liesl + Co Tribeca Cami-Teen Swimwear Top

My daughter measured as size XXS for her chest measurement and almost XS in the waist. I decided to make a straight size XXS, knowing that the pattern has a bit of a looser fit around the bodice. By not grading up at the waist, the bodice would be a little more snug as swimwear. She is very pleased with the fit. The middle area still hugs her more loosely than typical skin-tight swimwear. She likes that she can spend the day poolside or dockside looking like she is wearing a tank top but is ready to jump in the water at a moment’s notice. I found her another pattern for swim shorts with built-in swim briefs to complete this coordinating set. She is very pleased with this two-piece swimsuit! I plan to use up the remaining SPF 50 swim fabric to make a matching long-sleeved rash guard using the Digital Metro T-shirt pattern.

Back view of teen girl wearing swimwear top made from Liesl + Co Tribeca Cami Pattern

Summer break, here she comes!


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  1. Enbee

    Beautiful! I forswore swimwear sewing (aside from rash vests) after a trying experience a couple of years ago, but this doesn’t look too rage-inducing, and the result is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Erica

      Thank you! Swim fabric is a little more slippery to sew than stretch cotton jersey, but as far as making swimwear, this is a great entryway pattern for a swim top!

  2. Kathy

    Ditto — they are beautiful! What pattern did you use for the shorts and liner?

    1. Erica

      Thank you, Kathy! For the bottom, I used another pattern company that has a broad range of swim, athletic, and dance wear. It is a stand-alone pattern called their “Swim Shorts,” and the briefs are build into that pattern.

  3. Maria

    Beautifully done!

    1. Erica

      Thank you, Maria!

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