What to Do If Your Swimsuit Is Too Big or Too Small (Easy Tips) Update 05/2022

Don’t get too worked up if you buy a new swimsuit and it doesn’t fit. If you’re good with a needle and thread, turning that ill-fitting item into a flattering dream shouldn’t be too difficult.

Can You Alter Swimsuit Bottoms?


Although swimsuit material has a reputation for being difficult to work with, it doesn’t take long to master – and unless you’re planning a complete restructure, any changes you make to your swimsuit, whether it’s changing a strap, bringing the size down (or even up) a notch, or adjusting the legs, shouldn’t take too much time or effort.

The following are some of the reasons why you might want to change a swimsuit:

It’s too big – Perhaps you’ve lately lost weight. Even though the bikini was two sizes too big, you couldn’t pass up the big bargain. Whatever the reason, an ugly swimsuit is just as unflattering as one that is too tiny… and comes with some added ‘risks’ that could spell catastrophe for your modesty.

If you don’t want to go down more than a dress size, downsizing a swimsuit isn’t too difficult. Remember that if your swimsuit is too big because it has lost its stretch (an all-too common problem with vintage swimsuits that have seen more than a few summers of action), making any size or fit adjustments may be difficult.

It’s too tiny – An oversized swimsuit can be unattractive. A swimsuit that is too tiny can be excruciating. You’re not completely out of luck if you’ve lost weight or purchased a swimsuit that doesn’t seem to know what to do with your curves. Although swimsuits cannot be ‘let out’ like clothing with a built-in seam allowance, they can be made a little roomier by adding strategically placed panels.

It’s becoming monotonous – If you’ve been wearing the same swimsuit for several seasons, you’re probably ready for a change. If you know your way around a sewing kit, a few tweaks shouldn’t be too difficult to grasp. Perhaps you’d like to convert your two-piece to a one-piece. Maybe you wish to convert a pair of high-waisted bottoms to a pair of low-waisted bottoms (or vice versa)? Whatever the issue, finding a solution will not be difficult.

How to Alter Swimsuit Bottoms


Altering swimsuit bottoms isn’t difficult (though it may take some practice if you’ve never worked with a super-stretchy material like swimsuit fabric before), but you’ll need to set your expectations first.

It is possible to downsize by one size. It’s unrealistic to expect a size 20 swimsuit to fit a size 0. In the same way, scaling up a swimsuit usually necessitates the insertion of a few strategically positioned panels. While this may look great, it is likely to modify the style of the swimsuit to some extent unless you can find panel material that is exactly the same material and color as the swimsuit you’re altering.

However, if you’re practical and know how to use a needle and thread, changing swimsuit bottoms can be done quickly enough at home.

How to Alter a Swimsuit That is Too Big

Don’t consign a swimsuit to the donation box just yet if you’ve found yourself at the mercy of one that’s a touch too big for comfort. Adjust the ties or stitch up any loose places around the waistline and leg holes, and it should fit like a glove in no time. Just keep in mind that, due to the nature of swimsuit material, any sewing alterations may be seen, so always test changing with the ties first.

The Approach

  • Step 1: Put the swimsuit on. Make sure you’re not wearing any underwear at this point because it could create the impression of a larger or more fitting body.
  • Step 2 – Adjust the straps if the swimsuit has them to evaluate how much of a difference they can make in the overall fit. Make a note of any gaps or sagging areas around the bottoms (typically the leg openings, seat, and waist), then gather the elastic seam at the waist or legs (or both, depending on where the gaps are) and pin to fit.
  • Step 3 – Remove the swimsuit and fold the sections specified with pins. By hand, double stitch the folds in place.
  • Step 4: Try the suit on again to make sure it fits properly. If it’s still too big, repeat the instructions above until it fits perfectly.

How to Alter a Swimsuit That is Too Small


It’s nearly hard to make your swimwear bigger unless it’s old enough to have started to sag. Swimsuits feature almost no spare fabric, unlike other clothes that have an inbuilt seam allowance that can be ‘let out.’ If you want to make yours bigger, you’ll have to get creative, which involves getting to know the notion of panels.

Panels may alter the style or appearance of a swimsuit, but this isn’t always a bad thing – at least not if done correctly. Sheer or lace panels may bring a lot of elegance and personality to a suit…. as well as a little more ‘breathing room’!

You’ll need to choose a fabric that has the same amount of stretch as the swimsuit (either 2-way or 4-way), but other than that, your panel material can be as bold (or as subtle) as you want.

Simply cut a length of fabric to the desired size to add a panel. Cut along the seam of the swimsuit, pin in place, and sew. Pay close attention to how you stitch the seam between the panel and the swimsuit to avoid any unattractive puckers. And that’s it – a few extra inches of comfort with very little effort.

How to Alter Swimsuit Straps

An ill-fitting strap can actually let down your entire swimsuit, leaving you with poor support, a droopy bottom, and the need to yank your swimsuit up all the time… Which is never a good appearance, no matter how you look at it. Fortunately, making minor changes to a strap is extremely simple.

If your swimsuit has a shoulder seam, use this simple procedure to repair it.

The Approach

  • Step 1: Gently remove the shoulder seams with a seam ripper.
  • Step 2: Try on the suit to make sure it fits properly. Experiment with the straps until you find the perfect fit. Secure the straps with pins. Sit down while wearing the suit to ensure that the shortened straps are still comfortable and don’t dig into your shoulders.
  • Step 3: Use a straight seam to sew one strap together. To keep the seam allowances lying level, flatten them and sew around a 1/4 inch from the seam on each side. Do the same thing with the other strap.
  • Step 4 – Trim away any excess fabric and zigzag the edges.

Altering Swimsuit Legs

If your swimsuit’s overall appearance is being harmed by odd leg openings, a few tweaks should soon have everything looking fine. But, before you grab your sewing supplies, figure out exactly what has to be changed. It is not always the leg that need adjustment.

Try the swimsuit on for size and examine the problem area closely. It’s possible that the leg opening is to blame, but it’s also possible that the poor fit is due to the sides not being snug enough or the sides not rising high enough.

Too Wide at the Front

Is the front of your bikini bottoms wrinkling in vertical stripes? Are your inside thighs chafing from the legs? Then it’s possible that your bottoms are simply too wide in the front. While changing the leg may be the most obvious technique to reduce chaffing, you should also consider reducing the overall width of the bottoms.

Too Baggy at the Front

Suffering from horizontal wrinkles around the front of your swimsuit bottoms? Gaping down the inner thigh? Are you continually having to tug the bottoms back in place after every dip? Then it sounds like your bikini bottoms are just simple too big for you. Changing the leg will assist, but you’ll need to consider reducing the entire size if you want the optimum fit.

Too Long at the Groin

If your swimsuit bottoms look too huge, too wide, and are continually on the point of dragging down or coming off completely after you’ve taken a swim, it’s probable they’re too long in the groin area.

Too Big across the Back

Whether your swimsuit is a one piece or a two piece, any bunching at the back suggests there’s too much fabric in the rear. If you wish to adjust the fit, you’ll need to eliminate the excess fabric as well as modifying the leg holes.

Too Baggy at the Back

If there’s a considerable gap between your swimsuit legs and the rear of your own legs, combined with an excess of fabric at the back, you’ll likely know how hard it is to keep the bottoms in place once they’re wet. Adjusting the legs might be essential, but ultimately, you’ll need to reduce the entire size if you want a nice fit.

Altering Swimsuit Legs

If it’s clearly the swimsuit legs that need alteration, and not the total size of the bottoms, altering their fit is easy enough.

Nine times out of ten, the problem is likely to caused by the legs stopping at an inconvenient spot. If this is the case, you’ll simply need to hem them to finish just above your hip bone. Simple fold the material to the correct length, pin, then sew in place.

Once you’re done, you should find that not only is the fit more comfortable, your legs look instantaneously longer and leaner. What more could you ask from a swimsuit?

Can Tailors Alter Swimsuits?

Making certain modifications to a swimsuit are easy enough, but there’s no shame in admitting when you’re beat, especially when you’re dealing with swimsuit material (a famously tough fabric that can make even the most seasoned home seamstress squirm) (a notoriously challenging fabric that can make even the most experienced home seamstress cringe).

If you have a tailor you trust, a particularly difficult change to make, or maybe just no time and even less patience, calling in the specialists is entirely fine – and in fact, sometimes even advised.

How Much Does it Cost to Alter a Swimsuit?


If the prospect of customizing your own swimsuit is too much, choosing a professional to perform the hard work for you can be a wise call… just be prepared to pay.

Actual pricing will depend on just what kind of alterations are needed, along with whether or not the swimsuit has a liner – in which case, the liner will need to be adjusted separately to the swimsuit, and will add several dollars onto the final bill.

Minor tweaks like adjusting straps won’t result in a significant charge, and shouldn’t cost more than approximately $10 dollars or so. If you require any major adjustments, such as reconstructing the bodice or changing the style, size, and fit totally, expect to pay anything up to roughly $60 dollars… which in certain situations, might be significantly more than the cost of the swimsuit alone.

Always ask for an upfront idea of prices before starting — unless the swimsuit is very delicate, you might find it’s cheaper to just get a new one.

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