Hello! I’m Anisha from SASSY Creations, and I am excited to bring you a fun hack for the Coastal Crossover: modifying the bodice to be a criss cross strappy backed bra! I’ve had this idea in the back of my head since…well, about since I made myself 4 Coastals during testing! I finally got around to trying it out and snapped a few photos while doing so, so that you can make one, too! 😀 And then while writing this post I realized that I forgot to take photos of most of the actual sewing steps, so I made another, hahaha! Totally worth it. Must have been my subconscious keeping and eye out for me. The Wispy Wildflowers one with the beautiful Red Linen coordinate (still on preorder until Sept 20th!) is cotton lycra main with supplex lining. The Canada Day one is athletic knit main and the same supplex lining.
Okay, let’s get started. First off, you will need your V front, strappy back bodice pattern pieces, with your height/width adjustments done. If you have a V Front Coastal already made, you can measure up from the bodice seam line to your under bust line to get an idea of how much shorter you would like to make the bodice. Keep in mind that the fabric will be a little bit stretched when you’re wearing it, so you may not need to remove quite as much as you measure. For example, I measured 3.25″ here, which is what I took off for the Wildflowers one, but I could probably have left a 1/2″ more on the bodice – which I did on my second one. They both fit well, though. 🙂 If you haven’t made a muslin to measure off of yet, go ahead and do that, you won’t regret it. 😉 Or, if you’re adventurous and want to try this hack on your first try of the pattern, measure up your side from your natural waist line to your under bust line and subtract 1/2″.
Next, you will take your front bodice pattern piece and mark your measured amount (in my example 3.25″) up from the bottom edge at the centre front seam. Using an acrylic ruler for this step is very helpful, because then you can line up one side of your ruler with the centre front edge and pull a straight line across the front bodice to the side seam. This will be your new front bodice bottom. Since the original bottom of the front bodice is slightly curved up towards the side seam, take note of the length that is removed at the side seam. In my example, it is 2.75″.
You will now take that side seam length (2.75″ in my example) and apply it to the back bodice. Since the bottom of the back bodice is not curved, you can just line up your ruler along the bottom edge and draw in your new back bodice bottom.
Redraw the top of the back bodice to a slightly steeper angle so that you will have a bit more space between your back pieces. I measured in 5/8″ from the centre back on my new back bodice bottom and connected that spot to the top corner at the side. Transfer the top strap notch to your new line.
Before cutting off the excess at the bottom of the pattern pieces, you need to measure the lines you just drew in order to calculate the length of your bottom binding. I actually rarely cut anything off; I just fold it up/back so that I can save paper and use the same pattern pieces again when I want to make another in the original shape. 🙂
So to calculate the bottom binding length, we first need to remove the seam allowances, and then multiply each bottom measurement (between the seam allowances) by 2 so that we have the whole front and back length. Since my front and back measure the same, I can safely multiply 6 5/8 by 4 to get my circumference measurement = 26.5″. This is approximately 80% of my under bust measurement. We will add 3/4″ to that measurement for seam allowance, which means I will cut my bottom binding strip (and 3/8″ elastic) to 26.5 + 0.75 = 27.25″ by 1 5/8″ for the binding.
We will now add some length to the the front bodice straps. You could skip this step and have the strappy back start at the original shoulder seam, but the skinny straps – and the transition point – may be uncomfortable right on the shoulders; especially if you wear a backpack. Put your already-made Coastal back on and use a mirror to decide where you would like your front straps to end. Mark the spot with a clip. I chose to lengthen my straps by 1.5″. If you’re doing the adventurous version, I would go with adding 1″ – 1.5″ to start with, depending on your size and the firmness of stretch on your fabric. 🙂
Next, add another 1″ to account for the loop where the skinny straps will slip through and, measuring from the centre point of the front bodice strap, add that amount (in my case 2.5″) to the strap. Square off the top end (roughly parallel to the bodice bottom), blending and curving a little to make smooth lines.
Now take your back strap piece and measure its length along both long sides. Subtract double the amount that you added to your front straps (not including the inch for the loop); in my case, 3″ (1.5″ added to my straps, x 2). So I will cut my 4 strappy pieces 22″ long by 1 1/8″ wide.
Now that we’ve modified our pattern pieces and calculated our strap and bottom binding lengths, it’s time to cut the fabric! For my Wispy Wildflowers one, I cut my main on the fold (with the grain) and lining on the bias so as not to turn the flowers on their sides. For the Canada Day one I cut the main on the bias and the lining on the fold. Side note: if you are cutting on the fold, remember to remove the 3/8″ seam allowance at the centre front! Here are my cut Canada Day pieces, note you will also need 3/8″ elastic cut to the same length as your binding, and some 1/4″ clear elastic.
Now we get to sew! Join the bias cut front bodice pieces as described in Step 1 of the tutorial on page 20. Skip to Step 4 on the next page, and before sewing Step 5, mark where your straps will go. Find the notch you made in the back bodice pieces and measure out 3 more notches, each 1″ apart, towards the centre back. When sewing, leave approximately 3/8″ gaps around at the notches. I backstitch once or twice as well, just to make sure it doesn’t open up when I’m inserting the skinny straps afterwards. Stitch according to the tutorial, but also stitch across the front bodice strap ends. If you would like to add clear elastic to the neckline, do this now (zig zag it to the seam allowance on the main fabric side). Trim the corners at the strap ends, trim the seam allowances to about a 1/4″ (but not where your skinny straps will attach) clip the curves and the V, and turn right sides out using a chopstick or similar to gently push out the corners at the strap ends. Trim off the pointy-out bits of the seam allowance on the back bodice.
Prepare your 3/8″ elastic by sewing it into a loop; overlap the ends by 3/4″ and zig zag them together. If you would like less of an overlap (= less bulk), cut 3/8″ off of one end of the elastic and then overlap 3/8″ and zig zag them together. Be careful that you don’t have the elastic twisted. Sew your binding into a loop as well, as you would a band. Use your sewing machine for this step and then press the seam allowance apart in order to avoid bulk here as well.
Mark the 4 quarters on one raw edge of the binding and line 3 of them up with the front and side seams of the bodice, right sides together. You can choose if you’d like the seam at the centre back or one of the sides. I put mine at the centre back. Remember the 5/8″ we measured inwards when changing the angle on the back bodice? Measure and mark that amount to either side on the centre back of the binding and line up the points of the back bodice pieces with those marks.
Sew around. Do this with your sewing machine as well (for best results, use the super stretch stitch or “lightning bolt” stitch for maximal stretch and make sure you stay as close to the 3/8″ seam allowance as you can so that the binding will fit around). Find your 4 quarters on the elastic and match them up as you did the binding strip. Stitch the elastic to the binding strip side of the seam allowance using a zig zag stitch. Take care that the elastic stays within the seam allowance and does not peek over the edge on either side.
Now fold the binding out away from the bodice, fold the other raw edge in on itself to just before the raw seam allowance edge and then flip that fold over the seam allowance. Line up that fold with the previous line of stitching – just barely covering it – and pin it in place. Then, with the right side of the bodice facing you, edgestitch along the seam of the binding with your stretch stitch, making sure to catch the fold at the back. You may want to use the free arm of your sewing machine for this step.
To make the strap loops, fold the front bodice straps back 1″ and stitch them in place (I could have done a nicer job here lol).
Time to set the bodice aside and make your straps! Place one of your straps in front of you, right side facing up. Place a piece of crochet yarn in the centre and fold the strap in half the long way (“hot dog” style), with right sides facing. I actually only pin at the top and fold/adjust the rest as I sew. Leave the yarn running down the fold of the strap, leaving about 1″ – 2″ looking out over the top and bottom. Flip the 1″ piece of string at the top down onto the seam allowance of the strap and stitch it in place with a short, narrow zig zag. You want this to be secure because you will pull on this string when turning your straps. Repeat for the other 3 straps.
If you have a serger, stitch down along the raw edges of the straps with a 1/4″ seam allowance, being careful not to catch the yarn running down along the fold inside of it. If you feel comfortable doing so, sew some clear elastic to the seam as you go, or just zig zag it to the seam allowance afterwards. My sister recently made me aware of a little hole on my regular serger foot which is perfect for guiding 1/4″ clear elastic into, total game changer! I don’t even have to guide it anymore! If you don’t have a serger, sew down the sides using a super stretch/lightning bolt stitch and 1/4″ seam allowance and zig zag the clear elastic to the seam allowance afterwards. I do all 4 as a chain, without cutting the thread and elastic in between. Don’t forget to exercise (stretch) the clear elastic before sewing it on.
Turn your straps right side out by carefully pulling on your yarn and turning in the top of the strap, then gently pulling and easing the rest of the strap over it. Do not cut off your turning yarn yet. Repeat for the other 3 straps.
Insert the end of the straps that don’t have the turning yarn attached into the bottom two gaps you left on the back bodice pieces, with the seams of the straps facing the side seam (I did it backwards on this one), inserting them about 1/4″ – 3/8″. You can cut off the turning yarn now. Stitch them in place with a short and narrow zig zag. Pull the left-most one (1) through the right-hand strap loop, then lay it down over the gap next its starting point (2). Do the same with the second-from-the-left strap (3), pulling it through the loop and laying it over the left-most gap (4). Repeat this with the other side, but when you cross the other straps, weave them through. Make sure your straps are not twisted, and adjust them so that the strap seam is now facing towards the centre back. Pin the straps in place at a length that seems appropriate to you – use safety pins to avoid stabbing yourself 😉 – and try the bra on. Adjust the straps as needed, check again that they are not twisted and that they are woven through each other properly, trim them to the right length and attach like you did the other ends. Note that my straps overlap quite a bit here; I made longer ones for the version pictured. You will not need to trim as much off of yours. I also used regular pins, which I would not advise doing. Believe me, you’ll be better off using safety pins. 😛
And you’re done! 😀 Put on your new Criss Cross Coastal bra and a fun backless shirt – or your favourite V-back Versatilitee 😉 – to show it off out and about! 😀
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did, please leave a comment below and post in the Buttons & Bibs Facebook group with #CrissCrossCoastal if you feel comfortable sharing! <3
So long and until next time!