DIY Rashguard Swim Top

A.K.A. – OMG, a sewing project that actually saves me money?

We’re a boating family, which means we need serious sun protection for the kiddies when it comes to water wear. I like rashguards, because they provide a lot of coverage, and make the kids look like little surfers. But, boy are those tops pricey. I like the long sleeve ones, because they provide more coverage, and while Old Navy has them for boys, the girls version doesn’t have neck coverage. Now, I’m not adverse to getting boys clothes for my girls, but it struck me there and then in Old Navy that this was a project I could probably tackle myself at home.

So the next day I went to the fabric store and bought swim suit material…the heart fabric I used was less than $3 a yard. So I bought 2 1/2 yards, thinking I might have a learning curve, and it was better to have a little too much at that price. But turns out, I got it right on the first go. So my poor girls are going to be wearing the same heart print for the next few years! The blue fabric was about $6 a yard, but I only bought 1/2 yard of it.

This was a quick and dirty project…I wasn’t trying to win a sewing beauty contest. I decided serged edges would be fine, but with this fabric, you wouldn’t even need to finish it…leaving the edges raw would be fine. Having a serger makes this project easier, like with any knit fabric, but I imagine it could be done on a normal sewing machine with a stretch fabric needle.

I drafted a raglan shirt pattern from one of my daughter’s tops. Here’s a great tutorial about how you can do that. You could also make it using a normal t-shirt pattern that you can draft using one of your children’s t-shirts as a pattern guide.

To make the neckband, I used this tutorial, but made the band a little wider, so that it would provide a little more coverage:Serged sleeved hem easier than hemming:Serged waist hem:Matching tops for Big Sis and Little Sis:I will make matching bottoms with the same heart fabric using Dana’s diaper cover tutorial.

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7 thoughts on “DIY Rashguard Swim Top

  1. Oh this is so perfect! I actually need one for Jack…the ones in the store won’t fit over his big head! I bet I could customize it to fit him. Sigh…another project I want to start. I need TIME!

    • Waaah, another case of me wishing that we lived closer so I could help you! I hear you about needing time…I have what seems like a million sewing projects in my head that I just want to get started on!

  2. This is a project I’d like to tackle – it doesn’t seem that you used UV protected fabric. Have you found any that is suitable for use in sewing rashguards?


    • From what I understand a fabric’s UV rating is determined through the thickness of its weave/knit and how dark it has been dyed. Additionally, some fabrics can be treated with a UV inhibiting chemical. But I just used normal swimsuit material. It had a pretty tight knit (it was thick)…and if you make sure it’s loose on the child it will provide better UV protection: if it’s tight, that will stretch the knit and allow more UV rays in. So I think if you go with a dark swimsuit material, like navy, that would have a higher UV protection rating than a lighter one, like yellow. I didn’t look into the fabrics that are treated with the UV inhibiting chemical. The guards I made worked out well last summer, and I’d definitely do this again. However, I think I’ll look into getting the wooly thread for the serged edges.

  3. Where did you find the fabric? I can’t find swimsuit fabric by the yard. I have been wanting to make one of these for myself. I have an old rashguard swim top that I once bought and love the design, it has a zipper front (the store no longer stocks them in my size…grrrrr). I can use my old top to make a pattern, even use the old zipper from those tops….but I can’t find fabric for sale and have been looking for a long time.

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