Shay Top Written Directions


- Shay Top PDF Pattern

- 5/8 yard swimwear fabric

- 1/4" swimwear elastic

- Cutting tool like scissors or rotary cutter

- Acrylic ruler (for cutting strap)

- Pins or clips

- Sewing machine (capable of straight stitch)

- Overlock machine OR zig-zag stitch on a regular sewing machine

Printing & Assembling the Pattern

Choose either US Letter, A4, or A0 format, all of which are included inside your download links. Open up your desired file and read through the initial instruction pages for more information on how to print and assemble this pattern. Note that if you're using the A0 verison you will need to pull up either the US Letter or A4 formats in order to access the direction pages.

This pattern is layered, meaning you can print out only the size you need. To learn more on how to do this, visit this link:

Print and assemble your pattern according to the provided instructions inside the pattern, then you're ready to begin!

Video Tutorial

This pattern comes with a video tutorial, and we strongly encourage you to use this resource in combination with these written directions. Some of the techniques in this pattern are better shown versus illustrated, so you may have an easier time by using both the video and written directions. You can find the video at the following link:


There are 3 pattern pieces- the left bust, right bust, and back. In each of your pattern pieces you will cut 2 in your fabric. If you're making your Shay Top reversible, you can choose 2 different fabrics as shown.

You will also cut 1 strap piece which will be used for your band. Refer to the instructions inside the pattern to access the measurements for this strap.

Step 1

  • The first step for the construction is attaching the lining and outer fabrics together and attaching elastic. So first you’re going to match your back piece with right sides together and attach elastic to the following areas shown.

You will also fold your strap in half lengthwise, and sew and attach elastic to it.

  • Before I start fussing with elastic, I’m going to use my favorite trick in the book, which is using a basting stitch before I go and sew my final stitch and add elastic.

  • A basting stitch is a long straight stitch that is meant to be temporary. It is a "practice" stitch in some ways, allowing you to tack the fabric together before sewing your final stitch. This will yield better results when you go to sew your final stitch! To set your machine to a basting stitch, select a straight stitch and then increase the stitch length as long as your machine will let you. No need to back stitch.

  • Just make sure if you do a basting stitch to either remove the stitch or break it before putting on your swimsuit, otherwise you’ll start hearing threads snap!

  • Once I have my fabric tacked together I’m going to switch over to my serger to sew the final seam as well as our elastic. If you don’t have one you can use a zig zag stitch on a regular machine and still make a great swimsuit all the same.

  • I’m using a 4-thread overlock stitch with a high quality polyester thread, and I am using an elastic foot to attach my elastic at the same time as I sew these layers together. You do not want to stretch your elastic at all, it should be sewn on evenly and without any tension.

  • If you find it easier, you can first sew the fabric together and then go back and attach elastic separately, with or without an elastic foot.

For more information on how to sew elastic, click here to watch my elastic series on YouTube. There's much more information than can be encompassed here!

Step 2

Now we are going to do our bust pieces! Match your bust pieces with right sides together and sew and attach elastic to the following areas. Notice that I’m NOT sewing the under bust in this step, you should leave it completely untouched at this point.

You will also stop sewing about 1” above the underbust. This is because I need to leave room for my strap channel later on. But this is also going to be a hole that we use to take the suit all the way to the right side, so err on the side of caution and try not to make this hole too small to where you can’t bring the suit out again. There’s two holes for either side of the strap channel, so you’ll want to at least leave one of them large enough to bring the suit through.

Again I’m going to do a basting stitch before I go in and sew on my elastic with my serger.

  • When you get near the bottom of the bust piece, slow down, cut your elastic so it stops about an inch from the bottom, sew that last bit of elastic on, lift your presser foot, and then get the rest of the piece out of the way.

Once that's complete, we've finished our elastic application!

Step 3

Our next step is finishing off that underbust seam. You will again use an overlock stitch (or zig zag) but this time you will not attach elastic.

  • Now if you want, you can finish off the threads on either side of the strap channel holes, this way when you take the piece to the right side you don't risk unraveling. You can either tie the excess threads in a knot, or you can use a straight stitch and tack it down for some extra security.

Step 4

Now all of our pieces are prepped and are ready to be attached to eachother!

  • First going to take the back piece to the right side. Before we start messing around with attaching it to the bust pieces, we’re going to use a basting stitch again and sew the shoulder and under arm holes closed

  • Again this basting stitch is not a permanent stitch, we’re going to do the final stitch later. This is just going to make sewing the layers of fabric together much easier!

Step 5

Now insert the back piece inside of one of the bust pieces and align it at the shoulder and underarm seam.

The image below shows what seams will be lined up to be sewn, but you will want to make sure the rest of the back piece is sandwiched inside like in the following image.

Make sure when doing this that your right sides are together, so your lining is facing lining and outer facing outer fabric.

  • Pin and sew the shoulder and underarm seam, attaching the back to one bust piece.

  • To sew these seams I’m using a straight stitch and sewing at the ¼” mark to account for seam allowance.

Step 6

When you’re done you can take some scissors and trim off the excess seam allowance.

Then, using one of the strap channel holes you will take the entire piece to the right side. This is why we left the holes a bit on the larger side, so we’re able to complete this step without stretching the fabric too much.

Step 7

  • So now you have your back attached to one bust piece, and we now need to attach it to the other.

  • To do this we are going to repeat the exact same steps we just did, but this time we just have this other bust piece along for the ride. So stuff the entire back piece and bust piece inside of the remaining bust piece, and line up the remaining shoulder and underarm left on the back piece.

  • The image below shows how the seams should be aligned, but your back piece and attached bust piece will all be stuffed inside like in the second image.
  • Pin, sew and then trim the excess like we just did in the previous step.

  • And again, through one of the strap channel holes take the entire piece to the right side.

Step 8

  • Now we are going to finish our strap and strap channel by sewing a top stitch.

  • I will be using a straight stitch for this and sewing somewhere between ⅜” and a ½” above from the bottom edge

  • Before I start and end these seams, I like to push the area with the hole in just a little so that the raw fabric from that hole is tacked down nicely and out of the way. However if you’re looking for some techniques to keep that strap channel looking neat, here is a video on that topic:

Step 9

Now take your loop turner and bring your strap out to the right side.

Step 10

Finally, use your loop turner to pull your straps through each of the strap channels.

That completes the Shay Top!