Okay, now that we have covered the basics of pattern ideas and fabric suppliers, we need to get into the guts of a swimsuit. What all goes into making a swimsuit and why do you need to use certain items versus others? Let’s dive into the nitty gritty and find out! Along with explaining what the role of each item is, we will be adding some suppliers of them. Remember, there are many more sources of each of these items out there in the world! This is just a list of what we have come across. If you have a supplier you love, let us know in the comments!
When making a swimsuit you always want to use a lining, especially on a light colored swim fabric. Swimsuits have what is called negative ease, which is when a garment is sized smaller than the body it will be worn on. Even though swim fabric is stretchy and mostly opaque, when it gets wet, that could quickly change. Adding a lining will an extra layer of opaque protection. Now, if you have enough and you want to use the same fabric on the inside as you did on the outside of the suit, do it! You are not obligated to use a specific lining. Lining is usually cheaper than swim fabric itself, but there are no rules that say you cannot line a swimsuit with swim fabric. Typically, swim lining is 100% Nylon. I prefer some with lycra or spandex. To be perfectly honest, my favorite swim lining is from Joann fabric. It is slippery but once basted to your swim fabric it’s easy to work with. Lining without any lycra isn’t my favorite because it tends to stretch out and not recover like the swim fabric you’re using for the outside. There are several small shops with great swim lining too that I’ve listed below! Linings usually will come in white, nude, and black. You will want to use white for white swim fabric, nude for any other bright colors, and black for darker colors.
Power Mesh, Power Net, and Techsheen
Depending on what kind of support you want or need will determine which kind of support fabric, if any, you will want to use. Personally, I have used all three. Power Mesh is light weight, minimally supportive, but layered with a nice swim lining provides adequate support. Power Net is the next step up. It is a bit more compressive and will give you medium weight support. Tech sheen is the tip top of support fabric that I have found. It has minimal stretch and extremely compressive. As far as my preference, I prefer power mesh. Even with a G cup chest, I find the higher I got in support fabric the less comfortable I am wearing the suit all day. It goes from support to binder really quickly if there is too much compression. And that might be what you need or want, which is perfectly fine! Experimenting is key for your comfort level! I’ve used power mesh in the chest area and the middle/lower tummy area. You will only want to use any supportive fabric on the front of the bathing suit. If you use it in the front and back, especially something like techsheen, putting your suit on become more of struggle you don’t want to deal with. It becomes way to tight and hard to get on your body. Below are a list of support fabric suppliers:
When it comes to sewing swimwear you want an elastic that can stand the elements and the test of time. This is something that’s going to hold up to the sun, ocean, lake and pool. While you can use any elastic you want to the top three recommended elastics will be rubber elastic, clear elastic, and natural cotton elastic for longevity. My preference is for natural cotton elastic. I have tried clear elastic in the beginning, but it was mega slippery and didn’t stretch like I needed it to. That being said some designers I know personally use clear exclusively on swimwear. I have heard plain rubber elastic is easier to sew with because it’s not as “bulky” as natural cotton elastic, but I haven’t tried it yet. If you look at a RTW swimsuit, typically rubber elastic is going to be used there. Really, if you can get your hands on all three just to play around with, that’s ideal. It’s just a personal preference.
- Natural Cotton Elastic
Using the correct needle will save you skipped stitches and so much heartache. I use Stretch Schmetz 75/11 sized needles in both my serger and sewing machines. Check your serger user manual first before you put just any needle in it. Some machines require certain needles. You can grab these in several online sewing shops and local/big name stores. Walmart and Joann fabrics are my go to for needles just because the are both within a half mile to my house. Wawak also carries them and they are almost always cheaper than chain stores!
When sewing a swimsuit I often use my serger for much of the main construction and my sewing machine for any topstitching. I use wooly nylon (Maxi-Lock stretch) in my upper looper of my serger and regular 100% polyester thread in the rest of my serger. Wooly Nylon thread is a soft, yarn like thread that is great for stretch garments. For my sewing machine I use Gutterman 100% polyester thread. My go to for thread is Wawak. You can use wooly nylon in the bobbin of your sewing machine, but you must hand wind it.
Only a few swimsuit patterns I have come across or have sewn myself use boning or underwire. It’s more reserved for the swimsuit that includes a full built-in bra. For example, the Cashmerette Ipswich comes with a full built-in bra option. Some strapless swimsuits will have you add boning into the side seams to help your suit stay up on your body. Personally, I don’t care for boning and underwire in my swimsuits, but some do need or want that support. These companies will also have the channeling you’ll need to use to cover the boning and underwire.
While I don’t usually add cups to my swimsuits, many prefer to have them in their swimsuits. Several suppliers carry them by the cup size, or if you would like you can make your own using cut and sew bra foam. There are some great tutorials on how to make your own bra cups for your body on Youtube!
Because you will be exposing your swimsuit to the elements like saltwater or chlorine you will either need to use plastic hooks and sliders or powder coated metal hooks and sliders. You can find them at several online lingerie finding shops.
While I understand not everyone uses a serger, or has the means to get one, that does not mean you cannot sew a swimsuit! You can totally make a swimsuit completely on your sewing machine with the right stitches, which I will get into on the tips and tricks post. Since machines are so specific on what accessory will work with which machine, I’ll leave this one category open ended. If you type your machine brand and model number in to Google, with the term “walking foot” behind it, you should come up with the right one for you!
There you have it! That’s all for the findings, now let’s move on to tips and tricks when sewing with swim.