So you think you want to sew swimwear?
I spent much of this summer (and last summer too) sewing swimwear! From never having sewn a swimsuit before, to being considered somewhat of an expert, I learned just about everything there is to know! And I want to share some some vital things I learned with you before you start. Because sewing your own swimwear is a very, very rewarding (and even addicting!) thing to do.
Tan and mustard vintage floral nylon lycra fabric
Shiny navy blue nylon lycra fabric
Use the right tools
You must use a stretch needle. The end. Nothing will be more frustrating than using the wrong type of needle.
Do yourself a favor and use good quality fabric. All the fabrics used in this post are from CaliFabrics, and really good quality! I’ve linked them all below each photo. When you are learning a new skill, don’t compromise on fabric quality. You might think, but what if it doesn’t turn out? Then I’ve just wasted money, time and worst of all, fabric! But I can almost guarantee you if you don’t use good quality fabric, it WON’T turn out!!
Grunge white stars on navy blue nylon lycra fabric
(You can’t see it, but this swim skirt is lined with nude power mesh…a momma tummy’s best friend!)
You might be interested to know you DON’T need a serger to sew swimwear. I have sewn almost 20 swimsuits on my entry level Husqvarna Viking sewing machine. It has a stretch stitch, and a zigzag stitch, which are the 2 main ones you need for sewing swimwear.
A good pattern will educate you. If I can toot my own horn for a minute, I designed a swimwear pattern, the Grace Tankini, and while it’s my favorite suit out there, I think it does a thorough job of teaching how to sew swimwear.
White and purple floral on navy blue poly lycra fabric
Black and white striped techno knit fabric
The pattern includes links to my video tutorials and in depth blog posts for the most challenging parts. Quite a few ladies who have sewn the Grace Tankini pattern told me it was their 1st time sewing swimwear and they are delighted with the end result. In fact, even the cover model (Leslie from Threadbear Garments) was sewing swimwear for the first time…so of course I had her use swimwear fabric from CaliFabrics!
Your 1st suit is always a muslin
Even with the best supplies, notions and pattern, everyone should consider the first swimsuit they sew to be a muslin. You will not only learn a lot about the fabric and techniques, but you will learn about your own unique body and how to fit it best. As one famous swimwear designer said, women are at their most critical with swimwear…no other garment shows their body in such intimate detail!
Shiny navy blue nylon lycra fabric
Find a sewing buddy
When you are sewing swimwear, you’re probably going to need someone to keep you accountable. There might be times when you want to give up! If you’re sewing with someone (it doesn’t have to be in the same room, virtual sewing friends are awesome!) they can encourage you, nag you, lift you up, and you can do the same for them.
Chocolate brown nylon lycra fabric (similar)
Just DO it!
I’m pretty sure the reaction of every woman who sews their own swimwear for the first time is utter and complete amazement. You won’t be able to believe what you just accomplished, and it’s almost guaranteed that you will love your very 1st suit 100 times better than the whole dressing room bathing suit scene.
1 thought on “So you think you want to sew swimwear?”
Audrey, you’ve certainly piqued my interest with your swimsuit blog for cali fabrics. I have just one question, which might sound stupid re: “making a muslin” first. Do you really mean using 100% cotton woven fabric prior to sewing a swimsuit that will require the consideration of “negative ease”, that would be adjusted based on how stretchy the actual swimsuit fabric that’s been chosen? Or, is there a type of stretchy fabric that I’m unaware of that others use prior to sewing the actual swimsuit? My justification for posing this question is that Califabrics seems to have very nice options for what could be described as one’s “first draft” muslin trial that are less expensive and perhaps more realistic than purchasing muslin. Thank you for your time and inspiration!