Coast-to-Coast: Sewing Swimwear, Part II

Dear Dana,

OK, I am so envious that you had the foresight to order solids from Spandex World. Might have to get myself back over there and consider some options to do some sort of colorblock action… So chic, right?

I saw you mentioned needles. I’ve been doing some reading (consummate researcher, that’s me!), and Sandra Betzina recommends the ball point needles for Nylon/Lycra blends–she says the stretch aren’t as good. (I have a copy of Fabric Savvy and it’s SO useful for this kind of thing.) I’m thinking I’ll have both on hand and see which I prefer, but hopefully the ball points will do the trick.

Since I was already in research mode, I went out today looking for patterns. I’d love to make my own, but I feel pretty sure the wise course of action might be to construct something from a pattern first before winging it. Harks back to my archaeologist/measure-twice-cut-once days, y’know? I envy you that you jump in and see what happens–I would love to do that more often.

A rabbit hole search led me to Kwik Sew patterns for active wear–not really what I had in mind, but a start. Another led me to their swimwear patterns, which were more along the lines I envisioned.

Someone else recommended Stretch and Sew, which were OK too, but by this point, I was feeling inspired and impatient, so I went ahead and just dove right in. I know! I was pretty surprised too, but this whole project just has me so darn motivated.

I used a suit whose dimensions fit me well–everything I’ve read has said that the body length is the most important dimension to get right, since the fabric will stretch side-to-side.

I laid it out on some art paper I snaked from the kids, made a sketch, added seam allowances, and felt totally ready.

Somewhere along the way I read a hint to tape down the fabric, and I gotta say, it was totally right on the money–HUGE help when I got the rotary cutter going and started cutting.

So here’s where I am now:

Just the one at the moment, since the girls both took theirs out of town with them. I’m planning to stitch this one up and check the fit to see if my methodology holds water (hey, look at that! an archaeology reference AND a swimming pun! in the same sentence!), and then tackle the other two.

Are you wondering about elastic like I am? I’ve seen plenty of folks mention using swimsuit elastic, and others who say it doesn’t make a difference and the regular stuff is just fine. Call me crazy, but I don’t really want to do casings–what if we use fold-over elastic, instead??

Oh, we’re so close. I can feel it. But you ever notice that most of the mistakes in sewing happen riiiiight when you start to think, “Hey, this is going really well! I’m making such great progress! I’ll be done so much sooner than I thought!”? Ever notice that? And then your bobbin runs out.

Can’t wait to see what you’re doing on your side of the Americas!

You Might Also Like

  • dana
    July 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    oh, GREAT post! I was just going in the other room to start cutting and I thought…wait, maybe Deborah posted something. And sure enough! I just watched the FOE tutorial. That's a great idea! Of course, I'm antsy and just want to sew and get going….so maybe I will just do annoying casings. I'm sure that's no way a true professional would do it. But I know it will work. haah.
    I love the pattern you've already cut out. You are so brave to start on your suit first.
    Okay, why am I leaving my whole letter in your comments here???? I need to just post!

  • Whitney
    August 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Hello. My name is Whitney. I have a degree in Family and Consumer Science Education. I have worked for a modest clothing company as a designer/production assistant. I have done a lot of sourcing. I also worked for a dance/swimwear company where I made custom dance costumes and swim wear.

    I am SO EXCITED to see people trying to make their own swimming suits!!! The hardest part is doing the elastic. Getting the right stretch is the key. But after a little pratice its not hard at all.

    And Yes…the swim elastic matters. Its covered in cotton and it doesn't get "crunchy" as the chlorine deteriorates like the other kind.

    Anyway…just thought Id give you a a tip. Ive learned a lot of things through trial and error and different experiences.

    I do have a website. I'm currently taking a sabbatical from blogging as I have a new baby. But I do have lots of links for fabric sources and modest swim companies.

    Best Wishes