Sew, What's Up

Sew What’s Up Presents

The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: MaryW
Date: 05-25-2007, 12:40 PM (1 of 19)
The weather is getting warmer. Well, :monkey: in most places it is. We still have frost warnings.

Some people make their own swimsuits. I have never taken up the challenge. What are the basic elements you need to stitch up a quality swimsuit? Which fabrics are best, how does chlorine affect them and what about finishing?

owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: siwian
Date: 05-25-2007, 04:52 PM (2 of 19)
I've made several bathing suits over the years. I found that whatever size I wear in regular clothes I like to make MY suit in a size larger.

I have used cheap 2 way stretch fabric from WW to a quality swimsuit fabric from JoAnn's. I used regular thread, swimsuit elastic, and an old tee shirt. I use a knit stitch built into my machine.

My suits have never been worn long enough to be affected by chlorine. My DDs outgrew them or I did. I made them for my DDs because they didn't like their middles showing but wanted 2 piece suits.

The suit I made last year was a piece of quality fabric I purchased several years ago that I wanted to make with just the right pattern. I made a "tankini" for myself. I made the top long enough to cover my ample middle and the bottoms came up high enough to be comfortable and modest. I used a tee shirt 2 sizes smaller than I usually wear for the lining and bra. My dh paid me the best compliment he could think of "It looks store bought."
User: siwian
Member since: 12-27-2001
Total posts: 114
From: mommydionne
Date: 05-25-2007, 07:34 PM (3 of 19)
Bathing suit making is fun!! you don't need a whole lot of fabric and I'm a fan of getting "ends" of the bolt, Wazoodle sells the elastic you need, the lining is often harder to find, and definately use wooly nylon for your serger or handwound in the bobbin with a twin needle it makes a nice soft finish, Jalie has some nice patterns but my most recent one was by Kwik Sew,
Both of them are nice b/c if you do a 2 piece you can cut the bottom and top in different sizes!!
User: mommydionne
Member since: 01-08-2004
Total posts: 838
From: Skye
Date: 05-26-2007, 01:23 AM (4 of 19)
Got to love making swimwear - saves the $$$ and they last as long as the expensive bought ones :bg:
I like the Kwik Sew patterns and I think that they have good clear instructions for anyone just starting out and I also have and recommend the Kwik Sew Swim and Active wear book - full of useful tips like full bust alterations and has patterns. I get thru' 2 pair "togs" a year as I aquajog for aerobic fitness. these are my latest ones that I made 2 weeks ago I used the halter top and instead of the tankin pattern added to my tried and tru tank swimsuit pattern. I also lined the front with power net instead of regular swim lining - thought it might help with tummy control :bluewink:
I use my serger to sew I like 3 thread wrap stitch = 2 needles and lower looper my machine has a little gizmo to block off the upper looper - this is also a nice deecorative stitch on fleece blankets ( but I digress)
I also like the flat rubber type swim elastic as it is not bulky I serge it onto the wrong side and then I fold it and then use a 3 step zigzag.
The other good thing is that togs dont use much material from 0.9m I will get 2 pairs of togs:cool: :bg:
User: Skye
Member since: 09-28-2000
Total posts: 233
From: grandma C
Date: 05-26-2007, 01:49 AM (5 of 19)
OOOOH! Do I dare try? I would love to have a modest 2 piece with powernet to disguise some of the bulges but with the ease of dressing and undressing of a 2 piece.
I am almost inspired.
Belinda/Grandma C
User: grandma C
Member since: 01-15-2007
Total posts: 263
From: bridesmom
Date: 05-30-2007, 07:21 PM (6 of 19)
I bought the fabric, I have the bra cups, I have the elastic, and MIL gave me her kwik sew patterns and books. NOW, the courage to continue. (fabric was $25.98/m!!!!!!!)
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: MartySews2
Date: 05-31-2007, 09:30 AM (7 of 19)
The latest Threads magazine has an article on making swimsuits with a pictorial step-by-step directions.
User: MartySews2
Member since: 05-03-2007
Total posts: 293
From: Kaitlinnegan
Date: 05-31-2007, 02:09 PM (8 of 19)
I'd really love to make myself a swimsuit this summer. I have a tankini (store bought) that I made a little skirt to go with, but I think for my new suit I'd like a bikini. I've never worn one before, so I'm a bit nervous about making one, :nervous: but I've looked at the bikinis in stores and even tried one on..and they just are not going to work for me. The tops do not cover what's necessary. I'm thinking about using this pattern:

View D for the top (oh's a bit racy, I know! :bg:). I think there's not much to the pattern -- it has separate pattern pieces for C/D cups, but do you think I should add a bit before I even start to get a bit more coverage? I still have to pick out fabric and everything of course.

The other question will be will I have the guts to wear it out in public. :bg:

Well, I'm looking forward to seeing what all the brave souls venturing out into swimwear come up with! Skye, your suit looks lovely! I'm very much encouraged. - the new home for Sew What's New
User: Kaitlinnegan
Member since: 03-20-2006
Total posts: 222
From: DorothyL
Date: 05-31-2007, 06:56 PM (9 of 19)
Will it be a yellow polka dot bikini?

User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: bridesmom
Date: 05-31-2007, 10:15 PM (10 of 19)
It's a very cute pattern, not at all riske like some I've seen!! Do you have any old stretch knit/spandex tshirts around that you don't want and more? Use one for the top muslin, I try to keep some old stained t-shirts for just in case situations like that, who wants to wreck the fabric?
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: Kaitlinnegan
Date: 05-31-2007, 10:58 PM (11 of 19)
Dorothy, that is just what my mother would say! I haven't told her yet that I'm thinking about wearing (let alone making) a bikini... She's not a prude, but she might be somewhat shocked to think of her little Katie in a bikini. :shock:

Laura, do you think some 2 way stretch fabric would be close enough to figure out how it would fit? I'm not sure I have anything handy, but maybe if I dig around a bit.

A question on fabric -- is nylon-spandex tricot what I should be looking for? I've been looking at -- they seem to have a lot of colors, as well as prints. I do believe I need it to be matte to be more flattering, rather than the shiny stuff they have for solids at Joann's and Hancock. They do have some cute prints at Hancock though.. Hmm. - the new home for Sew What's New
User: Kaitlinnegan
Member since: 03-20-2006
Total posts: 222
From: IsabelleB
Date: 06-01-2007, 05:02 AM (12 of 19)
That is a wonderful thread! I am planning to sew a tankini shortly. Thank you everyone for posting all this information. :bluesmile
Sewing blog: Kitty Couture
User: IsabelleB
Member since: 10-25-2006
Total posts: 265
From: bridesmom
Date: 06-04-2007, 09:34 AM (13 of 19)
I accidently came across this website which I kept because it has such great info on swimwear fabrics. Take a look and see if it helps you! And I'd think any 2 way stretch fabric would give you an idea of how it's going to fit. I'm using the legs of a pair of yoga pants that have become almost unwearable. Here's the site
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: HeatherL
Date: 06-04-2007, 10:02 PM (14 of 19)
I sewed a nursing tank suit a few years ago. It turned out pretty good, especially considering that I was a virtual novice at the time. I may tackle another suit again someday, now that I'm a more seasoned (and wise...and brave) sewer.

The best things I did? Bought swimsuit elastic (from HomeSew) and used a narrow zigzag for all seam construction. I really love the's better than standard to such a degree that I use it as my default quite a bit now. It has excellent spring-back, doesn't get misshapen over time, and is nice and strong. Plus, it doesn't have that traditional glossy finish, so it stays put under the presser foot when you're sewing. I love it.

The worst part of my experience? I used the same fabric as the suit body for the shelf bra. Since this is a nursing garment, it already had an extra layer of fabric across the front panel. So I ended up with three thicknesses of fabric on the front and only one on the back. You can imagine what happened--it pulled forward, and *down*. NOT flattering. Or comfortable. I then lined the back with a second layer of--yes--the same fabric, just to even out the weight a bit and reinforced the shoulder seams. It helped a bit. But of course now I have this suit that is, well, *thick* and takes for-ev-er to dry! Any future swimwear will definitely see me shelling out for real (read: thin!) lining material.
User: HeatherL
Member since: 03-13-2004
Total posts: 102
From: Shellymoon
Date: 06-10-2007, 10:42 PM (15 of 19)
I would LOVE to tackle a swimsuit and I did purchase a Kwik Sew Pattern to make one.

There's a fabric store here that caters to people who make dance costumes, so I can get the high quality lycra for $9-15 per yard.

So what's the problem?

Bra cups. I need a DD and I'd like them to be underwire (gravity is unkind to me).

Anyone know where I can get DD cups?

Has anyone ever sewn a suit with underwires?

Shelly Moon
User: Shellymoon
Member since: 05-27-2001
Total posts: 240
From: Skye
Date: 06-11-2007, 12:28 AM (16 of 19)
Shelly this link might be useful
User: Skye
Member since: 09-28-2000
Total posts: 233
From: grandma C
Date: 06-23-2007, 08:59 PM (17 of 19)
Well friends, I have my spandex fabric and have printed a pattern for a swimsuit for DGD. she is twelve and will die if the suit makes her look flat chested so I have ordered pushup bra cups and swimsuit linning to give her a little confidence. The pattern is from Wildginger's Childsplay. It is a mailot/tank suit not made for a built in bra . I suppose I need to slash and spread the pattern to make a little room for the cups. I will slash the pattern at the breast level to the center of the breast and then slash upward to the neck and pivot the pattern at the neckline or should I just slash at center breast level from side to side and just move it up a small amount to give the needed amount. I could gather the fabric at the sides this way and wouldn't need to pivot at the neck. I think this is better. I need opinions. The ordered stuff hasn't arrived yet so I am just working with the pattern right now. My husband just said he would donate a t shirt for a muslin.
User: grandma C
Member since: 01-15-2007
Total posts: 263
From: michel
Date: 06-24-2007, 03:05 PM (18 of 19)
This thread is very interesting but I'm not sure if I'm ready to take on the project of a suit for my daughter. But making Men's bathing suits is a dream! So I can still work for myself!
User: michel
Member since: 05-14-2007
Total posts: 10
From: grandma C
Date: 06-27-2007, 02:42 AM (19 of 19)
Michel, What mens swimsuit patterns do you use???
User: grandma C
Member since: 01-15-2007
Total posts: 263
Sew, What's Up
Search the “Sew What’s New” Archive:
Visit Sew What’s Up for the latest sewing and quilting tips and discussions.
This page was originally located on Sew What’s New ( at