10 Tips for Sewing a Swimsuit (VIDEO)

Posted by on May 21, 2016

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Sewing a swimsuit, with or without a serger, requires some planning. Of course, you need to decide what type of suit you're going to make — bikini, monokini, one-piece — and if you're going to follow a pattern. Once the basics are decided, you'll need to buy the right stretch material, needles and elastic. While a serger isn't necessary to make a swimsuit, you should know the proper ways to make a swimsuit using a sewing machine without a serger.

Several videos show how to follow along with a specific swimsuit pattern, but few offer the background basics. Read some of the tips we learned from watching Sewbliss' two-part instruction (embedded below) on easily making a swimsuit and for more ideas, check out Tasha's tips on making swimsuit measurements.

Tips for Sewing a Swimsuit

Stretch Fabric: You'll need outer or fashion fabric that's at least 10 percent Lycra or Spandex plus separate fabric for the lining.

Stretch needles: Using stretch needles in your sewing machine can help from pulling the fabric.

Elastic: Be sure to get cotton swimwear elastic that has been treated for pools. 

Cups: Need cups for your swimsuit? Cut them out of a cheap bra or old swimsuit.

Cutting Stretch Fabric: Use a rotary fabric cutter instead of scissors for a cleaner cut that doesn't get distorted by pulling the material.

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Try on the lining first: Sew together the lining before cutting the fabric pieces for the front / outer material. Any adjustments you make to the lining for a better fit should be measured and applied to the outer material. While making the swimsuit, try it on whenever you have a question. A form-fitting piece of clothing has to be checked often for the shape to look its best. 

Leave room for the cups: Once the inner and outer pieces have been created, sew everything together except for the neckline to leave room placing and pinning the cups. Since each person's body differs, proper placement of the cups is done best when wearing the fabric. 

Serger or no serger? A lot of sewists consider a serger necessary for sewing a swimsuit. Sewbliss shows how she uses one for the side seams and shoulder seams. It's also possible to use a straight-stitch machine with two rows of zig-zag stitching. 

Neckline elastic: After measuring up and cutting the neckline elastic, attach the two ends with a serpentine or zig-zag stitch. Divide the loop into four quarters and pin it to the middle-front, middle back and two sides of the neckline before sewing. This approach will keep the elastic evenly divided in the neckline. 

Armhole elastic: Since the armholes will probably need to be tighter than the neckline, consider pulling the elastic tight when attaching it for a snug fit.

Double Needle: When topstitching the elastic down, be sure to use a double-needle

Measuring a swimsuit: Whether you're designing a swimsuit from scratch or following a pattern, you have to be exacting when measuring your body. Tasha shows how to measure above the bust, over the bust, below the bust, the smallest part of your waist and where the top will end to make a tanktini

While there are numerous types of video following patterns, BritxBrat2Fashion's Monokini Swimsuit tutorial explains how to make a suit based on clothing you already own.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments section.

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