Sewing Swimwear: Six Practical Tips for Your Next Project

sewing swimwear

Summer is most people's favorite season.  During summer, there are of course a lot of activities that we can do and one of the fun things is swimming.  And for this to be the most fun, having good looking and well fitting swimwear is a must.  However, many readers find it difficult to find the right swimwear “off the rack” to fit their size and body shape.

Well, fortunately, there's a solution since you can make your own swimwear.  Don’t worry, you won't be the first one to DIY swimwear.  All you need is a good pattern, the right materials and some practice and patience.

We have gathered some helpful and practical tips for you to succeed in sewing swimwear.  Why not make sewing swimwear your next sewing project?

Tip #1: Choose the right fabric

sewing swimwear

Choose a swimwear fabric that has the right stretch. Really examine the fabric carefully to make sure you'll be comfortable wearing it. Pick a four-way stretch fabric because they are the most appropriate fabric for swimwear. The fabric should be composed of 100% man-made fibers because these don't absorb water and will be very durable. The best to use are those composed of 80-90 % nylon and part Spandex.

Before buying, stretch the fabric to see how it feels. If the fabric is a print, does the image or design of the fabric become distorted when you stretch it? These basic characteristics of a swimwear fabric are definitely important in choosing the best fabric.

Here are some examples of interesting swimwear fabrics:

Tip #2: Choose the right lining

sewing swimwear

This is an important detail in your swimwear. The lining affects a swimwear’s comfort when worn. Don't choose a lining that will irritate your skin or itch. One good example of a great lining is Halenka. If you cannot source out Halenka, you can choose a sheer swimwear fabric. It will also work great!  Below is an example of swimwear lining fabric.

Tip #3: Choose the right elastic

sewing swimwear

This is an essential part of your swimwear.  The overall durability of the garment greatly depends on the durability of the sewing elastic that you choose. There are two kinds of trustworthy elastic you can use: cotton swimwear elastic and rubber elastic.  There are different widths and textures you can choose from and it is also important to choose the right kind to fit your swimwear’s design.  Below is a good example of specialized swimwear elastic.

Tip #4: Choose the right thread

sewing swimwear

Thread holds your swimwear together, so it's pretty essential.  Threads can weaken over time and with excessive exposure to chlorine and salt. Avoid sewing with cotton thread because this cannot tolerate long exposure to chlorinated water. When using a serger for your project, it is better to use a thread that is made of polyester for durability.

Tip #5: Cutting it right

sewing swimwear

As with any sewing projects, cutting your fabric the right way with the right measurements is essential.  Once you commit a cutting mistake, there’s no coming back unless you have lots of fabric on hand.  As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once.  Cut the parts one at a time, if possible so that you can avoid damaging the other part. If you are using a printed fabric, cutting it with the right side of the fabric facing up will greatly help you see the pattern line clearly. Make use of tools like pattern weights, pins, and a rotary cutter can help you be in control of the fabric while cutting.

Tip #6: Give the right support

Getting the right support for your bust when wearing a swimsuit is a critical factor. Remember that you are wearing only the swimsuit and nothing else, so make sure that you provide the bust support you need.

You can use foam cups for light support. Make sure to use those that are intended for swimwear and not for those intended for lingerie –those cannot stand up long exposure to chlorinated water or salt water and can also absorb more water than those intended for swimwear.

sewing swimwear

Another choice for the chest support is by using an underwire. This is by far the most reliable bust support for swimwear. However, it would also depend on your swimwear design to determine whether you can insert an underwire. If you expect you're going to need the support of an underwire, look for swimwear patterns that allow you to use them. And when you make one, be sure to size correctly for maximum comfort while swimming.

Your thoughts on sewing swimwear?

What are your thoughts about sewing your very own swimwear?  I've been thinking about adding a bathing suit to the workout wardrobe series we've been working on since January.  Would you be interested in future projects and tutorials about sewing swimwear?

Please share in the comments below.  We'd love to hear from you.

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63 Responses to Sewing Swimwear: Six Practical Tips for Your Next Project

  1. Cindy Neufeld says:

    Sewing your own swimsuit is absolutely a doable project. I highly encourage swimming sewers to try it! It was a great way for me to customize fit for my esthetic and my body type. I have made several one-piece racerback suits for daily lap swimming and I used regular knitted elastic that is lasting very well and is easy to sew. My only disappointment is how quickly nylon spandex swim fabric fades and disintegrates. My research suggests that polyester spandex will not fade and that is what my ready-to-wear suits were made of. Problem is finding it in Canada. I suggest if designing patterns, offer cut line choices for conservative neckline coverage and leg cuts.

  2. Squigit says:

    I would love to be able to make swimwear, they’re so expensive in the stores now.

  3. Gerti says:

    I would love to see more patterns for swimming costumes esp ones that you can actually swim well in for training. Many swim training costumes are a poor fit for me, even when reordering the same one! Ie not a sunbathing suit, I’d love to see a pattern with a proper swim back (not a wide scoop back with over-shoulder straps that easily slide off), eg zone or fly back or so, a neckline that is higher up, and underarm-to-side fitting such that boobs stay in when diving of the blocks.

  4. Catherine Grobbelaar says:

    I have just started making my own bras and a swimsuit is definately on the cards. Would love to see a tutorial and a pattern for a full swimsuit with underwires would be great.

  5. Cindy says:

    I would love to learn more about making swimsuits! Please do go ahead and share your knowledge!

  6. Emma says:

    Yes please! I will attempt to make a swimsuit this year for the first time and have a pattern but no idea how to do it. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I have white material that I want to print my own design on, but I should also line it since white = see through!

  7. M-C says:

    You only need bust support on a suit if you’re planning on using it primarily to lounge around in. If your aim is swimming, breasts float very well, your only concern becomes enough coverage so they don’t escape

  8. donna allai says:

    I have made swimwear for lots of years. they are not that hard to make you can use a ready made bra in the suit very easy to insert

  9. Rebekka says:

    Dear Mayra,
    What a great coincidence! My next project is a swimsuit/bikini. Thanks for your article!
    You ask in it if you should add a pattern for a swimsuit to your sports patterns – clear answer is yes! ❤️

    Greetings from Germany,

  10. Marina says:

    Yes, please. I would love to have a step by step on how to sew a swimming costume for me and bikini for my daughter. I am a petite medium size but somewhat of a pear shape, or hourglass shape maybe? I can never find swimming costumes that fit me, especially around the chest/shoulder area properly, and I want/NEED to learn to sew swimwear. Thank you. 🙂

  11. Ross an Botelho says:

    I would also love to read more about making swimwear. I have made a couple of swimsuits that were ok, but more knowledge would be very helpful. The swimwear I made were one piece fully lined suits, however I think there were easier and better ways to make them than what I used.

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