Adventures in Dressmaking: Sewing Circle: Make your own swimsuit

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sewing Circle: Make your own swimsuit

Hi, readers!
I can tell you're getting ready for summer--I got this Sewing Circle question from a reader the other day!

Here's the question from Sarah K.:

Q:  I have been sewing off and on for a few years so I'm pretty comfortable doing complex things, but I don't draft my own patterns. Recently I have been looking for patterns for bathing suits and haven't been able to any. I was just wondering if you knew of any out there, or could give tips on drafting my own pattern (outside of using an existing suit).

A: Great question, Sarah!  Most of the big pattern companies don't have many swimwear patterns.  I did some searching and found some, but also keep in mind what you'll need to make a good swimsuit.  The fabrics and materials you use really matter.  You'll need:
  • Ballpoint needle (size 11 is a good general-purpose size)--slides between the fibers rather than breaking them--important on knits
  • Stretchy fabric (swimwear stretch or lightweight other)
  • Nude tricot lining
  • Thin swimwear elastic (usually 1/4" wide)
  • Coordinating nylon thread
  • Depending on the style, a bra hook closure set
  • (Optional): Bra cup pads or underwires if applicable, also sold at JoAnn, etc.
Here are some of the cutest!

BurdaStyle has several super cute ones, some of them free!

These are all Kwik Sew, from Fabric.Com (and all under $10!):

I also found these Kwik-Sew patterns on PatternReview, for under $12:

I also found this blog tutorial for a simple bikini!  If you want to try your hand at sewing on swimsuit spandex  without dealing with a pattern to start out with:

And of course, if you don't like any of the patterns that are meant for swimwear, you can always adapt an underwear pattern and bra pattern.  Those aren't a walk in the park to find, either, but BurdaStyle has some of those too.

Hope that helps, Sarah!

Readers, what tips do you have for Sarah?  Have you found any great swimsuit patterns?  Have you had success or struggles making your own swimsuit??

25 comments:

Leaving a comment is easy, and I love to read them! No annoying word verification required. =)

  1. There is a girl called Giannyl who makes pretty straight-forward video tutorials, and she has one for making a very simple bikini (http://www.giannyl.com/how-to-create-a-bikini/). I have followed her tutorial to make myself a simple bikini top (mine isn't ruffeld though as I just used plain black lycra in double thickness). For the bottom, I wanted something high waisted and quite retro looking. I found a pair of tight trunks I once bought for my boyfriend which he hated and used them as my pattern (It turned out they fit me better than him!). I'm nearly done and it has been fun and quite easy (I'm not the best of sewists). The retro high waisted bikinis on sale are so expensive, for my version I only bought a meter and have some spare fabric which I could use as embellishment (I'm thinking little bows for example).

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  2. This post is just in time!!! I bought some swimsuit fabric a month ago and want to make my own swimsuit.. I have a pattern in my head somewhere but I didn't know where to go from there... like which needles and lining and thread.. and here I am reading your post! Perfect timing!! Thank you so much!!!!

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  3. Jalie makes swimwear patterns, too. http://www.jalie.com/sports-apparel/swimming.html

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  4. Ooooo...I've been wanting to make a vintage style swimsuit, because I can't find one that I can afford :) I also can't find a pattenr for the life of me. Well, not one that is vintagey enough, I guess. I have a remnant of a stretch jersey, and I was thinking about using that for mine. After reading this, I might jut try...

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    1. I am also wanting the vintage type of swimsuit and haven't been able to find anything. I want to make something like this... http://www.popinaswimwear.com/jantzen-vamp-womens-one-piece-bathing-swimsuit-black-swimwear-c-61-p-1-pr-281.html

      But I want more support and better colors. Good luck to ya, hopefully one of use will get it!

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  5. I'm scared to try something like this!!! When I end up doing clothes I end up in tears.

    I love vintage swimsuits as well!

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  6. I've got a bikini pattern that I'm itching to make and I've got lovely fabric to make it in the only problem is I'm struggling to find lining fabric here in the uk, but this post has made me more determined to find some.

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  7. I am about to give bikini making a try for my daughter. This video is informative on fitting and drafting: http://youtu.be/X4zbb2d3lCI
    Any good sources for quality lining?
    I also have a couple Kwik Sew patterns I am going to try.

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  8. To draft your own swimwear/stretch patterns you need this site ! http://www.patternschool.com/
    http://www.patternschool.com/ :)

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  9. Does anyone know a source for a less stretchy swim suit material? More like the nylons they use in Mens swim trunks? I have looked for some thing like this to make a suit with as I want to make a more vintage style suit using a zipper but alas I can not seem to find these available to general public.

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  10. This is an excellent resource! Great job putting it all together. The patterns you found were exceptionally helpful. I made a swimsuit last year but it didn't turn out great. So this year I'm going to make another one- after learning from my mistakes. The community college nearby has a three week summer class all about sewing swimsuits that I'm going to in a few weeks. Hey, its free and I'm sure it will be somewhat helpful.

    A few things:

    DO NOT try that Burdastyle bathing suit (the second one down, one piece retro style)! It's free, and I can see why. Just don't try it. It's so poorly designed that you'll go bonkers trying to do it.

    You'll want to use braided swimwear elastic.They sell this online or you can probably find it at a local fabric store. I've been to a few JoAnn's and only about 1 in 5 has it (personally I'm pretty disillusioned with JoAnn). Make sure it says swimwear elastic- don't use regular elastic. Just trust me, it won't be pretty once you get it wet a few times. Also, you can use rubber elastic but it's NOT forgiving at all.

    The common size is actually 3/8" for most of the suit, and possibly 1/4" for other odd places.

    Patternschool.com is AMAZING. I drafted my swimsuit pattern using Adobe Illustrator using it. However, I did a few things wrong when creating it so mine wasn't great. But it is an amazing resource and wealth of knowledge.

    Hope this helps!

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  11. Great tips and resources, everyone!!

    A couple of you asked about swimwear lining... I found some for a good price here: http://www.hancockfabrics.com/Swimwear-Lining-Nude-Fabric-Swimwear_stcVVproductId48186849VVcatId539005VVviewprod.htm

    Hope that helps, and keep the tips coming!

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  12. Re: the free retro pattern from BurdaStyle (Alison). Novita of verypurpleperson just made a vey beautiful version ina vivid green - although she did say the instructions were a little tricky :)

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  13. A swim suit, really bikini, is on my bucket list this year. I'm kind of afraid to try except it seems simple. Ill let you know if I ever make one I have a deep turquoise and was looking at a very light turquoise at fashion fabrics.com.

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  14. do i have to use nylon thread? or can i use poly all purp. thread on a stretch setting?

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    1. Good question! I think it depends on the pattern and fabric you choose. Read the fine print and if that doesn't give you your answer, sure, try out the all-purpose thread on a sample and see what happens!

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  15. hey i was wondering if you knew of any patterns that are like the second one(the one-piece) but a two-piece bikini. with an under-wire.

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    1. Hm, I did just see this McCall's recently... has an underwire and good shape! http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m6569-products-22760.php?page_id=118

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  16. I'm sorry I think the link of "blog tutorial for a single bikini" may be wrong. It links to Burda...

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    1. Weird, sorry! Here's the correct link: http://wkdesigner.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/bow-tie-bikini/

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  17. I cant find the blog tutorial for the simple bikini

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    1. Here it is! http://wkdesigner.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/bow-tie-bikini/

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  18. I have published a free bikini pattern, if anyone would like to try it.

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  19. Oops forgot to put the link. http://strawberrymilkrun.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/free-bikini-pattern.html

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  20. Hi. Im very self conscious about my back because it's... skin sensitive so has a... few dark spots and marks. I've been looking everywhere for a cute swim suit that will cover my back. I finally gave up and just designed one that I LOVE but I have no sewing experience other than sewing up a tear, much less sewing a garment. I'm REEEEAAALLLYYY hoping someone will design it for me. for a reasonable price, no more than US$25... Please. and if you know someone please email me at swimsuitseeker@hotmail.com
    Thanks So Much

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