I don’t know about where you are in the world, but over here in Ontario we are having a heatwave, an unseasonable, late September heatwave. And while my soul is craving cozy sweaters, big scarves and leg warmers, I’m going to roll with the times, and enjoy one last soak in the sun before it decides to be seasonable again.
This Sunday it’s all about swimwear- and all of the essential supplies for making a top quality suit- because I know when you’re first getting into making your own swimwear- it can be a little confusing to know what supplies you should get!
I made a video all about this over on my YouTube channel, if you want to see all the supplies in action 🙂
This week I’m going to share some of my favourite Swimwear Sewing Tips! I sew A LOT of swimwear, and *whispers* it’s my favourite thing to sew– but bras are a close second! And to be fair to my bra sewing – most of my bathing suits have bras in them!
So this post is all about my 5 Top Tips for sewing swimwear, some of these are collected from my past posts, and some of them are just little tips that haven’t mentioned yet. Here we go!
1. Quality Thread
When I was a kid, my mom made all my bathing suits, and I remember pulling my bathing suit out of my drawer a couple months after summer, (usually right before I needed it to go somewhere) and hearing the little ping of sad and worn out thread snapping in a million little places as I tested the leg elastic. The thread was always the first to go- thread, elastic, and then the fabric.
One thing that I’ve discovered that has completely changed my sewing is high-quality thread. It works better in your machine, it looks better, and it lasts SO much longer. For swimwear I recommend polyester thread (since cotton will hold moisture), and specifically I use the Mara 120 thread from Gütermann, which is an industrial polyester thread. I also use it on all my bras too- once you get the luxury of nice thread, well you just can’t go back!
I will be selling this thread very soon in my Etsy Shop!!
2. Binding Edge
This is a real favourite of mine. I find so often swimwear is always the same type of edge sewn with elastic- which is great- but sometimes for a really neat finish- you can’t beat binding. Binding is great if you want an edge that is not too tight- like if you’re making a more cheeky style bottom (or even if you’ve tried on your suit and find that it’s just a little too tight for you around the legs or waist like I did with this navy medium rise bottom!)
It’s also great when you’re working with foam to reduce bulk, and when you’re working with a variable neckline (the top of a round cup- over channeling, around to the back)! Like in this bra bathing suit.
Apart from these reasons, it’s also fantastic to add a little pop and coordinate your colours like I did on my most recent suit- that nice little black edge!
3. Put your Bra in your Bathing Suit
This is an Emerald Erin classic. Nothing feels as good as a bra in your swimsuit- no worrying about your nipples showing, it’s way more flattering, and feels so much more secure on.
There are so many ways that you can put a bra into a bathing suit:
like simply making your bra with foam and swimwear and wearing it as your bikini top (I have some tips on working with foam and bras here)
But you can also make a one-piece with cups which is oh-so-cute! Tutorial here!
Or you can turn your bra into a tankini using this tutorial here!
4. Use Elastic in your Swimwear Straps & Strings!
I’ve seen a lot of bikinis where the string is simply a tube of swimwear fabric. The problem I find with this is: it’s not feel very secure on your body unless you pull them REALLY tight, and then if you do pull them REALLY tight- chances are you’re going to snap some of the threads holding them together. I much prefer to use a 3/8″ all-rubber swim elastic and wrap it in my swimwear. They feel SO secure, and with the strength of the elastic, you know you’ll never just completely pull them out- they bounce back!
I know two good ways to sew your swimwear strings! And I did a tutorial on them here 🙂
5. Take Care of your Swimwear!
This seems obvious, but I’m still a victim. One story comes to mind- over a year ago now I was heading to California for a vacation to visit family. I had made a cute bathing suit– a bralette style top with a cool pattern with bright neon coral, and neon coral bottoms to match. I was in the hotel – flight leaving in the morning- and we were all ‘let’s jump in the hot tub’…. you can see where this is going. About 5 minutes into the hot tub time, I look down to see that all of the neon coral in my swim top is now purple, and I got out to realize that a similar effect happened to my bottoms. Only the bottoms were solid neon coral before, and now they were a faded neon coral anywhere they were tight and touching my skin, but anywhere there were they weren’t (think a strip up the center back) was now a murky purple colour.
That concluded in a very disappointed me, doing a midnight run to the closest/cheapest spot I could find for a plain pair of black bottoms.
So what I have learned is: DO NOT wear your beautifully hand-crafted swimwear in a hot tub (especially not a hotel hot tub), rinse you’re bathing suit immediately after being in chlorine to help save the elastic for longer, and don’t throw your bathing suits in the washing machine- gentle soaps, and let it air dry!
So those are my Top 5 Tips!
What are your favourite tips for sewing swimwear?
Talk to me in the comments!
I had to call this one my ‘Slice of Paradise’, partly because I took these photos in a gorgeous secluded beach in the south of Prince Edward County, that is a paradise, and because this bathing suit is everything I wanted and more!
When I first thought about the design of this suit, I was like ‘MOM! How cool would this be??’ (since my mom is my go-to person to get opinions) and her response was a little more along the…. ‘That reminds me of the 80’s, in a mens wrestling outfit kinda way’. Which was not quite the look I was going for. But at this point in my swimwear wardrobe, I can afford to take some risks ha ha
So I present to you my latest suit. It is a bottom with racer back, and suspender straps attaching to the front. (never have I been more confident that my bottoms will never come off, even if I dive in the water!). And a strapless bra bikini top to match!
There is something so special about this suit, it makes me feel like an absolute beach babe 🙂
I think one of my favourite parts of this suit is the bra top. Normally I’m not much of a strapless girl, but I have to say, I wore this suit all day, climbing over rocks, swimming and jumping all over, and I didn’t even think about adjusting the top once! I was pretty amazed.
I drafted the bottoms of this suit based off my favourite bikini bottoms, because I love the cut of the leg. The legs are finished with elastic, but the top edge and racer back are finished with a self-binding edge, which was a nice and tidy way to attach the little rings to connect the straps.
The bra pattern was based on my black beauty horizontal seam fav, and I used my Bliss underwires (which are a great option for strapless and keeping the girls together and up!). There are a couple little modifications to do for a strapless, like narrowing the bridge, making the band a hint tighter and taking a pinch out of the neckline of your cup(right about where your strap would have been).
For the back I decided to do my classic, three straps with G-hooks, and I used these gorgeous gold ones that I got in a trade from Tailor Made Shoppe <3
As for the rest of the suit, here are all the materials I used:
As for this photoshoot location, well this is a gorgeous little rock beach in the south of Prince Edward County <3, and yes, this is an oak tree that’s growing off the edge of a very high cliff, but this photo is a bit of an illusion, I’m not quite as ‘perched on the edge’ as I look.
But to counter-balance the heights, I made sure to have some time laying on the beach too 🙂
And of course, the mandatory Gibby photo, because even if he’s soaking wet, I’m going to hug him 🙂 He was SO happy that he got to come along for this photo shoot, he’s quite an avid little swimmer!
Is this my favourite suit of the summer? I can say, absolutely yes! I’m in love!
What is your favourite style of swimsuit?
Talk to me in the comments!
It’s the big reveal!! It was so strange being behind the camera instead of in front of the camera this time! But I’m so excited with how this tankini turned out, and mom is too!!
In case this is your first glimpse of this gorgeous tankini- I did two tutorials based around it! One is on Bra Making with Foam, and the other is on Turning your Bra into a Tankini!
This suit was directly inspired by mom and everything that she’s looking for in a swimsuit: support and lift in the cups, and a little extra fullness and coverage around the middle. Mom’s body type is an apple shape (which my sister and I can take full credit for – we were both huge babies), and her waist measurement is almost the same as her hip measurement, so the ideal bathing suit is one that nips in right under the bust, then flows away towards the hip.
The basis for this tankini top is a 3-piece cup bra pattern that I designed custom for mom. The inner layer is cut & sew foam covered with a seamed layer of black swimwear fabric, then over the top I added the stretch mesh. Rather than seam the stretch mesh, which I thought would be too bulky, I just used my pattern piece to make a solid cover that is ruched at the bottom of the cup. I thought it was a really pretty solution that almost makes it look like moulded cup!
For the bra frame I used: a layer of 15 denier for stability, a layer of black swimwear then a layer of stretch mesh. The back band is just a layer of black powernet with a layer of stretch mesh over top.
I finished the top edge with black binding, and made some simple high-waisted bottoms out of the same black to go underneath.
The high-waisted bottoms are perfect, because they can still give a little bit of tummy control, and you can just see them and a tiny bit of upper-stomach through the slightly sheer stretch-mesh!
I’m SO happy with how this suit turned out, and I’m proud to report that mom says it’s her favourite bathing suit she’s ever owned! It has the comfort of a bra, it camouflages the mid-section without being tight and ruched, and it’s super light-weight and fun!
Mom is turning 50 this year (can you believe it!) and my number one goal is to only make things that I would also wear (no old- lady bathing suits allowed!) and I can definitely say that I have some serious swimwear envy over this one! 🙂
Now I have some slightly disappointing news. I was planning to have a big surprise give-away of a tankini kit with everything I used to make this suit. However, Canada Post looks like they’re going on strike very soon, which means anything I put in the mail could get stuck there until the strike is over. I’ve looked into different shipping options for the giveaway, and for my Etsy shop, but the prices are pretty steep and right now I think the best option will be to temporarily close my shop and postpone this giveaway until the strike is over or until I figure out an alternative. But I do promise that I will be having this giveaway in the future (as well as a couple limited kits for sale!), so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that!
But I’ll end the post on a happier note, with this picture of Gibby, the happiest puppy in the world, moments before he shakes and showers mom with a million droplets of water. 😀
How are your sewing plans coming along this summer? Made anything super cute?
I’m getting all ready for the submission post going out tomorrow, so if you have any last minute entires- make sure you get them in right away!!
Also let me know what you think of this tankini, and if you think you’ll use the bra making with foam or turning your bra into a tankini tutorials I put out earlier this week!