I began making swimsuits because I like being active on the beach and I could never find a suitable bikini set that is both nice and comfortable at the same time. I would be frustrated going from store to store and not finding anything that I like.
For someone used to making everyday garments like dresses, pants or jackets, sewing swimwear or lingerie seems like a whole new world. One might feel hesitant and not sure where to start. Well, I was relieved to find out that if you have the basic skills for sewing, you can easily make your own swimsuit. By paying attention to some technical details, you can make beautiful swimwear that also suits your life style.
If you are not drafting your own patterns and bought a ready made swimsuit pattern, here are some tips that I found useful:
1. Use a stretch needle for your sewing machine: It is possible to sew a swimsuit even with a basic sewing machine if you have the right needle for it. Buy “stretch needle” for your sewing machine.
2. Taking measurements and making a muslin: When measuring your bust, waist and hip to find the right size on the size chart, try to have as little clothes on as possible because the swimsuit is supposed to fit your body exactly. Also, it is important to make a muslin for same reason.
3. Move to a bigger size if you are using cups: The swimsuit pattern that I have did not use cups and I wanted to add them for extra support. However, I did not calculate the extra layer that the cups would form so the top came out a bit tight. It would have been better to sew a size bigger. So let’s say I made my muslin XS and that was a good fit, I’ll make my bikini top size S when using cups.
4. Inserting cups: If your pattern does not include cups and you would like to add them, here are two different ways to do it:
For the bikini I made an extra lining and sew it to the bikini by leaving an opening on the side.
For the full swimsuit that I am now working on, I sew the cups to the lining and then to the swimsuit body.
5. Be sure to sew close to the edge when you are folding the elastic to the wrong side: When making the pants of bikini patterns that I bought, it was suggested to sew the elastic to the wrong side and fold over. At this stage, it is important to zigzag as close to the edge as possible. When you don’t sew close to the edge, you will notice that when you are wearing the pants, the elastic will have a tendency to flip outwards and you will have to fix from time to time and it will be a bit uncomfortable.
6. Preventing skipped stitches on swimsuit fabric: If you have a general problem with your sewing machine and it is skipping stitches regularly, then there might be many different reasons and you should get it checked. However, if you are getting skipped stitches only on your swimwear fabric like me, try stretching the fabric a bit (not a lot) when sewing. Also, if you are back-tacking, try starting a little bit further away from edge will help.
7. Use elastic that has the exact same size as given in the instructions: I usually change the patterns a bit and improvise from the materials that I already have. When I was making my first surf bikini, I used elastic that is 1.2 cm instead of 1 cm. Sounds like a small difference isn’t it? Well, this made closing the binding from the wrong side so difficult. I did not have enough fabric left to close the binding and so I had to unstitch many times and I hand stitched parts of the back. Thus, for my second bikini I bought exactly 1 cm elastic and it worked much better.
Let me know if these tips were helpful and have fun sewing your bikini!