I began making swimsuits because I like being active on the beach and I could never find a bikini 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 who is used to making everyday garments like dresses, pants or jackets, sewing swimwear or lingerie might seem like a whole new world. You may 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 on 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 few clothes on as possible because the swimsuit is supposed to fit your body exactly. It is also important to make a muslin for the 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 go a size bigger. So let’s say I made my muslin XS and the fit was good, then 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 stitched it to the bikini by leaving an opening on the side.
For the full swimsuit that I am working on now, I stitched the cups to the lining and then to the swimsuit body.
5. Be sure to stitch close to the edge when you are folding the elastic to the wrong side: When making the bottom of your bikini, it is usually instructed to stitch 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 stitch close to the edge, you will notice that when you are wearing the bottom, 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 it is only skipping stitches on swimwear fabric, 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.
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 rip open the seams 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!