Summer is nearly here, and it is time to ensure the maximum amount of fun and relaxation for those fun, warm months. You have your pool and/or spa ready to go, but do you have that ideal, flattering swimsuit to showcase all of your hard work? As most women know, shopping for a swimsuit can be one of the most painful, depressing experiences known to man (or woman). Why not avoid all of the hassle of shopping for a suit this year, and make your own customized swimsuit, meant to fit your body exactly? Whether you are a novice or experienced sewer, you can create a fun, flattering swimsuit for your specific figure at a fraction of the cost of ready-made swimsuits. This brief guide to making your own swimsuit will get you started with the right pattern, fabric, and notions. After that, the sky is the limit with what you can do with your own homemade, incredibly personalized swimsuit.
Most pattern companies offer swimsuit patterns, but not all swimsuit patterns are equal in their merits. If you are looking for a swimsuit pattern that will be fairly simple, come in a wide range of styles, and provide the best fit for your unique body, there are a couple of pattern companies that offer the best swimsuit patterns for you. Patterns from Kwik Sew and Stretch & Sew specialize in swimsuit fabrics and provide the best selection of styles and the most consistent fit. Also, these companies take torso length into consideration when creating their size charts and patterns. Torso length is one of the most important aspects of sizing a homemade swimsuit correctly.
Most patterns will provide a size chart on the pattern so you can get the right pattern cutouts for your body figure. It is generally best to follow this size layout, but keep in mind that the best swimsuit size for you is anywhere from one to three sizes larger than the size you normally wear in pants or dresses. Spandex fabric does tend to grow a bit when wet, however, so be sure your swimsuit is not too large when you try it on for your initial fitting.
Most fabric stores carry a good selection of spandex and Lycra fabrics for swimsuits. While you may make a swimsuit out of any number of fabrics, including both cotton and velvet, a spandex-based material is the easiest to work with for your first homemade swimsuit, and it is the most likely to provide the stretch and coverage you need. Most spandex fabric comes in either two-way stretch fabric or four-way stretch fabric. Two-way stretch refers to the ability of the fabric to stretch and recover both vertically and horizontally while four-way stretch refers to the fabric?s ability to stretch vertically, horizontally, and from any angle. Four-way stretch fabric is likely to be somewhat more expensive but also more durable and elastic. Two-way stretch fabrics have a tendency to run but are still acceptable for use in a recreational swimsuit. Just keep in mind that they are less durable.
When buying fabric for your swimsuit, you will want to keep several different factors in mind. First, you will want to buy a fabric that has been treated for chlorine resistance (especially if you plan to do any swimming in your swimsuit). Most fabrics designed for swimwear are somewhat chlorine resistant, but you should ask the salesperson before you buy any fabric. Next, you will want to buy a fabric in a color and/or print that you feel comfortable wearing and that flatters your body. Keep in mind that darker colors and prints tend to slim and conceal while pastel and shiny fabrics highlight flaws. Before purchasing a fabric, hold it up to your body to ensure that the color works with your natural features. Finally, you will want a fabric that has the proper amount of stretch and recovery. Be sure to observe the stretch and recovery of the fabric before you purchase it.
To make a swimsuit that is truly opaque, you will also need to purchase swimwear lining. Most fabric stores carry lining in close proximity to swimsuit fabric. If you are using a light or medium color/print in your swimsuit, you will want to purchase enough lining for the front and crotch of the suit. An unlined back of the suit will allow for extra stretch to compensate for the lining in the front. If you are using a darker material for your swimsuit, you may need only enough lining for the crotch. You should try to match the color of the swimsuit lining as closely as possible to the color of your swimsuit material.
To actually assemble your suit, you will need thread, needles, and elastic for the armholes, leg holes, neck hole, and straps. The elastic you purchase should be treated for chlorine resistance, as chlorine has a tendency to break down the elasticity of untreated elastics. In general, cotton-wrapped elastics are best for comfort and reliability in swimsuits. Based on the pattern, you will probably need an elastic width of 3/8 inch for the armholes, leg holes, and neck hole and inch for the straps. To ensure the durability of your swimsuit, you will want to use a polyester or texturized nylon thread in both the needle and bobbin of your sewing machine. Feel free to play around with the color of the thread. This color does not necessarily need to match the color of the swimsuit and can be used to add decorative stitching to the body of the suit.
Cutting and Sewing Your Suit
After you have purchased all of the necessary elements of your swimsuit, you are ready to start cutting, sewing, and fitting your suit. In general, you should follow the directions of your pattern for both the cutting and sewing of swimsuit fabric (which can appear somewhat different than other fabrics). Remember to conduct several fittings before the final sewing of your swimsuit to ensure you create a swimsuit you will be proud to display all season long.
Short note about the author
Vanessa Lausch is a technical writer for http://www.moreswimsuits.com/. She has produced several articles and fashion advice columns, as well as two swimsuit consumer information sites: http://www.everythingbikini.com/ and http://www.swimsuit-style.com/.