Sewing Elastic into Spandex/Tips for Sewing a Swimsuit

Created By:

Erica Bunker

Skill Level: Intermediate

I don’t know why I hesitated to sew a swimsuit. I always saw it as something that was not necessary for me to handmake. My focus has always been on creating things that I couldn’t find in stores. And swimsuits are practically hanging in the doorway of Target. But I started to see them up and down my timeline, so I decided that this may be something I need to look into creating for myself. One of the reasons that creating my own swimwear had never appealed to me is because the major pattern companies only created really basic looking look suits. Then I started seeing really interesting styles that looked like ready to wear looks… styles I hadn’t seen before. I started collecting sewing patterns of the ones that I loved. I started doing my research and I realized that they were pretty simple to sew and anyone can make swimwear! So, here are some of my favorite tips that I’ve learned.


Choose High-Quality Swimwear Fabric

When sewing swimwear, the most important thing is finding the right fabric. When selecting fabrics, you have to select high-quality swimwear fabric with four-way stretch of at least 50% in order to make your swimwear work. Luckily, we live in a wonderful time where we have access to many, many fabric retailers and we home sewists can purchase the same types and quality performance fabrics we see in ready to wear. You should seek out something that contains polyester, nylon, spandex and/or lycra with at least 8% spandex because these fabrics will have excellent stretch and recovery. Also, look for something that is soft and not rough or scratchy. It is important that the fabric feels good against your skin. Fiber content is everything! Your fabric must be able to stand against chlorine and salt water. The fabric I used is from Zelouf Fabrics. It’s the Power Sateen and it is 82% nylon and 18% spandex. When preparing to sew with your activewear fabric, make sure that you prewash your fabric. This will preshrink your fabric and prevent the fabric dye from bleeding as you are wearing it. Selecting the proper needle and thread is key.


Selecting Your Size

When selecting your pattern size, if you’re in between sizes it’s always best to go with the lower size. Unlike sewing a woven garment with no stretch, a swimsuit is meant to fit extremely close to your body. So, you can make it in your exact size or a little bit smaller – with negative ease and it will still fit. As with any sewing, I suggest buying extra fabric and to be prepared to sew your first swimsuit twice. Let the first time be you “muslin”. 

Picking Swimsuit Lining
Don’t skip lining your swimsuit! You need that extra layer of protection because of how close a swimsuit fits to the body. You can choose swimsuit lining fabric that is 100% nylon or you can use swimsuit fabric. Using swimsuit fabric can also give you the opportunity to create a reversible design.

Use Swimwear Elastic
You make think that if your fabric has excellent stretch and recovery, why add elastic? Your fabric may
start out that way, but over time when it is exposed to chlorine and salt water, it could possible lose its
shape. Elastic is to help it maintain its shape. But you can’t just use regular polyester elastic. You have to

use swimwear elastic. You can’t cheat this by saying, this is what I have in my stash, so this is what I’m going to use. You’ll regret that!

Cutting Out Your Pattern
When cutting out your swimwear fabric, I suggest cutting using a single layer of fabric instead of cutting your fabric on the fold. Swimwear pieces are very small and they are just easier to cut on a single layer. And use pattern weights instead of pins. I prefer using large metal washers. And use a rotary cutter with a fresh blade.

Sewing Your Swimwear
As with any knit fabric, use a ball point or stretch needle. And use high-quality thread from reputable companies like Gutermann or Mettler. I like to use Mettler SERAFLEX® thread because it has stretch. And I love SERACOR® thread in my serger. All threads are not created equal. Using a low-quality thread or ever cotton will have you hearing popped seams. So your best bet is 100% polyester thread. When sewing your swimsuit, your primary machine will be your serger. But I highly suggest basting your suit first. A lot of swimsuit patterns, especially from indie pattern companies use small seam allowances like ¼”. This will give your more control with keeping your pieces together. I suggest using the longest stitch
your machine will allow for your basting. When sewing your elastic, we as home sewist have an undeniable urge to pull while sewing. Don’t do that here! You’re not gathering and you don’t want to end up with rippling seams. You want your seams to lay flat.

Do Not Press

This is the one time while sewing that you can skip the iron. Swimsuits don’t require pressing because of the type of fabric you’re using. Swimwear fabrics are made from some type of rubber or plastic types of fabric which don’t take heat well. If you’re concerned about your seams laying flat, you can always use a zigzag topstitch.

Everyone is Talking about Sewing Elastic into Spandex/Tips for Sewing a Swimsuit

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Around the Table Dresden Placemats
Saturday, December 17, 2016

I like the concept, but the directions are "sloppy." Nowhere in the supply list does it mention the felt or the batting (how much?). Also, I would never use a high loft batting in a placemat, or a table runner, as I think that it would be too unstable for a glass. The next time I make these, I will cut out the batting (I use flannel) and spray baste it to the wrong side of the Dresden plate before I put the Dresden plate on the felt to cut out. I have not yet washed the finished placemat, and am hoping that the single layer of felt does not curl up, or become distorted after washing/drying.
Fun Great Gift!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teatime Quilted Tablecloth
Friday, February 24, 2017

I made this today but your cutting directions need to be changed. You only need 4 of color 1 and color 3 4.5 squares for the triangles. Also the inner border, you only need 2 cuts as WOF is long enough to cut each in half to fit the sides.
Great Machine
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I've had this machine for only a week now. I bought it used from a lady who makes her own clothes, but she no longer needed the machine. During the purchase, she noted that she is almost sad that it's better to give it away because of how well the machine performed. (I also bought it along side a computerized machine of another brand.} She demoed the machine for us, showing it worked and gave us everything (including the box it came in!) She took amazing care of this machine. I have used it a few times now, and the directions for threading were easy to follow (albeit my hands are quite large so the lower looper was a pain, but that is no fault to the machine or brand.) And I recommend this machine to anyone who wants to learn to serge and wants a machine that can grow with them. I will happily use this machine time and time again.
S9 Review
Sunday, February 25, 2018

I love, love, love my S9! It's sews and embroiders beautifully and it's simplicity of use amazes me. I would recommend this machine for both a beginner and an experienced seamstress. If I would ask anything of Janome it would be to upgrade the programming to run a larger hoop size. I understand that it can't get much wider but there is most definitely room for it to go longer. That is the only limitation of this machine.
Monday, February 26, 2018

I purchased a Memorycraft 15000 a few years ago and it was the best purchase I ever made! This machine can do just about anything you would would ever want! I love the capability of using the Acuedit app to set up my embroidery pattern on my Ipad and then download it to the machine! I love how my embroidery looks upon completion and I love all the good lighting it has to light up your workspace. That way you don’t need to worry about where to set up your machine. It also has plenty of room to do machine embroidery on any size quilts! There are many decorative stitches from which to choose that are outstanding! It’s hard to choose which one to use! There are so many great features it is hard to decide what I love the most. If you want to buy only one machine to last a lifetime, I would recommend this one!
S9 Review
Sunday, February 24, 2019

The S9 is amazing. I learned to sew by hand when I was just 5 and in my grandmothers way as she was quilting. I took seeing classes in high school until they would no longer let me sign up. The S9 makes me appreciate my current skills as well as motivate me to want to learn more. This machine is awesome.
Horizon Memory Craft 15000
Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 is fantastic! I love, love, love this machine! When I came across the Eye for and Eye embroidery design today, I wanted to make it. However, the embroidery file is missing. Nothing downloads when I select the download button. Please help!
Treat Bag fun!
Monday, August 16, 2021

I made the Halloween treat bag for my new granddaughter and I’m sure it will last for years. No embroidery machine so I appliquéd the lettering. Need a little more skirt fabric for a better gathered look, and I used thin double-bias tape for the skirt hem, over edge stitch on skirt sides. I’m pleased with my results!
Very helpful tutorial
Wednesday, October 25, 2023

I want to say thank you for teaching me this method of applique. I was able to do it with a small letters. This method is the best so far from all of those I've seen and tried.
So useful
Thursday, November 30, 2023

I'd like to express my gratitude for teaching me this appliqué method. I successfully applied it with small letters, and, so far, it's the most effective among all the methods I've seen and tried.

The TWO Closest Dealers to you are:
5346 JACKSON DR , LA MESA CA, 91942
Find Additional Dealers