Alright, so you've decided to make the SOMA swimsuit. You've bought the pattern, cut it out, but what next? What fabric should I buy? What thread should I use? Never fear, we are here to help! If you've never sewn a swimsuit before it can definitely feel a little daunting, but we're here to ease you into it and show you sewing a bathing suit really is a piece of pie. In little to no time, you'll have a new suit for every day of the week. If only it was summer all year round...
Let's talk fabric...
An assortment of stretch fabrics have been used for swimwear but generally a Nylon Lycra or Spandex is best as it's a four-way stretch fabric, that's also quick drying.
The Fabric Store is our #1 choice for the best quality and range of fabrics. The Fabric Store is based in New Zealand but also has stores in Australia and one in LA in the US. Here are a few examples of the types of gorgeous fabrics they supply... the fabrics will vary, so pop in to see what's in store.
If you're not lucky enough to have a "Fabric Store" nearby, check out your local fabric shop for their selection of fabrics or you can buy gorgeous swimwear fabrics online at any of these websites...
Let's talk supplies...
First check with your local sewing supplies store but if it proves difficult finding what you need, we've compiled a list of different places that have the appropriate swimwear fabric and notions. If you do find a good supplier, please share with us and comment on the bottom of this post!
A 100% polyester thread is best for sewing swimwear fabric as it is strong, durable and has excellent sunlight (UV) resistance. You never want to use a cotton thread as the chlorine and harsh sunlight will cause it to deteriorate quickly, leaving your beautiful swimsuit as scraps of fabric!
A lining is necessary in swimwear as it stops the swimsuit from going see-through once wet and also adds strength and extra coverage around the bust and crotch. When choosing your lining it needs to be of a similar stretch to your outer fabric, so that the swimsuit stretches as one. A synthetic four-way stretch fabric made of 100% Nylon is ideal. You can use a nude or black lining depending on whether you use a light or dark coloured outer fabric. If you can't find the right lining or would like the swimsuit to be thicker you can use the same fabric as your outer for your lining.
In our SOMA swimsuits we have used bra strapping elastic as it is firmer and has less stretch than other elastics. This is vital as some other elastics can stretch out of shape and can quickly turn your new swimsuit into a saggy mess within a few wears. Strong elastic also gives you much more support in the bust. However, bra strapping can be difficult to find so if you can't find it, don't worry, we will be releasing a post on how to make your own fabric covered strapping, which will give it a similar strength to the bra strapping. There has been a bit of discussion about the incorrect elastics deteriorating quickly, but after a bit of research and talking to a number of people, we have concluded that as the elastic we have recommended is the same composition as swimwear fabric, they should deteriorate at a similar rate. No matter what you use, your swimsuit isn't going to last forever, however, if you rinse your swimsuit after every wear and don't dry it in direct sunlight it should stay looking beautiful!
For binding the edges of the fabric we have used a fold over elastic, which is easy to use and gives a clean, neat finish. If you'd prefer to use something else we will be showing you how to create your own fabric binding very soon!
In general, when sewing stretch fabrics without a cover seamer or overlocker, you want to use a narrow zig zag stitch which allows the fabric to stretch without breaking. You want to use a wider zigzag when topstitching the elastic down, and narrow zigzag when sewing seams. It's best to play around on a piece of scrap fabric before you start sewing to make sure the tension and stitch lengths are correct. Stretch the fabric to check that the thread won't snap. If your sewing machine has a stretch stitch function, you can also use that.
For highly elastic, synthetic knitwear, stretch needles are definitely your best bet. They help prevent skipped stitches, which can sometimes be an issue when using ball point needles. Similar to a ballpoint needle, Stretch needles have a round point so they won't cut the fibres of your fabric, which will leave you with holes in your seams.
That about covers it... next up we will be showing you step by step how to make the bikini pants!
Watch this space...