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Sewing Your Goth Swimsuit: Materials, Tools, and Techniques

Swimsuit Fabric, Blue Moon Fabrics

Many sewists avoid making their own swimsuit because they fear it will be too difficult. Maybe they heard that to sew stretchy fabrics they need a serger, and they don’t have one. Or they might not know where to find the perfect fabric, lining, and notions. 

Sewing your own swimwear is easier than you think. And no, you don’t need a serger to do it. If you have a sewing machine that sews a zigzag stitch, a couple simple tools that are specific to sewing with knits, and a few techniques, you will be sewing your goth swimsuit in no time!

Materials

Pattern

There are so many great swimsuit patterns out there that it can get dizzying. It is totally up to you to decide which one you want to sew. I have sewn three patterns so far, and you can read about them here: How to Sew Your Own Goth Swimsuit: An Introduction.

When I’m thinking about sewing a pattern, I look for pattern reviews, blog and Reddit posts, and YouTube tutorials to give me an idea of how well the pattern is drafted and how difficult it will be to sew it. I also look through IG posts to see how the finished pattern looks in a variety of body types.

If this is your first time sewing a swimsuit, here are a few considerations:

  1. Two-piece swimsuits use less fabric. 
  2. The more pieces a pattern has, the more complicated it will be.
  3. Consider these three variables: Coverage, support, and comfort. 
  4. Think of what you like/dislike about ready-to-wear swimsuits and try to replicate/avoid it.

These are some options of patterns:

Cashmerette Ipswich: Options for one or two pieces. Designed for “big boobs.”

Closet Core Sophie: A two-piece with vintage flair. For more advanced sewists.

Greenstyle The Right Triangle Bikini Top and The Right Triangle Bikini Bottoms: The classic bikini in a wide range of sizes. Perfect for beginners.

Helen’s Closet Sandpiper: A two-piece for the sporty types. Good for confident beginners.

Petite Stitchery and Co: 2024 Swim Pattern Collection: From the easy Hi-Cut Swimsuit to the very twisty Bria Crossback, there is a pattern for every level of sewist.

Fabric

When selecting your swimsuit fabric, you must consider the following:

  1. Does the fabric have good recovery (can it “snap” back to its original after being stretched?)
  2. Does the fabric have four-way stretch (it stretches up and down and from side to side)?
  3. What is the amount of stretch of the fabric (50% stretch percentage; your fabric should have 10-20% spandex)?
  4. Is the fabric salt/chlorine/color fade resistant (bonus if it is UV resistant)?
  5. Is the fabric opaque enough (lining is always a consideration)?

It seems like a lot to keep in mind, so my suggestion is using “swimsuit” or “swimwear” wherever doing a search at an online store, or asking a clerk for help to find this kind of fabric at a store. Keep in mind that if you are adding a lining (I HIGHLY recommend you do!), you want to specify that you are looking for swimsuit/swimwear lining.

I’ve purchased swimwear fabric from Fabric.com (now defunct), Girl Charlee, The Fabric Store, and Blue Moon Fabrics. I love the fabric and lining I got at Blue Moon. I visited their store in DTLA, and I have never seen so many prints and colors of swimsuit fabric. The print I bought is no longer available, but they have many other options for all tastes and styles. Spoonflower has a lot of fun, goth-y prints, but I cannot tell you about the quality since I have never bought anything from them.

Elastic

Image of two rolls of elastic; top: 3/4" swimsuit rubber elastic; bottom: 1/4" swimsuit cotton elastic
Top: 3/4″ swimsuit rubber elastic; bottom: 1/4″ swimsuit cotton elastic

Much like with fabric and lining that are specific for sewing swimwear, there is a special kind of elastic that can withstand salt and chlorinated water. Dritz swimwear elastic is the easiest to find—it is available at Joann, Amazon, and most big box fabric stores—and what I’ve used before.

For this project, I purchased rubber swimwear elastic. I did some research and think this might become my to-go elastic, but it is much harder to find (I got mine at Amazon.Closet Core also sells this elastic).

Tools

Stretch Needle

Image of the anatomy of a needle and different types of needles, with a box around a stretch needle
Types of Needles

You will need a stretch needle to sew your swimsuit. This is a special needle that has a specially designed point that prevents the fabric from snagging or tearing. Some stretch needles have a special coating that helps the needle glide through stretchy fabrics.

When buying a needle for this project, look for the word “stretch” on the box. You can find them at any sewing store.

Ballpoint Pins

There are less sharp pins that have a slightly rounded tip. This allows the pin to slide between the fabric fibers without snagging or ripping them. They are also safe to be used with knit fabrics.

Sewing (Quilting) Clips

If you are super worried about damaging your fabric with pins, these clips are a great alternative. They do weigh the fabric down, so be careful when using them. Make sure to hold your pattern pieces as you sew them so that the fabric is not hanging off your sewing table—and getting distorted in the process.

Rotary Cutter and Self-Healing Mat

Image of two rotary cutters of different sizes
Rotary Cutters

I started using a rotary cutter with a self-healing mat with my first knit fabric project. Since then, this is my preferred cutting set up for every sewing project. The fabric stays flat against the mat, allowing for much more precise cutting. 

If you are going to invest in this setup, make sure to get some fabric weights. Mine are washers purchased at my local hardware store. I bought two sizes, small and large; they were cheap and work beautifully.

Loop Turner

Image of a loop turner
Loop Turner

This is more of a “good to have” but not essential tool. The loop turner is a long metal stick that ends in a latch hook to catch the fabric and pull it through a tube. It is really helpful when working with fabric tubes. 

Techniques

Zig Zag Stitch

You will need to set your machine to use a zigzag stitch. The universal symbol for a  zigzag stitch is something that looks like this: /\/\/\. This kind of stitch is the same you use for all knit fabrics. It stretches with the fabric, preventing the stitches from popping—like they would if you use straight stitches. 

When sewing swimwear, I use a very wide zigzag. It is both functional—it catches the elastic—and cute—I like how it looks as a finish. 

Elastic

For most of your sewing, you will keep a 1:1 ration of fabric to elastic—the elastic is the same length of the opening it is being attached to. This is true for straps and straight lines like the bottom front or the arm opening. Here, you will not add stretch to your elastic, but you want to make sure that the elastic is taut as you sew it.

For some curved sections of your swimsuit—like the cups of your top or back bottom—you will need to stretch your elastic as you sew. If you are working with a pattern, the instructions will tell you what length of elastic to cut. If you are winging it, I’ve seen recommendations for cutting your elastic 2-3% shorter than the opening. 

Some Thoughts on Sewing Your Own Swimsuit

It sounds really scary, but sewing your own swimsuit is not that difficult. If you have the right fabric, notions, tools, and techniques, you can be successful in making a bathing suit that is exactly what you want and need.

Now, go buy your get supplies, and I will meet you back here for next week’s adventure—we’ll be cutting our swimsuit!

2 Comments

  1. MISS AMI WATSON
    June 14, 2024 / 1:34 am

    I am nearly finished the last swimsuit you put up and it looks grand. Just need to elastic the thighs and the pits, then hem 🖤 thank you so much

    • SewGoth
      Author
      June 17, 2024 / 8:42 pm

      I’d love to see it once it’s done! Please, let me know when you finished it and where I can see it.

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