This is my 8th sewing project - Kwik Sew 2690 swimdress. This is part of my Hawaii vacation wardrobe, as are projects 3 through 7. Making swimwear is a lot different from the other things I've made because it is a stretch fabric - stretch fabrics are more difficult to sew. It also requires different needles, stitch types, and thread. Before I began, I did a ton of research (the best links can be found at the bottom of this post) and here are a list of tips that you can use if are sewing swimwear for the first time:
- use size 9 to 11 ballpoint, teflon-coated needles. These slide between the knit of fabric without breaking the fibers.
- use polyester or poly blend thread. It has more stretch than cotton, therefore won't break as easily.
- wind your bobbin slowly. Poly thread stretches if you wind it too fast. It can cause your fabric to pucker later on when it relaxes.
- when looking for fabric, note that Lycra is a name brand of spandex (I used to think they were different things.) Swimwear is approximately 85% nylon and 15% Lycra spandex
- use a melt-away stabilizer to keep your fabric from stretching while you sew. I used a brand called Wonder Tape.
Along with my typical alterations to the pattern, I opted to use molded bra cups instead of the recommended sew-in or pin-in types. (The instructions for sewing molded bra cups are at the bottom of this post.) The instructions only show you how to sew around the edge of the cup. I went a step further and zig-zagged across the contures of the cup, sewing the lining against it.
Things I Learned
- sewing a stretch fabric with a 3-point zig-zag stitch and overcast stitch
- sewing elastic onto a garment
- using molded bra cups in a garment
- using melt-away stabilizer
- tension control for stretch fabrics (finally noticed that it's actually opposite of what you would do for woven fabrics.)
The fabric I chose was a 4-way stretch 80% nylon and 20% lycra from eBay. It's a really pretty floral and scrolly pattern on dark chocolate brown. The lining is a nude tone from Denver Fabrics.
Here are the pics:
The dress consists of a regular suit underneath made of swim lining and the dress sewn over the top. This is a pic of the body turned inside out. This was the first part of the project, and as you can see, I'm a noob at controlling my zig-zags at this point. Later I got better. My tension is also not set correctly here.
Pattern School - this is a site that will teach you how to make your own swimwear pattern block. Although I didn't have to make my own pattern, this site has TONS of valuable information that can be used when altering a commercial pattern in order to get the best fit. The most useful info I got for this particular project is under "Start Here | Intro to Stretch"
About swim fabric, by Kwik Sew
How to Sew Swimwear
More about stabilizers
How to add molded bra cups to a dress lining
Fun links about the history of the bathing suit