Now that it really seems to be warming up here my kids are starting to ask me to drive by the local swimming pool to see if any water is in it yet. Oh, how we wish! Unfortunately for us school doesn't get out until June 2nd, but then that means the pool is open on JUNE 6th!!!! My kids love going to the pool. And we are so lucky that our community pool pass lets us frequent 2 different swimming pools. We love swimming! So....Are you ready for swimsuit season??
For years now I've been making swimsuits for my girls (and myself, but that's a different post)--mainly because I was tired of the lack of modest choices available but also because I was tired of only finding character suits that I don't really want to advertise for, i.e. Hannah Montana. Another factor was that we grow 'em tall at our house and therefore that resulted in problems too for my tall, skinny minnies.
A big thanks to Aunt Gayle and cousin Tiffany for encouraging me to give it a shot all those years ago. My girls are probably rather spoiled now as they usually have at least 3 suits a year to alternate between. Lucky for me I also have a great fabric store that always has lots of choices of swimsuit fabric. Tiffany even stocked up with swimsuit fabric when she visited us last July.
Last night was my 3rd annual swimsuit night--where I get together with a couple friends and we sew swimsuits together. It is a fun little evening. I find that most beginning seamstresses like to have a "teacher" right there handy to help them thru any trouble spots or answer questions they may have. A couple of my friends will still only sew if I am nearby, but I'm working on them.
****Click HERE for some updated tips (May 2010) on sewing swimwear with a serger, swimsuit elastic and topstitching.
Here are some of my tips when making swimsuits:
PatternsThese are the patterns that I have been using over and over and over again for my girls. I've tried other patterns from other pattern companies, but I keep coming back to Kwik Sew patterns for swimsuits. They just seem to fit better. Unfortunately they rarely go on sale. However, over the years I have definitely got my monies worth on the patterns.Kwik Sew 2606 for girls sizes 8-14, racerback style tankKwik Sew 2512 sizes 1T - 4T (which is now out of print, but Kwik Sew has other baby swimsuit patterns available), this is a racerback style tank w/ or w/o an attached skirt. We call it a ruffle bum.
Kwik Sew 2422 girls sizes 4-7 (also apparently out of print), this is a basic tank suit that you can make w/ or w/o an attached skirt.
I prefer ¼” elastic for little girls vs. 3/8”. Also, you do NOT need to buy swimsuit elastic specifically. Just grab a package of the ¼ elastic. You will need around 3 yd. of elastic per swimsuit on girls' sizes 8-14.
When attaching the elastic to the suit itself, stretch the fabric the LEAST amount possible to accomodate the elastic. I use a pretty loose zigzag stitch. If the zigzag is too tight then it tends to not allow the elastic to go back in a relaxed position--therefore making the opening saggy and too big. I don't ever use my serger to make swimsuits.
You will definitely need a STRETCH needle or you’ll be awfully cranky and disappointed in your swimsuit.
Make sure the package says STRETCH—and if you don’t plan on making more swimsuits or t-shirts down the road then I suggest you go in with someone or more than one someone to buy a package (5 ct. of needles). That way it’ll only cost you less than $1 for the needle. I cannot emphasize enough on this one. Using a universal needle will actually cause it to cut holes in your swimsuit fabric along the stitching line. YOU WANT a STRETCH NEEDLE!!
Unless the girl you are making this suit for is already physically developing, I don’t normally line little girl swimsuits. And when I do line it, I just use the same fabric and cut 2 fronts instead of one. So if you think you will need to do that then add more to your fabric purchase. I usually just buy 1 yard regardless of who I am making it for so that I have plenty to match if necessary, line the suit, or for really little girls, make a matching cover-up skirt.
I also have 3 daughters so the fabric does get used up, if not this year, then next year. We've also have fun sewing for the girls' friends. It seems that for each of them their best friend is the only girl at her house, so she hasn't had the fun of being able to match with a sister. We've taken care of that at times with matching swimsuits.
Good luck to you who choose to make your own suits. It really isn't as hard as it seems or sounds if you just learn a few little tricks.