Monday, April 11, 2011

Contrasting Binding on Swimsuits Tutorial

As promised, albeit a bit later than intended, I have finally put together a tutorial for attaching contrasting binding on the edges of your swimsuit. My #2 daughter has been bugging me for some time to do this suit. And it didn't hurt that she was starting swimming again this past week in her gym class. Last year's suits are getting a big ragged and saggy.

So here we go:
I'll show you how to attach it on this suit below.

When attaching contrasting binding on a tank style suit like this you will need to trim off about 1/4" of the fabric (seam allowance) on the armhole and neckline edge. You can either copy the pattern piece with that much already taken off, or just cut a bit off once you have the pieces already cut out. Or like I did, just trim it a bit once you have the main portion of the suit already sewn together, because I wasn't sure I was going to do this in the first place when I cut it out.

Cut yourself some strap pieces--at least 1 5/8" wide. I'd just go for 2" and make it easier on yourself. I didn't have a brown solid that matched well enough so I cut out strips from the leftover striped fabric. The stripes weren't quite wide enough so I cut a bit extra into the next color. The pink will end up being hidden inside the suit, or cut off completely.

Measure, cut and sew a circle of the binding piece so that it fits almost exactly the armhole opening. If you have to err, err on the side of slightly smaller, not larger, than the armhole opening.

Pin and sew with a stretch stitch, being careful NOT to stretch the fabric.

I used the stitch on my machine that is a basic straight stretch stitch (my manual calls it Straight Stretch--go figure). If you aren't sure what to use, check your machine manual, or do a little tester on some scraps. You want the fabric to be able to stretch some without snapping the stitching.

You can cut out some of the bulkiness at the seams if you'd like.
Next you will make a circle with your elastic--pinning it to the SEAM ALLOWANCE--on the side that would be the outside of the suit. Attach with a loose zigzag, stretching only as little as needed to fit within the armhole opening.
Then like we did on the separate Straps Tutorial, you will fold the fabric back over itself twice, so that the excess is now on the inside of the suit.

Pin and topstitch using a Stretch Twin Needle. (or any other decorative stretch stitch you prefer)

Cut off very carefully any excess fabric.
Repeat steps for remaining opening edges.
Attach the extra strap (optional) on the one shoulder design and you're ready to go.

Here we are all finished up. #2 was SO excited! I'm pretty excited myself on how this turned out.

***If you ask a question in the comments section please leave your email so we can answer you back***

Kwik Sew's Swim & Actionwear book also has great directions and pics on how to do this. It also shows how to add contrasting binding to any style suit pattern. Which is basically what I did with the above one shoulder suit.
**You can head over to my shop if you are looking for already made suits, or would like to order a custom made one. I've been adding more here and there. I also have some swimsuit fabric for sale that might interest you.


  1. thank you so much for all this info. i am actually taking a swim suit class next month at my local sewing store and am really excited. The biggest hangup - fabric - i love these stripes. any ideas on the best places to find swim fabric?

  2. I have a great place locally so I don't know about buying online. I have put some fabric up on my Etsy shop but if you are looking for anything in particular let me know, I've been recently to my local shop and pretty know what is there.

    That pink and brown stripe I have in the pics I haven't seen again. But I have found other stripe combos that are really great.

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