Howdy everyone! Today I am going to help you track down all the various bits and bobs for your Sophie Swimsuit pattern. I cover all of this in much greater detail in the Sewing Your Dream Swimsuit workshop, but thought it would be helpful to share my favourite resources for swimsuit fabric and supplies on the blog.
(Sidenote: we still have a handful of Sophie Swimsuit kits in the shop but I believe they will be sold out by the end of the week if you'd like to skip gathering everything yourself since we won't be restocking until next year).
SWIMSUIT FABRIC SOURCES
Most swimsuit fabrics are a mix of nylon and spandex; the nylon is durable and dries quickly while the spandex provides stretch. You may find it labelled in fabric shops as lycra, spandex, athletic fabric or dance fabric. You can occasionally find polyester blends labelled for swimwear but I've never used it myself so can't speak to its quality. Some nylon/spandex fabrics are specifically designed for swimming applications and are designated as UV and fade resistant but I see these very rarely. I've never had problems using most of the random printed lycras that have crossed my path.
The following shops have a swimsuit fabric selection; please let us know in the comments if there any additional resources I've missed (especially internationally!)
- Michael Levine
- Spandex House
- Spandex World
- Designer Alley Fabrics
- Spandex by Yard
- Fabric Depot Co.
- Sew Sassy
- Booby Traps (Australia)
- Pitt Trading (Australia)
- Funki Fabrics (UK)
Swimsuit lining is really important to extend the life of your swimsuit, in addition to providing a little extra modesty. The most common kind is 100% nylon with 4 way stretch. I use nude for everything but you can occasionally find it in black as well. It should be available at many of the above sources; if not I can vouch for the quality from Fabric Depot Co., Sew Sassy and Bra-maker's Supply.
In addition to swimsuit lining, you'll need a little bit of bra lining to stabilize the bridge between cup; look for "bra lining" or "15 denier" when you're shopping. You may also want to add a firm powernet/powermesh to the center front of the swimsuit for a little tummy tucking action; both bra lining and powermesh can be found at any of the bra-making supply sources I've listed.
BRA CUP SUPPLIES
To save yourself some grief, I would get all of the supplies you'll need to make your underwired foam cup from the same vendor. You'll need bra foam, bra lining, underwires and channelling, plus S-hooks for the bikini straps and bikini band; all of this is available from Fabric Depot Co., Sew Sassy and Bra-maker's Supply. I really like the regular length underwires and channelling from Bra-maker's Supply.
You can also find bra-making supplies through the following sources:
It is really important to use the right elastic when sewing swimwear. The typical white polyester stuff you may have used in other garments will not stand up to the demands of salt water and chlorine. The most commonly available swimwear elastic is labelled as such (see an example here), and is a natural beige colour made from cotton and neoprene. I prefer natural rubber elastic since it has a thinner profile and is a little easier to sew in, but either will work. The Sophie pattern requires elastic that is 3/8" wide, although if you can find 1/2" wide elastic it is a a little more supportive for the underband. Both types of swim elastic should be available at the above shops, and you can find swimwear elastic in any well stocked sewing shop.
- Steretch needles specifically designed for lycra like these (important to avoid skipped stitches)
- Chaco pen or other marking tool
- Wooly Nylon thread (optional but creates a softer, stretchier seam when you're serging)
- Walking foot (optional but such a greta tool to get even seams when you're sewing slippery swim lycra!)
That about wraps it up... Hopefully this helps some of you source what you need to tackle the swimsuit of your dreams! Any questions or comments?