Monday, May 25, 2015

Sewing Swimwear, without clear elastic

This orange Lycra fabric was a remnant that my daughter picked when we visited Dublin last October. As she has just started swimming classes in school, it was the perfect time to sew a new swimsuit.



The design process was a lot of fun. She wanted a swimming costume with a skirt and then thought for a while about which TV/book/film character who wore/was orange. She came up with 'Applejack' from My Little Pony. The most distinguishing part of any of the ponies is their 'cutie mark' so the three apples were appliqued to the skirt. The rosette isn't part of the character, but was created to continue the pony theme.

I am not confident sewing with stretch fabric and even less so with Lycra fabric. I used a small-sized ballpoint needle to prevent holes in the fabric. When I realised that there was no clear elastic in my stash I almost didn't sew this. A quick internet search led me to an excellent tip on Patternreview. In fact It includes more than one tip.
  • It describes how to sew swimwear with regular elastic.
  • It describes where to stretch the elastic for a better fit.
  • It describes where to zig-zag on the elastic so that the edge of the fabric covers the edge of the elastic (Read the comments on the tip).
  • It also describes how to use a regular straight stitch on the outside.
Following these tips made sewing the elastic in the arms, neckline and leg openings very straightforward and much easier than the last time I tried. It has made me much more confident in sewing swimwear.



Though it's very acceptable to use a zig-zag stitch on swimwear, I much prefer how the straight stitching looks on the outside, and I was surprised how much it stretched with the fabric.










The pattern is adapted from Ottobre 3/2011 no30 and the skirt was drafted using the hip circumference measurement and sewn with a stretch stitch.

This swimsuit sewed up so quickly that we're already planning more 'My Little Pony' versions. However sourcing swimwear fabric in Ireland is not at all easy. Any Lycra fabric available is mostly marketed as dancewear or for costumes. We'll be crossing our fingers that it won't disintegrate in chlorine!!






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  1. its gorgeous - so beautifully done - best of luck with the elastic. i know that fabrics with elastine in them don't last in chlorine (it burns and melts them) but on the other hand this does take a while so she will probably outgrow it quicker - i adore the little skirt.

    1. Hello Eimear, thanks for your lovely comment :-) you are so righ that she will probably outgrow it first. I don't think it's anything we'll be keeping for the next generation;-)

  2. I just wanted to say to how adorable this is! I love it so much. Would you mind if I made these for my new granddaughter?
    I have been fussing with making swimsuits and found your post through the tip you linked to. Your ease with those tips has given me the confidence to dive in. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. Hello, thank you for your lovely comment :-) I wouldn't mind in the least if you made them for your granddaughter, she's a lucky girl to have someone to sew for her. There are pictures of two more My Little Pony swimsuits on my Instagram feed
    You might have to rip out your stitching the first or second time if you are having difficulty, but hopefull it will work easily for you :-)