Well, it’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit here today. Texas is in for a long, hot summer. A morning spent at the shady neighborhood wading pool today got me thinking about sewing my own swimsuit. I probably won’t this year, but it’s fun to think about. Are there any good fabrics available? The answer is oh, yes.
Girls’ and women’s swimsuit patterns typically call for two-way stretch fabrics. Check your pattern — it will specify the percentage of stretch you need. The most common fabric to use is spandex (Lycra is a trademarked brand of spandex). Denver Fabrics implies here that Lycra-content fabrics are not sold directly to the retail fabric market, but are bought from garment manufacturers. So if you’re searching online, it’s probably best to use the generic term “spandex.” I’m not certain, but it looks like nylon spandex is the way to go for swimwear, not cotton spandex. But correct me if I’m wrong.
While we’re there, let’s start with Denver Fabrics‘ selection. They have a nice variety of prints and solids, all $6.95/yard.
The following two shops specialize in spandex and other stretch fabrics. Spandex House has an enormous selection of spandex prints. You might remember them from Project Runway Season 4′s professional wrestler costume challenge. They’re in New York City’s Fashion District. I almost skipped over their online shop because it looked wholesale-only, but carry on, they’re definitely retail. Prices range from $6-10.
Spandex World is another brick-and-mortar in New York City’s fashion district. They also have an online shop where you have your pick of prints and solids. Their website is the easiest to navigate and prices range from $8-12/yard.
Some further notes:
You should also know that Fabric on Demand is introducing Lycra as an option for custom digital printing. Oh, the possibilities!
Sew Sassy is a one-stop shop if you’re sewing a solid suit: in addition to the fabric and lining they also have the bra cups, swimwear elastic, and sewing patterns.
I glanced at pre-spandex-era vintage swimsuit sewing patterns to see what kind of fabric they call for, but didn’t get very far. Does anyone know?
I’m not forgetting the boys. Sorry, True Up cannot endorse spandex Speedo-type swimsuits for the boys (unless they’re in competition!), but I’ll find out about making swim trunks. Windbreaker nylon, I’m thinking.
Kwik Sew seems to offer the most variety of swimsuit patterns. Check patternreview‘s swimwear section for people’s reviews of Kwik-Sew and other patterns, including lots of real-life pictures.
Sew Forth Now podcast’s fifth episode is about sewing swimsuits.
Sewing a swimsuit on eHow.