Thursday, March 17, 2011

Making a Swimsuit - More about the girls

I've gotten a lot of questions by email and comment, regarding support for the girls when making a swimsuit. As you can see from the first suit I made, I am dealing with two issues:

1. I really don't need a whole lot of support, sadly. Sniff, sniff. And,
2. I have a lot to learn about supporting what I do have.

So I've been researching both for myself and for anyone reading along with me, and I have a little bit of helpful information to report.

First, I did some retail reconnaissance over the past few days. Which means I spent a few hours browsing through Nordstrom and Everything But Water (a swimsuit store) to study the details of how expensive swimsuits are put together. Why expensive ones? I don't know, I was hoping to find some magic that made those suits worth $125 versus the ones I find at Target for $25.

I'm happy to report there are a few differences that are immediately evident.

First, bust support is critical.

You remember my first strapless tank? Well, lo and behold, not only did I probably need to stitch in bust cups and/or an underwire to defy gravity, but I also needed to add boning to the sides of the bust area for support. Boning! I forgot all about that when putting it together, and sadly Kwik-Sew didn't mention it at all. I will be going back and adding two strips of boning to the sides of my first tank to give the girls a little more oomph and keep the bust section from drooping.

Second, most of the expensive suits (Miraclesuit, Tommy Bahama, LaBlanca, etc.) had sewn-in bust support in the form of molded cups attached to the shelf-liner. So I am doing that with the current suit I'm making and I'll be sharing that technique in the first construction post, coming up.

I know a few people really need an underwire. In fact, most people can benefit from it so I think it's helpful to share this info. I found that many suits, even if they only had a shelf-liner for the bust, also had sewn-in underwires.

You can order the wires for an underwire at Sewsassy, as well as the channeling for the wires, which you'll need unless you like painful poking. A cheaper, greener way of avoiding all of that is to take an underwire bra you no longer wear and cut the banding and wire section off of it to sew onto a swimsuit liner.

I found my bra cup inserts at Hancock's, and since they're a Dritz notion I'm pretty sure you can find or order them almost anywhere. They ran kind of pricey at $11, though, so I recommend you stock up when you find a 40 or 50% off coupon.

Sewsassy also has a great selection of inexpensive swimsuit bra cups, so I am ordering a few of their different options so I can report back on how they look and feel.

I've also read quite a few people have used a Microtex needle (super sharp) when sewing nylon/lycra for swimsuits. I haven't tried that needle on this fabric although I do swear by them on finer cottons, so if you have experience using them then I say go for it.

Alrighty, I think that about covers the research I've done and hopefully my next post will be full of the putting together bits, yay!


  1. Thanks for all the helpful info on swimsuit sewing! I'm trying to fix a suit top I bought - it gapes like crazy horizontally across the chest. I thought boning might be a good solution, but wondered what kind. I want it to be fairly stiff since I want it to retain its shape and hug my chest to stay closed. I don't know if that makes any sense, but I'd love some help and advice. Thanks!

  2. Quick question: Can you use a regular, old bra instead of buying swimsuit bra cups? What's the difference?

  3. Summer is almost over so I hope you see this question soon and I can get started on my suit!
    Can you use a regular bra instead of swimsuit bra cups? Is there an important difference?

    Sue//Chevron and Lace