8 Top Tips for Sewing Swimwear - Sarah's Vernazza Bikini by Friday Pattern Company

Posted by Sarah Wadey
on July 02, 2020

I loved making this bikini! I used the Friday Pattern Company Vernazza pattern and a regular sewing machine to make a practical and stylish bikini in our gorgeous Space Oddity sports Lycra.  

I self-lined the top as the lining is visible at the ties and I lined the bottoms in power net. 

Now, sports lycra is a bit slippery but actually pretty easy to sew if you have the right needle in your machine - a fine stretch needle is ideal - and use the correct stitches- see our blog post over on the My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns Blog for tips on working with jersey fabrics.

However, power net is a wriggly beast! But it can be tamed! Here are my top tips for doing just that...

1. The selvedge of very stretchy fabrics is often tighter than the main fabric so trim this off before laying out your fabric and putting your pattern pieces on.

2. Use pattern wights to hold the pattern on the fabric and then cut you pieces out using a cutting mat and rotary cutter. Cut round roughly first then close for ultimate precision.

3. Use clips, not pins to attach pieces together before sewing

4. Lay the pieces you want to join on a textured non slip surface- i used my jeans-clad leg! but a table cloth or large piece of felt works well- before clipping together

5. To sew this lightweight fabric, place the fabrics under the foot, remove the clip and bring down the needle approx. 2mm from the top edge of the seam (watch your fingers aren't in the way) to anchor the fabrics, then bring down the foot. sew Veeeeerrrry slowly for the first few centimetres. 

7. If the machine protests and eats the fabric try sliding a small sliver of tissue paper or stitch and tear stabiliser under the first 2-3cm of the seam. You can tear this away after.

8. If using a stretch stitch - we use the "lightening" stitch on our Brother Innovis F420 workshop machines- you may want to extend the stitch length slightly from the default length of 2.5 to a length of 3.5  

lightening stretch stitch F420 brother sewing machine

So, after not having sewn with any trickier stretch sportswear fabrics for a while, I've been bitten with the sports lycra bug again now and can't wait to make my next swimsuit.

I love the fit of this bikini and the flexibility provided by the ties is fab. I used thick elastic under the bust and in the waistband for extra support and added soft moulded cups into the top.  Both the top and bottoms feel so secure and comfortable. Once we're out of lockdown I'm going to a spa (a long overdue Christmas present from my lovely sister) so I can't wait to try my new bikini out!

So what's next...

Well, I've got quite a long body and I find swimsuits tend to be a bit on the short side but that's no problem when you're making them yourself! I'll check the length against a swimsuit I already own and my body measurements and alter the pattern accordingly before I cut the fabric.

I'm going to use the Megan Neilson Cottesloe swimsuit pattern and add some frills to make the swimsuit I've always dreamed of! 



My top tip when making swimwear is to dress appropriately!  Whenever you are making a garment that is close fitting, you will want to try this on to check the fit regularly, so I'd recommended that you wear suitable clothing. I always sew in a sewing uniform of leggings and a vest, which are ideal so the garments can be quickly tried on over these throughout the making process. 

If you'd like to make your own swimwear, you can pick up the pattern and all the materials you need from our shop including swim lycra and power net lining. Or better still why not join us for one of our workshops (new dates will be added soon) and sew your swimsuit with confidence with us!