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Aug 19, 2014

Three Days to Whip Up Some Swimsuits



With my latest shirts and linen shorts finished (they debut tomorrow), I still have three days to sew some last-minute holiday togs.

What could be faster than a swimsuit -- with grommets no less!





I have never inserted grommets before but I'm going to learn how in the next few days.  I assume any knit fabric will need to be interfaced (or reinforced) before the grommet is attached.  Anybody know?

As for fabric, I picked up half a yard of three very different swimsuit knits today, plus lining.

The first is a gray Marc Jacobs floral print.





The second is this multicolored paisley print:





And finally, this red, white, and black tropical print.





Here's my lining:



I have clear swimsuit elastic somewhere; I'll dig that out.  And if I use the grommets I'll have to buy some nylon lacing for a drawstring.   (I also have knit interfacing if I need it -- a sturdy stabilizer for the grommets might work better.)

I have plenty of swimwear patterns to choose from.  I'll probably start with something with a Speedo-style cut.  In addition to the patterns, I have plenty of RTW swimsuits to examine.



Having made swimsuits before with mixed success, I know that, aside from the cut, it's all about the finishing.  I don't have a true coverstitch machine but I'll have to do my best with just a serger and sewing machine.  Luckily I have lots of fabric to experiment with.

Four years ago I made these and they came out pretty well, though the fabric was kind of gross.



I used regular elastic in those for some reason but the finish looks OK and the suit feels secure.



Anyway, this should keep me busy for the next few days.

Any swimsuit experts out there?

Have a great day, everybody!




24 comments:

  1. I am not exactly sure where you intend grommets to be in swimwear? (Here (in Europe) the lacing is inside and metal grommets are not the most comfortable thing against the skin. At least the men in my live don't like that. Also water and metal are not the best combination in general.)

    But yes, a bit of fusible or another layer of the swimsuit fabric will be useful before pressing in the grommets.

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    1. The grommets would be on the outside waistband for decoration; the drawstring would tie in front.

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    2. Interesting variation. I've seen drawstrings on the outside only on the boxer short like swim suit styles... (sorry, I don't know how they are called in English).

      But then indeed they'd only have to be rust-proof.

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  2. Beach Blanket Babylon!! Had I known you were making swimsuits, I have a large roll of swimwear elastic. I love Cathy's homage to Joan Crawford in "Female ( menopausal and in rut) on the Beach"

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  3. I'm not a swimsuit expert, but I have put in my fair share of grommets. The secret is to use an awl to create the hold. That way, you kind of push the threads apart instead of cutting them and they don't fray.

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  4. I've made over a dozen suits in the past few years, so here's a few tips... 1) double needles are useful, but you need to loosen the top tension to get a pro look (you probably already know this, but still) 2) Put your hand behind the fabric and hold it up to the light. If you can see your hand, it must be fully lined because if you don't everything will be on view when wet

    And for grommets... Interface. Trust me on this one. It's a must. Without interfacing, the knit can easily stretch out of proportion. And don't go with a knit interfacing, either. I did it once and had to toss the project. Non woven works the best. Also, make sure you're doing it with the right end of the grommet tool. I don't know how to explain any better than that. Also, take your awl and pre-poke the holes. It saves some trouble later on.

    Good luck, Peter!

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  5. That should say, 'create the hole' no hold.

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  6. Grommets remind me of my aunt how is 82 now, from the late 60's use to wear gogo shorts with grommets, in a canary yellow with plastic white gogo boots, she was trying to look like anne margrock (sorry for the flintstone reference)

    boooo font hair do .. you know the look .. sex kitten from a 60's spy movie ... ok now ..

    i think cathy (not sure your alter ego name) looks glam in the fire island 60's bikini .. (mr ru paul would have some issues with your tuck) you need a martini to hold and one of those long filtered cigarettes ..

    without a coverstitch machine you can use your serger like you did, but seam it with a 3 point zigzag stitch .. this will allow the material to max stretch .. should you bend over and decide to do more active movements in it .. using a st8 stitch .. you need to shorten your stitch length and do the old .. "stretch and sew" pull the material as hard as you can and do small stitches .. this will keep it locked together and give you the stretch you need .. .

    any peter, you did a good job .. yet again, maybe you can find a real glam queen to try that beach outfit on and model it
    all the best
    happy sewing
    -corey

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  7. Speedos, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

    Early 70s flashbacks - of the best kind!

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  8. Sounds like a fun little project. I love the material you chose. Good luck!

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  9. I've set a lot of grommets. Practice on scraps first, use interfacing. The other comments about putting a hole in the fabric first are right on, though I use a drop punch the size of the inner diameter (or just under) of the grommet. When you go to hammer it, use a board underneath and don't be shy about it. Also, strike from right overhead or the grommet will smoosh off center.

    Love the paisley fabric for Michael, love the photo of your last effort...or is it just the way the models look???

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  10. If you can't nail (sorry about that) the grommets, you can always have Nancy at Steinlauf and Stoller set ones for you. She's been doing grommets and rivets for at least 30 years...

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  11. Will some be for Michael?

    My understanding of why you would use swimsuit elastic is that it doesn't break down in salt water and chlorine like regular does. Good luck! I'm sure these will be great!

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  12. Sewing a swimsuit - I have never tried it so I have no advice but I look forward to seeing the end product!

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  13. i like the fabric and thanks for the photo of the cutie modeling your original effort...

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  14. If you don't use a coverstitch for finishing the elastic leg openings here are two techniques you can consider. Use a double needle to topstitch over the serged elastic, use the widest double needle your machine can handle, and adjust your tension carefully. The result will give you a close factory look. A second way is to use a zigzag stitch to topstitch the leg opening. Homemade-ish? High fashion swimwear maker uses zzing a lot, just be sure to keep the stitching neat, consistent, and even. Zzing will outlast coverstitching in most cases; I have done my own briefs in both stitches and the zz method is still holding it's edges, whereas the coverstitching has come loose in many places. As for elastic, the factories use 3/8's latex, it's impervious to chlorinated water and cheap, but for home sewing I prefer the cotton elastic, it will outlast all the other braided and knit polyester elastics, and it has more stretchability. Hope this helps. John Y

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    1. Oops, forgot to name that high fashion swimwear maker, Gottex Swimsuits. They manufacture out of Israel, and the zz stitch is the same one on any home machine, and not the fancy electronic stretch stitch.

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  15. The paisley is gorgeous and looks fantastic on Michael.

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  16. Peter, I'm diggin the Simplicity 6073 pattern. I'm guessing that pattern calls for stretcy swimsuit type fabric too? I got this bullet proof 60's knit fabric from my moms stash that I hope to one day make into a vintage type swimsuit. My advice on grommets is to practice on a scrap first. Maybe this should be called Stitch Blanket Bingo, LOL.

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  17. Personally, I wouldn't interface the area where he grommets will be placed - I would "outerface", if the fabric is not up to he task. I've installed many grommets on swimwear, and you need strong fabric and serious stabilization to make it work, if there will be tension.

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  18. I'm still a swimsuit beginner, but it made three swimsuits this summer, the first using mostly my serger and my Bernina 930 with a double needle (faux cover stitch), the second and third with ONLY my old Bernina. I liked the Bernina results better. I used a mix of zigzag, stretch stitches and double needle. Honestly, my zigzag worked out best on the elastic areas. Maybe I'm just old school, but I have noticed a lot of RTW suits that just use a zig zag on the edges.

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    Replies
    1. I need to experiment with all those. I know I have a double needle somewhere that came with one of my vintage machines. Time to dig it out!

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  19. Hello from Brooklyn! I've been a fan of your blog for some time now but this is my first time posting.

    So I've spent a good amount of time experimenting with sewing mens speedo-style swimwear with mixed results. I was impressed by how neatly you were able to attach and finish your leghole elastic. Do you remember what technique you used? It looks like you serged the elastic directly to the fabric and then did some kind of finishing stitch? Did you stretch and sew the elastic or did you cut it to the full circumference of the leghole?

    Looking forward to seeing the results of your latest venture into sewing swimwear! :-)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I think I did serge the elastic directly onto the fabric, turn it under, and topstitch. But I'm finding with most swimwear knits, there's already so much stretch in the fabric that there's really no need to put elastic in the legs. For the waistband, I make a casing and insert a drawstring, just like a Speedo. (If you do want to insert elastic in the legs, use clear elastic: it holds up longer and it's thinner.)

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