How to Make a Swimsuit, No Serger Required!

For this video we have chosen to use McCalls 6759. Please note that although we have used the pattern to cut our pieces, we will not be following the pattern's sewing instructions. We have also opted to exclude the underbust elastic and the optional bathing suit cups.

When choosing your fabric make sure it has quite a bit of stretch to it. The fabric should stretch across both the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric (this is called 4-way stretch fabric). For our bathing suit we have chosen a polyester and spandex blend material but a nylon and spandex blend would work as well. As our suit has white in the print, we have decided to use a nude colour lining to prevent the suit from being too sheer when it gets wet. The swimwear elastic we have chosen is a cotton and rubber blend which holds up well in chlorinated water.

  1. Using your pattern of choice, cut out your front and back pieces out of your swimwear fabric, your front piece in swimwear lining.
  2. Place your bathing suit pieces right sides together on your work surface with the front piece on the bottom. Next place your swimwear lining piece on top of your back bathing suit piece. If your lining has a visible right and wrong side you will want the right side to be facing your back piece. Pin all three pieces together at the shoulders, sideseams and crotch.
  3. Before you stitch your suit you will want to check what the seam allowance is for your specific pattern. For our pattern, there is a 5/8'' seam allowance. Sew all three pieces together using a long, narrow, zigzag stitch at the shoulders, crotch and sideseams. If your seam allowance is 5/8'', trim it down to 1/4''. Next use a shorter, wider zigzag stitch to finish the edge. Turn your swimsuit inside out.
  4. Cut out the elastic pieces using the elastic guides that accompany your pattern. Overlap the edges of each piece by 5/8'' (or your pattern's suggested seam allowance if different) and stitch together with a zigzag stitch to create a ring. Make sure before your sew your ends together that your elastic is flat all the way around and not twisted.
  5. Mark your neckline elastic into quarters. Place a pin next to where your elastic is overlapped. Fold the elastic in half and place another pin where the elastic folds on the other side. Place these two pins together, fold the elastic again and place pins at the two in between points (where the elastic fold is one each edge).
  6. Once your elastic is quartered, we need to mark the quarter points on the neckline as well. Your first pin should be at the shoulder point right next to your seam (on the back side). Without stretching, line up your neck edges all the way across to the other side to find your other halfway point and use a pin to mark it. Now line up your two pins together and line up your pieces together to find your quarter points that you will mark with a pin.
  7. Pin your elastic onto your neck edge matching up the quarter points on your elastic with the quarter points on your neckline. Make note to offset the overlapped part of your elastic at your first point (next to the shoulder seam) to reduce excess bulk.
  8. The distance between the two points on the neckline is much longer than the two points on the elastic so we will stretch the elastic a little bit as we sew. If you are worried about having to do this, you can always set up extra halfway points between your pins on both your elastic and your fabric to make more matching points and less distance you will have to be stretching your elastic. Stitch the elastic on with a three step zig zag stitch. If your machine does not have this stitch, a large zigzag stitch will work as well. As you sew, line up the lining (in the front section), fabric and elastic edge together and stitch close to the edge of your piece without going over the edge.
  9. Using the inside edge of the elastic as a guide, fold your elastic to the inside of the suit and stitch in place using a regular zigzag stitch. Make sure that you are catching the raw edge of the seam allowance on the underside as you topstitch. You will stretch the elastic slightly as your sew (just enough to keep everything lying flat as you sew). Take special care when stitching over bulky seam allowances.
  10. Repeat steps 5 to 9 for both armholes and leg openings.
  11. Congratulations on completing your bathing suit!

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