Episode 811

michelle lesniak

Swimwear Style by Michelle Lesniak

Create a swimsuit using stretch sewing techniques and minimal fabrics. It's easier than you think to swim in style!


1 yard each of swimwear fabric with 4-way stretch (such as nylon/spandex knit) & swimwear lining fabric

2 1/2" yards of foldover elastic

2 yards of 1/4"-wide knit swimwear elastic

Rotary cutter & mat

Pattern weights

Thread: textured polyester or textured nylon & 3 matching textured wooly nylon serger thread cones suitable for stretch fabrics (See "Source.")

Tube turning tool (such as a loop turner)

Serger (optional)

TIP: If you don't have a serger, sew all seams using an overcast or narrow zigzag stitch.

Michelle Lesniak

Cut it

Download the swimsuit pattern HERE; print, and then cut out the appropriate size. Download this handy printing guide and learn how to print large e-patterns from your home computer.

From the fabric and lining, use a rotary cutter and mat to cut one front and back, using fabric weights to avoid shifting. Pin-baste the lining and fabric pieces with wrong sides together to act as one piece.

From the fabric only, cut one crotch lining and two straps.

Sew It

With wrong sides together, baste the crotch piece to the front bodice (with lining attached), along the corresponding straight lower edges.

Set the serger for a 3-thread overlock stitch. Serge the bodice front to the back with right sides together at the crotch lower edge only, sandwiching the crotch piece and trimming off 1/8" in the process. Fold the overlocked edge toward the bodice back; topstitch 1/4" from the seam.

Staystitch the crotch lining to the bodice front 1/8" from the leg, working from the wrong side (1; how-to images to come).

With the front and back right sides together, serge the side seams, trimming off 1/8" in the process. Finger-press the seam toward the bodice back. Topstitch the side seams from each upper edge toward the lower edge, securing the seam allowances (2). Trim the excess seam allowance close to the topstitching.

Wrap 3" of foldover elastic around the neckline edge, beginning at one shoulder. Place the wider elastic edge along the swimsuit lining; pin. Set the machine for a straight stitch. Place the pinned elastic under the presser foot with the right side up. Begin sewing, stretching the elastic slightly in the process and making sure to catch the elastic edge along the swimsuit lining. Wrap the remaining neckline with elastic as you sew. At the opposite shoulder, leave long thread tails and trim the elastic even with the fabric edge (3).

Repeat to apply foldover elastic to the armscye/back upper edge (4).

Edgestitch across each shoulder where the elastic overlaps.

Beginning at the crotch seam, align the swim elastic along each leg opening on the swimsuit wrong side 1/8" from the edge. Serge, trimming off 1/8" in the process and catching the elastic in the stitching. Trim the elastic end 1/2" beyond the beginning; continue serging along the overlapped ends (5).

Fold the elastic toward the swimsuit wrong side. Set the machine for a standard stretch stitch, and then edgestitch the elastic from the swimsuit right side.

Fold each strap in half lengthwise with right sides together. Serge the long raw edges. Turn each strap right side out using a tube turning tool. Finger-press the seam toward the center.

With right sides together, pin one strap end to one shoulder edge, making sure the seam is centered and facing up. Stitch across the strap end (6). Fold the strap upward; topstitch the seam to the bodice front, and then trim the excess seam allowance close to the topstitching. Repeat to attach the remaining strap to the opposite shoulder. Knot the strap ends.

TIP: Embellish the swimsuit by adding beads to the straps before knotting the ends.

Products used in this episode:



© F+W All rights reserved.