Where to buy swimsuit fabric and supplies // Closet Case Files
Closet Case Patterns, Tutorials

SOURCING SWIMSUIT FABRIC & SUPPLIES

Howdy everyone! Today I am going to help you track down all the various bits and bobs for your Sophie Swimsuit pattern. I cover all of this in much greater detail in the Sewing Your Dream Swimsuit workshop, but thought it would be helpful to share my favourite resources for swimsuit fabric and supplies on the blog.

(Sidenote: we still have a handful of Sophie Swimsuit kits in the shop but I believe they will be sold out by the end of the week if you’d like to skip gathering everything yourself since we won’t be restocking until next year).

SWIMSUIT FABRIC SOURCES

Most swimsuit fabrics are a mix of nylon and spandex; the nylon is durable and dries quickly while the spandex provides stretch. You may find it labelled in fabric shops as lycra, spandex, athletic fabric or dance fabric. You can occasionally find polyester blends labelled for swimwear but I’ve never used it myself so can’t speak to its quality. Some nylon/spandex fabrics are specifically designed for swimming applications and are designated as UV and fade resistant but I see these very rarely. I’ve never had problems using most of the random printed lycras that have crossed my path.

The following shops have a swimsuit fabric selection; please let us know in the comments if there any additional resources I’ve missed (especially internationally!)

Swimsuit fabric // Closet Case Files

SWIMWEAR LINING

Swimsuit lining is really important to extend the life of your swimsuit, in addition to providing a little extra modesty. The most common kind is 100% nylon with 4 way stretch. I use nude for everything but you can occasionally find it in black as well. It should be available at many of the above sources; if not I can vouch for the quality from Fabric Depot Co.Sew Sassy and Bra-maker’s Supply.

In addition to swimsuit lining, you’ll need a little bit of bra lining to stabilize the bridge between cup; look for “bra lining” or “15 denier” when you’re shopping. You may also want to add a firm powernet/powermesh to the center front of teh swimsuit for a little tummy tucking action; both bra lining and powermesh can be found at any of the bra-making supply sources I’ve listed.

BRA CUP SUPPLIES

To save yourself some grief, I would get all of the supplies you’ll need to make your underwired foam cup from the same vendor. You’ll need bra foam, bra lining, underwires and channelling, plus S-hooks for the bikini straps and bikini band; all of this is available from Fabric Depot Co.Sew Sassy and Bra-maker’s Supply. I really like the regular length underwires and channelling from Bra-maker’s Supply.

You can also find bra-making supplies through the following sources:

ELASTIC

It is really important to use the right elastic when sewing swimwear. The typical white polyester stuff you may have used in other garments will not stand up to the demands of salt water and chlorine. The most commonly available swimwear elastic is labelled as such (see an example here), and is a natural beige colour made from cotton and neoprene. I prefer natural rubber elastic since it has a thinner profile and is a little easier to sew in, but either will work. The Sophie pattern requires elastic that is 3/8″ wide, although if you can find 1/2″ wide elastic it is a a little more supportive for the underband. Both types of swim elastic should be available at the above shops, and you can find swimwear elastic in any well stocked sewing shop.

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

  • Steretch needles specifically designed for lycra like these (important to avoid skipped stitches)
  • Chaco pen or other marking tool
  • Wooly Nylon thread (optional but creates a softer, stretchier seam when you’re serging)
  • Walking foot (optional but such a greta tool to get even seams when you’re sewing slippery swim lycra!)

That about wraps it up… Hopefully this helps some of you source what you need to tackle the swimsuit of your dreams! Any questions or comments?

  • Woolandpotato

    Any Montreal recommendations? I’d love to be able to source things locally and pay in CAD. The leather store you recommended way back in your cascade duffle coat post was a great discovery for me!

    • Sure! Tissu Marina has nice stuff in all the time, and Tonitex also has some nice lycras. Kava carries rubber swim elastic. Just FYI, Bramakers supply is all in CAD…..

  • Woolandpotato

    Excellent, thanks!

  • Erin Van Handel

    I’m fixing to make a swimsuit (not a Sophie this time), and I bought some 95% polyester/5% spandex activewear fabric to use as an accent. The majority of the suit will be swim fabric (90% nylon/10% spandex). Am I asking for trouble with the activewear fabric? It’s something you’d see a gymnast wear, for your reference. I’m not a big swimmer or sunbather, so my suits don’t get a lot of action. I’m worried that this combo of fabrics will create a lot of frustration. I haven’t yet started; I’ve been looking for an expert opinion before I got underway.

    Thanks in advance for your insight!

    • Kirsten Hansen

      I think it depends on how thick the fabric is and how it stands up to chlorine, at least from what I’ve read. It could be totally fine but if it’s thin activewear, it might not work as well if you were looking for support (but as an accent it might work fine). Or it might get damaged by chlorine. I’d see if you can test a swatch in chlorine, just to make sure it doesn’t lose colour or finish (the foils and stuff are usually a bad idea).

      • Erin Van Handel

        Kirsten – I’m SO GLAD you mentioned the foil thing, because my activewear fabric is foiled! To save myself some headaches down the road, I’m going to find a different fabric. Thanks for your insight! You probably saved me from a disintegrating swimsuit, which qualifies you for sewing sainthood. 😀

        • Kirsten Hansen

          It wouldn’t disintegrate but you’ll lose the shiny off the foil probably. Maybe not, there might be some out there that are okay with chlorine. But hard to say what the fabric looks like under the foil or if it comes off in patches. 🙂 So a different one might stand up better if you plan to take it into chlorine pools. If you just want it to look pretty in, or swim in lakes, probably will stand up better. 🙂

          • Erin Van Handel

            GTK. I kinda like the idea of a freshwater only bathing suit!

  • Angela

    TheFabricFairy (http://thefabricfairy.com) is another site that has a good selection of swimsuit fabrics.

  • For the Aussies… I’ve bought from Swim Style Australia – fabric & notions for sewing swimsuits (online store) swimstyle.com.au . Excited for our summer so I can get sewing a Sophie!

  • Catherine

    For those of us in Canada, Emeraldstudio on etsy has most of the supplies needed for the Sophie swimsuit.

  • Lisa

    I’ve also bought swimsuit fabric from The Fabric Fairy (she has tons), and in the past from Girl Charlee, although they seem to be moving away from that. Imagine Gnats also often carries a few swimwear fabrics and powermesh. Cali Fabrics has a few swimwear prints a lot of times as well.

  • Linda Crawford

    Ann’s Fabrics in Hamilton Ontario Canada is a great source for swimsuit fabrics!
    http://www.annsfabric.com

  • It’s been mentioned already, but The Fabric Fairy has a big selection. I have their swimsuit lining in beige as well. It’s good quality, but quite a dark beige. The Bra Makers Supply beige and white linings are dreamy…silky and soft and lighter weight. I also tried both Bra Makers swimsuit foam and white foam and I think I like the white foam better. Both are rated for swimsuits.

  • I just ordered swim suit fabrics and lining from fabric.com. I also got some fabrics, lining and foam at Spandex Lab in NYC (not sure if they have a website…. couldn’t find one)

  • Weedy Mama

    Hi, I’m new here, but I have purchased swim suit materials as well as outdoor fabrics from The Rainshed, Inc. in Oregon. I chatted with one very knowledgeable lady there. therainshed@gmail.com

  • Australian sewers can get great swimwear fabric http://www.boodesigns.com.au, her fabric uses extra life lycra so it really lasts. Also for plain colours at wholesale prices you can buy direct from http://www.stretchtex.com.au in Sydney but you have to buy by the meter.

  • I much prefer using polyester spandex blend as it last longer in the chlorinated water, unless the nylon uses ‘extra life lycra’ then it fades and loses it stretch way too quickly.

  • Fellow Canuck, Emerald Erin has a great Etsy shop with swimwear making supplies too! https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheEmeraldStudio

  • Thank you so much for featuring Arte Crafts on your list of suppliers. I also have a website at https://www.bramaking.supplies and offer free US shipping on orders over $35 which is an extra value over the Esty store.

    Natasha

  • Kim Kight

    Has anyone used Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra?