| Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: How to Source Swimwear Sewing Supplies

How to Source Swimwear Sewing Supplies

By Allie

Allie is the co-founder of Indiesew and creator of all things pretty on the site. Follow Allie and receive other Indiesew updates by subscribing to the blog.

How to Source Swimwear Sewing Supplies | Indiesew Blog
Until this past year, I had no idea how to buy swimsuit fabric. I didn’t know the difference between swimwear elastic and regular elastic. And not once had I considered sewing with boning.
Five swimsuits later, I feel more confident about how to source all of the odds and ends required to sew a bathing suit. Swimwear fabrics and supplies are still limited in the sewing world, but with a little research you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Today, in honor of Sew Your Own Swimwear Week, I’ll be taking an in-depth look at how to source the various items you’ll need to sew a swimming suit.  This will be fun, I promise!



Swimwear fabric is often hard to find in brick-and-mortar fabric stores, and it's sold in limited prints and colors. Compounding the problem is that many activewear fabrics are labeled as swimwear, when in fact they’re really not suitable at all.

Swimwear fabrics should have at least 60% four-way stretch and 100% recovery. If you’re not sure how to measure stretch and recovery of knit fabrics, Imagine Gnats has a great primer found here. The nylon/Lycra swimwear fabrics we carry are completely opaque, mid-weight, and matte in finish. When I’m shopping for swimwear fabrics, these are the characteristics I tend to look for as they’ve produced the most functional handmade bathing suits. My Nautilus Swimsuit and Bombshell bottoms shown below are both sewn in our nylon/Lycra fabric.

Swimwear Sewn with Matte Nylon Lycra Fabric
But some swimwear fabric is very shiny and slippery on one side, and matte on the other. This type of fabric is still suitable for sewing swimwear, though you will notice more stretch than the matte variety. That much stretch makes these fabrics a bit less stable to work with. The enhanced stretch will also affect the sizing of your swimsuit, so keep this in mind as you sew. My one-piece Bombshell swimsuit shown below is sewn in this type of fabric.
Bombshell Swimming Suit | Sewing Pattern by Closet Case Files
If you find a swimwear fabric that is sheer or see-through when stretched, steer clear. While a lining will fix the see-through problem, the fabric likely doesn’t have enough stability to stand up to chlorinated water and active beach days. Instead, look for fabrics with some stability.
Before we started carrying swimwear fabric, I sourced mine from The Fabric Fairy. They have the largest selection of swimwear fabrics and lining that I’ve seen online, appropriate for kiddos and grown-ups alike. Check out a small snippet of their selection below: 
Swimwear Fabric  |  The Fabric Fairy
And to celebrate Sew Your Own Swimwear Week, Meg has generously offered Indiesew readers a 10% discount to her entire online store. Use coupon code INDIESEW at checkout to receive 10% off all fabrics until August 8! 



For most swimwear, you’ll also need to source some lining fabric. I tend to buy white or nude lining depending on the color of my swimwear fabric. Your lining fabric should also have four way stretch and good recovery, but will likely feel thinner and more flimsy than your swimwear fabric. This is normal.

Swimwear Lining Fabric |

I also source my linings from Fabric Fairy. They’re the only store I know of that carries black lining fabric and the quality is top-notch. 


Swimwear Elastic

It’s important to use swimwear-specific elastic in your handmade bathing suits. Swimwear elastic is generally made of cotton that will hold up well in chlorinated and salt water. Furthermore, swimwear elastic has a bit more stretch than regular and clear elastic.  

Dritz Swimwear Elastic | How to Source Swimwear Sewing Supplies

I use 1/4” Dritz Swimwear Elastic in all of my handmade bathing suits. If you sew a lot of swimwear, consider buying this elastic in bulk. You’ll need between three and five yards for most swimsuit sewing patterns.

Check out our How to Sew Elastic Into Your Swimwear tutorial when you get ready to sew!



Swimwear Clasps

Swimwear clasps are, in my opinion, the toughest swimming suit supply to find. Big box sewing stores typically carry only swimwear hooks (shown below), and they tend to measure less than 1" wide.  

Nautilus Swimsuit | Metal Swimwear Hook

The Beverly Twisted Bikini calls for a 1/2” clip clasp. I've never been able to find an actual swimwear clasp at any fabric store. For a unique swimsuit closure like a swimwear clasp, a little online research will be required to find the perfect clasp. This site has a fun selection of clasps, though I’ve never ordered from them.

The Nautilus Swimsuit calls for a 1” swimwear hook. I used this metal hook, and while smaller than what the pattern calls for, it still worked great. 




Some swimwear patterns will call for boning to be inserted into the sides of the top under the armpit. The boning gives the side strap some structure in that area.

Each sewing pattern will tell you what kind of boning to use in your swimming suit. I’ve had the best luck using Dritz Featherlite Boning, which is available at most big box sewing stores. If you’ve never used boning before, follow the patterns instructions carefully. 

Because sewing your own swimwear requires some special supplies that you probably don’t have on hand, it can take a few extra days to source these items. Be sure to read your sewing pattern in full before you start to make sure you have all the items required.

But once you finish your handmade bathing suit, you’ll see that sourcing these hard-to-find materials was worth the effort. To make the process a bit easier, swimwear kits may be available from Indiesew next summer! Included in the kit would be everything needed to sew two two-piece swimsuits or one one-piece bathing suit. Stay tuned!

Happy swimwear sewing!

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