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Can anyone help with advice on adding elastic to lycra swimsuit? I’ve just finished a pair of wee swimmers for my 6yr old. They look pretty shoddy and I’m sure you genius sewing folk out there will be able to help with top tips on getting swimwear to look a bit more um ‘professional’?

I added clear elastic just inside the raw edge using an ‘elastic stitch’ a three step zig zag, then turned to the inside and top stitched with a triple straight stitch. You can hopefully see this in the pic.

As you can see that it looks ok, but definitely not good! A bit too gathered? Daughter loves them – think the cheetah has sthg to do with that. She gets through swimsuits fast – all that chlorine and leaving suits in school bag…

Maybe I stretched the elastic too much? I was not using a pattern (well, I tweaked a leotard pattern).

I have an overlocker and a regular machine (both fairly old)…

Guidance appreciated – thanks
Er, looks like I can’t post images here in ‘Discussion’. I’m gonna post in “projects” and see how that works. Tx Lynda


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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Feb 13, 2010, 10.34 AMby katexxxxxx

    If it looks fine when on, just leave it..

    When I did my swimsuit, I just folded the edge over the elastic and 3-stepped it. Didn’t need top stitching as well.

    2 Replies
    • Dscf7374_large

      Feb 14, 2010, 12.10 AMby drumml

      Thanks for reply. Do you mean 3 step zig zag or straight ?
      The leotard pattern calls for a casing in the legs and just turning over the neck and arms which doesn’t really work for swimsuit.
      Maybe I need a coverstictch machine?

    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 14, 2010, 10.07 AMby katexxxxxx

      Yes, three step zz. :)

      You don’t need a coverstitch machine, but it would help speed things up if you make a lot (like several a month!)

  • 1ea8f961776a5fe83ce32501b0f5b0b7d32f5d9d_large

    Feb 14, 2010, 02.47 AMby oscarthegrouch108

    you shouldn’t need a coverstitch machine, not when your sewing machine can do it pretty nicely. when doing swim/body suits, i first used a regular zig zag stitch and stretched the fabric and elastic (the fabric ends up getting stretched more because the elastic is smaller than the opening). then i folded the elastic to the inside and did the same zig zag stitch.

    i haven’t looked at your projects just yet, but the fabric is supposed to be gathered up a bit. if it’s uneven, then divide the leg opening and the elastic into fours, match the points, then pin and stitch. this will even it out a bit.

    another thing, i dont like the clear elastic for swimsuits. it just doesn’t seem strong enough, and i think stitching through it weakens it. try braided elastic. it’s got great stretch recovery (4" can stretch, and quickly go back to 4"), and it feels a little stronger.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 14, 2010, 10.07 AMby katexxxxxx

      I prefer swimsuit tensioning tape or fold-over elastic.

  • Dscf7374_large

    Feb 17, 2010, 12.17 AMby drumml

    Swimsuit tensioning tape? Braided elastic? I’m going to need a tutorial on ddifferent types of elastic – it doesn’t help with the haberdashers round here usually have no idea! and struggle with the idea of swimsuit elastic – clear is the nearest they got!

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Feb 17, 2010, 11.39 AMby katexxxxxx

    Sometimes you need to shop online… :(

    Swimsuit tensioning tape: http://www.englishcouture.co.uk/product_details_381.htm

    Fold-over elastic: http://corsetmaking.co.uk/store/index.php?cPath=41_141

  • Dscf7374_large

    Feb 18, 2010, 09.32 AMby drumml

    THANKS for help. I’ve got some research to do! And now my machine is skipping so off for its inaugural tuneup.


  • Pict0150_large

    Feb 20, 2010, 02.24 AMby charlana41

    I used to make exotic dancer clothes and the same applies for swim suits, most of the dance outfits were basically swim wear after all. I would serge lining to fabric, then use a zz stitch to in-case 1/4 inch elastic. This held up well and looked great.

  • Missing

    Feb 20, 2010, 06.15 AMby narrawallee

    I just made some swimmers for me and I used 1/2 inch (1cm) elastic and feel very comfortable in them. Long time since I have made swimmers for little people but I think they do have a lot of gathers as they are straight up and down so the gather is their because of that. (might be wrong)

  • Dscf7374_large

    Feb 20, 2010, 11.47 PMby drumml

    Thanks for advice – I’ll have an experiment and post results. L

  • Missing

    Feb 21, 2010, 03.34 AMby narrawallee

    I didn’t know their was so many different elastics for swimwear with mine I used the ribbed elastic never used it before but I will again just think it is more comfortable – I don’t remember having that many chooses when the kids were little i think I used the clear elastic.

  • Dscf7374_large

    Feb 21, 2010, 07.39 AMby drumml

    Victory – just found some swimwear elastic at Spotlight (eek), which looks exactly the same as ‘braided’ elastic. Bought 6 metres so that should see me through a few years! Hopefully it is tough enough to survive chlorine… TX

  • 20150117_152733_large

    Feb 22, 2010, 02.57 PMby mlssfshn

    For swimwear there is a cotton elastic that is more stretch so that it grips the body. That’s what I use and had great success with.

    1 Reply
    • Dscf7374_large

      Feb 23, 2010, 08.49 AMby drumml


  • Missing

    Feb 24, 2010, 07.37 AMby narrawallee

    What does tx mean

    1 Reply
    • 45811c6523cf387bf5dc4d6ad3a61949336038df_large

      Feb 24, 2010, 10.14 AMby judeb


    • This is a question
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