A Drapers Guide to Sustainable Swim
While the water might still be a bit chilly (trust us, we gave it a go this weekend), it won't be long till it's evening dip weather and your swimwear becomes a part of the weekly wash. Just as well then that our new Italian made OEKO-TEX® certified four way stretch has landed and you can officially make your swimwear sustainably.
Tips for sewing with swimwear (or four way stretch):
1) Choose the right fabric. The best way to ensure your swimwear project goes smoothly and lasts the distance is by purchasing the right fabric. It goes without saying that our Xtralife Four Way Stretch is the gold standard for swim. OEKO-TEX® certified, fibre breakdown resistant and lasts 5 times longer than your average chlorine-resistant spandex. It's also UV, chlorine, suncream and oil resistant, as well as being suitable for high salt conditions.
2) Purchase swim specific elastic. All swimwear requires elastic, and while ordinary elastic might last a season (if that), it is susceptible to damage from salt, chlorine or UV exposure. Make sure to use a chlorine resistant rubber elastic, such as our swimwear elastic which you can find here.
3) Check the measurements. If you're yet to wrap your head around negative ease (yeah, us too) its important to understand that all knit patterns and particularly high stretch patterns such as swimwear will have a smaller finished measurements than your body measurements. Don't worry, swimwear is designed to stretch and fit around your body and require the tension to hold shape. Swimwear is also very personal, some people like less coverage and a tighter fit, while others like more coverage and a looser fit. Just be sure to check your measurements against the size chart and make any adjustments accordingly.
4) Take care when cutting. It's important to take note of the DOGS (direction of greatest stretch) when laying up your pattern pieces. Be sure to follow the stretch grainline accurately, and take care when marking and cutting as swimwear tends to be slippery. It's best to cut on a single layer, and use pattern weights and a rotary cutter if you have one. You can find our Drapers Pattern Weights here.
5) Use swimwear specific stitches. It goes without saying that stretch fabrics require stretch stitches. They also require stretch needles! It's best to use a ball point needle to easily glide between the knitted weave of the fabric and reduce snagging or gathering. It's also best to use an overlocker if you have one, or a a zig zag or double zig zag stitch on a plain sewer! You can even serge the inside of your swimwear and top stitch it with a zig zag stitch if you want to really secure your seams. Find our stretch needles here.
6) Don't stretch while you sew! Although you may feel the urge to stretch your swimwear fabric to flatten it while you sew, this will only distort your final garment and reduce its stretch. You need the give in stretch fabrics to maintain the fit of your pattern, so gently flatten with your fingers before the feed dog but don't pull from the other side.
Four Way novice and not sure where to start? Check out our swimwear pattern directory below:
Megan Nielsen - Great for curves!
Friday Pattern Company - Great for Curves!
Helens Closet - Great for Curves!
Mango Coast - Our fave etsy seller, although you can find many more on there too.
Mood Patterns - Free patterns! We've linked our fave here.
(Pictured above from left to right: Violet One-Piece, Cottesloe Swimsuit, Rashie Suit, Freya Swimsuit, The Reed Swimsuit, Lola Ruffle Bikini.)