Sun’s Out, DIY Swimwear’s In!

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Imagine a swimsuit that fits as if it were made for you… lucky for us, it’s no fantasy. You can put your creativity (and sewing machine!) to work to make a custom one-piece or bikini. It starts at our favorite place — the fabric store.

Find your fabric

There are a few options for swimwear fabric, but it definitely needs to be stretchy (because duh) and durable (because sun and chlorine are hard on more than your hair). You’re most likely to hit gold in the dance or exercise section of the fabric store, where you should find some rolls labeled for swim. These will probably be nylon-spandex blends, which is what most suits are made of because the fabric is lightweight, dries quickly, and is super stretchy. Look for ones that are 80 to 90 percent nylon and 10 to 20 percent spandex, and that stretch 60 to 70 percent in each direction. (Seriously, pull on the fabric and make sure. And, while you’re a it, check that any prints or patterns look good when stretched out.)

Polyester-spandex blends or cotton-poly-spandex knits can also work for bathing suits, but they’re more prone to fading and won’t dry as quickly as the fabrics with more nylon. (Another fun idea: 100 percent cotton! It won’t dry as quickly as man-made fibers but is cool and retro.)

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Gather other supplies

For a flattering suit (and isn’t that the point?), you’ll also need the right lining, elastic, and thread. Look for these in the dance/athletic section, too. The lining should be similar in stretch and fiber to your main fabric. Options are available in a variety of thicknesses (to effect opacity) and neutral colors. You can also use powermesh as a liner, which will help smooth and slim...ooh la la! Lastly, be sure to buy elastic labeled for swimwear, because it will be treated to hold up to the elements. Now get at it, you bathing beauty!

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