Imagine slipping into a swimsuit and — gasp! — it actually fits perfectly. While it sounds like a total dream, it doesn't have to be. With the right materials, you can make a totally custom one-piece or bikini. Keep these tips in mind while shopping at your favorite fabric store.
1. Choose Your Fabric Wisely
There are two things swimwear fabric needs to be: stretchy and durable. You're most likely to hit gold in the dance or exercise section of the store, and there should be some rolls labeled "swim." If not, look for nylon-spandex blends (there should be about 80 to 90 percent nylon; 10 to 20 percent spandex). The material is lightweight, dries quickly and is super stretchy.
Polyester-spandex blends or cotton-poly-spandex knits can also work, but they're more likely to fade and won't dry as quickly as fabrics with more nylon. Another fun idea: 100 percent cotton. It won't dry as quickly as man-made fibers, but can give you a cool, retro look for beach lounging.
2. Stretch-Test Your Materials
Whatever fabric you choose should stretch 60 to 70 percent in each direction, since you're likely to be moving around while wearing your swimsuit. Test it in-store by literally pulling on the fabric to be sure it moves the way you want. While you're at it, double-check the prints and patterns look good when stretched, too.
3. Match Your Lining
For a flattering suit (and isn't that the point?), you’ll also need the right lining. It should be similar in stretch and fiber to your main fabric, so your best options will likely be in the dance and exercise section of the store too. The thickness of the lining will effect the opacity, and your colorway can make a major impact on style. (Don't be afraid of a poppy lining if that's what you like!) And if you're after a slimming look, power mesh is light, soft and sturdy.
Oh, and whatever you do, don't leave the store without elastic. It should be labeled for swimwear, so you know it's been treated to hold up to the surf, sand and sun you'll be playing around in.