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Stitch Happens Logo with Spool of Thread and Scissors

AUGUST 2, 2022


by Heather Pennie

My daughter asked me for a swim top. I guess I should just be happy that my teen is speaking to me, and it is always a good feeling to be asked to sew something up because it is better than “store bought”.

She places a lot of demands on her swim tops that she layers under rashguards. She likes them to be medium to firm support, as she often wears them all day long. I used the same requirements that she has when I make her bra tops: firm lining and elastic reinforcement in the seams.

She picked the Unicorn Dreams Swim Knit because she knew it would appeal to the younger set that she teaches swim lessons to (she is getting bottoms to match).

She chose the Jalie 2563 for the top pattern because she decided for this one that she wanted narrow, adjustable straps (View B). This pattern requires foldover elastic (FOE) to finish the seams and for the straps and strap sliders.

I always use power net lining to line her bra and swim tops for added support and quick-drying properties. You can use it with the greatest stretch going around the body, but I will often use it with the least stretch to give added support, especially when the main fabrics have quite a high stretch percentage. You can also use two layers, each with the stretch going in a different direction for the ultimate in support.

I basted both the main and power net together and then sewed both fabrics as one to complete the rest of the top.

Next, I reinforced the top seams and underarm seams with clear elastic to add some reinforcement. The pattern doesn’t call for this, but it really helps firm it up. I do this with all athletic bra tops.

The FOE then was sewn over top of this to encase the fabric edges.

TIP: Use a Teflon foot and lower presser foot pressure to easily sew knits and elastics. Clear and rubber elastics are especially tricky and prone to sticking to a metal presser foot. If you don’t have a Teflon foot, you can put scotch tape on the bottom of your presser foot and this will also help them to slide through smoothly.

Another TIP: I find that my clear elastic always gets knotted up, so I store it in a ziploc bag with a hole in it to feed the elastic through. I can sew it directly this way and cut the elastic after I have stitched it.

Since foldover elastic has a lot of stretch, and isn’t very firm, I knew that I wanted to reinforce it in the strap area by sewing a firmer elastic inside of it. There are two options here; you could use Chlorine Resistant Elastic or Filpar Rubber Elastic. When sewing swimwear for pool aka chlorine use, I use the chlorine resistant elastic. However, I do find that it takes a longer time to dry. When I sew swimwear for paddling and lake swimming, I want swimwear that dries quickly because it often gets worn all day long and no one wants a lingering, wet feeling. I tend to use the Filpar Rubber elastic as it doesn’t absorb water.

Finally, the best support at the bottom of the swim top comes from non-roll elastic.

To avoid a bump such as the one you get when you overlap and stitch the elastic ends, I use a fabric scrap and butt the ends together, zig zagging together. Nice and flat so it feels comfortable and doesn’t rub.

She is ready for whatever water and sporting activities this summer has to offer!