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Bathing Suits for synchronized swimming

Donna_Lukens's picture

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I need help and suggestions! I have 'volunteered' to make suits for the University of Pennsylvania Synchroniozed Swimming Team. I have made suits in the past , but need help and suggestions to ensure that these suits will look a bit more 'professional'. Thank you!for all tips and shortcuts that may be appropriate! Donna Lukens

karen_morris_'s picture

(post #24372, reply #1 of 5)

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Donna, awhile ago we had a very good article on sewing swimwear in Threads no. 77, pp. 64-70, written by Joanne Molesky. If you don't have this issue, this may be a good place to start. Joanne makes beautiful suits, and includes tips on adding polish with contrasting piping in seams (just a folded strip of a contrasting color) and contrasting binding at edges, and how to draw in new seamlines for a colorblocked design (which might look great for a team). Also, I think that using a twin needle for the final stitching on elastic edges looks a lot more professional than zigzag.

Good luck! How many of these suits will you be making?

Donna_Lukens's picture

(post #24372, reply #2 of 5)

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Karen, I think I will be making 4 suits for one routine and then three for another...not a large amount , but I do want to upgrade my ability from my present skill. The swimmers at the University of Pennsylvania will be competing with swimmers from the top National Collegiate Teams which include Olympic and National swimmers and I really want them to feel and look good They are a developing team, so their skill may not be as strong as the other teams.
I have never used a twin needle. So where can I turn to learn? Thanks for your help, Donna

karen_morris_'s picture

(post #24372, reply #3 of 5)

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Well, to use a twin needle, you need a machine that's capable of handling it. Most zigzag machines can handle a twin needle. You may find information about it in your machine manual. You insert the twin needle just like a regular needle, then thread up two upper threads. I run one through the left side of the tension disc, then down through the threading spots as usual, and through the left needle of the twin. Then thread the second thread through the right side of the tension disc, and down through the right needle. Thread the bobbin as usual.

When you stitch, the bobbin thread forms a zigzag, and the upper threads form two rows of stitching, side by side. So it looks very finished, like ready-to-wear, and has a lot of built-in stretch. Be careful when you have a twin needle installed; you won't be able to sew wide decorative or utility stitches, because the needles may strike the throat plate. You can use twin needles with decorative stitches, but just be very careful that the stitch pattern isn't too wide (rotate the wheel by hand first, through the stitch pattern, to check).

You can purchase twin needles in different sizes and widths. For swimwear, I like a rather wide one like the 4.0/75 needle (the needles are 4mm apart, and size 75). It looks nice and finished if the zigzag covers the cut edge on the wrong side (but this isn't necessary, especially at first).

Once you figure this out, you'll probably find lots of places to use a twin needle--especially to sew simple hems and edges on knits and wovens. I like to use a tiny one (1.6/80) on soft lingerie fabrics.

TC_Ferrito's picture

(post #24372, reply #4 of 5)

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Donna, I make all my swimsuits and some for customers too. The right lining is key to successful suits, espcially for competition. The lining needs to stretch as much as the outer fabric. Some swim lining doesn't and it won't work in team suits. Since so many girls wear their suits a bit tight, they really have to stretch. And if the suit has any white or light color in it, it really needs to be lined.

Kwik Sew has a great book with patterns on sewing swimsuits. there are many versions of colorblocked suits shown there. And the colorblocking looks great with piping in the seams. I would think for competition, you would want a bold, striking suit, so don't divide into a lot of little pieces.

Twin needles are not hard to use. But I have seen some competition and ready-to-wear suits with zig-zag elastic applications. No one will be close enought to see how you put in the elastic though. So go for what you do best and what is most durable.

Good luck. This sounds like a fun project.

Donna_Lukens's picture

(post #24372, reply #5 of 5)

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This is a fun project. I really think that the swimmers compete better when they look their best. Synchronized swimming is a sport in which appearance counts. Thank you for your advice. If you have any good sources for material and lining I would love to know. I am looking for a retail source for all of the wonderful new sequin shapes that are found on ready-to-wear, but not avalable in a store. I live outside of Philadelphia and there are not too many retail outlets for swim suit material. I do use Action Fabrics from Chicago as a mail source. Thank you , Donna Lukens