Choosing Fabric for the Sandpiper Swimsuit

HelenSandpiper Swimsuit, Sewing Inspiration5 Comments

Where to Buy Swimsuit Fabric

Choosing Fabric for the Sandpiper Swimsuit

Swimsuit sewing season is here, and today we want to help you shop for supplies to make the perfect Sandpiper swimsuit! Finding the right fabric can be tricky when you’re shopping online, but luckily there are a ton of retailers worldwide who offer swim-specific fabrics and notions. Today we want to help you learn exactly what you need, and share some regional suggestions for online retailers. 

Don’t forget that the Sandpiper Swimsuit is on sale for 20% off until July 22, no coupon code required!

What are we looking for?

Fabric: Swimwear stretch knits with at least 50% stretch horizontally and vertically. Look for nylon or polyester knits with high spandex content. You may want to look for chlorine-resistant fabrics for swimming pools and/or fabrics with a UPF rating over 30 for sun safety.

Lining: Swimwear lining provides extra comfort and coverage in your swimwear. It is optional but recommended. Look for stretchy nylon or polyester fabric specifically labeled as swimwear or swimsuit lining. You can also line Sandpiper in lightweight power net or firm power mesh for more support.

Elastic: Look for chlorine-resistant cotton or rubber elastic. Cotton is a little easier to sew, but rubber is more durable and less bulky. Either way, make sure it is labeled as appropriate for swimwear! Avoid using standard polyester elastic, which will degrade faster in chlorine and saltwater.

Needles: You are going to need a stretch needle* for your sewing machine if you don’t have one in your stash already. These are not hard to find, and can be purchased in most local sewing stores if your online retailer doesn’t carry them.

*Some people have luck with ballpoint (aka jersey) needles, but you’ll get more consistent results using stretch needles or microtex needles with high spandex content fabrics. 

Sandpiper Fabric FAQ:

Can I make the Sandpiper Swimsuit in a fabric with less than 50% stretch?

Yes, but I would size up if you have less than 50% stretch and I would not go lower than 30%. Swimsuits are designed to fit very snuggly against the body, and the lower the stretch percentage the higher the risk of gaping and bagging. Ideally, you use a fabric with 50+ stretch in BOTH directions.

Can I make the Sandpiper Swimsuit in a fabric with more than 50% stretch?

Yes! 50% is a minimum, but many swimsuit fabrics will have a higher stretch percentage. As long the spandex content is high enough to ensure great recovery (10-20%), feel free to use a stretchier fabric!

Can I make Sandpiper in a fabric with only 2-way stretch?

Nope. You’ll need vertical stretch to get the top on and off and stay comfortable wearing the suit. This is a sporty bikini design, and you want to be able to move in it!

Can I use a cotton knit fabric?

No. Avoid using anything other than synthetic fabrics. Cottons, linens, and rayons are all too absorbent for swimwear. And who wants a soggy swimsuit? 

Can I use a poly knit fabric?

Yes! As long as the stretch, recovery, and opacity are appropriate, you can use a poly knit fabric.

Can I self-line my suit?

Yes, but you might need to size up. Swimwear fabric is heavier than lining fabric, so a self-lined suit will be bulkier and tighter than one with a traditional lining.

Can I skip the lining?

Lining provides extra comfort and coverage in your swimwear, and it’s the layer that sits between your skin and the suit. I wouldn’t recommend removing the lining because it may make your swimsuit less comfortable and less stable. It is optional, but we recommend you do sew the lining.

Views A and B of the Sandpiper Swimsuit

3 tips for shopping online for swimwear fabrics:

1. If the fabric doesn’t have the stretch percentage listed, just ask! I’ve emailed lots of stores in the past to ask about fabric, and they were all very friendly and quick to reply to me.

2. Search for ‘swimwear’, ‘swim tricot’, or ‘stretch tricot’, or ‘stretch spandex’. You can also find appropriate fabrics labeled as ‘sport lycra’, ‘dancewear’, ‘athletic knits’, or ‘performance’. Fabrics can be labeled all sorts of things and there are going to be lots of knit fabrics to sift through. Try to narrow it down using these terms.

3. When in doubt, order some swatches! If they don’t have swatches, just ask. They might be able to send you some even if they don’t have them listed on the site.

Online Retailers

North America:

Blackbird Fabrics (Canada)
Discovery Fabrics (Canada)
Emerald Erin (Canada)
L’oiseau Fabrics (Canada)
The Fabric Club (Canada)
Sitka Fabrics (Canada)
The MakeHouse (Canada)
Our Social Fabric (Canada)
Blue Moon Fabrics (USA)
Stylemaker Fabrics (USA)
Stonemountain & Daughter (USA)
Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop (USA)
The Fabric Fairy (USA) (USA)
Spandex World (USA)
Spandex House (USA)
Mood Fabrics (USA)
Raspberry Creek Fabrics (USA)
Cali Fabrics (USA)
Fabric Mart (USA)
Needle Sharp (USA)


Minerva (UK)
Sew Me Sunshine (UK)
Glitterstoffen (Netherlands)
Ma Petite Mercerie (France)
Fabric Romance (Ireland)

Australia/New Zealand:

The Fabric Store (New Zealand)
The Remnant Warehouse (Australia)
BOO! Designs (Australia)
Pitt Trading (Australia)
Tessuti (Australia)

Custom Prints:

Spoonflower Sport Lycra (USA)
funkifabrics (UK)
Contrado Slinky Matte Lycra (USA & UK)
Next State Print Active (Australia)

Grab the New Sandpiper Swimsuit for 20% Off this Week
About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

5 Comments on “Where to Buy Swimsuit Fabric”

  1. Would love to see The Makehouse in Canada featured on this list – they’ve got a great collection of swimsuit (and bra making) supplies.

  2. I love your blog! I’ve been following it for a while now and I’ve learned a lot. I just wanted to say that I think your blog is really helpful and I appreciate all the work you put into it.

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