This is the synthetic fabric you’ll find in most high-fashion swimwear. Often seen as a blend (with varying ratios of polyester to spandex), this is soft and stretch-supported. It is easy to clean and resists fading from chlorine and sunlight, making it a good choice for swimming in pools or on the beach. It is also durable enough to last longer than other fabrics, although it may not stand up to much wrinkling or stretching out of shape.
Nylon is completely synthetic and does not contain any organic material. It is quite durable, quick drying and has built-in UV protection. It also holds color well, which is helpful when creating your swimwear designs. Most fabric manufacturers use nylon in their products along with a stretchy element like spandex or elastane. This is to add elasticity and make the fabric more comfortable to wear. The elastane will also add to the lifespan of your swimwear, providing it with more longevity than would be possible with nylon alone.
Nylon is also very affordable, which makes it a great option for those new to sewing swimwear and wanting to get the most bang for their buck. When shopping for this type of fabric, look for a label that states the percentage of lycra in the mix and avoid those with other names like elastane, spandex or elastomeric (this is a generic term). You will want to stick with just the brand name if you’re searching online to ensure you are getting true lycra.
Sewing a swimsuit can feel like entering a new world for someone who’s never worked with stretchy fabrics. Not only do they have to look good, but they also need to withstand the rough conditions of the beach or pool, including chlorine, sun exposure, and movement (no one wants a wedgie).
The ideal swimsuit fabric is made from polyester, nylon, and elastane. Elastane is a synthetic fiber that offers exceptional stretchiness. A blend that contains a high percentage of elastane, such as 20% lycra and 80% nylon, is the most common. You might find this type of fabric used in leggings, stretch denim, and swimwear. Nylon, a polyester, has been used in fashion swimwear for years because it is durable and resistant to chlorine.
Nylon is soft and has a subtle glossy sheen that makes it attractive. It also dries quickly and repels water, making it an excellent choice for swimwear fabric. It’s a durable option that holds its shape well and can be a great fit when combined with elastane for figure-hugging swimwear. However, it could be a better it’s not a good choice for prints because it has poor colorfastness and ink or print will likely bleed into the fabric when wet.
This fabric is best used for swimsuits that will be worn often and where a lot of movement will be involved. The material will stretch and bounce back almost immediately to help you move fluidly as you swim. Look for a tighter, firmer stretch in your swimwear knits, and make sure you use the correct needle* for sewing these types of fabrics (see above for more info on hands).
Polyester has been a longtime favorite for swimwear fabric, especially when blended with elastane. This is largely due to its durability. It holds up well to chlorine and UV rays, resists pilling better than natural fibers, and can be dyed to colorfast shades.
Nylon is a popular option for swimwear, as it offers similar qualities to polyester but has the added benefit of being super soft against the skin. It’s also less expensive than polyester but can be prone to color fade with repeated exposure to sun and chlorine.
Nylon spandex is a great option for swimwear since it offers just enough stretch to provide support and mobility. Look for nylon and polyester fabrics labeled as swimwear or swimsuit lining, and select one that has four four-way margins across the selvage edge of the material. The lining will add to your swimsuit’s overall comfort and performance so that you can choose from various options, such as lightweight power mesh or firm power net.
Choosing the right swimsuit fabric is vital for the success of your swimwear line. It would help if you looked for figure-hugging and stretchy materials to hold your body shape while keeping you comfortable and allowing you to breathe. In addition, your swimsuit fabric should be chlorine-resistant and have a UPF rating of at least 30 for sun safety. Lastly, your swimsuit fabric should be able to breathe and stretch when wet.
Synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester are the most common fabrics for female swimwear pieces. These materials are durable, long-lasting, and resilient. They also resist fading, dyeing and chlorine better than natural fibers.
Nylon blends are soft and comfortable, with a good stretch that hugs the body well. These fabrics are also popular with swimmers and other activewear manufacturers due to their lower price point, lightweight properties and hydrophobic characteristics.
While historically, natural fibers like wool were used to make bathing suits, they tend to absorb water, causing the clothing to become soggy and heavy. This is not ideal for your swimwear because it can cause your garment to lose shape and fall off while swimming laps or enjoying a day at the beach.