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  3. How to Successfully Embroider Swimsuits

How to Successfully Embroider Swimsuits


Hi! My name is Colleen Exline and I’m the Associate Editor for Creative Machine Embroidery and Sew it All magazines. I look forward to sharing sewing and embroidery projects, tips and techniques in the upcoming months.

Hurray for June! The weather is starting to warm up (well actually it’s been pretty warm since March here in Colorado) and my mind starts thinks about one thing—summer! I enjoy nothing more than hitting the pool or reservoir on a hot day and having fun in the water and relaxing in the sun.

One thing I dislike about summer: swimsuits! Not only is it stressful shopping for swimsuits (trying to find one that flatters my figure is like torture!), but many swimsuits are just plain boring. A great way to take a swimsuit from simple to stunning is with a touch of embroidery, as featured in the photos from “Swim Fan” from the July/August ’09 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery. 

Even though embroidery looks amazing on swimsuits, Spandex is one difficult fabric to embroider. Before attempting to embroider your swimsuit, check out these 10 must-know tips to create fabulous stitchouts:

  1. Don’t choose dense designs. Designs with high stitch counts stiffen the fabric, affecting the swimsuit fit.

  2. Choose open designs with minimal details and stitches to prevent altering the fit and puckering the fabric.

  3. Adhere a piece of fusible mesh stabilizer to the design wrong side to prevent scratchy stitches from irritating bare skin.

  4. Insert a new size 75/11 ballpoint needle before stitching. Ballpoint needles have a rounded tip to easily stitch through stretchy fabrics.

  5. Don’t hoop Spandex, as the fabric easily stretches out of shape. Choose an adhesive water-soluble variety instead.

  6. Use a colorfast, bleach-resistant thread, such as Coats Trilobal Polyester Embroidery Thread. The thread is strong and durable and will stand up to repeated washings.

  7. When auditioning designs on your swimsuit, choose areas of the garment that will highlight the design, such as near the bust or along the front or back hip area. Border designs look lovely along swimsuit edges, while more elaborate designs, such as a paisley, look great along the hip area.

  8. Avoid placing designs in areas that need stretch, such as the neckline of a one-piece swimsuit.

  9. Don’t embroider swimsuits that have an overly busy print because it may camouflage rather than enhance the embroidery.

  10. And the number one rule of machine embroidery: Test-stitch your design on a scrap of similar fabric to make sure the design, fabric and stabilizer work well together. Once you stitch the project, there’s no going back—not unless you want to spend hours trying to remove the stitches without marring the fabric!

More Summer Fun!

Check out these free summer projects and pattern downloads:

  • If you want to stitch a swim skirt that coordinates with your embroidered swimsuit, download the free swim skirt project “Budget Friendly: Swim Skirts” at This cute skirt less than $20 to make!
  • If you’re like me and need to protect your fair “Snow White” skin from the harsh sun, download this free sunhat sewing pattern at Instructions to make the hat are included in the June/July 2011 issue of Sew News in an article titled “Made for Shade.”
  • .

  • Or if you’re planning a fun summer getaway (lucky you!), check out “Travel Companion” from Sew it All volume 2. Instructions to make the cute travel bag are included in the issue. Download the free travel bag sewing pattern at