Sewing Supplies You Need for Sewing Swimwear

Some of the most common questions I get on my channel relate to supplies. From my machines, thread, cutting mats, and beyond, this post should cover it all! Read on to complete your sewing starter kit! I will be updating this list regularly. Enjoy!

*This post contains affiliate links, but I stand by my recommendations and would purchase these items regardless of any commissions.

Thread

  1. Woolly Nylon: This thread is the best thread for swimwear. It stretches a ton. It can be difficult to thread, so simply tie the woolly nylon to a long piece of polyester/regular thread, thread the polyester, then pull the woolly nylon through.
  2. Polyester: This is basic thread. It doesn’t stretch, so I’d recommend limiting your use of this. I’ve found it works fine with heavier fabrics. Maxi Lock is a reputable brand with great quality.

Fabric & Cutting Supplies

Seam ripper

  1. Dritz Seam Ripper: I was surprised by how well this seam ripper held up. I used it for so long and it took probably 2+ years to finally get dull enough to ditch.
  2. Seam Rippers (Pack of 9): I always lose my seam rippers since they’re so tiny… So I bought 9 more of them!!!
  3. Brass Seam Ripper: My personal favorite choice. The brass seam rippers I’ve purchased are much longer lasting and better quality than any others I’ve tried. I recently bought this one and I’ve been super happy with it!

Scissors

  1. Singer 561 Scissors: These are perfect for cutting swimwear fabric since they are lightweight and very sharp. They’re a great basic!
  2. Gingher 8-inch Scissors: These are legendary scissors. The reviews speak for them… I use these for swimwear but they are more meant for heavier fabrics. If you buy these scissors, they will instantly become your new favorites.

Cutting mat/rotary cutter

  1. Fiskars Cutting Mat/Cutter Set: This set includes everything you will need to get set up with mat cutting instead of scissor cutting- including an acrylic ruler!
  2. Olfa Cutting Mat: Although more expensive than other mats, the price is worth it if you plan on sewing a lot. My Olfa mat is soooo much better than my other mats. It’s incredibly high quality and surprisingly lightweight. If you can spend the extra cash for this one, you won’t regret it!
  3. US Art Supply Cutting Mat: This is a great starter mat since the price is right. Although I like my Olfa better, this mat definitely does the job. And I love that it’s pink!
  4. Olfa Rotary Cutter: I use this rotary cutter, and I like it because it’s easy to pull the cover on and off. I prefer this one over the Fiskars one.
  5. Fiskars Rotary Cutter: Another option for a rotary cutter, and Fiskars is a good, high quality brand. The only reason I don’t prefer this one is because I don’t like the handle on it, but some people might prefer a cutter with a handle for more control!
  6. Rotary blades: Make sure to replace your blades often, as they get dull pretty quickly and it can be much harder to cut fabric, and even dangerous sometimes. I bought these replacements and with the amount of sewing I do, I change blades about every 2 months.

Acrylic ruler

  1. Arteza Acrylic Ruler (6″ x 24″): This one has the same dimensions as the one I use, but it’s half the price of what I paid in a sewing shop! It is great for cutting straps and straight lines.
  2. Fiskars Acrylic Ruler (3″ x 18″): This is a smaller ruler but it’s still long enough to do straps. It’s lighter weight so it’s easier to lug around and it’s nice to have on hand.

Machines

Sewing Machines

  1. Singer Heavy Duty 4223: I bought this sewing machine several months ago after surrendering my amazing Pfaff to its rightful owner- my mom! So far, this machine has worked flawlessly with ALL my projects, and I probably won’t be upgrading for years to come.
  2. Brother SE400: This was another machine I was considering after returning my Pfaff. It is nice because it comes with basic features but it also has some embroidery functions. Perfect for monograms or as a clothing label.
  3. Brother Project Runway: One of the most popular starter machines, this is a cost effective machine you’ll love.

Sergers

  1. Babylock Evolution: This is the machine that I use! It was definitely an investment piece, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless you know for sure you will be sewing for a long time. I use it for nearly every single project I work on- whether it be swimwear, home decor, clothing, and so much more. Plus, it doubles as a cover stitch machine!
  2. Babylock Ovation: If you want a Babylock (yes, they’re as good as people say) but you don’t need the cover stitch function, then the Ovation is a great alternative, and you can save some money by going for this model instead. To be honest, I rarely use the cover stitch function on my machine, but maybe that will change!
  3. Brother 1034D: This is a GREAT starter machine! It is the most affordable serger you can find that still functions very well.
  4. Juki Pearl:  When I look into buying another machine, this is the one I plan on getting! It is well-priced with good reviews, and Juki is great quality.
  5. Singer Professional:  Another well-priced machine with good features and good reviews!

Pattern Making & Tracing

Patterns

  1. I have a library of PDF and physical patterns available for you! I’ve worked for years perfecting these, so I’d love for you to try them out.

French curves

  1. Staedtler French Curves: If you are making patterns, these will make your life much easier. Even for altering patterns, these are a good thing to have on hand. They help you draw natural curves like necklines, shoulder lines, and cheekiness on bikinis.

Pattern paper

For drafting:

  1. Medical Paper: This is the best paper for when you’re drafting patterns since its cheap and lightweight. Great for testing since it is so easy! I’m still on the same roll I bought almost 2 years ago!
  2. Kraft Paper Jumbo Roll: This paper is a little thicker than the medical paper, so it holds up better. I prefer the medical paper for drafting, and sometimes I’ll use the Kraft paper for keeping.

For keeping patterns:

  1. Swedish Tracing Paper: Stop what you’re doing and buy this paper. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of this pattern paper. You can draw on it like any other paper, but it feels like fabric and holds up so incredibly well. Its worth trying at least once!
  2. Pellon 830 Easy Pattern: Another good option for pattern paper that holds up well. If you don’t want to order online, you can find this stuff at many fabric stores like Joann’s or places like Hobby Lobby.

Other Supplies

Strap turner

  1. Dritz Loop Turner: This tool is ESSENTIAL for making straps or for stringing straps through holes, like in a sliding bikini top. This tool is much quicker than the paper clip method.
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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Martha says:

    Can I buy these supplies on amazon or?

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      Nooo of course not, I never use Amazon 😉

      This made me laugh. Amazon is just the absolute best!! I buy pretty much EVERYTHING from there

  2. Briana Nieves says:

    Where do you buy your Fabric from! I found a couple Spandex places, but I’m super unsure. Also TY, I found your videos legit crying over here so helpful

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      Hey Briana! I’m going to be making a video this month all about where I buy my fabric! Stay tuned on my YouTube channel 🙂

  3. Helen says:

    Katie, Where do you buy your swimsuit fabric?

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      I will be making a video on this topic this month! Stay tuned on YouTube!

  4. Kitty says:

    Katie wear can I but the elastic for bathing suit and size is 3/8 ,1/2,5/8or1/4 not sure pls help thank you (What kind elastic)

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      I use all of those sizes! I typically go for 1/4″. And the elastic is called rubber elastic (fulflex is the manufacturer). You can find it on Etsy or at some specialty craft stores!

  5. Jenny says:

    I have the same machine, in what number you put it so that the perfect bikini fabric

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      If you’re referring to tension, I think it’s best to play around with tension to see what works best for each fabric you work with! Even swimwear fabrics can feel drastically different! Start from the middle of your tension dials and adjust from there. I’m a huge proponent of the “guess and check” method 🙂

  6. Jenny says:

    1034D

  7. Amaya Manning says:

    Hi Katie would you visit tobago for my birthday please

  8. Maya says:

    where do you get the 1/2 inch elastic from?

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      Sewsassy.com is my go-to 🙂

  9. Lara De Santis says:

    Hey Katie, Ive been absolutely thrilled to find your youtube channel! What are your thoughts on clear elastic? Ive been having a difficult time finding rubber elastic where I am for a decent price.

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      I wouldn’t recommend clear elastic since it isn’t thick enough to hold up and serve it’s purpose! If you can’t find rubber elastic, then normal braided elastic would be a better alternative 🙂

  10. Robbie Darby says:

    Do you use the wooly nylon on the loopers only or on all 4 threads on your serger?

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      Usually all four (or three if I’m doing a 3-thread overlock), but if I run out of thread sometimes I’ll have one or two threads using regular polyester. It is most important that the needles have the stretchy thread, since those seams will stretch the most!

  11. Shelby Dell says:

    Hi Katie, what needle types / sizes do you use in your machine? and what thread tensions / stitch length / stitch width / differential feed ratio/ presser foot pressure level do you use? I have the brother 1034dx based on your recommendation for the 1034d (1034d was not available in my city and I’m a little impatient.. lol). I know all of the settings will vary by machine but I’m just hoping to find a place to start… after starting several times and not doing very well. Thanks!

    1. Katie Fredrickson says:

      I recommend using stretch needles! And my machine has automatic tension so unfortunately I can’t help much with that, but I remember I started my old machine at normal differential and all tension dials at 4. I know a lot of people in the Edgewater Avenue Facebook group have that machine, so it might be more helpful if you posted in the group for that! http://facebook.com/groups/edgewaterave

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