When many of us think of affordable swimwear, we think of the cheap bikinis sold at discount stores. Unfortunately, most of the bikinis you find in discount stores ball up in the crotch area because they’re made of inferior fabrics. If you want to find a great suit on a budget, make your own bikini. You don’t have to be an expert seamstress or even own a sewing machine to make a cute suit. Most local fabric stores sell the same Lycra and spandex materials used by the top swimwear designers, and you can customize your new bikini to fit your exact measurements.

Things You'll Need

Select a swimwear pattern. Look for one that includes patterns for more than one style, such as a tankini, a halter-top, boy-cut briefs and French-tie bottoms. If you can’t find a pattern, make one using a bra and a pair of panties from your drawer as templates.

Choose the fabric for your project. The fabric store should have a swimwear section that features Lycra blends. Consider a fabric with a floral print for the bra and a solid color for the bottom, creating a high-style look.

Refer to the sizing chart on the back of the pattern, and find your size. Don’t assume you’re a size medium just because you wear a medium in your daily life. Get out a tape measure and take your measurements.

Cut out the pattern and pin it to your fabric. Cut through the pattern paper and the fabric to create your bikini top and bottom.

Grab a ballpoint needle and select a polyester-and-nylon-blend thread. Use a stretch needle if you’re using a sewing machine.

Sew up the seams, and create a lining for the crotch, especially if you’ve selected a lighter-colored fabric.

Try on your new swimsuit. Don’t be surprised if you need to make a few alterations, especially if this is your first swimsuit.


  • Look for spandex samples at your local fabric store. Practice making a few tops or bottoms before you cut into premium swimwear fabrics.

  • Polyester blends tend to hold up longer against chlorine exposure than nylon or spandex fabrics.