I am by no means an expert, so I'm not sure I'll be able to help you with any real issues, nor will this list be all inclusive, but here are a few little things I discovered.
First, swimsuit fabric is slippery. And it rolls. It can be very frustrating to work with. If you've worked with jersey before, you probably know what I'm talking about.
Elizabeth recommended sandwiching the fabric between tissue paper and ripping it away after you're finished - I think that's a brilliant idea and I wish I had thought of that.
Another issue I had that complicated things was lining up 4 layers (the 2 outsides and the 2 linings) and stitching together. Because it's so slippery, everything moved constantly. Basting the lining with the main parts would have been a great step to take.
I don't have a serger, and I really didn't think it would be a big deal to use a regular sewing machine - after all, isn't that what the zig-zag stitch is for? Alas, no. If you want a truly professional finish and don't have a serger, take the time to go over to someone's house and use their serger. Look at the photo below. I redid the middle seam with a zig-zag at home, and while the seam is sturdy, it's not nearly as flawless as the rest of the stitching.
|Can you spot the non-serged seam?|
(I would just like to note that yes, I did zig zag the elastic on and I would recommend that - my complaints here aren't with the zig zag stitch itself, but how you can see the thread when you use that type of stitch to seam together the pieces. I would also like to note that from a distance, you can't really tell so if you're not a huge perfectionist, you'll be fine.)
Okay, if you're not as lucky as me and you can't get your hands on a serger, all hope is not lost. Machines typically have an overlock or overedge stitch, but I really didn't like it with this fabric. I probably just needed to play with the tension, and that's not something I'm prepared to do.
However, the straight stretch stitch (see photo below) gives a really great stitch and I would use that instead UNLESS you're matching a pattern or you tend to have to unpick a lot.
|Photo found here|
|Here I quickly straight stretch stitched over the zig zag and I think it's much better, not as many "teeth."|
(Though of course be sure that everything you're getting is waterproof and swimming pool-proof. I would recommend a nylon/spandex mix for the suit. Lining just needs to be a knit lining, and you can totally use the same fabric you used for the outside. The elastic needs to be rubber elastic or swimwear elastic.)
If you're not used to working with knits or elastic, just do a few practice rounds before starting.
For other resources, check out the many amazing links from the SwimAlong Project. They have pattern ideas and inspirations, places to shop online, and construction detail tutorials, like adding cups.
Still have questions or looking for something specific? Let me know and I'll try to help as much as I can, even if it means directing you to someone else. But give it a whirl - swimsuits do not have to be scary!
And if you have a tip that should be included or link to something great, let me know!