Swimwear fabric isn’t only for swimming – you’ll find it on the beach, by the pool, or lazing on a recliner on the lawn.

So choose your swimwear according to your requirements. Is it for tanning? Do you use it for swimming? For quick dips to refresh yourself? Or just to look and feel great?

Perhaps you have different swimsuits depending on what you plan to do on a particular day… tan, swim, work out or look fabulous.

When you go on holiday, it’s likely you’ll want to pack swimwear to suit every occasion. So make sure to choose different products made out of various fabrics according to your needs.

The most common swimsuit fabric

When manufacturers choose swimwear a fabric roll for sewing, they need to make sure that the material will dry fast, won’t run when it’s in water and has some stretch.

It also has to be comfortable and snug, and it should not sag when it gets wet. For this reason, most swimsuit fabric has some form of stretch material so that they fit well.

Since the 1960s, we've used elastane, a synthetic fibre also called lycra or spandex, for swimwear. It gives swimwear some stretch, is very soft and has a gloss or shine.

Usually, fabrics include between 10% to 20% elastane, which stretches but then returns to its original shape. We usually make the other 80% to 90% of the swim fabric out of non-stretch nylon or polyester.

Sustainability aside, there’s a very good reason we don’t use natural swim fabrics for sewing: cotton, wool and other natural fabrics lose their shape when damp or wet.

They don’t dry quickly either, and tend to hold water. They’re really not practical options for swimsuits.

Polyester swimsuit fabrics

These are the must hard-wearing textiles to use for sewing swimsuits; we usually blend them with elastane (or spandex or lycra fabric for swimwear).

There are so many fabrics to choose from, and the way we tell them apart is by looking at the percentage of stretch fibre each one contains. These fabrics also contain some form of sun protection.

You’ll also find that some fabrics are softer, and that the quality varies depending on the chosen material. 

Benefits of polyester material for swimwear fabric

Polyester is long-lasting, keeps its shape when wet and doesn’t pill.

·       Soft to the touch: Originally, polyester wasn’t a smooth fabric, but now you’ll find it’s soft.

·       Colour-fast: When you wash polyester fabric products, they don’t fade.

·       Affordable: One of the reasons the fabric is so popular is because it’s known for its reasonable prices.

·       Ideal for digital printing: At maake we print sustainably on polyester fabrics and the result is always bright, clear, saturated colour. Check out our entire lycra range here!

·       There is a sustainable choice: A very popular and most sustainable polyester choice right now is recycled polyester (rPET), which is made from plastic bottles and other waste fabrics.

Nylon swimwear fabrics

This type of fabric is very soft, with a more matte effect. One usually combines it with some form of spandex fabric to give it stretch.

We often treat the fabric with a sun protection factor. This material is not as easy to print on as polyester fabric, this type of fashion swimsuit usually comes in solid colours, not prints.

Like polyester, this sewing material is also synthetic. It boasts a better stretch than polyester, so we often use it for water sports. Note: we also call this material Polyamide (PA).

Benefits of nylon swimwear fabric

·       Hard-wearing: This material is a strong material. It’s water-repellent and dries fast, but it’s not as durable as polyester. It also tends to 'pill'.

·       Soft feel: The softer swimwear alternative.

·       Colour-fast: When you wash it, it tends to fade. For this reason, polyester is often the more popular fabric choice.

·       Affordable: Polyester can be a cheaper price, but this depends on the brand.

·       Not ideal for digital printing: Printers tend to print solid colours, not patterns on this type of fabric.

·       No very sustainable alternative: Unlike polyester, this material does not have a sustainable alternative comparable to rPET. However, manufacturers are experimenting to find a sustainable nylon choice.

Important note

Don’t forget to consider the following 2 points when choosing swimwear material for your brand:

1.    Weight: Swimwear fashion fabrics usually weigh between 180 and 200g per square metre.

2.    Blend: We’ve already discussed that the ideal fabric blend includes either nylon or polyester with 10 to 20% elastane, spandex or lycra for stretch.

Here at maake, we have got 4 different lycra fabrics to choose from ranging between 100 gsm- 500 gsm. This includes different fabric face finishes like matte and glitter

Let’s talk about chlorine and swimwear fabric

It’s a fact: swimsuits tend to fade when we use them mainly for swimming in swimming pools, which contain a lot of chlorine. For this reason, we treat a lot of swimwear so that it’s chlorine-resistant.

Polyester fabrics, especially those that are 100% polyester, are usually resistant to chlorine. Unfortunately, the more nylon or spandex there is in the fabric blend, the more likely it is that the material will fade.

UV protection for swimwear fabric

You’ll see on your swimsuit label that these days, many fabrics used for swimwear contain UV protection, to protect the wearer from the harsh rays of the sun.

We add UV protection by treating fabrics with certain chemicals that make the material absorb or block UV rays: these are commonly found in the dyes used to print the fabric.

This type of sun protection is called UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). It’s a good idea to check whether the fabric you have chosen for swimwear has this type of protection.

Unlike the SPF protection used on sunscreens, UPF is slightly different. The best UPF protection is considered UPF50 or higher.

Ideally, one should use both sunscreen and swimwear with UPF protection. UPF fabrics protect against UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB rays, blocking out up to 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Especially in the case of buying Kids Swimwear, all of maake's fabric and inks, are Oeko-tex and GOTS 6.0 approved, to ensure safety even in children's products. Our fabrics pass stringent EN71-3 certification & are formaldehyde-free too!

Learn more about our sustainable fabrics

Excellent swimsuit fabric products per meter from maake

·       Active Eco Lycra: A lightweight sustainable Eco lycra fabric made from rPET and elastane. Ideal for activewear, swimwear and accessories.

This fabric is smooth and has excellent stretch. It’s a blend of GRS-certified recycled polyester and lycra, which makes it a sustainable swimwear choice.

The stretch fabric pulls in every direction and springs back to shape easily. Both sides of the white polyester base fabric are alike and colours print vibrantly and strongly.

·       Eco Glitter Dot Lycra: A combination of recycled post-consumer polyester and lycra, this stretchy fabric is perfect for swimwear, activewear and accessories.

It features a silver foiled dot effect and its more sustainable blend makes it ideal for the environmentally conscious. The polyester base prints beautiful, vibrant colours.

Printing on polyester stock at maake

At maake, we use no water when we print on regular and recycled polyester fabric stock. Also, the inks we use to print with all meet Oeko-tex requirements and pass EN71-3 certification.

Upload your own design

August 23, 2023 — Artemis Doupa