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Question from A. Z.

What kind of swimsuit do you wear when you swim in your chlorine-free pool? Are cotton swimsuits available, or swimsuits made from other natural fibers?

Debra’s Answer

I have had cotton swimsuits in the past, but today I wear standard nylon swimsuits for a couple of reasons. One is because nylon is a more suitable fabric for the function of swimwear (it dries a lot faster than cotton and doesn’t mold) and the other is that cotton swimsuits are just really hard to find now.

I used to have a cotton swimsuit that I loved. It was a strapless tank made from woven fabric that was then gathered together with elastic thread to make it stretchy, then plain fabric straps were added. I had a thought that one could take two pieces of fabric and sew them together to make chennels through which you could put elastic, and then make a suit from that, but it was too complicated for my patience with sewing!

I also had an idea to make a swimsuit out of cotton/lycra “tube top” fabric. It comes in one piece so there are no seams. You can just cut it and make a strapless top that hugs your body. That didn’t work. Just wearing the fabric without swimming, it stretched out so much I couldn’t see that it would stand up to wearing it in the water.

I found some pictures of cotton swimsuits from the past that could be easily sewn. One was a kind of a loose jumpsuit with a belt with the legs cut to the length of very short shorts. Another was a loose tank top over bikini bottoms. But these are no longer available readymade as far as I could find. Kwik-Sew has a pattern for a modest two-piece swimsuit, designed to be made with cotton fabrics.

Light and Tight or Wet with Regret: Why Fabric Matters in a Swimsuit has this to say about cotton swimsuits:

I also for a time wore a cotton dance leotard as a swimsuit. You can get them from B. Coole. What I found with the one I had (not from B. Coole) was that over time the elastic stretched out and the fabric began to disintigrate (to the point where you could see right through it!). So this option is fine for a time, but you’ll need to replace these suits more often than nylon.

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