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How to Make Your Own Synchronized Swimming Competition Suit

Wearing a stunning, sparkling suit that fits your routine music perfectly is part of the fun of competition! If it’s utterly spectacular, a competition suit can even give you more confidence as you perform your deckwork.

However, custom, hand-made suits can be dauntingly expensive and time consuming to buy and decorate. So, if you are looking for some shortcuts that cost less but will still make you shine at the meet, here are some helpful tips.

Buy a Suit

Your competition suit doesn’t have to be entirely custom-made. A purchased suit will cost much less than one someone hand stitched, and then you can just make it unique by decorating however you please.

Start by finding either a plain suit or one that has a simple or abstract design that matches your music choice—less is more when it comes to suit patterns. Also, pick something that looks good from far away. Something covered in small detailing may seem cute on the rack, but will look blotchy and multicolored from a distance.

Hot Tip: Consider Swimmers' Ages

Keep the maturity levels of the swimmers in mind when you select a suit. Even if the music is the soundtrack from Jurassic Park, a 16 year old isn’t going to feel, or look, good in a pink suit with a glittery dinosaur on it!

What You Need to Decorate

Once you have a suit, it’s time to get the decorating materials. You can get what you will need at a regular craft store, but you need to make sure you get the right supplies that will hold up in the pool.

  1. Elastic glue: This fabric glue will hold up to the chlorine and stretchiness of a swim suit without cracking. It must dry clear!
  2. Glitter: Glitter comes in a seemingly endless array of colors and types, from fine to chunky and holographic to solid tones. Chose wisely.
  3. Rhinestones: Gluing a few small rhinestones on will really add sparkle, while bigger ones can add a lot in the way of design.
  4. Industrial strength glue: You will need the strongest glue available to ensure that your rhinestones stay put. It also must dry clear.
  5. Washable Marker: Use a washable marker to draw out your designs before you start gluing. Freehanded designs are risky and nearly impossible to duplicate.
  6. Tweezers: These will be handy for picking up rhinestones and holding them in place while you apply glue and place them on the suit.
  7. Toothpicks: Toothpicks are the best tool for picking up and smearing just the right amount of glue on the backs of rhinestones.
  8. A place to stretch out the suit: Suits are hard to decorate because they’re so elastic. A flat piece of wood, plastic, or a rectangle made of PVC pipe, is perfect for stretching your suit over while decorating and letting it dry. Think of it as your easel.

How to Glitter

If you bought a suit with a design on it, your job is little easier. If not, use a washable marker to make your own lines so you’ll have something to follow with glue.

1. Prep

Pick the first glitter color. Start with a darker tone so that it won’t get stuck in the lighter glitter later on.

Before you start gluing, make sure all the air bubbles are out of the bottle by tipping the glue opening-side down and tapping it on a paper towel.

2. Trace with Glue

Trace the shapes and lines with glue, stopping as few times and picking up the glue tip as infrequently as possible. Consistent pressure on the glue bottle and the speed with which you drag it will make the lines even and smooth.

3. Sprinkle the Glitter

Once you’ve finished, sprinkle the glitter over the glue. Shake the suit around gently so the glitter touches the sides of the little line of glue, not just the top.

Hot Tip: Black Glitter

Black glitter is the ideal way to outline shapes and designs on your suit (even light-colored suits) so they stand out from far away. Think about a cartoon character—they are all drawn with an outline in black so they stand out against the background.

Then, dump it off onto a newspaper, fold the section into a V-shape and pour the unused glitter back into its container.

4. Continue to glue and glitter away!

Let the dark colors dry first so you can get all the extra flakes of glitter off since black specs will diminish the impact of the lighter colors.

The only reason not to glitter all of the colors in one sitting is if you are going to use very dark and very light colors. (And the front and back should each be separate sessions.)

Rhinestone Application

When used in the same color as your suit, rhinestones will add oomph to your overall sparkle. If used in different colors, the rhinestones will become a more obvious, sometimes interesting, part of the design.

1. Prep

First, decide where you’d like to place the rhinestones. Then make a dot for each with the washable marker. It’s a good idea to place more at the top of the suit so people can see them while you’re eggbeatering during the routine (plus, it’s added motivation to get your eggbeater up!).

2. Tweeze & Glue

Squeeze a pea-sized bead of the really strong glue onto a paper towel. Pick up a rhinestone with the tweezers, grab a little bit of glue with the point of a toothpick, and put the little dot of glue onto the back of the rhinestone.

Hot Tip: Big Rhinestones

You can use big rhinestones to create a three-dimensional design on an otherwise plain suit. A group of teardrop-shaped stones glued together could make a flower design, or a collection of all different shapes could make an intricate pattern around the neck line or waist.

Use just enough glue to coat the back of each stone when you press it down. Too little won’t hold it on, and too much will squish out the sides and look sloppy—but a sloppily glued rhinestone is probably better than a missing rhinestone since the extra glue will dry clear.

3. Rhinestone Away

Keep adding rhinestones until it gets too gaudy, you run out of space on the suit, or run out of money for decorations—whichever comes first.

You Can Do It

Everyone can make a good-looking competition suit, even if you consider doodling stick figures a stretch for your artistic abilities. Just have a solid plan and avoid the urge to free-hand at any given point in the process. Sometimes simplicity is most effective.

Part of the fun of synchronized swimming is competing in a sparklingly, beautiful swim suit. Learn how to make your own, and save some money too!
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