Sand Pattern Swimsuit




About: Build.Share.Destroy.Repeat. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!

A sandy swimsuits is usually not a good thing, but in this case it is!

Show your style at the beach with a sand pattern swimsuit, a swimsuit with a stenciled sticky application on the fabric that reveals a custom pattern after lying in the sand. The sand can then be washed away simply by swimming in water. When you're ready to show off your pattern again just lie in the sand. The best part is that the pattern can be anything you want!

The secret is a thin film of silicone caulking applied through a stencil. The silicone is elastic and can flex with the movement of a swimsuit, staying durable and firmly in place. This project explores the concept of applying flexible silicone to a swimsuit. The results were a success, but took some trial and error.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Supplies

  • 100% clear silicone caulking
  • card stock
  • hobby knife
  • Lycra swimsuit (or similar stretchy swimsuit fabric)
  • cardboard
  • binder clips

It's a good idea to wear protective gloves when applying the caulking, and to work in a well ventilated area.

Step 2: Make Stencil

sketch your pattern onto cardstock. You want to use thin cardstock so when you apply the caulking through the stencil you're left with a thin layer and not a goopy mess.

I recommend trying out your template on scrap fabric first, and to print out multiple copies of your stencil, as they are bound to get soiled while applying the caulking.

Here are some templates I made for my swimsuits, you can download and use them if you like.

Step 3: Cardboard Form in Swimsuit

Before applying the stencil the swimsuit needs to be secured to a flat surface in order to make a clean stencil transfer. A section of cardboard was cut and slipped inside the swimsuit, and gently stretched flat and smooth.

The swimsuit was then held to the cardboard with binder clips.

Step 4: Clip Stencil to Swimsuit Form

Next, clip the stencil over the swimsuit, using more binder cips to hold it in place.

Step 5: Add and Spread Caulking

Plan before applying caulking. Because the caulking begins curing immediately you'll need to be strategic about caulking placement. Depending on the stencil size and complexity you may have to work your stencil in sections to ensure it doesn't dry and stick the stencil to your swimsuit.

The polka-dot stencil I had to do in 4 row sections before removing the stencil, then repositioning the stencil below the stenciled caulking and applied another few rows. The swirled pattern was asymetrical so had to be applied quickly in one go.

Spread caulking into the stencil evenly, I used a thin flexible plastic piece to ensure complete coverage in all portions of the stencil.

Step 6: Apply Caulking in Small Quantities

Through trial and error I discovered that the best way to apply the caulking was in small quantities. For the polka dot array I did a few rows, then peeled off the stencil. Because the caulking is very goopy I couldn't reuse the stencil without the caulking accidentally touching areas I didn't want silicone to be applied. It took some time to clean or cut away the stencil, then realign it and apply more silicone on the next section.

Step 7: Larger Stencils

For larger stencils that can't be applied in sections you'll need to work quickly, as the caulking begins to cure and will start sticking to the stencil.

On this application I left a portion for too long and the silicone tore on one end of the design. Not a big deal, but in future I'd use a much smaller stencil and work in sections.

Step 8: Small Details

Here's a small stencil I cut out for the back of the swimsuit. After the attempts shown above I had the process dialed in and was able to get a really crisp stencil application.

Step 9: Let Cure

After the caulking has been applied the stencil needs to be removed and the caulking was left to cure overnight. If you are applying a few stencils in different locations you might want to let one application cure completely before moving onto the next.

Step 10: Hit the Beach

With your swimsuit stencil applied and cured you can hit the beach.

In the sunshine your swimsuit has a shimmer from the silicone application, but it's true secret won't be apparent until you lie in the sand.

Step 11: Relax in the Sand

Lie down in the sand and press your caulking into the sand. Dry, fine sand works best.

Step 12: Sandy You

Roll over and reveal the swimsuit's sandy secret.

Step 13: Brush to Remove

The sand can easily be removed by brushing the pattern with your hand and knocking the sand away.

Though, the easier (and more fun) way to remove the sand pattern is to...

Step 14: Hop in the Water

Get wet!

Step into any water and the sand will just fall away from the silicone application.

Step 15: Be a Beach Bum

The best part is that you can repeat the sandy pattern endlessly. So, jump in the water, then lie on the sand again to dry off and warm up, get sand stuck to your swimsuit, then jump in the water all over again. Long summer days are super fun with a sand pattern swimsuit.

I'd love to see your version of this.

Happy making :)

Epilog Challenge VI

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge VI

Be the First to Share


    • Art Skills Challenge

      Art Skills Challenge
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    22 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Sorry I haven't done it YET but I want to I need to save some money tho I'll be back before school starts lol


    5 years ago on Introduction

    methinks this might be the next big thing in kids swim wear. My sister did it on her kids swim suit and she just kept running from the sand to the water over and over the first time she wore it.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    methinks this might be the next big thing in kids swim wear. My sister did it on her kids swim suit and she just kept running from the sand to the water over and over the first time she wore it.

    A good idea! Has anyone tried it?

    Would the silicone not damage the swimsuit when removing it or discolour the fabric? Also silicone dries up quickly....i don't see how you could use it again after the swim.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You must not have ever accidentally got silicone sealant on a shirt. At least on a 100% polyester material, it does not come off, ever. I imagine the same would go for cotton or blends. I have washed this shirt about 30-50 times and the silicone is still there in the same exact smudge it was when I mistakenly touched it! The shirt is still in perfect condition except for the silicone mark.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction


    I have a smug going on 6 years now on 100% cotton, still the same as the day I, oops...


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    silicone doe not dry up. It cures and is permanently flexible. Also it does not come off. It bonds to the material. In fact removing will tear the material.


    5 years ago on Step 15

    Looks like a fun project!! :)
    You could try applying wax or dry soap on the stencil so the silicone doesn't stick to it. I use car wax whenever I need to make a silicone mold, but for home purposes, I bet soap should work just as good.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    How did you ever come up with this idea? This is pretty cool!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I like the bubble wrap design - I guess it makes one feel safe and protected in rough seas ;)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Ok, good, the pic of the beach bum is not of you in a speedo...

    The next step is to build up a thicker print so you make a giant press stamp out of your swimsuit to imprint the wet sand with something or roll wet against a wall to print a message.