I haven’t been blogging that much lately, but I still sew daily, just trying out different swimsuits. I’ve been drafting a lot of my own stuff since spandex is so forgiving and stretchy and feeling happy about the results. I want to get back to sewing “real clothes” again, this has just been so easy and a different practice than I’m normally used to – way less prep, way more sewing, way less fabric. But for Adam’s birthday I wanted to make him a swimsuit too, and it turns out that men’s swimwear is a lot like … sewing real clothes. It’s way harder that throwing together a little bikini in an afternoon.
First of all, I needed a pattern and materials. I based the shorts off of Simplicity 7550 which is a 1970s men’s pullover top / swim trunks pattern. 70s men’s swim shorts were not made of the nylon ripstop material they are today; the suggested materials list reads “denim, chambray, duck, poplin, chino, broadcloth, sharkskin, madras plaid, terrycloth, double knit.” Like I mentioned in a past blog post, swimwear was commonly made out of wool. This list kind of makes it seems like the shorts are meant to be worn as normal shorts, but they have an interior lining like modern men’s trunks do.
It was very challenging to find the correct material for the shorts, but I finally found some really beautiful polyester microfiber fabrics from The Fabric Fairy which is a Seattle-based specialty fabrics retailer. They also carry really nice meshes, swim linings (which I bought), and recycled swim fabrics. The fabric was very soft, almost a brushed microfiber that felt really nice in the hand even though it’s a synthetic so I was super happy with it.
Constructing the shorts was not a big challenge, but the fabric is fine and puckers somewhat easily. I also used lapped seams for all of the construction to strengthen the seams (since it’s technically sportswear) and to make it look nicer. I used what I learned from sewing the back of the skirt in my couture sewing class to insert the lapped zipper and it was super easy.. I was so happy. I used seam binding on the zipper placket and a self binding on the front opening of the shorts lining. I also went off pattern by repatterning the shorts as having colorblocked sides based on a 60s photo my friend sent me.
Finally, I also added a 1″ swim elastic into the waistband. Modern shorts have so much more elastic and stretch to them, and I was worried the fit would be too loose on Adam so the elastic just holds the waistband closer (and it hides the roping from me, as usual, sewing the waistband on a tiny bit off).
I am really happy with how they turned out. It was a lot more work than I expected but if I were to redo these it would be easier. They held up through swimming, beach soccer, bocce ball etc so I consider them a success. Also below, me in a swimsuit I made.