I’ve been looking to make some swimming shorts for a while now. They seem like they’d be a pretty easy make, but finding the right fabrics has been tricky. I haven’t been looking very hard though, and I’ve only been looking online so far…

Polyester Microfibre has been mentioned, so I got some online and, I suppose obviously, it doesn’t feel very nice. I’m not sure how I expected something called polyester microfibre to feel, but it’s a bit too heavy, sort of sticky and looks like cheap leatherette on one side. I don’t think I’ll make my swimming shorts out of that! For the next pair, I’ll go into shops and ask more questions. If you have any suggestions for swim shorts fabric I’d love to hear from you!

I’ve been gathering fabric & notions to make a skiing jacket for a while and without having a ski holiday to look forward to yet, I’ve not started on any pattern. So I had this bright green, lightweight rip-stop nylon waiting in the wings, and some left over mesh from the lining of my rain jacket (made before the blog started) for the lining. The rip-stop is still a bit heavier than I’d like, but feels totally fit for purpose. A perfect holiday colour, I’m sure I’ll wear them. Now I just needed to find the pattern…

(Rain jacket…..)

Searching online, I found many patterns for shorts. Downloadable, paid, free, drafting tutorials…

(And very recently (sadly, too late for this pair of shorts!) a great video on drafting your own shorts from Josh @thatguysews from the Sewing Bee which I’m definitely going to try out)

…But none that included the mesh underwear lining that keeps everything in place while you’re bobbing about in the water. I considered simplifying and adapting my underwear pattern to try and make it fit into a shorts pattern, but, thankfully I finally found Burda Andre #BS-004 only $2.99.

Just what I was looking for. I signed up, logged in, purchased & downloaded my new pattern. Then I printed out about 2 sheets of almost legible pattern followed by blank pages. Then I had to wait until I was back at work and print it out properly there. I think my printer needs a bit more attention than changing the cartridges… that will have to be for another day.

So, eventually, with everything in place, I prepared my pdf, traced out my size and cut out my fabric. I also cut out a pocket for the right back side. (I’d like side seam or slant pockets too, but not in this fabric, when I have something softer).

I know everyone says you shouldn’t pin into rip stop nylon. But surely it’s ok if you only pin within the seam allowance? Anyway, that’s what I did. I had some eyelets (also earmarked for the future skiing jacket) and thought I’d use them for the pocket and drawstring. It’s always fun adding ‘hardware’ so I prepared the pocket first then attached that to the right back leg piece.

I folded, pinned and stitched the pocket as normal. Then edgestitched it to the shorts. From then on, I followed the (sparse, but clear) instructions. I only took construction pictures up to this point, here they are having just sewn up the crotch seam…

I like sewing with ripstop, I’m not sure of the official advice, but I used a #70 needle, 3mm stitch length, creased with my fingers, not too many pins and took it slowly. I also topstitched the leg seams down.

The curve on the hem up to the outside leg slit was a bit touch & go, but I think I got away with it. I did lose my way a bit over the waistband and ended up cutting 3 cm from the top, not realising that the ripstop made the inside waistband, not the mesh. Still, it hasn’t posed any problems, and the waistband is nice & comfy.

In this picture it looks like the pocket is inside out. I’m sure it’s just a trick of the light… Maybe it’s upside down…?

The mesh was easy enough to sew with too. No pressing, just lots of pins. The fiddly bit was feeding the elastic through the legs (I also only had dark green) I think I might try fold-over or some kind of bra elastic on the next ones…

I didn’t space my channels properly and broke a needle on one of the front eyelets. I managed to patch up the stitching and most of the horrors are masked by the gathering (discreetly covered here by the string). I won’t let it put me off wearing them!

I’m not sure it was clear in the instructions, and this is probably in sewing 101… but I found it easiest to sew all the channels first leaving a gap lined up at one side. Then I fed through the elastics and cord before closing up the gaps. This way I didn’t have to sew the lower channels with the elastic in. In future, I think I’ll use a soft wide elastic as the inside waistband and lightening stitch a channel for the cord.

It’s looking like the London heatwave is coming to a close now though… And I’m wondering, which will I need first: swimming shorts or skiing jacket?!

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Get a proper cord (I only had a bit of piping cord, it doesn’t hold a good knot).
  • Try fold over elastic on the leg holes.
  • Use wide elastic for the inside waistband.
  • Draft side pockets.
  • Close back pocket: Velcro/ poppers/ flap, for Aqua-dynamics!
  • Find nice soft fast drying fabric in nice colours/ patterns.
  • Book a sunny holiday.