Another tick from my #menswearmakenine project this year, and the first that my husband specifically requested, making it very slightly more nerve-wracking. In the past, some sewists have said to me, “Oh you’re so nice, making clothes for your husband”, but, and I swear this is true, I do it because I find it interesting and I get to fit someone else, even if it that person is of the male persuasion – and Tom really is a “typical T” male shape, with very broad shoulders and slim hips. It helps my skills and also concentrates my finishing. I’m very much an ideas person, who is not always the best finisher in any sense, but making something for another person means I take more time over the final result rather than taking shortcuts or settling for shoddy finishing, which I would be more likely to do, were it a garment for me.
Anyway, Tom asked for some swim shorts and I already had the Seamwork Harrington pattern in mind. It’s a fairly simple pattern, which I thought might be a good idea for a first attempt. The shorts are described as being vintage-inspired, but they’re not outlandish in scale. I’d say they’d be a good choice for most guys as they’re neither skimpy nor voluminous. They have mesh-lined pockets (on the other side in the pictures) and a waistband that is both elasticated and has a drawstring. I finished the seams with the serger as the fabric is a little prone to fraying and I wanted them extra-secure, if you knowhaddamean. The pattern runs from XS to 2XL and I made a L, which seems to work for him.
The fabric came from Seattle Fabrics here in good ol’ Seattle and is a bit of a mecca for those who are interested in sewing any sort of sporty or outdoor apparel. They have tons of options for specialized fabrics, as well as things like cotton lycra and loads and loads of notions, including cool jeans buttons and cord, etc. etc.
Despite the vast array of colours on offer, you may have noticed I ended up making a pair of swimshorts that look exactly like those on the pattern picture. And I mean, exactly. This was by request of course and… well, y’know, … anything to please the client or whatever. Luckily, Seattle Fabrics had exactly the right shade of burgundy board short fabric, so all was good.
The construction itself is pretty straightforward (good instructions and diagrams), so here are just a couple of notes:
1. The supplies list doesn’t mention eyelets, but you need them according to the instructions. This delayed me a bit as I then had to go out and track them down, but they proved pretty easy to find (most craft stores). Of course you could sew buttonholes or miss them out altogether, but it does make the shorts feel more put-together.
2. Waist minus one inch for the elastic measurement was a little generous for my husband. I think in a pair of swimshorts most men are used to a tighter fit, especially with a 3 year old tugging at them. Try it out and see what works for you, but I ended up reducing the elastic length by a couple more inches.
3. The waistband calls for 2-inch elastic, but I found the channel a little tight when threading it through, so used 1.5-inch elastic instead. I’m sure this was just my sewing being a little off-track in places, but it does mean that the waistband slides over sometimes (like when hands are in pockets, below). I think I’ll add a line of stitches around the centre of the waistband to anchor it in place.
All in all, the construction was nothing unusual and I think you could make these in a few hours if you wished to. There are only four pattern pieces and they all go together nicely notch-wise. The shorts have now been tested in the swimming pool and held up admirably, in all senses. My husband was wondering if he would miss the elasticated mesh lining you often get in male swimwear that holds the undercarriage all in place (I don’t know how else to put it, but you know what I mean). He says he doesn’t although he was expecting to, so no need to try and replicate that in another pair. Good news!