Saturday, June 29, 2013

SwimAlong 2013: Board Shorts

I know the SwimAlong has officially ended, but summer hasn't! I'm sure I'm not the only one still sewing swimwear, so we'll just all keep going!
Poor Logan was wearing swim trunks at least 2 sizes too small. And while Duncan has two pair of hand-me-down trunks that fit him OK, they aren't great. So I decided to sew up matching board shorts for my boys, while they'll still let me dress them alike.
The boys are in two different size groupings (Logan is a 116 and Duncan wear a 92), so I couldn't use the same pattern. Instead, I just chose two basic elastic waist shorts patterns and styled them the same way. I eliminated all pockets and separate waistbands, and for Duncan's added a strip of fabric at the side seam to match the one on Logan's.
Logan's shorts are from the 03/2012 issue of Ottobre, model # 10. I've made them for him before, twice in fact, and he wears them regularly. Although these are drafted for a knit fabric, I knew they had sufficient ease to work in a woven. I did omit the pockets and added a casing for the waist, rather than a separate knit waistband.
Logan's shorts also got a swimshorts style lining. This was so easy to add! I used Kitschy Coo's Boy Cut Brief pattern, since it only has side seams. The fabric I used is an athletic mesh, like you might see in lightweight running jerseys. I elasticated the leg openings with swim elastic, just like a regular swimsuit, and stitched the waistline to the top edge so that it was caught in the casing stitching. Logan says it is comfortable and that these are his favorite shorts. Yay!
For Duncan, I used the 03/2006 issue of Ottobre. There is a series of shorts in that issue from the same block, one of which (#10) has a separate hem band. I used that version, omitting the hem band and hemming at the seam level, to make a shorter pant. As you can see, these are plenty long, so I'm glad I shortened them! Again, I omitted the pockets and added the side seam band. Since Duncan is still wearing swim diapers, I didn't include a lining, so these were even easier to sew.
I noticed that the boys' RTW trunks have tons of topstitching, so I jazzed these up a little with topstitching down the side stripe, as well as a double line of stitching at the hem, which I echoed at the waistband. This had the added benefit of taming the somewhat unruly microfiber poly fabric I used.
Both shorts are made of polyester microfiber "board shorts" fabric from RockyWoods.com. (The link takes you right to the board shorts page.) This fabric is exactly like the fabric you see in RTW shorts and I was very pleased with it overall, but it wasn't the easiest to sew. 
There are a few things that can help make  it easier. The first is to make sure you use a sharp, fine point needle. I used a Microtex needle in a 70/10 size. This has a very fine point, which is perfect for punching through this densely woven fabric, without puckering or causing pulls.
The other important tip I have is to be sure you press very well. Do test first to get the optimal heat setting on your iron. This is polyester and you can melt it. Use the highest heat you can without damaging the fabric, and use steam. Be sure to press each seam both flat and open or to one side. You also want to be very diligent about finishing your seams. This stuff is very ravelly, and it will be subjected to a lot of stress. You don't need a serger (although that is a quick and easy option if you have it), just finish the edges with a 3-step zigzag or use french seams.
Despite the vagaries of the fabric, these whipped up quickly and the boys both like them. I know they'll both get a ton of use. If you're thinking about dipping your toe in the swimwear sewing pool, board shorts are an easy and fun place to start!

5 comments:

  1. Your boys look super cute in their little matching swim trunks! :-)

    Thanks for the tip on where to buy the fabric, I've had that Jalie board shorts pattern for a couple of years and didn't know where to find fabric for it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Adorable shorts - I've had a board short project on hold for two years for my brother. Great tip with the super sharp needle as well! I also like the liner you inserted! Very cute pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can tell those shorts are custom because the fit is so great! I love the details and the fabrics you chose. Super cute kids in super cute swim-shorts! =)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ahhhh, look at those handsome fellas in their matching board shorts. Love it!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. They look great, Katie! I like the contrast stripe down the outside.

    ReplyDelete