If you are looking for something to keep you a little warmer for swimming in cool open water conditions, but don’t want to deal with a wetsuit, these swim pants may be just right for you. I don’t care for the stiffness, constriction, or buoyancy of wetsuits. I am much more comfortable in the water when I feel I have complete use of my arms and legs. Not only that, but added buoyancy makes me bob about more and get sea sick. I have chosen the locations and timing of my two triathlons with this in mind, and found places where the water was at least in the mid 70’s (Fahrenheit). Even so, a swim shirt made the swim more comfortable. I had thought of the idea of swim pants, but it wasn’t until I began swimming during cool weather in my new, outdoor Tuff pool (with an Endless Pool Fastlane), that I really began to figure out how to get some.
As with the swim shirt that I made last month, I altered Kwik Sew men’s pattern 2881, but I also used McCalls 6173 as a guideline. I used the same fun leopard print from fabric.com, and utilized some of the techniques from making the swim shirt, such as finishing the leg hems like a neck band. I discovered that I actually do have hips, and there are a couple of changes I will make to the pattern for the next pair. But, meanwhile, I do have my first pair of very functional swim pants. Here is how I did it:
First, I taped the front and back pattern pieces of the McCalls pattern together at the hip. I used the widest point across the hips, which corresponded with line markings on the pattern. The reason for doing this, is that the Kwik Sew pattern is made from a different combination of pieces, which include a side panel and an inner panel. This arrangement helped me figure out how to lengthen the Kwik Sew pieces and make them straight.
I planned on not making the swim pants go exactly down to my ankles, so that they would be just enough wider at the leg openings to allow my large feet through. Therefore, I measured the distance on me from the waist line to that point just below the thickest part of my calves. I marked this distance on the McCalls pattern.
Next, I placed the side panel pattern piece from the Kwik Sew pattern along the hip line of the two attached McCall’s pattern pieces. After taping it in place, I put a piece of blank pattern making paper over the whole assembly. I traced the side panel piece, except that I extended the lower leg, with a slight taper, down to the hemline I had marked.
After that, I removed the side panel, then taped the front and back panels of the Kwik Sew pattern over the McCalls pattern, trying to center them accordingly. Just like with the side panel, I put the blank pattern paper over them and traced, also extending the legs. I estimated the taper with all the lengthening, based on the lines of the original Kwik Sew pattern. This worked just fine.
When those were cut out, I left them on the work space to help me better position the inner leg panel, which runs from one leg end, under the crotch, and back down the other leg. This piece is cut with the stretch of the fabric going the opposite direction of the stretch in the rest of the pieces. Such a design means there are not seams pulling in uncomfortable places.
Like for the swim shirt, the sewing instructions were more than adequate for putting the pieces together, even though they were all lengthened. I did change the leg hem to be in band form. To do this, I measured that part of my leg that it would encircle, then added 1/4 inch on each end for seams. I chose a final band width of 1.5 inches. I also cut this piece so that the most stretch would be going around the leg, just like with the neck band in the swim shirt. I think I would make this band just a touch tighter next time, but it all stays in place.
I’ll mention is that I am not finding a use for the button holes made for the ties. This could be partly because the pants are fairly snug across the hips. Next time, I will probably increase the pattern just a bit through the hips…. As someone who has my WHOLE life found ready-made women’s pants to be too wide through the hips, this was a pleasant surprise. 🙂
I won’t be laying on any tropical beaches in this outfit, but it is perfect for swimming in cool weather or cool water. I haven’t seen swim pants anywhere. The swim shirt is a little bit less expensive than buying one, if you only count materials, but it is all custom fit and unique. I am looking forward to making one out of another fun print. If I do get to wear this at another triathlon, I expect I will turn a few heads… 😉