In real life, I teach. When I changed schools five years ago, I became the class sponsor for a raucous gang of eighth graders. Shortly thereafter they started planning their senior trip. They were set on going on a float trip in spite of the knowledge that the principal wouldn’t approve it. Well, that principal retired and the person who replaced her agreed to the float trip…as long as he could go. That led to a wardrobe conundrum. What does a teacher wear to spend a day on the river with kids?
I love the stylistic features of a lot of swimsuit patterns. Halter straps. Gathered bodices. Flouncy bits. Ruching everywhere. There are several swimsuits I have made which have made me feel like I look good. But for the senior float trip, feeling like I look good wasn’t the goal and I had a need my swimsuit drawer could not fulfill. The swimsuit needed to have enough support up top. It needed to provide plenty of coverage. It needed to be snug in all the right places, but loose in some other ones. It needed to be comfortable. Looking good would be a nice bonus. Enter the 5 Out of 4 Agility Tank.
The 5 Out of 4 Agility Tank is a sports bra base with an attached loose overlay. The pattern includes a maternity and nursing options and the bottom can be banded to add stability to the bottom of the overlay or not. There are two arm cut lines so you can opt for just showing part of the sports bra or let a little more skin show. The pattern includes a traditional racerback, but it also includes instructions for making it a cross-strap style. While it is not marketed specifically as a swimsuit, there is plenty of guidance in the pattern and in the 5 Out of 4 Facebook group for using the pattern for swimwear.
For my purposes, I chose to band the bottom since I hate when swimsuits float around too much when I’m in the water. I opted for the upper cut line for modesty and the racerback for support (though it seems like any difference between the two would be negligible). I was briefly worried about cutting my swim fabric since I had never made this pattern before and didn’t want to end up with a swimsuit which didn’t fit or went together poorly, but there was no time for a muslin. My worries were completely unnecessary as the pattern went together smoothly and fit perfectly with no adjustments needed. All in all, the 5 Out of 4 Agility Tank is a great pattern.
5 Out of 4 offers patterns for bottoms, but since I was pressed for time and not flush with extra pattern cash, I made swim shorties from the Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs pattern with a contrast side panel using the add-on pack (both the basic pattern and add-on pack are free). To make the swim shorties, I made the outer layer from swim fabric and then made a second set of the legs in swim liner and assembled them separately. I put the two sets of assembled shorts legs wrong sides together and attached the contour waistband to join them at the top. I just hemmed both layers of the legs together, but if I were to do it again, I would either add swim elastic or bands.
More Than a Float Suit
While I may have made this swimsuit for a very specific purpose, it has become my go-to for a lot of other occasions since then (which is somewhat odd since it has been cold for much of the time since I made it). Since it is both practical and modest, it is what I take with me whenever my travel involves hotel pools. It also comes out whenever my family goes to Silver Dollar City (a semi-local amusement park) in warm weather (usually paired with quick-dry athletic shorts instead of swim shorties). I’ve never been one to wear a typical swimsuit to amusement parks, but my hatred for wet t-shirts makes me happy to have this at the top of my swim drawer.
Feather swim knit is from The Purple Seamstress
Purple swim knit is from Zenith and Quasar