Sewing for Swimming- Part I It’s all about the hair

One day last week in my daughter’s swim class the instructor had had problems putting my daughters goggles on her head.  They kept getting tangled in her hair so the instructor reached nearby for a child sized swim cap and put it on and voila no more hair tangle.  Before this I never really saw the point in a child wearing a swim cap.  I always assumed my daughter wouldn’t want to wear it in the first place.  But after seeing that not only would she wear it but that it actually helped keep her swim lesson moving along tangle free I thought it would be a useful item after all.

So as I was looking for water proof material for another project for her swim class I came across this material in the section for making diaper covers.  It is called PUL. Here is the description from the Joann website.

Soft, Breathable, Waterproof “PUL” (Polyurethane Laminate) is a fabric laminated with waterproof polyurethane on the back. It is popular and effective for cloth diapers, diaper covers, bibs, diaper bags, wet bags, changing pads and more

  • Available in 14 solid colors and 10 tossed Prints
  • 64” Wide
  • 83% Polyester, 15% Polyurethane
  • Durable, washable, dryable and will not separate

It is the “and more” in the desciption that I think is most important.  I think the uses for this stuff could potentially be endless!!! It was originally made for use in hospitals.  It can withstand high temperatures so that it can be sterilized and reused.  I thought that if this would keep a baby’s bottom dry it should be good for the two projects that I had in mind for her swim class.  The only bad thing is that it is a little pricey but since it comes 64 inches wide on the bolt I only needed half a yard of fabric for my projects and much less if you are just making the swim cap.

I googled around to see if anyone already had a pattern for a child sized swim cap. But I didn’t find anything. But E-How did have information on making a swim cap. So using their information I went about measuring my daugther’s head for the swim cap.

First, I measuerd the circumfernce of her head.

Then I measured from the bottom of one ear lobe across the top of her head to the bottom of her other ear lobe.

Then both measurements were divided in 2.  Then I drafted a pattern.  Using the circumference measurement divided in 2 I drew a straight line on paper.

Then using the crown measurement halfed I plotted a point that many inches centered above the line I just drew.

Then I drew a curved arch connecting the end of the straight line on one side at the bottom to that point centered at the top that I just marked.

As you can see I had to draw it a few times to get the line just right.

This was the line I settled on.

Then once I was satisfied with my line I used the bottom line as a guide and basically folded that line in half while folding the paper in half.  This would allow me to have the pattern be symmetrical on both sides.  Then I cut along the line I just drew.  Next I cut along the bottom (the first line I drew).

This was my pattern.  You want to cut 2 of these pieces from your fabric.

Next you want to set your sewing machine to a short stitch length something like 1.0.  This will help keep water from seeping in at this seam.

Then with right sides together you want to pin all the way around the hat to keep it secure while sewing.

Then stitch with a little over 1/4 inch seam allowance.  You want the cap to fit very snug.

At this point you will want to put a Teflon pressure foot on your machine if you have it or if not just grab a piece of paper.   That is because the laminated side of this material can be a little sticky underneath the pressure foot. If you are using the paper just put it under the pressure foot where you are sewing.  After you sew the seam you just need to rip away the paper.  It should rip away easily.   My machine comes with a Teflon foot for sewing special materials like this that would normally cause them to stick under the pressure foot such as vinyl.  So I used this foot to sew this seam.

Be sure to secure the seams well at the beginning and ending of the seam.  Also when beginning and ending the seam you will want to sew the seam allowance like the picture below.

This will help make the cap fit snuggly to the child’s face.

OK once you are done sewing that seam turn your cap right side out.  Now your child is all set for tangle and wet hair free swimming!

Next up more sewing with PUL fabric! This time a waterproof swim bag to match.
Note:  Be sure to wear the swim cap with the seam running down the middle of the top of the head for the best fit.
***Note after the fact:  Ok so after several weeks of swimming with this cap I have discovered 2 things.  A- It is not water proof (no, it didn’t take me several weeks to figure this part out:)  and B- I needed to fold over the bottom edge of cap and hem it.
I am not sure why I didn’t hem the bottom to begin with.  I am still not sure the best way to do this.  I think doing it with a double needle might give it a nice look.  I think the kinks still have to be worked out of this design for it to be really functional and durable.  But if you just want to have something to keep your child’s hair out of their way while they are swimming this still does the job as is.  I think this one still needs some work to correct the design flaws.*****

8 thoughts on “Sewing for Swimming- Part I It’s all about the hair

  1. This is a great instructional post, Mary Claire! I honestly would never have thought of sewing a swim cap. When Joshua had swim lessons in South Carolina, swim caps weren’t a requirement. They are a requirement for the swim lessons he has in P.E. once a week, so now I see how useful they are when used with goggles. Even boys get goggles tangled up in their hair. Plus, where we shopped for a swim cap, there wasn’t much selection. Custom made is now an option. Thank you!

  2. Mary Claire I loved the swim cap. I’d like to see the PUL material…..might could make something to use on the boat…for Father’sDay maybe ??

  3. This question is unrelated to sewing my own swim cap, but more to do with swimming. I am about to move to Germany for 1 year. I am wondering about the availability of children’s swimming lessons there? Any idea? My children (2 y.o. & 4 y.o.) have lessons here in Australia already (I go in the pool with the 2 y.o.). Am trying to figure out if this sort of thing is available YEAR ROUND in Germany? We won’t be in Stuttgart but in Frankfurt but I imagine it should be much the same. Hope you don’t mind me hijacking your blog with an off-topic comment?

    • It shouldn’t be a problem to find lessons available year round. There are many indoor pools in our area in Stuttgart, so I’m assuming the same goes for Frankfurt. You’ll want to look for your local “hallenbad”, which is an indoor pool. “Freibad” is an outdoor pool. You might find this information on the website for the town where you end up living. Sometimes though, it’s just easier to stop by the hallenbad than to call or find the information on the internet, given the language barrier. Good luck!

  4. Hi, I was using PUL fabric to make diaper covers for my cloth-diapered baby, so I did some research on the fabric itself. One reason it didn’t stay waterproof is because you used pins. A better choice is to use paper clips instead of the pins so that you don’t poke holes in the fabric. Also, you don’t need to hem the bottom if you have some fold-over elastic, which will also help with a tighter fit on the head.

    Thanks for your post about swim caps! I’m planning on doing lap swimming on my lunch break from work and I need to keep my hair dry, so I am going to make a looser fitting cap (maybe more like a shower cap) so I won’t have to redo my hair every day 🙂

    • That’s a good point about the pins. I hadn’t thought about that. The FOE would be a great alternative to hemming. Thanks for your great suggestions! Good luck with your swim hat!

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