I was just about to cut out a different shapeless cream caftan, when Katherine h,commented that wovens are cooler than knits, and that bright colours are good for the beach, and not only pointed me in the right direction on my beach cover-up quest, but allowed me to use up some "what was I thinking" fabric. Thanks Katherine.
I got out some very bright red cotton woven with lycra seersucker sort of fabric that I bought at Sckafs fabrics at Indooropilly last January. I originally bought this to make a work shirt (no ironing!) but every time I get it out for this purpose I have been putting it back in the fabric cupboard. I quite like this colour, but quiet and subdued it is not. This makes it perfect for a Queensland beach dress, and also make it completely clear to everyone on the beach that I was almost a local, not a southern import (those ladies were
I looked through my Burda magazines for a pattern using about the right amount of fabric. Those German girls certainly go to the beach a lot. There seem to be 3 or more issues per year with a beach theme. The German girls in the magazine also seem to like bright colours for the beach - honorary Queenslanders no doubt :). In real life, the German visitors at Noosa seem to favour very small black bikinis, or skin, although no doubt I am generalizing here. I certainly hope that Australian backpackers overseas are not taken as representative of the general population. Most of us are not 18 years old after all. (Did I mention that Noosa is a tourist town?)
I was quite taken with 7-2009-105, which is presented as a beach cover up, until I saw 7-2009-104, (same dress with A line skirt, waist shirring and a collar) which I remembered seeing on Mary Nanna
, and being instantly inspired to copy her, which happens fairly often when I look at Mary Nanna's blog. However my inspiration never seems to catch up with my actual sewing, so I am a bit late with my copying, and can pretend that making this dress was an original idea. Mary Nanna is in no way responsible for the beachyness or excessive brightness of my dress, hers is much more elegant daywear.
I really like this dress, although there were a few scary moments in the early stages. Whilst I was sewing it, I thought it seemed very familiar, and eventually recalled the beach cover up of my great aunt Marg. When I was in primary school, our extended family would stay at Lake Macquarie for a week after Christmas, and Auntie Marg (then in her 60's) would swim a mile every morning. (A very fit lady, who is now in her 90's and still nearly as fit).She wore a seersucker A line robe down to the water,folding it up carefully and leaving it under a convenient rock, then carefully donning her swimming cap, which was covered in artificial daisies, and a source of considerable fascination to me, before starting her swim. I have a great admiration for my darling Auntie Marg, but as she is more than 50 years older than I, this dress was feeling a bit aging, (I am too old for Granny chick) until I added the shirring. There was an instant miraculous transformation at this point. It is amazing how adding a waistline to a garment can improve the figure!
I used the C foot and bridging stitch (no 10) on my Husqvana Lily for the shirring. I like this much better than either the zig zag method or the elastic-in-the-bobbin method as it is adjustable after the construction, and having 2 strands of elastic for each line of shirring provides insurance against shirring failure if one strand should have elastic fatigue at any point. Copying Mary Nanna, I did not carry out the shirring until the rest of the construction was complete, so that I could place it appropriately. My shirring is 8cm higher than Burda's - I am short waisted.
My other changes to the pattern were to swap out the 104 collar for the 105 collar, and to use a contrast fabric for the button bands and inner collar.
I only put in one welt pocket at this point -( following Kenneth King's zippered welt pocket technique from Cool Couture), as I only had one red zipper on hand. I think it is useful to have a zippered pocket for beach clothes. If I am feeling very virtuous at a later date, I may revisit this dress for the next pocket in the interests of symmetry. Don't hold your breath.
I did not use flat felled seams for the sleeves as instructed. The fabric is very textured, and I did not think this technique would be effective. Instead I bound the seams with the contrast print, then topstitched.
I am now considering a more sophisticated fabric for an Autumn dress using this pattern. It is very easy to sew.