Saturday, 19 February 2011

BWOF 7-2009- 105 A beach dress

The internet sewing community saves me from some serious sewing mistakes.
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 all mostly wearing cream or white cover ups)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I am now considering a more sophisticated fabric for an Autumn dress using this pattern. It is very easy to sew.

22 comments:

Sigrid said...

Beautiful. The contrast fabric is a very nice finishing. Suits you well.

Uta said...

The dress is very nice! As to Germans and the beach, there's maybe three months a year of German beach season - if we're lucky and the summer isn't rainy and cold. Lots of Germans vacation in Spain or thereabouts, though. I think this is a bit of sewing for a fantasy life (don't we all?). As to Noosa, if I were 18 and made it to an Australian dream beach, you bet I'd be wearing a tiny black bikini, too ;-) !!

katherine h said...

That dress is a gorgeous colour and seersucker just sings of summer to me.

I'm relieved that you did not mind my comments about the cream beach cover up... I was hesitant to say anything as everybody has different tastes. Now I am just jealous that you made such a great beach dress. I whipped one up last summer but did a real bodge job...your bound seams are pretty impressive.

Can you show us the bridging stitch? I'm not sure which stitch you are referring to...I used the zig-zag method, but if even one stitch catches in the elastic, it does not work, so I would love to know a better way.

Hope you got some good waves, and found some great places to wander to from the beach. Did you find any fashion inspiration on Hastings street?

tanitisis said...

Love this! And for the record I would totally wear that fabric for a work blouse! The contrast fabric really brings it up a notch, too. I don't think us northerners really grasp the idea of a "beach coverup"... All that comes to my mind is maybe some cutoff shorts . ;)

KID, MD said...

Love it! I have this one cut out. Hopefully this will inspire me to revisit it.
I, too find Mary Nanna ridiculously inspirational. She's amazing!

lizajane said...

This is fabulous! I love the red seersucker and the contrast fabric. I would wear this out and about.

Mary Nanna said...

Wow that dress is looking fantastic on you! I love all the changes you made - especially the contrasting trim and excellent idea to use zippered pockets - the dress will coming on and off all the time and carried around a bit - a sure fire recipe for things to fall out! The first version of that dress has already gone into the recycling drawer for me as I stuffed up the darts and when I finished them I trimmed the seam so no chance to fix it! You chose well with your finishing technique on the sleeves too - the flat felled seam was quite difficult to get right on the curve.

Audrey said...

Seersucker is a summer fabric here in the southern USA and it is perfect for a beach dress. I love the bright color and the contrast trim. Have fun wearing it!

SEWN said...

Love the dress. It looks fantastic on you. Great fabric and trim choices.

Carol said...

Love, love, love it and if it ever gets cool ebough to actually set foot on the beach, I might consider stealing your idea. Yesterday morning at about 7am I took Molly to the beach and the water was like a warm bath and I got sunburn. I estimate it is about 38 degrees outside and I just had the mother of all goannas strolling around in my sewing room! Hope it's cooler where you are.

j.kaori said...

Wonderful dress! I love your choice of contrast trim --- a perfect beach dress!

Ruthie said...

That looks really good Karen. You will be fab at the beach. I can see a lot of milage in the pattern for day dresses too.

Sue said...

The colours are great in this dress/cover-up. Love it!

Joy said...

This is very pretty and, really, need not be just for beach wear in my opinion.

I've had this pattern traced since Mary Nanna made her version (: Now I just need to make it.

velosewer said...

You really have a great eye for detail. The dress is so cool...

Carolyn said...

Great dress! although I'm not sure what is meant by souther imports? Do they dress differently from Queenslanders, really?
I love the colour too, very cheerful

ejvc said...

This is a lovely dress. Please send it to me immediately. I do not see any beaches in my future, but I would like to pretend!

Seriously all I could think of was that any beach cover-up for me would require full-length sleeves and very possibly trousers underneath. Also a hat. I have had the unfortunate experience of being blistered by the sun when at the beach for an afternoon.

I think you really have a wonderful habit of binding and facing in contrast fabrics and it makes everything you do look so polished. That and your mad skillz.

Sorry I haven't been commenting recently (or posting). Have lost much sewing mojo somewhere or other.

Bernice said...

This colour on you looks fantastic. I actually have a similar piece of red seersucker that I'm eager to sew. Now that I've seen how well yours turned out I'll have to get moving. I love the contrasting fabric.

kbenco said...

Sorry Carolyn, I was in a silly mood when I wrote this post, and am obviously bad at writing jokes.
When I first started blogging I was sewing a SWAP wardrobe at Stitcher's Guild, and one of the members there was trying to compliment my neutral wardrobe by telling me that it was "not Queensland". Unfortunately, to a Queenslander, this is not a compliment. This poster went on to say that when shopping for fabric, she and her friends would pick out something bright and cheerful, then put it back saying "too Queensland". I am afraid that this became an in-joke at my house, and has now spread to most of my local acquaintance. Anyone wearing black, white or beige is now called a southerner, with no evidence at all to back this up - aside from Collins St or Pitt St on a weekday of course.

a little sewing said...

gorgeous! And it looks really cool for a warm day.

Carolyn said...

Oh dear, I cam back here to see which comments provoked an apology from you in the next post, and found an apology here to ME! I'm so sorry, I was not offended in any way and was actually just genuinely curious as to whether you really thought there were any differences in the way people dressed...
And I suppose I don't think of myself as southern as I kinda assumed you were referring to either NSW, Victoria or Tas? I guess I am more of a westie, anyway... :)
(sorry for all the essays I'm writing on your blog lately...)

The Slapdash Sewist said...

It is truly amazing what a difference waist shaping makes to a dress, magically transforming it from frumpy to cute.

Thank you for the tutorial on your shirring technique! I'm not sure my machine has a stitch like that but I'll check.