Since starting to sew more I’ve definitely found myself buying less. When I do go shopping (I still haven’t weaned myself off totally), I try not to buy things I could make myself, like simple skirts or tops. Although I must admit to a weakness for pretty much anything from Hobbs, especially their NW3 range, and for prints that I know I won’t be able to find anything similar to. And of course there’s a whole host of items that are completely beyond my present skills… But on the whole, one of the upshots of less shopping is that when I do buy things, I feel I can justify spending just a little bit more than I used to.
So prior to our annual, family holiday this year I treated myself to four new bikinis. Last year I ‘made do’ with a few I’d had for years, which had definitely seen better days, further adding to my justification of course ;-). I bought two from the Debenhams’ ‘Floozie by Frost French’ range which come in different cup sizes, great if you’re slightly bigger than average like me (equally if you’re smaller too I’m guessing?). As we went to the Greek Island of Rhodes this year and spent most of our time on the beach or by the pool, I wore these two sets pretty much all day and can highly recommend them as they were so supportive and comfy. I also bought an expensive (for me!) Seafolly one, which was equally successful. My fourth (from another UK department store, John Lewis), wasn’t quite such a hit. It looked lovely and was great for sunbathing horizontally, but jumping in the waves with the kids, certainly had its ‘hazards’ shall we say?
So all in all, money well spent. What I didn’t want to spend my money on however was matching kaftans or sarongs, lovely though many of them are, this was definitely an area I felt I could have a go at making for myself. Most of the RTW ones are so flimsy they seem hardly worth the outlay, and they just get covered in suntan lotion, which is always impossible to wash out fully. The free pattern with last month’s ‘Love Sewing’ magazine, ‘Sewgirl’s Summer Tunic’ fitted the bill perfectly.
This is was a really simple, beginners’ project, with straightforward instructions (found in the actual magazine, rather than the pattern envelope, which took me a little while to work out, doh!). The only bit I found confusing was stitching and attaching the ‘rouleau’. Because it was such a small, fiddly bit of fabric my machine kept attempting to ‘eat’ it… This also wasn’t helped by leaving finishing these off until the very night before we were due to fly… Hmmm, best laid plans and all that! Anyway, seeing as I had plenty of trimmings to hand I improvised and it all worked out just fine.
So did I wear them?
Absolutely! Seen here on the beach and by our villa pool.
Were they fit for purpose?
Again, absolutely! The first one was a really light weight, cotton ‘dobby’ fabric (at least I think that’s what it’s called) and was perfect for throwing on over swimwear and slightly sore skin. The second was a cotton / linen mix which was slightly heavier to wear, but gave the style just a little more shape.
And lastly, were they flattering?
Well, in a word NO! As a short, pasty Brit, robbed of her usual armour of heels and pretty structured clothing, quite frankly I need all the help I can get to look even vaguely decent on a beach… And rather than leave these until the night before next year’s holiday I set to work on them straight away, while I could still remember what needed fixing…
So here they are before…
For this one I quickly chopped off a good six cm from the length of the sleeves. I felt I was drowning in the original ones! And then copying a beach cover-up I actually felt more ‘myself’ in, I attached a band (lined with interfacing) to convert it into more of an empire line. I then attached two slimmer ties (loosely based on Tilly’s Walnes’ Brigitte scarf pattern) to the back to pull myself in and then sewed the band onto the original. It looks kind of wonky in the above photo, but it is straight, promise! This make such a difference to the fit, I’m really pleased with the edited result. It’s been so cold since we got back on Wednesday that there’s no way I’m trying it on to be photographed. Seriously, I’ve worn socks and boots since we got back AND we’ve had to put the heating on! It is officially Autumn here in the UK 😦
And version two:
Because this was a more sturdy fabric I ended up simply rolling the sleeves while we were away, so I just sewed up my turn ups to make them more secure. I didn’t think my previous band and ties method would work for this one, as it would just be too bulky at the back. Instead I opted for a simple, loose, tie belt with a couple of belt hoops to secure it. I used Tilly Walnes’ guide (Love At First Stitch) for both for rough guidance, adjusting to my own measurements. The belt hoops were a little fiddly… There’s a reason there’s no close up! But it’s the first time I’ve made any and they anchor the belt just fine. I’m really pleased I’ve taken the time to adjust these before I pack them away until next Summer, which now seems a long way off…