I'm not a fan of swimming costumes but I really like the Edwardian swimming dresses. The only problem with them is that they are made of linen and so are quite heavy when wet and don't dry quickly. So I decided to make a swimming dress from board short material.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the material for sale in the UK so I bought four pairs of extra large board shorts and cut them up. I was hoping to get an Enchanted-style holey curtain shot but there wasn't any material left by the time I'd finished!
I used the top of linen dress and a pleated netball skirt to cut a basic pattern in tissue paper and then adjusted it on my mannequin. It turns out Miranda, the mannequin, has a much shorter body than me so I had to make a belt strip in the middle to join the two together.
Despite using all the material, the skirt was a little tight around the bottom... of the skirt and so wouldn't have been good for swimming as I wouldn't be able to kick. I cut open the pleats and inserted a strip of aqua lycra which would stretch with the kicks. I plan to make a matching bikini out of the lycra to wear under the dress.
Throughout the construction of the garment, I tried to keep it in theme with the boardshorts it came from: all the seams are top stitched with twin needles and the hem of the skirt and arm holes is a double hem. I put pockets on the sides to make it look more like a pair of swimming trunks but I also found that the trunks were pretty badly made and every time I unpicked a pocket, there was a giant hole made when the sewing machine had finished the stitches. I mostly managed to hide these holes in the new seams but there was one massive hole in the centre of the back so I stuck a pocket over the top. I'm going to call it theme-ing. I made the middle band more like the waist band of a pair of swimming shorts by unpicking the elastic from two truncks and making a double band at the back. It's sheared over the top of the elastic. I took out all of the darts in the top once I added the elastic and this will give a bit more space when swimming.
I was going to put in sleeves but I decided that would hinder the arm movements too much. I was also planning for the collar to be larger but I think that too could get in the way of turning your head to breathe.
All in all, I'm looking forward to hitting the beach this summer in my new outfit!
You rip what you sew!