Since going to the seaside in special clothing has been gaining in popularity over time, I decided to step out of the 18th century, and into the modern world of the Victorian Era. Other than a few 1950's dresses and a couple 21st century things, this would be the most modern historical outfit I had ever sewn! I made the decision early on to let myself have fun with this project, and so I didn't obsess over every historical detail.
First, I found some examples of swimwear from the 1890's-1920's that I really liked, and started figuring out how I would roughly draft a pattern. I selected a style that had both a dress and bloomers, with the intention of wearing just the dress around town sometimes as well. I chose to heavily base my final design off of a knitted cotton outfit from 1915, although I believe the original featured a wrap skirt instead of a full dress.
I estimated that I would need about 3 yards of knit cotton fabric, and I just barely had enough! (If you want to make this yourself, it's very easy and straightforward, but please buy at least 3.5 yards - you'll thank me when you have to arrange your pattern pieces and cut it out!) I also bought white bias tape to trim the neck and hem, and I purchased white piping to accentuate the waist.
I took measurements of myself and drafted a simple pattern. I learned that I don't really have a good grasp on my true size - I overestimated everything - and later got to take the dress in quite a bit. The only thing I didn't draft myself were the sleeves, for which I used one of my trusted patterns, Simplicity 4055. However, I simply pinned those in starting at the bottom, and then gathered the five inches at the top, while leaving the bottoms of the sleeves ungathered and unbound, with just a simple hem.
|My sketches and original estimations for the outfit|
|The body, legs, and waist band pieces (this is not how they were placed for cutting)|
The dress went together very easily, and the pants were done in less than an hour. Overall, I would say this project took about 5 to 7 hours, most of which was spent drafting and remeasuring myself.
|...adding more piping...|
|...and adding more piping!|
This was over some gathers I made to fit the bodice a bit better.
|The dress before sleeves and hemming (with flash to show how blue it is)|
|The back with buttons|
The first time I wore my new bathing costume was to the cricket match, which turned out to be more of an excuse to talk about history on the beach - aka a perfect evening. I even skipped a stone properly for the first time in my life!
|At the beach!|
|Enjoying the water|
|Properly wading into the water|