A little while ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a local fashion show. I had a great time coming up with looks for all of the models. This outfit was a swimsuit with a matching sunhat and tote bag.
The model just happened to own the perfect pair of shoes. It almost looks like they were made for this outfit, but that was just a happy coincidence. She was great to work with, and was the reigning Mrs Downtown DC America, so I have no doubt that she would have looked good in any outfit I came up with.
There’s my original concept sketch. It’s drawn on the back of a piece of junk mail, because I’m super fancy and stuff. (Whenever someone wants to see my sketches, I feel like that one kid in art class who always glues their fingers together).
I had initially imagined the swimsuit as being black with a colorful curvy stripe. But when I saw the models I would be working with, I made some changes based on what I thought would look good on them. So I flipped it, and made it mostly colorful with a black stripe. I also decided not to add that sheer coverup in the sketch, because I wanted the entire contrasting stripe to be visible.
The swimsuit fabric was an awesome find. I went shopping with a friend, and instantly fell in love with the bright sunset colors and palm tree silhouettes. They had the same fabric in aqua colors, too, but I was looking for hot colors for this model. I stopped searching as soon as I saw it.
I didn’t need to make any alterations to the swimsuit or hat after the fitting, and I was really glad of that, because I had a hundred things going on. But that’s partially my fault, because I honestly could have fudged the details more than I did. I added foam bra cups, but everybody was using stick-ons for the show, so foam cups really weren’t necessary for the runway. But I wanted the swimsuit to be well-worn and loved by somebody after the show, so I didn’t cut corners. I also used tan swimsuit elastic on the edges that had the palm tree fabric, and I switched to black swimsuit elastic on the edges where the black fabric was. That’s something that I really didn’t need to do, because nobody ever would have noticed. BUT I JUST COULDN’T HELP MYSELF. Somebody stop me.
If you would like to purchase the swimsuit pattern, you can contact me.
The patterns were all self-drafted, which took quite a bit of time, since I was constructing multiple outfits for the show. I ran seriously short on time and was actually sewing this tote bag together a couple of hours before the show started. It’s lined, and made out of cotton canvas, with a black ribbon topstitched on as the accent stripe. My sister pitched in and hand-sewed charms and beads onto the bag while I got all of my stuff together. The chains, charms, etc. were all scrounged from old costume jewelry and repurposed.
The flower petals were fussy-cut out of the swimsuit fabric, and I touched the edges with a black fabric marker to make them stand out visually against the hat. I also stiffened them so that they would keep the shape and curl I wanted. The flower center is just more swimsuit fabric that I shredded to make it fuzzy.
The hat brim has wire inside it at the outer edge to keep it stiff, which also lets you mold the brim to whatever tilt or angle you want. I went with kind of a gentle, swoopy bend in the brim for the runway. The hat is made of the same cotton canvas as the tote bag, which was a scrap piece from an upholsterer. It’s very lightweight and comfortable to wear.
Somehow, my sister found time to take some leftover shells, beads, and beach charms from the tote bag, and make a charm bracelet to go with the outfit.
All told, I was worn out by the end of the show, but I had a great time. I’ll share more of the outfits from that show in future posts.
Many thanks to Michael Hostetler Photography for the runway pictures.