Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Break

This past week my classes had ended and it was ‘Spring Break’ for my DS’s. We redeemed all our frequent flyer miles for four tickets to the Caribbean island of Siint Maartin. I used the Dutch spelling because we were staying on the Dutch side. On our last visit we stayed on the French side or St. Martin. The two sides of the island is very different; currency, government, language, and the food in both restaurants and grocery stores. Amazingly, I found French language Burda, Elena, Mia Boutique, and Cadena magazines in one of the grocery stores. I was delighted. Here is the view from our bedroom balcony and the view from the back bedroom. I always get motivated to sew a wardrobe of resort clothes for these spring vacations, but in reality I wear a bathing suit most of the time, only putting on clothes to go to dinner. And though we go to nice restaurants, the dress code is still pretty casual. So I usually talk myself out of sewing anything for these trips. One less thing to stress out over. But a couple weeks before this trip, I saw this picture of a pair of Loeffler Randall shorts in InStyle magazine. They probably attracted me because they were a variation of the wrap shorts that were popular, and that I sewed and wore, when I was a teenager. Simplicity 4192 is a current pattern with wrap shorts. And I was tired of the Capri’s and Bermuda short that I have worn for the past few summers. I pulled up the shorts on the Bloomingdale web site to get a closer look (Zoom is wonderful!) and used the magazine picture to figure out the design scale and style details. Here is my sketch. I used the pants pattern from an old Donna Karan pattern, Vogue 2665,as a starting point because it had a narrow hip band. I made a copy of the front pattern piece and drew the lines for the pocket pieces. I made individual patterns for the pocket front and pocket back. The fabric of the inspiration shorts was a silk linen blend which is not available where I live. I settled for poly rayon fake linen with a soft drape, from Hancock’s, in a milk chocolate color. I couldn’t find a brown striped fabric for the piping, so I used a cotton print of turquoise flowers on a brown background. The scale of the print on the bias is similar to the strip used in the original shorts. I did not want to line the front pocket or front bottom leg opening to hide the piping raw edges. Instead I made piping with a 1 inch wide seam allowance on one side. I applied the piping so the wide allowance could be tacked like a hem allowance to the wrong side of the fashion fabric, hiding the seam allowances.

The shorts turned out more skirt like than the inspiration garment. The pockets tend to fly up in the air in the Caribbean beach winds, but back in hot humid ole Richmond, VA, they will hang demurely. When I make these again, I will move the pocket opening to hit higher on the hip. Though the current placement duplicates the the original shorts, I now realize the side seam of the original shorts are much “shorter” than mine.

We made a day trip to St Barth’s. It is definitely an upscale island and a fashion lovers treat; from the outfits that the fellow ferry passengers were wearing, to the garments displayed in the boutique windows, and the swimsuits and cover-ups on fellow diners in the resort beach restaurant where we ate lunch. For the ferry trip, I should have had on a semi transparent pair of wide legged white linen pants, which required a skin toned thong and/or a total wax job. Designers obviously don’t worry about show through on white pants. In fact they use it as a design element. The pants are worn with a halter top in a designer print with a low draped front so that glimpses of breast show with any movement. High heeled sandals on manicured feet. Lots of gold; rings, chains with pearls, dangly earrings, and to protect me from the sun, designer shades and a big hat. There were several versions of this on women of all ages, included one that was definitely at the 60 year mark. She was well maintained, but there are just some signs of aging that cannot be hidden, at least not by the outfit I just described. Window shopping in Gustavia was wonderful. I was traveling with 3 males, so window shopping was all I got to do. This was fine. It was cheap and gave me lots of ideas. A swimsuit “cover-up” is a misnomer on this island. It should be silky, flowy and semi transparent so your toned body and itsy bitsy bathing suit can be clearly seen through it. Needless to say, my opaque blue knit cover-up declared “middle class American” loud and clear, that and my DS’s swimsuit in a print of Corona beer bottles on a blue background. But I felt quite happy thinking of those Fabric Mart silk chiffon scarf prints I have in my stash. They would make a perfect St Barth’s cover-up. St. Barth was expensive, beautiful, clean, and a fun place to visit. We didn't see any famous people, but the rumor was that Jimmy Buffet was there a couple weeks ago. If we ever make a return trip, I will definitely sew up the most summery fashion forward patterns I can find, and wear them proudly.