I am home and getting back to reality after spending a week lying on a beach, and I’m finding it challenging to get into a good groove — is anyone else feeling that way this summer?
Anyway, on to my subject for today! Before my trip, one of the garments I made to bring with me was this Suki Kimono by Helen’s Closet. Not only is the Suki Kimono the project this month for Sew My Style, but I was pretty sure I could hack it into a great beach cover up that could move seamless from the beach to dinner if necessary.
I wanted a cover up that could do double duty. Ie., something that would be easy and comfortable to throw on over a swimsuit, but not scream “BEACH!” if we went straight to dinner after the pool, as we sometimes do on lazy summer evenings. I’ve had the Suki on to to-sew list for quite a while now, so it was nice to have the push to sew it up!
How to Hack a Kimono into a Sleeveless Beach Cover Up:
This was a really quick and simple sew, but I did make a few alterations to the pattern to get what I wanted. Luckily, those alterations are pretty straightforward, so I listed them out below so you can make your own DIY beach cover up from a kimono pattern too!
Modify the Bands
First, I had to do some work on the bands. The Suki is drafted with an interesting half-band that extends down to about the waist, and then stops. I knew I wanted a less robe-like look, and a quicker sew that I would get with that style of band. Helen had already done a tutorial for extending the bands to full length bands, so I generally followed that.
Address the Arm Openings
A big element of the Suki is the dramatic, wide sleeves typical of a kimono or robe pattern. As lovely as those are, I really don’t like wearing sleeve of any kind during the summer, on a beach or pool cover up. So, the sleeves would have to go.
It is really difficult to make such a big change to the armscye of a pattern through trial and error. So rather than trying to fiddle my way through it, I went the pattern mashing route. I simply took the armscye from a t-shirt pattern that I knew fit me well, and cut that armscye, keeping the rest of the Suki shape. I used the armscye from the Alina Designs Panama Tee since I already know it is a good fit on me.
Since I wasn’t adding sleeves, I just finished the arm openings with bands. A lot of people use various percentages for their band lengths. I, however, prefer the much less scientific “stretch and feel” method. I promise I will demonstrate it in a video tutorial at some point!
Choose the Right Fabric
Finally, fabric! The Suki kimono is drafted for lightweight wovens like rayon challis. But for a beach cover up I wanted something that has some level of absorbency. I went with a basic French terry that I pick up ages ago from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. Cotton French terry was a really good choice for this because it’s (1) comfortable, (2) opaque, and (3) does a decent job of absorbing some water from wet suits. While rayon challis would technically work for something like this, rayon does tend to get more fragile when it’s wet, and really tends to show wet spots in the fabric.
And I mentioned earlier that this cover up can transition to evening wear!
Well, I can just throw on some decent shoes and a necklace and I’d feel perfectly comfortable wearing this outside home or the pool: