For a tutorial and how to make the pattern for this type of beach cover-up, read past the jump.
Way back in our summer, I made a cotton beach cover-up for Jane, mainly to protect her fair shoulders from the sun. You can find out all about it and the method of designing the pattern in this post.
This matched a shorts and vest top outfit.
Her cousins are darker skinned, so the risk of burning is a bit less, but I thought some towelling cover-ups would be useful for them coming out of the pool or sea.
Fleur, the older one, prefers to wear blue. Rose doesn't seem to have such a strong preference yet, but looks great in pink. So as pink and blue were the only easily accessible colours available other than white, that's what they got!
For full details of how to design the pattern, look at the earlier post.
As you can probably see from the above picture, I started from a square of towelling folded on the diagonal. Fleur is a lot taller than her sister. For both of them, I just rounded the bottom points slightly, to keep them as long as possible (at least knee length and possibly a bit beyond.) However, I took rather more off the two sides (where the arms will come out) so they could get their hands out of the ends easily. I take an 'aeroplane' measurement, by telling the girls to fly like an aeroplane, and then measuring them from wrist to wrist. (With a young child there has to be a bit of guesswork, as they won't stand still in aeroplane fashion for long!) I made Fleur's (the blue one) a bit more rounded to give her more length round her long legs.
Once the edges are cut, I put bias binding round as soon as possible, so the edges don't get all smashed up and frayed while I am woman-handling the cover-up. This is bought bias tape, 3/4" or 1" double fold is ideal, or you can make your own tape. I was happy that I found both blue and pink gingham tapes ready-made in the haberdashery department. Here is the blue one opened out and pinned round the edge.
One the edge has been stabilised by adding the binding, you can cut the neckline. (Do it first if you prefer!) First you need to get the point of your scissors through the centre point. I do this by cutting a tiny nick. On the summer cover-up I made first, I then cut about 3"-3 1/2" towards each hand - 6-7" in total depending on the child's size, then 4 1/2" down from the centre front towards the bottom on the cover-up. I then rounded down from the sides of the neck to the centre slit by about half an inch. So the back of the neckline was straight across.
And this is certainly the simplest way. However, by the time I came to make these towelling ones, I changed this slightly. I used the same measurements, but I cut the curve for the front neckline leaving the curved bit still attached to the back neckline. And then I just cut the 3" slit from the bottom middle of the curve down the front. Like this.
And then I trimmed the back neckline slightly so it wasn't so pointy. When it was cut it looked like this:
You may be able to see the pins I had put in to mark the centre point of the whole cover-up.
One reason I did this was because I had thought of adding a hood. I didn't in the end, as I'll explain later, but I thought a slightly higher centre back (by not cutting it straight across) would make it a better shape for attaching a hood. In the end I quite liked the curve, so I might keep it in future.
The next step was to bind the slit at the front, with bias tape, from the top of the slit one side to the top of the slit the other side. Here you can see the pinning in progress.
And the bottom of the sewn slit once the bias has been turned over and sewed on the back side as well. I try and make this as neat as possible, like a little placket.
I then attached more bias tape round the neck, leaving a length of about 10-13 inches each end to form ties to hold the two sides of the slit together at the neck if you want.
I had hoped originally to find some patterned towelling. I'd made myself a beach wrap in my teens in some great printed towelling, but maybe that's considered vintage now - pity! Anyway, I couldn't find any, even on the internet.
So I added a little appliqué to the front of each to make them a little bit more appealing. You can find out about making home-made appliqués like these in my post here.
The final step was to make a small fastening on either side. (Again, more details on the other post about making the summer cover-up.) This isn't essential, but I find it helps a bit to stop the cover-up rotating too much, and forms a hole for the hand to poke through. On the cotton summer cover up, I just attached snap fasteners directly to the edges. However, with the thicker material of these towelling cover-ups, I added little tabs to which I attached the male parts of the snap fasteners. You can see the little tabs at the side in the picture below. I made these out of more of the bias binding lined with some interfacing and doubled, which gave a nice firm base to attach to.
The tabs are fastened up on the pink one, so can't be seen.
Finally, I mentioned that I'd thought of adding a hood. I thought this would be quite nice over wet hair. In fact, I did get as far as making the hood for the pink one. I lined it with pink gingham to match the bias binding - or at least, the pink gingham would be on the outside so the more absorbent towelling would be against the wet hair. However, tragically, the hood looked way too small for Rose. I'd actually made it from a size 18 months to 2T pattern from Melly Sews, and Rose was only 20 months at the time. But when finished, I thought it would only fit a baby of 6-12 months. I did hold it close to her head and it so clearly wasn't going to fit, so I just abandoned the idea.
Anyway, the girls are all set now for their summer holidays, with their beach cover-ups, their Widi Mela sundresses, and their tulip hem dresses!