I’m back with another sewing project! This time it’s my version of the 1936 Sports Halter.
I actually debated not posting these photos because I don't like how I look (too squinty! Not sucking in enough!) but c'est la vie. I neglected to do something that I've done with most other sewing projects - a trial run! After wearing this to Heritage festival I found that I didn't put the snaps on the top in the right place and didn't take in the shorts enough, so they fall well below my natural waist and just make it look like my pants are about to fall off. Blech.
Anyway... I bought the pattern earlier this spring from EvaDress Patterns, and I am very impressed with the company! It was shipped quickly, was printed on heavy paper, and packed nicely in a ziplock bag (which I prefer over those fiddly paper envelopes that I can never fit the pattern back into).
I had high ambitions of finishing it in early July, but since I sew at a sloth’s pace, I just finished it on the August Long weekend, just in time to take photos at Heritage Festival with my gal pal Heather.
(For the uninitiated, Heritage Festival is like a cultural fair, with dancing, demonstrations, souvenirs and, most importantly, FOOD from hundreds of countries in the beautiful Hawrelak Park. It’s by far my favourite festival in Edmonton, because food.)
I used this blue novelty print Hawaiian cotton, which has Hawaiian “stickers” on it depicting beach girls and Hawaiian scenes from the 30s to the 60s. It’s slightly anachronistic for a 1930s playsuit, but how could you NOT make a playsuit from this fabric? I got this fabric from my parents last August for my birthday, and I’m so excited that I finally have something to wear made from it!
There’s two reasons it took me so long to make this playsuit. One is that I was making some seriously derpy sewing mistakes. The fabric loops confused me, despite doing them in previous projects, I failed hard on the zipper pocket (despite doing it perfectly on my skirt) and sewed the snaps on the wrong side. Like I said, just silly little mistakes. Clearly I need to do more than 1 project every season.
The other thing that slowed me down, but in a good way, was the lining of the halter top. Once I decided that I would make this playsuit, I realized that I didn’t have a bra to wear with it, as my only strapless bra is a longline. Rather than buy another strapless bra (I seriously just bought that longline one, and I just bought my wedding bra, and I need to buy another everyday bra, so I’m kind of sick of bras) I decided to make a sew in one, and I’m glad I did. This top shows A LOT of skin, so much that I’m not sure I could hide a strapless bra in there.
So I followed this tutorial to make a built-in bra. I cut another halter piece that ended at my bra band line, then sewed on some elastic. The elastic is only attached to the front of the lining, and hangs free from from the halter waistband in the back. I kind of just eyeballed everything, and it worked! I’m so pleased with myself, and it is great support. I may be tempted to do this in a few other tops.
My other favourite thing about this top, which kind of gets lost due to the busy print, is those giant collars. Strangely enough, I had no issues with adding the collars, despite my wide range of other silly problems with this top, and confusion last time I made something with collars.
I did a bit of creative troubleshooting with this make. While I love rompers, playsuits etc etc, I hate having to get all the way naked to go to the washroom, especially since the top requires three different closures. So, instead of following the pattern instructions to sew the top and the shorts together, I added snaps instead. Sneaky sneaky.
The shorts are really weird because there’s no real waistband; the instructions actually call for you to use bias tape to finish the shorts waist and hem. Since I didn’t feel like mucking around making my own tape, I just turned them in. If I ever make this playsuit again, or even just the shorts, I think I would add an actual waistband with interfacing. It's just doesn’t feel like enough support to keep it up (especially considering this is called a “sports halter”) on it's own, so in the future I'm going to wear it with a matching elastic belt.
This is definitely going to become a summer favourite, and I plan on wearing it every day when I get home from work and have to sit in my un-air conditioned house.
Photos by Heather McIntyre / Laurie Callsen