Recently there was a call for people to participate in a challenge to reproduce an outfit from the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”. If you haven’t read the book (which doesn’t discuss the clothes) or seen the series, then it is about chess. It’s set in the 1960s so I probably don’t need to say much more about that, except that it’s one of my favourite eras for clothes as that is when I was beginning to experiment with serious sewing for myself. Anyway, I digress. The challenge was being run on Instagram by @Whimsberry, who contacted me to ask if I’d like to be involved. Well, would I ever! As soon as I got the message I knew I was going to make the swimsuit and beach wrap. Just the thing for a hot Australian summer.
The image I was trying to copy is on the right with my copy on the left (as if you couldn’t tell 😂)
I found the exact same fabric as Beth’s (the hero of the piece) in the US and it did arrive but not in time for me to make this outfit.
However, I found some suitably chequered fabric from The Remnant Warehouse so that’s what I bought.
The challenge involved using a 1960s pattern but the closest I could find was Butterick 5487 or Simplicity 8028, neither of which really bore too much resemblance to the actual swimsuit worn by Beth.
so I did what I always do, I contacted my friend Sarah and asked for her help in drafting a pattern. These two patterns are both 10cm smaller in the bust than I am, so that was a challenge!
As always, we went back to first principles and drafted something based on the above patterns.
The first toile was made from some brilliant blue lycra I had bought at Textile Traders before they closed down. I really like this swimsuit but it’s a bit short of the mark in a couple of spots, but the fit was perfect. I rather like it with the pearls!
I didn’t have a halter neck on this originally, but I kept having wardrobe malfunctions, so turned the straps into a halter which sorted out the problem.
Second toile is from white and black spotted lycra from Spotlight. This was a scrap I had left over from another make. Sarah and I laugh constantly when we are together…
This make is pretty good. It just needed a little tweak.
The final swimsuit. Suitably chess board like. The belt is made from a strip of lycra I had in my scrap box and the buckle is from the 1960s so totally authentic. Sarah and I thought it had a bit of a Mary Quant vibe.
so that’s the swimsuit part sorted, now I needed to get on with the cover up.
I had in mind this pattern from 1950. It’s Butterick 5222 described as: Butterick 5222; ca. 1950; Teen Age Topper: High-Standing Collar. (A) Versatile shortie coat that’s “Quick and Easy” to cut and sew. High-standing collar is cut in one with the body of the coat. Huge patch pockets and turn-back cuffs. (B) The unlined version to be made in a cotton fabric.
You’ll see that it has an integrated collar where I needed a hood. I could easily have hacked on a hood, but I’ve made this pattern before and know that it is quite voluminous. I decided to make my old favourite, the Liz Haywood Zero Waste bathrobe (from her book Zero Waste Sewing) and forget about the authentic 1960s look. This is becoming a tried and true pattern for me.
I began by finding a pile of white towels and some yellow dye, but I didn’t feel that the colour was right so I bought some gold towelling in the Homecraft Textiles sale. It’s the perfect colour.
I made the smallest size and reduced the length significantly.
In order to make it look like the one in the Netflix series I had to turn in the front edges. I didn’t like the way it looked so I decided to cover the edge with binding. I only had leopard skin in the right width, but having sewn it on I realised that it wasn’t right so I replaced it with this slightly checked looking binding. This was a bit of a mission but well worth it.
This is me trying to copy Beth’s look – I put my swimming cap on inside out as she wears a white one.
These are three images I managed to capture from my TV. I think I did a fairly good job of replicating Beth’s outfit, but need to mention that she’s 24 and I’m not!
Now come a couple of gratuitous photos to show the makes in action.
I really love this photo.
My take, although I’m not actually dreaming about moving those chess pieces about!
Thank you for reading this far. This challenge did turn into quite a major amount of work, but I’ve now got three new swimsuits, all of which I really like, plus a beach robe that is really useful. I have since added a belt to it so that I can be properly covered up in public.