Hot! The “Gidget” Ensemble

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Fabric:  Stretch cotton, thrifted – $1; knit wool – $1, thrifted; denim – $.50
Patterns: Simplicity 2553, McCall’s 2591, Simplicity 3703 (free from swap), Simplicity 4687 – in total, all no more than $5
Year: c. early 1960s-early 1970s
Notions: vintage zipper for shorts
Time to complete: 10 hours
First worn: April 2011
Wear again? Sweater, definitely; top, probably not; sunsuit, yes.

Total Cost: ~$8

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Here’s a little secret about my ensemble: Gidget wasn’t my original inspiration. The first item I made for this challenge was the navy sweater in the first photograph, a sweater that I intended to be part of my tribute to Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks. It’s knitted wool that I found for $1 and, lucky for me, the selvages were already finished edges. So there was absolutely no hemming to do in this piece!  The sweater is a slightly modified version of McCall’s 2591. Basically, I took up the hem, changed the neckline a bit and shortened the sleeves.  I never imagined I’d be able to make the sweater part of the outfit so I was quite pleased with myself. When it came to the skirt, however, I just wasn’t feeling it. At all. I cut one skirt out and the plaids didn’t match. I actually almost completed another skirt and it just looked too frumpy. I decided to take this as a sign to choose another character and move on from the early 1990s nod to sophisticated schoolgirl

After abandoning my first choice (Audrey), the hardest part of this challenge was narrowing down (and picking) my next inspiration. There were just so many I wanted to do! Perhaps it’s because I watched so much television (especially syndicated television programs from the 1960s and 1970s) as a kid and I had way too many options floating around in my head. My short list of fabulous females I wanted to emulate for this challenge: Rhoda Morgenstern from Mary Tyler Moore & Rhoda, Sabrina from Charlie’s Angels, Mary-Ann from Gilligan’s Island and, my eventual choice, Frances “Gidget” Lawrence from Gidget.

I’m not quite sure how far Gidget spread outside the United States. My guess is probably not that much. The show, which lasted two seasons starting in 1965, was based on the Gidget novels and movie originally starring Sandra Dee. It’s also the show where a teenage Sally Field first made a name for herself. As a child, I remember watching Gidget on KTLA, most likely sandwiched between Gilligan’s Island and F-Troop. Even though I haven’t thought about the program for years, as soon as I rewatched some clips on YouTube, I realized that I remembered all the lyrics to the theme song.

With all my vintage sewing, I tend to ignore the more youthful, sportswear looks of the mid 1960s. Most of the styles tend to be pretty boxy and unflattering to my non-teenage shape. And, they just aren’t as exciting as their more sophisticated counterparts of the time. That said, re-watching Gidget made me fall in love with so many of her looks! Sally Field is completely adorable in the show and her energy is just so complementary to the clothing she wears.

And now onto the sewing part of this week’s creation:


Here is the bathing suit that served as inspiration for my own sunsuit. I didn’t have a suitable bathing suit pattern so I took the shorts from Simplicity 2553 and paired them with a modified bodice from Simplicity 4687.

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I have horrendous stretch-marks from my pregnancy and never imagined I’d ever be able to wear a two-piece suit again. Fortunately, the high waistline of vintage shorts and bathing suits cover all my scars. The top’s neckline was lowered a bit and I basically created the back piece from scratch. Instead of using a zipper or buttons, I took the easy way out and made ties.

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The shorts aren’t lined so it’s more a “sun suit” than a bathing suit.


Even though I’ve already talked about the sweater I made, here are some pictures that show the “boxy” teenage wear that features so heavily in Gidget and were my inspiration.



I was quite happy to be have Simplicity 3703 in my stash for my unflatteringly cute “poncho” top. It’s a pattern that I acquired at the Sew Weekly Swap/Meet and, frankly, never thought I’d use. The denim I used (leftovers from last week’s creation) is a bit drab and without the neckline embroidery looks a little too hospital scrubs meets prison. But, for some crazy reason, it works with the shorts! I could totally see me making more of these for a beach vacation!

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And now, a little bit about the photo shoot. It was a sunny day in San Francisco so we headed down to Pacifica to take some photos at the beach. We chose Pacifica since there’s a surf shop right on the beach that rents boards (I’m sorry to shatter the illusion but, no, I don’t surf or have a surfboard). Unfortunately, sun in SF doesn’t mean sun in Pacifica and we were greeted by some very thick fog — so thick that we couldn’t even see the ocean from the freeway. Despite the fog, the beach was packed with folks (in sweatshirts, mind you) and a ton of real surfers so I naturally felt a bit silly. But, like Gidget, I didn’t let anyone get me down and had quite a lot of fun taking these photos.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Oh my! You make the BEST Gidget! I love what you have done. The style & colours you have used for the swimsuit/sunsuit are perfect, and look fantastic on you. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity and skills.

  2. Love this outfit! The shorts are sooo adorable! The photoshoot totally makes it–how fun!!

  3. It’s a great t-shirt, but seriously, why wouldn’t you wear the sun suit again? It looks great and comfortable and is perfect beach gear.

  4. I love the whole outfit! It’s utterly adorable! The fog made the photos even more vintage. I would start planning for a beach vacation totally if I had that sunsuit :)

  5. margueritedesigns

    I don’t know Gidget – it never came over to the UK, but you’ve done a great job! I don’t know what I would have done for this week, but reading through your blog, you’ve made me remember Rhoda – I loved that show and always wanted to be a window dresser like her (what went wrong???!!)

  6. Gidget was shown in Australia. You totally look the part!

  7. Gidget seams almost perfect for you! I loved all your projects especially the sun suit. Every thing was so cute and, I think, everything looked good on you even the shirt especially for the beach.

  8. Love it!! (Especially since I’ve been told I look like a young Sally Field on more than one occasion)

  9. Mena, this is so much fun! You look great in all the combinations and truly your sun suit is adorable on you!

  10. You look amazing!

  11. You are an awesome Gidget, Mena!!! I love the outfit – all the pieces! The sunsuit looks great on you – you’re rocking the aqua, girl! :)

  12. Thanks, Debbie! You’re too sweet!

  13. Thanks, Debi! I was surprised that I liked the shorts. I NEVER wear them so maybe there is hope in my future. :)

  14. Thanks, Jen. I think I will wear it as soon as I have the chance to be in warm weather. :) It’s just not going into my usual rotation.

  15. Thanks, Adey! We have been talking about a vacation so this suit was a bit more practical than it seems.

  16. Thanks, Diane! Rhoda would be great — go for it!

  17. Thanks, Jessie! I had my doubts about the shirt but I’m glad people like it. :)

  18. Thanks, Crystal!

  19. Thanks, Sarah! It just goes to show that whenever there is inexpensive fabric to buy, buy it! :)

  20. well, screw the fog, you’re the sunshine in these pictures. this is SO darling on you!
    and your photos are always an inspiration. i wanted to venture to the park for last week’s challenge… then thought the front stoop would be okay… and never made it off of my windowsill for fear of feeling silly. and the whole time i told myself you & the gals do it every week! :)

  21. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this, and those pictures!! I love Gidget (and pretty much any 60s surf movies).
    You are ADORABLE!

  22. Mena.
    You look adorable..the best 2 peice swim suit ,I have ever seen.. You know what? You look like Sally Field.. I never realized it, until seeing her picture here.. it is amazing. I just love all her movies..
    Bty….you look WONDERFUL…in the swim suit, and your weight loss shows..Know you are so proud, as you should be.. Great accomplishment..[you are such a great encouragement.thankyou so much..] [ps.. I am down 20 lbs.yea,yea..still a long way to go..but have great encourager..thankyou..]

  23. Thanks, Oona! Just do it! It’s like ripping off a band-aid. I should post a shot where I’m giving a “what are you looking at?” look to someone.

  24. Thanks, Lauren! I’ll be posting more screen captures from Gidget so there will be more eye candy.

  25. Thanks, Judy! So sweet of you to say. And congratulations to you on your own weight loss! That’s so awesome!

  26. I’m so impressed that you sewed yourself a pair of shorts – and they look so cute. I would have been extremely self-conscious doing the photo shoot that you did, but the pictures turned out great!

  27. Mena- as always you look great! You so could have sported this sun suit at Rockabilly Weekend!!! :( Where did you get those awesome white/cream glasses?

  28. Mena – you look incredible! Like one of those gals that people see on the beach and think “Dang! I need a vintage swim ensemble instead of this lame Target number!” Love love love all these pieces!

  29. Oh my goodness gracious that is so adorable! i love the way you adapted the ties in the back. :]

  30. Thanks, R8chel! Shorts are pretty easy to make — at least these were. I’ve been quite surprised by that in the past.

  31. Thanks, Libett! I know. We’re bummed to miss it. I got the glasses at the clothing expo this weekend. You missed a great show!

  32. Thanks, Sarah! Everyone should have a vintage bathing suit!

  33. Thanks, Rebecca!

  34. Too adorable, Gidget! I mean, Mena ;)

  35. I remember watching Gidget and the Flying Nun when I was little, but kinda thought it was the same show for ages! Because of Sally Field! She’s so gorgeous, and you’re a perfect match Gidget!
    The beach suit is so cute, and I really love all your creative extras like the bow and the neckline to the tshirt!
    I am so intrigued by the fog along the coastline! And it does make the photos more vintage! xoxo

  36. I think this is my favorite outfit you have made so far! The sun suit is so flattering and your fabric choice is fabulous! I love your pictures – you look like you are having such a great time! PS Ties in the back – great choice :)

  37. You make a cute Gidget! Congrats on putting that pointy poncho-top pattern to good use, I think you got that from me at the swap!

  38. I’m in love with everything you made, especially the sweater/shorts combo. I wish it was warm enough here to go to the beach :( Plus, I’ve never seen Gidget, but now I really want to!

  39. Thanks, Veronica! Just saw yours — it rocks.

  40. Thanks, Natasha! And thanks for the pattern — I’m glad to have given it life!

  41. Thanks, Lisette! Check out YouTube — they have a lot of clips including some episodes broken up into segments.

  42. You are such a cute Giget : )
    I love the fabric you chose for your sun suit, and the hat works with it perfectly…do you have any advice about finding real straw hats (for us pale ones)?

  43. Oh my goodness! Love these outfits. i’ve always been a Gidget fan (both Sally Field and Sandra Dee.) What a sweet surprise to see these outfits here. (I too have had many many years loving the 50s, ever since I was a kid…)
    BTW, I just found your blog last night. You are such an inspiration! I often want to sew dresses for myself, get patterns and fabric even, but then I wind up sewing something else entirely. No more! I am inspired. Thank you!