The “Gidget” Ensemble
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
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.
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.
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!
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.