We were two days away from a camping trip to the beach and I was tired of seeing myself with the same t-shirt dresses in all the pictures. So I searched through my sewing supplies and found a brand new dress in a lightweight cotton fabric which I don't even know why I bought in the first place since it make me look like I was 20kg bigger and 20 years older (see the Before and After pictures in the beginning of this article).
Some fast rebuilding later and I had a new beach dress, really light and fresh, and the best part is: I get to use it right away!
I started with the "granny" dress seen in the picture above. I decided to keep the skirt from the underbust down. I also cut away the collar.
Fold the upper part in half, draw, pin and cut a triangle as big as possible. Those are your bust pieces. It's important that their total width matches the front skirt piece width (they can also be wider and gathered in the center, which would have been cuter, but I didn't have enough material for that).
*Remove button part*
You can prefer keeping the button-up piece, but I cut it out so my dress would be as simple and lightweight as possible (besides, the original dress had lost most of its buttons). Before sewing the skirt closed, we're going to finish the back piece.
Remove the buttons of the strip and keep the piece of fabric - which is nicely hemmed and all - to make the strap of your dress. Another alternative, if you're keeping the buttoned-up effect, is cutting the lower part of the collar and using that instead (that was my first option, but as the button strip is narrower I thought it made a nicer effect).
*Create the elastic groove*
In the back skirt, fold the top cut part over the wrong side, pin and sew to create a groove for the flat elastic.
My dress had already some elastics but they were too short and, anyway, the dress was at least 2 sizes bigger than me. The flat elastic in the top helped keeping it in place. I could have removed the original elastics but I'm lazy.
*Close skirt front*
Now you can sew the front piece closed. Here, I cheated a little: as the bust pieces were not wide enough to cover all the front part with a little overlap in the center, I closed the front piece in a slight diagonal line so the top part would be a bit narrower than the two bust pieces. Measure all your pieces up after they're hemmed to see if you'll need to do the same.
*Finish bust pieces*
Fold a very small hem at the sides of the bust pieces and sew to gave them a finish (it would be better folding twice but, again, not enough material!). Just be sure they get a clean edge, without raveling.
*Attach bust pieces to skirt*
Pin the bust pieces to the front piece of the skirt, letting them overlap slightly in the middle for a nice effect. The outer corners have to coincide with the side seams of the dress.
*Insert the elastic and sew the strap*
Insert the elastic into the back piece and sew the groove closed.
Pin and sew one of the sides of the strap (see step 3) in one of the bust sides. Put the dress on and pin the strap in place on the other side. Remove the dress and finish sewing the strap. You can also put one strap in the top of each bust piece and just tie the dress around your neck instead of having it in a fixed position.
And... it's ready! Now you just have to put your bikini on, get your sunglasses and a book and listen to the call of the sea. Don't forget the sunblock!