My Summer Wardrobe Secret

This cover-up was quickly converted to a summer dress with just a few stitches.
This cover-up was quickly converted to a summer dress with just a few stitches.

On these very hot days of summer,  I like to do all I can to dress cool and comfortable.  However, I always want to look put together…or at least attempt to look put together!

One of my secrets is to purchase cute, natural-fiber cover-ups.  No, I am not that girl running around town in her bathing suit and cover-up.  Rather, I like to covert them to dresses.

These type cover-ups always seem to have large slits up either side. I sew them up, leaving a small two or three inch slit, or I sew them up altogether, if the skirt is full enough not to require slits. Voila, the cover-up is now a simple summer dress. Throw on some flat sandals and a hat and you have a cute, but casual, outfit for hot summer days.

I look for chemise style cover-ups that are hemmed to right above the knees.   Linen,  chambray, and poplin are a few good fabric options to pursue.   I try to avoid gauzy or see-through fabrics because then you have to line them or add a slip.

Now is a great time to buy them, while summer wear is on sale.  Look for cute embroidery or print patterns, which increase the style factor.  I recently purchased a couple that were so discounted that it was cheaper to buy them pre-made than to buy the fabric to make one.

I like to convert cover-ups with three-quarter sleeves.  They tend to look less like a cover-up once altered, and they provide sun protection for your arms.  Since I like to wear these dresses out for a casual dinner, the arm coverage prevents me from getting cold in the air conditioning.

One or two of these converted cover-ups are part of my summer travel wardrobe.  Wear one to dinner one night and on the beach the next day for its original purpose.

If you want to convert your cover-up to a dress, there are a few methods from which to choose.  Decide on what will look best with the style and fabric of the cover-up.

  • Sewing machine method:  Zig-zap stitch over the slit, starting at the top and continuing toward the hem until you have the length of slit you want to keep.  Secure the top of the new slit with a few tack stitches.
Using the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine, I changed the big slits to small ones.
Using the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine, I changed the big slits to small ones.
A closer look. The stitches blend with the embroidery elsewhere on the dress.
A closer look. The stitches blend with the embroidery elsewhere on the dress.
  • Hand sewing method:  Hand-stitch the opening shut, using a blind stitch. Continue toward the hem until you have the length of slit you want to keep.  Secure the top of the new slit with a few tack stitches.
I used a blind stitch to reduce the length of the slits on this dress.
I used a blind stitch to reduce the length of the slits on this dress.
  • Iron with a bit of hand or machine sewing method:  Cut two pieces of coordinating fabric and two pieces of Steam-a-Seam, to cover the slit.  They should be 1″ wide, 1″ to 1/2″ above the top of the slit, the length you want.  Follow the package directions to iron the fabric over the slit on the wrong side.  I would still want to sew over the fabric to secure it in place.   However, you could probably make it a wear or two without doing so, as long as the skirt is full enough that there isn’t much tension on the slits when you are seated.   Again, be sure to tack stitch at the top of the new slit.

You will love these fun, casual dresses for summer parties, casual dinners, beach strolls, and running errands around town!

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