Sunday, June 29, 2008

VINTAGE SWIMSUITS, an obsession...

I finished my first Maisy Brown Repro Vintage swimsuit last week (see previous entry) and have now officially descended into OCD mode over vintage swimsuits in general! I've been surfing the net looking for inspiration, to get my ideas focused, and have found some gorgeous things; just look at this wonderful vintage pattern for a drop waist, skirted or bloomer-type one piece:

Isn't it wonderful!! Love how it cinches and shapes the figure. And check out this wonderful old advertisement for Catalina swimsuits (just as fabulous as Jantzen, in my opinion):

Then there's this very smart swing-era (1940s) swimsuit with square-shouldered cover-up, which is basically a very cute bra and Wonder-woman style trunks, with ruching up the sides. It would be easily made in woven fabric and no doubt very flattering:

So, fired up and all excited about my first success, I've almost finished my second vintage-inspired swimsuit: a one piece with sweet-heart shaped, pleated shelf-bust, made from authentic 1950s cotton polka-dot fabric with scattered rosebuds, which is simply gorgeous! Here it is in various stages of construction:

The photos (both with and without flash) don't do it justice at all! I'm hoping to get it finished today. I intend to make a short wrap skirt to go over the top of it as a cover-up, in either a flared or close-fitting sarong style. It's a one-of-a-kind fully-lined suit made with genuine vintage fabric and trims, approximately a US size 6, so if anyone is interested in getting first dibs, do email me at, as once it's gone, it's gone! I'll be listing it in my etsy store ( in the next day or two.
Then I might be able to get around to finishing this cute 70s style terry-towelling bikini:

Monday, June 23, 2008


It's finished (please see previous entry for details)!! It may be found in my etsy shop as of tomorrow, in the meantime, here are some more pics of the finished product:

I totally love the darting around the seat, which gives the pants a lovely authentic shape!


Isn't the vintage Jantzen advertisement, above, to die for? I owned a Jantzen swimsuit in the 60s as a little girl, and it was the best swimsuit I've ever owned - two toned colour-block, navy blue and puce pink, one-piece scoop back with a little hipster belt, made from that wonderful thick stretch fabric you just can't get anymore (don't you think lycra leaves nothing to the imagination??). I wore that swimsuit to death, and, pre-empting my vintage salvaging of later years, even cut it in half and made it into a two piece when I outgrew it, at the ripe old age of 9!

I've almost finished my black and white 1940s - 1950s style two piece swimsuit! I'm loving it! I'm just finishing off the lining on the bikini bottoms, but here's the finished bullet bra style top:

The darting and pleating give it a classic shape. The next time I make one, I'm thinking of interfacing it to give it more stiffness, to really impart the bullet bra feel. The back view is really cute:

I've been browsing vintage swimsuits for inspiration, whenever I take a break from my sewing. I've found a few lovely photos, included below. I'll definitely be thinking about making my own version of this lace maillot:

Isn't this cute:

It was sold recently on ebay, boohoo. Oh, well - I can always make my own!
I have a modest collection of vintage swimsuits myself (modest, because I started selling them off a while back). I have a 60s Catalina one-piece in bright canary yellow and white gingham (currently in rehab as I'm removing the overly stiff cup liners), and my favourite is a black, brown and white FRINGED 1960s one piece - see pic below (forgive stunned mullet expression, won't you):

It's awesome, and I will never part with it! Hmm...maybe I should think of doing some fringed swimsuits....Anyway, I'd better get back to my bikini bottoms. In the meantime, here's a cute postcard-style photo of a 1950s bathing beauty sitting on a pile of coffee beans -
Love that bikini!:

Saturday, June 21, 2008


While I'm freezing my behind off here in Australia, I'm aware it's summer in the northern hemisphere and so time to start making some cute swimsuits and sundresses to put in my etsy store.
I've been browsing old photos on the web for inspiration, like these gorgeous shots of Marilyn, below.

I intend to make some one-piece swimsuits like the ones worn in the 1940s and 1950s, that are made of non-stretch fabric and rather like skimpy sunsuits or playsuits, usually with shirring in the back for comfortable fit. However I do love the look of the high-waisted two piece bikini, so have started one today, in black and white stripe (clik on the pic for a better view):

I adore black and white as it's so striking and elegant in any context - you'll see a lot of black and white creations if you browse through my past sales in my etsy store.
I also love to add a touch of red to the black and white to give a garment verve, and sex appeal. There's something about the combination of red, black and white that really shouts 'strong and sexy' to me. So, I'm trying to figure out how to get that dash of red into this black and white design - as you'll see in the next pic, I'm experimenting with scarlet ric-rac and cute vintage buttons. I have a feeling the red ric-rac against the dazzling monochrome stripes may be a bit overpowering and upsetting to the eye:

......anyway, I'm still working on them as you can see. I've lined the bias-cut, darted pants and inserted the zipper, now all I have to do is elasticate them. I'll be using real swimsuit elastic so these will behave just like a bona fide swimsuit, so besides strutting your stuff like a vintage pin up girl beside the pool, you'll be perfectly safe to take them in the water, too.
I'll post pics of the finished set as soon as they're done!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CYD CHARISSE, March 8, 1922 - June 17, 2008

Cyd Charisse Mar 8, 1922- June 17, 2008
The beautiful and talented Cyd Charisse passed away today. She was 87. If you love old movies, and especially musicals or dance movies, you will know her as the tall, long-legged beauty who partnered such wonderful dancers as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in the 1950s and 60s. She appeared in classics like Singing in the Rain, Brigadoon, The Band Wagon, and It's Always Fair Weather.

Having been brought up watching all those wonderful old films, and being completely besotted by dance, I idolized Cyd Charisse's beauty, grace and skill. And what a great pair of legs! It was rumoured they'd been insured by MGM in the 50s for a million dollars apiece; while that may just have been a Hollywood marketing strategy, either way she had two of the most gorgeous legs in the business, and she certainly knew how to dance! All the more extraordinary given that she had taken up dancing as a type of therapy when recovering from polio as a child, going on to join the incomparable Ballet Russe at the tender age of 13.

She was later honoured at the White House by George Bush, Sr, who presented her with the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities. She danced all her life, was married to the same man, Tony Martin, for 60 years (which has to be a Hollywood record!!), and acted, danced or appeared in scores of films and TV shows (including Frazier!). What a lady!

I do feel a little remiss at not making mention in this blog of the recent death of Yves Saint Laurent, who after all has been so important to women the world over (he was the first designer EVER to put women in pants, after all!), but Cyd Charisse is closer to my heart. I spent so many Sunday afternoons (why is it always raining on Sunday afternoons in my memory??) watching these old films on our black and white TV and wanting to model myself after her, and other beautiful actresses and dancers. It's clear I was deeply influenced by the aesthetic of the time (40s-50-60s), as for me, the ideal of the gracefully arched instep, long legs and small-waisted hourglass figure still inspires me in my designs today.

I hope you enjoy these lovely old photos!
Please clik on them to get a clearer view :)