Mid 20th century swimsuits are such fun! I love the ingenuity of how designers and home-sewers got around working with non-stretch fabrics (usually pure woven cotton), and all the pretty details you find on old bathing suits. It wasn't unusual for a home-sewer to sew her own swimsuits; I remember my mother making bikinis for us both (I have fond memories of a yellow gingham bikini with broderie anglaise trim).
It seems to me that contemporary swimsuits are much less ingenious and interesting, design-wise, and less pretty, due to the laziness that comes with lycra, I suppose, and also with mass-production. I have to say, though, the larger manufacturers have finally got the hint that we really love VINTAGE and are now offering super cute, up-dated versions of vintage-style swimsuits (a gorgeous VELVET - yes, velvet! - swimsuit offered by modcloth is a case in point). They're making lycra versions with cute vintage detailing, like high waists, frills and bows, 'modesty' skirts, ruching, nautical inserts and wrap ties; however, I've yet to see any made from woven fabrics.
So, like a few other handmade garment sellers, I've decided to make a more serious foray into making woven cotton vintage-style swimsuits. They'll feature shirring and elastication (with swimsuit elastic), boning, longer leg lengths, bias cut bottoms for ease, sarong skirts, white cotton linings, zippers, buttons, and removable, button-on straps! Although not necessarily all on the one suit ;)
Here's the first, a Hawaiian Sarong Swimsuit faithfully made from a hard-to-find vintage 1950s swimsuit pattern:
It's made from vintage fabric (35" wide cotton) sporting the classic Hawaiian motifs of skiffs, palm trees, islands and waves in a restricted palette. It has a zip and hook and eye up the side and is fully lined in soft, white cotton, just like the originals.
It has really interesting darting at the centre bust of a kind I've never seen before and which produces almost a bullet-bra point (hard to see due to the busy print). A cute pleated sarong skirt covers the built-in bias-cut bloomers.
I'm really happy with this suit! My model loved it and really enjoyed wearing it for the photos. It's for a size 42" bust - go here to check it out in my store:
Next post: Vintage swimsuit No. 2!