Ready for the beach, 1940′s style

When the weather turns hot and sunny like it did early here in the south of England this year the annual stress of ‘what to wear on the beach’ begins.  Last summer the weather wasn’t great  and I made do with a frumpy old maillot the few times I actually went to the beach. I was not very happy in that suit and stayed wrapped up in a sarong most of the time.

But no more dreary swimwear for me since last week I made this little cotton 1940s 2-piece from an old skirt and a great pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

More play-suit than full on swimsuit perhaps but perfectly suited to my current vintage style aspirations.
I definitely see a few more retro style swimsuits in my future and I won’t be avoiding the beach because I have nothing to wear!

More on this @ my blog SewVeraVenus

• Meet the Author • Jeanne


Professional costumier & pattern designer and it's also what I do for fun... usually 1930s & 1940s style.


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15 comments… add one

  • so i went the lending library site, but i can't really figure out how it works. you purchase a membership and then… you still have to purchase patterns? or are the patterns then free to borrow? or does the membership just give you free shipping on patterns? do you still have to return the patterns? what does the membership do? thanks!

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  • I don't know how the lending bit with a membership works either.
    I just bought a copy of the pattern outright.

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  • This is soooooo gorgeous! Love the pattern, love the fabric. Great job!

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  • Your fabric choice is spot on. Is this authentic 1940s fabric or a repro fabric? Very nice.

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  • I love this suit, been looking at it for awhile.

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  • That is so lovely! I love the fabric you used and it looks so stylish.

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  • Thank you all for your comments!

    @anonymous: the cotton fabric is contemporary- it was a French Connection skirt from about 6 years ago that I no longer wore but kept because I loved the print.

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  • The double tie detail makes the top very special. How cute!

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  • Can you actually go in swimming in a cotton suit like this? I have been wanting to make this pattern but I thought I would need to use a modern spandex so I could actually swim in it, and since the pattern is meant for a non-stretch (I think) I wasn't sure how to go about it. Any ideas?

    your suit is gorgeous btw!

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  • I remember having non stretch cotton suits when I was a kid and I have a few vintage suits that are made in various non-stretch fabrics. They do take longer to dry out but you can swim just fine in them.

    To easily adapt this style to be in lycra/spandex personally I would put a high waisted brief under the skirt instead of using the shorts pattern – they'd just be too drapey in lycra as is. The skirt itself would be fine. You might still be best off with a short side zipper to get into it … and either line the waistband in cotton as well or put elastic in it to keep the lycra from over-stretching. Also I'd still line the bodice in a thin non-stretch cotton and just have the outside layer in lycra. If it was cut all in lycra it would fit quite differently … I'm doing exactly that with another pattern today that is cut for a woven fabric.

    Hope that gives you some idea of how you could go about it without having to change the pattern much at all.

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  • Thank you! That was incredibly helpful. There are so few resources for making your own swimsuits.

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  • I LOVE this! So fun!!! :)

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  • Omg now I HAVE to find a vintage suit pattern. I LOVE THIS! Would you sell it?

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  • @Justine- This pattern is at both VPLL and Eva Dress in bust sizes 34 and 36 respectively and easy to make. But lots of other vintage swim patterns around …dive in and get sewing! :)

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  • Love this! How could you not have an elegant summer wearing this? Stunning!

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