50′s style ruched swimsuit

by heatherlou on July 23, 2012 · 18 comments

in 1950s

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying your summers. I have long subscribed to the idea that a 50′s style swimsuit (one piece, low cut bottom) is the most flattering swimsuit ever created. I set out to recreate a$500 retro Norma Kamali suit using a vintage 80′s pattern and  A LOT of pattern modification.

I used the wrong or matte side of a shimmery emerald tricot, lined the entire thing and encased all the edges in elastic. This was my first foray into swimwear and posed a heap of technical problems but I learned a lot! Not a perfect suit by any means but a great workable muslin to refine my techniques and pattern for the next version. Anyone interested in my process or wanting to see more photos can visit my blog here.

This post was written by...

– who has written 8 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

Montreal based commercial interior designer & novice sewist. Obsessed with vintage patterns, bright colour and graphic prints. Trying to replace shopping with sewing. Best hobby ever.

heatherlou's posts / heatherlou's website

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine July 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Cute – I don’t think there has ever been a more universally flattering swimsuit design than that underbutt-cut. What’s the technical term I’m looking for?


Heather Lou July 24, 2012 at 7:25 am

I think underbutt-cut SHOULD be the technical term. I was just calling it low cut butt. High cut butts divide your bum (if you are blessed with a generous one) into 4 cheeks. What a call the 4 cheek ass disaster.


SwinginCat July 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Wow, you look fantastic!


Cat July 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Not to get too far off the subject of making your own swim wear, but Esther Williams’ “classic sheath” swimsuit is basically this pattern, costs less than $100, are available in a ton of fabric choices and they are made really well (you get a better view of it from the colors & fabrics page than from the product page).
Not to discourage you or anything, your’s looks great, it’s just an option that’s out there for those of us without $500 for a swimsuit or the patience to try and make our own.


Heather Lou July 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

Hi Cat, I am aware of the Esther Williams suit but something about the proportions and cut weren’t quite as perfect as the $500 version. The ruching isn’t as elabourate (there is no ruching on the back of the EW) and the bust isn’t as nice. I have considered buying one a few times, but in the end this guy cost about $20 including the pattern. However, it is an amazing option if you don’t feel like spending 30 hours cursing your sewing machine and crying a few times.


sophie July 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Yey! This looks really great! If I hadn’t so much projects in progress I would make me one right one!


Cara13 July 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I absolutely love it! What a slippery fabric.
I would go nuts. Snazzy work ;)


Lizzy July 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

LOVE IT!! and that color is my favorite! I’ll see your blog right now!


Kat July 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Fantastic, I love it!


Pimpinett July 24, 2012 at 2:53 am

Fabulous! This is inspiring, I’ve been thinking of making a classic bathing suit for a couple of years and made a failed attempt with a much too unstretchy fabric last summer – I realized that I would’ve had to insert a zipper in the damn thing, and that wasn’t quite the swimsuit I was after.


Tamara July 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

This is amazing!! I’ve always wanted to try making a swimsuit & have collected several patterns to piece it together, but it’s still far daunting a project to attempt. Your effort is inspiring!

I too found the Ester Williams swimsuits to be odd sized – the proportions between the sizing seemed to be out.

And, yes, under-butt cut should be a technical term, I plan on spreading the word.


Housewife Betty July 24, 2012 at 9:52 am

I actually own the Esther Williams suit, and it is a good design. I also agree that the back of this style is much nicer, as the EW doesn’t have the ruching in the back. I absolutely love this suit. It is definitely a universally flattering look. Heatherlou, this is a spectacular accomplishment!


Aimko July 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

This is so flattering on you! I’d love to see you put out a pattern for it.


Heather Lou July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Next summer! I’m gonna need to figure out pattern grading in the meantime….


Deb July 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

This is beautiful and looks amazing on you! Great job!


ooobop July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

This is stunning. And I totally agree… .it is sooo flattering… and I am off to find out more from your blog! :-)


Anni July 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Now this is amazing! You look stunning! x


Zarah July 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

This is awesome! I read the full post on your blog as well, and I too will be really excited when you put together the pattern. I’ve been looking for a pattern for a 50s-style bathing suit for what seems like forever–this looks pretty much perfect.


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