1940s | 1950s | Pants / Trousers | Rompers / Playsuits | Shirts | Skirts | Swimwear / Sunwear | Vintage Sewing

The “Summer Wardrobe” Playsuit

September 18, 2013


Hello!  I haven’t posted in a good while, but now that summer is, sigh, on its way out… I figured I ought to stop waiting to get “the perfect pictures” and share my summer sewing project.

Since I couldn’t find (or afford!) the real deal, I was on a quest to create a 1940s/50s -inspired playsuit.  I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to the brainstorming process (plus more on my sewing board before I realized that things were getting out of hand…), but what inspired me most were these “Weekend Wardrobe” sets that Charlotte of Tuppence Ha’penny posted about here.

I have a million pictures, and I could not make my mind up about which ones to include, so I’m going to put the rest of them and the rest of my shpeal behind a cut here so that I don’t take up the whole page!


I ended up making four pieces:  An incredibly gathered dirndl skirt and a short-sleeved blouse in a floral-print cotton, a pair of high-waisted shorts in a matching bottomweight stretch sateen, and a cropped bra top with scraps of both.  I would love to make one more piece, another top in floral with a pleated shelf bust in the navy, a la the top half of this Gertie dress.

The skirt was of my own invention, as much width as I could get from the fabric I had left after cutting the top.  I was seriously afraid of it not being full enough (ha!) but obviously I needn’t have worried.  There is a LOT of skirt.  Alone, the skirt is probably the most versatile piece.  It pairs well with sweaters for the beach,

with a 1940s peasant blouse for a more Southwestern look… (the blouse is McCall 7638, and deserves a post all of its own!)

or with a sheer blouse for unbearably hot days.  I’ve been getting a lot of wear out of the skirt, obviously.

The shorts are another variation on Simplicity 3688, cut two sizes smaller at the waist than at the hips. I think I finally got the proportions about right!  The back darts still seem a little off, perhaps I need to alter the angle a smidge to get the fabric to lie smoothly?

The blouse portion of the playsuit is a mash-up of two patterns.  I used the neckline, shoulders, and sleeves from Vogue 3282 (although I omitted the sleeve flaps), but the pattern calls for diagonal darts, which I was leery of transforming into a shirt.  Instead, I swiped the bodice darts from Simplicity 4395, which I’ve made before.  Evidently I made no attempts whatsoever to get the pattern to match up over the front seam.  If anything, I could have made sure that it mismatched more… I wanted to break up the print a bit, since it’s so giant.  I ended up drafting a little extra length onto my pattern so that I could tuck the shirt in safely, and I put in a side zipper to close.

Last, but not least, there is the bra top.  You’ll have to pardon the funny exposure here, it’s hard to take pictures at the beach!  I used Depew 1003, and since I am a very flat-busted person, I made the smallest size and am wearing it with a padded strapless bra underneath.

I still had to move the buttons in a good several inches to get it to fit at all, and I think I will need to take it in still further to make it practically wearable.


And those are my adventures in summer clothing!  All the pieces have served me quite well this summer, I think… I’ve worn them on many a vacation and trip, and I’m still sneaking a few pieces into the beginning of fall, before it gets too cold to wear large obnoxious florals.

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE mix and match beachwear. So many of the 50s patterns were for co-ordinating sets, but modern patterns aren’t like that any more. Your shorts are perfect, if they were in a shop I’d buy them right now. I feel inspired to start planning a summer wardrobe. I have a vintage Vogue pattern with a playsuit with a matching skirt that you wear over the top. Does anyone remember that scene in Blue Hawaii when Maile whips off her skirt of her pretty sundress to reveal a matching swimsuit and plunges into the surf with Elvis. I always wanted an oufit like that! Fabulous!

    1. YEAH! I get so much style inspiration from Elvis movies. His leading ladies always seemed to have an endless supply of magnificent clothes. My favorite is Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas!

  2. This is so clever! I love everything about it, it’s like a whole mini wardrobe. All the pieces look great on you, with each other, and with the additional ones. And those buttons on the bra-top? Beyond adorable!

  3. You must have received many compliments over the summer! The older pattern illustrations with separates all sewn up in one fabric were always so inspiring to me. Buying the hugh amount of fabric in a rush of enthusiasm – that was the easy part! Carrying thru was a different story. I had the attention span to make one or two, then into my stash the rest would go. Congratulations on your follow-through – you made a beautiful wardrobe!

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