50’s style ruched swimsuit

July 23, 2012

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 andย  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.

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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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