Learn How SIMPLE
Digital Patterns Really Are!

Sign Up to Receive
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Sewing Patterns eBook + a FREE Skirt Pattern!

Anyone know of any good patterns to make a 1950’s swimsuit?? I really love these (found on Flikr):

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysweetiepiepie_vintage/3351641832/) beautiful

All advice welcome!

B x


23 Posts Sign in to add a post

  • Jimmy_s_bbq_large

    May 19, 2010, 11.54 AMby bethan44

    3 Replies
    • Jimmy_s_bbq_large

      Jun 3, 2010, 10.06 AMby bethan44

      Any UK burda people see the Guardian’s vintage guide last sat – there was a nice swimsuit there. (i’ll try to find an online link….)

    • Missing

      Jun 8, 2011, 03.14 PMby Paige Garrison

      Love this one, where is the pattern for this one? :)

    • Missing

      Mar 14, 2014, 06.16 PMby Lesley Smith

      Where can I buy this? It’s gorgeous

  • Fabianna_con_animales_avatar_large

    May 19, 2010, 12.37 PMby petitpoix

    I don´t know the exact answer but those actually look like minidresses, maybe using “minidress” in a pattern search would provide similar results to these. Or maybe combining a flared skirt pattern with a corset top pattern. Sort of your own innovation.

    3 Replies
    • Missing

      May 23, 2010, 01.21 AMby Virginia Russell

      I reckon you hit the nail on the head with this one. A bustier or corset with pants and attach a little flared skirt over the top. In those days you weren’t to see any part of a lady’s “map of Tasmania”! Costumes were also very feminine and pretty and girly. Florals, laces and ribbons the order of the day and fabric was woven cotton, no knits that I can remember.

    • Missing

      May 23, 2010, 01.21 AMby Virginia Russell

      I reckon you hit the nail on the head with this one. A bustier or corset with pants and attach a little flared skirt over the top. In those days you weren’t to see any part of a lady’s “map of Tasmania”! Costumes were also very feminine and pretty and girly. Florals, laces and ribbons the order of the day and fabric was woven cotton, no knits that I can remember.

    • Jimmy_s_bbq_large

      Jun 3, 2010, 10.03 AMby bethan44

      Ha! Virginia I think that’s pretty accurate. I do think the ribbons on the dress above are definitely the way to go.

  • 20150117_152733_large

    May 19, 2010, 04.11 PMby mlssfshn

    Do you have the link to the picture you posted, the link you posted is a different picture.

    1 Reply
  • 1ea8f961776a5fe83ce32501b0f5b0b7d32f5d9d_large

    May 19, 2010, 06.28 PMby oscarthegrouch108

    they look like little fitted (and boned in some cases), “playsuits”. i don’t know if they had/used the knit fabrics we have today for swimsuits.

    2 Replies
    • Missing

      May 23, 2010, 01.19 AMby Virginia Russell

      Hi there, I am a child of the ’50s and I can remember as a child wearing a woven cotton swimsuit which was basically a shirred bodice attached to pants of same material and held up with a strap secured centre front at the very top and tied around neck…halter style. No knits that I can remember.

    • 1ea8f961776a5fe83ce32501b0f5b0b7d32f5d9d_large

      May 23, 2010, 04.33 PMby oscarthegrouch108

      i also remember seeing knitted/crocheted swimsuits then too…..but you had to be careful that they didn’t get too wet and stretch in ways they weren’t supposed to!

  • Lulusroom_large

    May 20, 2010, 03.19 AMby vintagerouge

    Cute pics! I love those vintage styles. Searching vintage pattern sellers online should bring up some patterns for sale. They didn’t have the same two-way stretch knits we have now so you’ll sometimes see things like zippers on vintage swimsuits. They definitely used more hardware back then. :)

  • Bored_polar_bear_large

    May 20, 2010, 05.06 AMby 20beverly08

    try a full corset pattern that goes below the hips. Make a ‘test’ garment by using some cheap stretchable jersey knit fabric to make sure it fits. If needed, add more fabric in the test garment in the seams, so you have a ‘template’ for your exact size. Take your measurements before cutting out your test garment. Treat it like a ‘fitting shell’ pattern. Then you can make your final garment an exact fit.

    1 Reply
    • Jimmy_s_bbq_large

      Jun 3, 2010, 10.07 AMby bethan44

      Thanks! I’ll definitely take that advice!

  • Missing

    May 20, 2010, 06.48 AMby cherrytarte

    I am sure I found a vintage swimsuit pattern on this site. It’s a halter style and very similar to a 1950’s style suit that I purchased from America. It’s a mini skirt style with boyleg one piece swim suit all in one.

    Maybe try thesehttp://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/cindy (two piece)http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/alison (square off the legs and add an overskirt)

    2 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      May 20, 2010, 07.30 AMby katexxxxxx

      I wouldn’t recommend the Alison pattern for a beginner: the instructions are dreadful! I have yet to get back to and finish mine…

    • Missing

      Nov 11, 2012, 04.44 AMby lewmanchu

      I agree regarding Alison bathing suit pattern. I bought and tried it yesterday and even though Burdastyle stated that they had updated the pattern and instructions according to negative feedback. It was still a nightmare to make. My brain was tied in knots! Not a bad result considering how terrible the instructions are. There are no pattern markings, and crucial omissions on some pattern pieces (e.g. Crotch piece doesn’t tell the sewer to cut the fabric on the fold!) also, I think the sizing is completely wrong. My very slim teenage daughter can barely fit in the medium size I sewed. Would love to find other pattern downloads or recommendations for vintage style paper patterns still in print. Looked through a dozen pattern books yesterday in fabric stores, and could find NO swimsuit patterns!

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    May 20, 2010, 07.28 AMby katexxxxxx

    Try this one: http://vintagefashionlibrary.com/inc/sdetail/248

    Or this: http://www.glamoursurf.com/catalog/item/5487772/6801351.htm

    (This site has several vintage patterns for swimwear. Take a careful look at the pattern sizes! Patterns were a different size then, so be prepared to modify any pattern you get for size. ALWAYS BUY BY MEASUREMENTS, NOT PATTERN SIZE. I’d advise tracing the pattern rather than cutting it. Vintage patterns usually come in a single size in the pattern envelope.)

    1 Reply
    • 0902_lon_002__large

      May 25, 2010, 04.33 PMby bekaem

      yes, i can imagine. although there must have been elastic suits around at the time as well, for professional swimmers – or the stuff that you see on Esther Williams for example doesn’t look that heavily boned and made of stretch fabric. – Another thing that I wouldn’t want to swim in are the 70’s crochet bikinis that are in all of my old burda’s. Different thing of course.

  • 0902_lon_002__large

    May 23, 2010, 09.04 PMby bekaem

    Here’s a link that tells you a bit more about the construction of 1950’s swimsuits (and lots of other interesting ‘vintage’ information):



    All in all the originals don’t sound that comfortable to actually swim in…

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      May 25, 2010, 07.24 AMby katexxxxxx

      They weren’t! I have never seen anyone take to the new nylon swimsuits as fast as my mum did when they appeared!

      I remember wearing the ruched cotton jobs as a small child, and coming off the beech to have a bath that evening and all the stinging lines where the elastic had ground sand into our skin! Big Sis and I sported checkered patterns for days afterwards! When we got to Malta and almost lived on the beech for three years, we loved the freedom of the nylon swimsuits.

  • Mekidsmountain_large

    Jun 8, 2011, 05.13 PMby Lucha Suarez

    I just made the alison pattern. It is not for a beginner, but with extra help from tutorials it can be done. I altered the pattern to have this dress look, i will post the pics in projects this weekend with instructions of how I altered the pattern. It is not authentic 50s but it is vintage-ish.

  • Avatar_large

    Jun 9, 2011, 05.26 AMby DraperyMaker

    Beautiful and classy swimsuits are coming back in to style at last. I came across some patterns online at www.sovintagepatterns.com. Good luck and happy sewing.

  • Mekidsmountain_large

    Jun 13, 2011, 04.09 PMby Lucha Suarez

    Check out my studio for my version of the Alison. I hope it helps with your bathing suit adventure!

  • 7fee0d98280ead02f6946d0e1b96b332455de7ef_large

    Jun 14, 2011, 02.18 AMby josephina

    This company makes 50’s style swimsuits based on vintage ball gown patterns.


    They are gorgeous, but hard to get into and can be uncomfortable if you are wearing them all day. Fantastic support though. Vintage ball gown patterns seem to be easier to find than swimwear patterns so that might expand your search options. I do like the idea of a simple corset with shorts and skirt attached.

  • Logo4957b_large

    Jun 14, 2011, 03.15 AMby jenss-1

    Definitely no stretch knits back then. Even through the late 60s, most were made of woven material although they became a bit less structured. I remember a few made out of a sort of poly double knit around that time (late 60s I think), and a 2-piece with bottoms made out of that old fashioned leotard fabric. On the woven suits there was sometimes elasticized smocking, maybe on the back. They were also lined, usually with white non-stretch cotton. Usually had stiff, padded bra cups. Also, as you might guess, they could be kind of fragile. The fabric gets weakened in a chlorinated pool…

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Jun 14, 2011, 07.15 AMby katexxxxxx

      50’s maybe, but by 1964, when I moved to Malta, there were Bri-Nylon knit swimsuits. They didn’t contain Lycra/Spandex/elastane, but they were knitted nylon and cut and structured like a modern swimsuit, with foam bra cups. My mum had a lovely dark red one, and a navy one, and even our 18YO maid Angela had a pretty blue one. Us kids had a whole succession: we tended to wear out a couple each each summer, living on the beach!

  • Logo4957b_large

    Jun 15, 2011, 04.25 AMby jenss-1

    Kate, My disclosure: I was a kid living in Texas in the late 60s. That was a fascinating land of molded big hair then and the suits were still mostly woven 2-pieces as I remember it. I’m sure Malta was way more sophisticated! I don’t remember seeing any real stretch suits until moving back to California in the early 1970s. (Although kids occasionally had home-made ones of t-shirt like jersey). I had a nylon 2 piece by the mid 70s, but it wasn’t really stretch; no spandex-like stretch until about ‘78 or so. That’s just my memory.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Jun 15, 2011, 08.13 AMby katexxxxxx

      Difr’nt wold, innit! I was an RAF brat living in the UK. We moved to Malta for 3 years in ‘64. By then we’d abandoned the ruched cotton for Bri Nylon.

      There were quite a lot of US oil business families in Malta then too: they worked in Lybia but lived in Malta as it was much nicer. Not as hot, everyone spoke English, and alcohol was allowed. There were also a few non-service personnel Brits there, but the basic economy of the island at the time was dependent on the British army, navy and air force. It was a great place for kids.

  • Missing

    Jun 27, 2011, 10.35 AMby takenotice

    As a little girl in the mid 60’s i had bathers made of terry toweling. I thought I looked pretty good . Spandex or Lycra was invented by DuPont in 1959. Before this they may have worn a knitted cotton or jersey, My mother had a suit similar to those in the photo.in the 50’s. It didn’t a boning. It had a very supportive bra built into it and was made of cotton. I think it may have had shirring in the back or sides. sorry memories failing.

  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Jun 28, 2011, 11.39 PMby harrietbazley

    I noticed this weekend that one of the ‘beach huts’ in the Festival of Britain display (outside the Festival Hall in London) contains a whole set of 1950s bathing costumes on show….

  • Missing

    Jun 30, 2011, 09.05 AMby takenotice

    I asked a couple of nice ladies today what that wore . In 1950 one was 24 yrs age and she said she had a beautiful grey wool bathing suit. It didn’t have any lining boning or built in bra It did have a skirt. Her sister also had a wool suit. She said the fabric was very thin. The other lady had also a wool suit which she said was similar to a knit jersey but wool. she also had a cotton suit with shirring in the late 50’s.She was 23 in 1950 These ladies were delighted that someone was interested in their fashion past and continued to talk about their favorite dresses and what their friends wore. One described her friends suit that was hand knitted and worn for the first time at a church picnic. When it got wet it stretch down to her knees! I think talking to men and women who actually lived the 50’s is better than reading any book. They even have photo’s !

  • Various_002_large

    Jul 1, 2011, 06.19 AMby redscootergirl

    I bought a pair of these 1950’s style Esther williams bathers. They are basically a normal halterneck swimsuit, with an extra ruched layer over the hips, for ‘modesty’ I assume.

    The pictures might help you alter a modern patternhttp://www.esther-williams.com/sheath/

  • Missing

    Jul 4, 2011, 09.57 AMby takenotice

    Lots of info on vintage swimwear on a blog called Glamour Daze

  • 5c12b52ace24d7a3f10ec8b35d6cd4d44ba1e7f3_large

    Jul 6, 2011, 12.07 AMby gillthecat

    i have a pattern for pretty much the same outfit, in a book of 50s clothes

  • Missing

    Jul 6, 2011, 08.39 AMby paramitamazumder

    i feel the two above swim costumes can be easily made by using a conture pattern, in Armstrong book. though i am not sure if the panty is attached.

  • Missing

    Nov 11, 2012, 02.10 PMby tzyg0nka

    In the early 40’s (yes I really am that old) I had a cotton suit with elastic thread shirring and open midriff. I later had a 2 piece made of nylon jersey with a shirred skirt attached to pants and a bra top (about 1946.) KwikSew has swimsuit patterns, but it’s fairly easy to make your own from top or bustier patterns combined with panties patterns

    • This is a question
  1. Sign in to add a post

Recent Posts