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Vintage Swimsuit

Added May 28, 2010

by missjanee

Pine Bush, New Y...






A mix of old-school Catalina swimsuits-clad beauty queens, Betty Grable, and Esther Williams.

I really loved the swimsuit “Bill” by Norma Kamali ($350 yikes!) that was featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things and those new ModCloth Esther Williams swimsuits, and while affordable, still wasn’t special enough. ModCloth was still a little too expensive for me, still (I’m a college student). I was able to get some nylon/spandex for 3 yards on sale for $15, so I ventured out into the adventure of sewing knits and negative ease!

The suit is self-drafted, though Burda’s Allison would have been a better start if I would have thought about using it from the beginning, but I was determined to do this from scratch. It still has a little kinks, and set the changes to the final pattern for next time. I call this a working mock-up, which is wearable, but still not 100% perfect for the perfectionist I’ve become.

Credits to my Vintage Vogue Library Guide for Swimsuits and PatternSchool.com (which helpfully explained negative ease, thank you!)

Some Sewing Tips for Swimwear on my blog Vintage Bobbin

Material Notes

80% Nylon/20% Spandex, Chlorine Resistant Elastic, Bra Cups




Garment Type
Beach, Casual, Vintage
Blends, Knits/Jersey

17 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Ghetto_girl_goes_to_colo__large

    May 29, 2011, 03.34 PMby turtlegirl00

    THis suit is great!! just an fyi—on walmart.com -i know!! they are selling some norma kamali swim wear among other things… a client turned me on to it. I bought a bikini (retro/vintage style) and the top is WAY to big-but a great style—so i want to make a smaller version. I am going to check your blog for tips. awesome job!

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    Jul 22, 2010, 09.18 PMby meseide

    You really have to be a perfectionist… I think it looks great!

  • Missing

    Jun 21, 2010, 08.14 PMby swimwearplace

    I have found wonderful vintage french swimwear for my shop but struggle to put a year to them. I have one listed on from Jantzen,navy colours but I really struggle to find others like it,to judge the year.Swimwear Place – online discount swimwear store is here: We help women, men, and kids find their bathing suits and many more. http://www.swimwearplace.com/

  • Missing

    Jun 4, 2010, 03.05 AMby jankycantankerous

    Love this! I am in love with patternschool.com and i just drafted my block. However, as far as construction goes, what kind of elastic did you use? Did you have any problems? Thanks! -dana

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      Jun 4, 2010, 03.08 AMby jankycantankerous

      Nevermind! I checked your blog and I think my questions are answered!

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    May 29, 2010, 08.41 PMby storres56

    So very pretty. You look like a pin up girl from the 50’s.

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    May 29, 2010, 04.20 AMby aurorat

    Oh my gosh, I love this! I love vintage anything, and really want to try to make a bathing suit….you did great!

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    May 28, 2010, 09.06 PMby frkbustad

    How great! It looks fab!

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    May 28, 2010, 12.12 PMby rogue-cellist

    well done it’s fantastic :-) I might have to have a go at making myself a vintage inspired swimsuit too. I keep seeing them come up as other peoples projects and I’m getting jealous…

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    May 28, 2010, 09.19 AMby cd909

    this is absolutely fantastic! i’m working on a self drafted swimsuit at the moment, but it’s nowhere near as professional-looking (or stylish!) as this! well done!

  • Clare_hodge_laurence_keane_large

    May 28, 2010, 06.57 AMby clareh

    Congrats on your first swimsuit! You look fantastic!

  • Strawberry_heart_large

    May 28, 2010, 06.28 AMby nataliepie


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    May 28, 2010, 05.28 AMby tschasta

    great – nothing more to say

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    May 28, 2010, 03.46 AMby prettyplease

    Love it! The picture background is great!

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    May 28, 2010, 03.13 AMby Elisabeth Snider

    Oooo, I’ll have to check out pattern school. I am looking to make myself a maternity swimsuit here shortly. Yours turned out lovely! I’m terribly jealous :D

  • Missing

    May 28, 2010, 03.11 AMby mkim630

    i love it! Loove the vintage style!

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    May 28, 2010, 02.31 AMby thecuriouskiwi

    I love the patternschool website too! Nice job, very vintage, great fit, love the shape & great photos too :)

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    May 28, 2010, 02.29 AMby ashchaser

    This is so sweet and it doesn’t look like you have much left to fix!

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