Monday, May 26, 2014

vintage patterns - modern swimsuits

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I have always had a hard time finding swim suits for Abi.  Even when she was little, we had a hard time finding ones that fit her long skinny torso.  And, frankly, I don't like little bikinis on children.   I know many people disagree with me and I am not judging those that buy them for their kids.  It is just my style of parenting.
stretch and sew swimsuits

After some trial and error, I learned that a tanki style is great for her.  It complies with my modesty requirements but allows for her long torso to stretch out and not be constrained.  And, when I make her suits, they fit like a glove, unlike the RTW suits.

vintage sewing pattern

vintage swimsuit

This year I wanted to use the vintage patterns I received from my grandmother.  She passed way this winter, so these patterns are even more dear to me these days.

In order to test the fit, I used some left over scrap knit I had from previous projects and then talked to Abi about what modifications she wanted.

Then, I used some left-over swim fabric from her suit two years ago and some costume fabric to make a practice version.  The way I figured it, if it fit, she has a spare suit.  If it did not fit, I did not waste my new fabric and I did not need to go shopping again.

I combined two patterns to get the basic frame of the suit.  I used Stretch and Sew Children's one and two Piece Swim Suit Pattern no. 1275 for the bottoms.  And then I cut off the bottom from the Girls 1 Piece swim suit.

She wanted little boy shorts, but I did not have that pattern.  Or so I thought.  After I finished the practice and the final, I found Boy's Swim Trunks Pattern No. 1225 when looking for a different pattern entirely!

vintage swimsuit
Of course I then ended up going to JoAnns to pick up some more swim fabric.  Their selection was actually pretty good and I had to keep my self from getting distracted by the pretty fabrics.  I bought enough for coordinating shorts for Abi and some blue for my son.

The shorts for Abi turned out a little bigger than planned but the ones I sewed for Eli fit her perfect.  Luckily a 1/2 yard has enough for two shorts so I will just make her another pair in the Eli size.

NOTE:  I have a serger and normally would use it.  But it was acting up so I exclusively used the 3-step zig-zag stitch.  It worked fabulous!  So, please don't think you need a fancy machine to sew swimsuit.  Also, I was able to use fold-over elastic as the binding.  Wow, that stuff is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

Have you started on your kid's suits yet?  Believe me, this could be your easiest project this year.


  1. What year are those vintage patterns? I've never seen them before.

    1. I believe they are from the mid 1960s but I did not see a date on the packages. My Grandmother was a pattern tester for stretch and sew and these patterns came from those days.

  2. I had such a hard time finding store bought swimsuit for my girls this weekend. For my oldest the problem was that everything long enough for her was built for a more chesty girl. With my youngest, all of the suits that fit her had designs that she thought were to childish. Nobody was happy with the suits we picked out, but I'm not sure if I feel confident enough to sew a swimsuit just yet. I may try to alter a storebougt ones a bit and see how that works out.


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