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Apr 8, 2016

Muslining a Vintage Sixties Swimsuit Pattern



I own about half a dozen vintage men's swimsuit patterns, which I've picked up over the years mainly on eBay and Etsy.

Some are for cabana sets, some for suits with windbreakers, and some are just for Speedo-style suits.  I don't make bathing suits often as I don't find them very interesting to make.  I wear commercial swimsuits to swim laps in as they're made with chlorine-resistant fabrics that aren't easily found in fabric stores.

Today, don't ask me why -- the temperature never rose beyond the mid-Forties and tomorrow's forecast is even colder -- I decided to test out one of my swimsuit patterns, Simplicity 6073.



The issue I always have with patterns from this period is that they were drafted with extremely high rises, as many men back then wore their swimsuits (and pants) over their navel, at their true waist (though not Frankie Avalon in that first post, clearly).  That's not a look I find flattering at all.  So the first change I made was to take 2" out of the front and back rise.  This still wasn't enough, however: the waist came up too high.  So I  took an additional 1" off the top waistband.

Since my "lower" waist (where my pants generally sit) is wider than my true waist, I also widened the pattern at the waistline by 2" total (adding 1/2" to the two side seams, front and back).  Finally, I narrowed the waistband from 1 3/4" to 1 1/4" inches.





For this test garment, I used a piece of heavy cotton poplin I had in my stash.  There is a front zipper fly, and I added a fly shield (not included in the pattern) as well as a single front button on the waistband.

I'll make additional tweaks on the next version, but this isn't bad for a first try.  It fits comfortably.



I'd like to experiment with snaps and/or grommets instead of a waistband button, and maybe add some small patch pockets with flaps.  Also, use more interesting fabric.  With such a small garment, the details really make all the difference.

And that's it -- a short one today, literally.

Anybody like to make their own swimsuits?

Have a great day, everybody!

18 comments:

  1. Ha! I swim every day and make my own suits. I'm an oversized person of the female persuasion and I hate the selection, style and sizing of retail suits for fat girls. So I found a performance type pattern (McCall's, I think) and tweaked it here and there until finally I had it down pat - perfect for me.

    Happily, my pool is not chlorine - it's bromine - so I can use nearly any pretty spandex with 4 way stretch. All I need is a yard of spandex and about 5 yards of elastic and an hour. New suit is mine! I currently cycle through 6 suits - all with wild colors and all perfect for the job.

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    1. Bromine - brilliant! I swam in a pool which used hydrogen peroxide, and it was wonderful on the flesh. Chlorine eats swimsuits, and makes skin itchy.

      Peter, the trunks look great. Which machine(s) was/were used?

      Can you find chlorine resistant fabric in NYC, or do you have to delve into the deep-end of on-line shopping for such??

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  2. They look great! I don't like those big baggy mid-thigh "swim trunks" that American men have favored for the last 20 years or so. You realize how regressive it is when you see Frankie looking very hot in in his trim shorts.

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  3. They look great! Are you going to make the matching jacket and line it with light weight terry towel as they used to do?

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  4. I finally made my own swimsuit this year. It was a Jalie pattern. What I love about the company is that you get every size (yes every size - from child to adult). And, you can see the instructions before you buy, to see if it makes sense. I found that the sizing and instructions for a stretch fabric swimwear were right-on.

    They have a board-shorts pattern. You might want to take a peek and see the instructions - if only to see if they have a tidbit for you for construction.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the multi-sizing from child to adult is something I like about Jalie.

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  5. I love the cut of yours -- better than anything I see today and better than the pattern, too. Can't wait to see the finished trunks. What are you using for support -- nylon netting, lycra, happy thoughts?

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  6. I've made similar swim shorts for the boyim, and did a pretty deep internet dive looking for material. I still have about a yard left of the FIVE I had to buy to get the material I wanted, from some company in SoCal that no longer exists (lots of matching tote bags, which they HATED).
    I say let them swim in the basketball shorts from here on out.

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  7. The last swimsuit I made for myself was probably in the late 60's. I sewed everything and back then the choice of fabric for a swimsuit was nil. I soldiered on and made a two piece suit out of a fairly heavy cotton poplin! The fabric wouldn't have been so bad, but the elastic was not swim elastic and it stretched out when it got wet. Needless to say the matching hat and swim coverup got a lot more mileage and amazingly enough, I found the hat and coverup at my mother's house when clearing it out last summer. (or maybe not amazing as my mother kept EVERYTHING!)

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  8. I have always made my own swimsuits because I like them wider in the crotch area than commercially made suits. Used to make plain tank suits, but now I use a bra/camisole top pattern with 4 cup sizes included and attach the bottoms with a well fitting underpants pattern. Wish I had a photo to brag on, but nobody gets to photograph me in my suit now...at 71!!

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  9. Nice looking swim shorts! Burda Style April '16 actually has three men's patterns! Cargo pants (139), bermuda shorts (137) and swim trunks (136).

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  10. It was a fit issue that drove me into sewing swimsuits. This will be my fifth year making suits for the littles. See, even at three, Grace was tall for her age. And while we liked the idea of a tankini-- you know, the modesty of a one piece with the convenience of a two piece-- the top was always way too short. (They looked more like sprts bras than tank tops) My first attempts were a kwik sew pattern for the baby and a Butterick pattern for the toddler. Then, right after I finished them, I discovered Peekaboo Pattern Shop. Modern, slim-fitting PDF patterns that frankly have more range, fit better, and far better instructions than traditional print patterns. I used those for the next three years. This year, I'm trying out Jalie. I own a few of their patterns based off recs from sewing bloggers, but this will be the first time I sew one up. Six suits, with a mix of both pattern companies. Two boys' with coordinating rash guards, one girls' rash guard suit with a matching circle skirt bottom (by request of the six-year-old in question), one skirtini (also by request from the eight-year-old), and two tankinis.

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  11. The website thefabricfairy.com has boardshorts fabric (polyester microfiber), I don't know how chlorine resistant it is, but it is the only place I have seen selling anything like that online. My mom used to have woven supplex (cottony feeling nylon) to make swim suits for my brothers, that was ages ago and I have no idea where she found it. Good luck with your swimsuit adventure.

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  12. Hi- just made a mock up of a vintage 1970 swimsuit! The size was way off:( So my 34 is going to have to be made into a 35 or 36 to fit! Yikes! But do like the details of a vintage man's swimsuit! I'm going to use Velcro instead of the metal zipper the pattern recommends:) And tips OH GREAT ONE:)??? So enjoy your blog:)

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  13. Wonderful shape and fit! Now to find the perfect fabric. My dad once had a pair in multi stripes (vertical) and a brass buckle belt. Sooooo uncool then, but soooo cool now

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