Sunday, July 8, 2012

A little vintage swimsuit project

So I got invited to a vintage beach party recently and took it upon myself to make a whole new outfit because...well, I just love that kind of challenge, I wanted a vintage suit anyway, AND I dislike modern suits. A LOT. I also had to do this with a zero budget (now that's a challenge!) using only what I had in the stash. The good news is I have a pretty mighty stash....

I knew I was going to use a blue and white cotton gingham that has been sitting in the stash so first I started making the hat with a coordinating blue and white railroad stripe, machine embroidered with a cherry motif. The hat is blocked over a mini-pillbox fascinator base that I have, then wired, then covered with the ribbon and fabric. I know I'll wear this one again!

Next came the swimsuit challenge. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel and draft something from scratch so I pieced together a two piece suit inspired by the photo above using patterns in the stash. I was going for "pin-up-ish," not historically pristine. My first attempt at making a halter style top was a disaster--the pattern I had from the 1970's didn't fit my body in any way at all. I mean, seriously the craziest fit I have ever seen on a standardized commercial pattern! Not wanting to waste time trying to make it fit, I chucked it and grabbed the top of a modern halter dress pattern that I know and love, McCall's 4826 (sadly discontinued) and whipped up that top in the blue check with red piping. Whew!

The swimsuit bottoms were a LOT of fun to make. Historically suits were not made out of the swimsuit fabric we have today, they were often made out of woven materials. I just happened to have a swimsuit pattern from the 1970's that was made for woven fabrics and HAS BUILT IN BLOOMERS!! I have wanted to make this one for years. Here's what the bloomers looked like before everything was assembled:

Recognize the fabric? It was leftover from this project. And yes, I did embroider the cherries onto the leg of the swimsuit too, I just felt like being kind of matchy-matchy that way.

So what was it like wearing a vintage, non-stretchy swimsuit? It certainly took a little getting used to, but being used to wearing historical costumes that change the way you move (or how much you can physically move) I just felt that I needed to treat it the same way. And actually, I was quite comfortable with the amount of coverage, and the fact that I could sit comfortably knowing that my bloomers were keeping me from accidentally flashing anyone. The only thing I wasn't used to was how long it took to dry after a dip in the pool but that wasn't too big a deal on a hot day.

Here's the whole outfit! Would I wear it again? Sure! And it wouldn't even have to be to a "vintage" event, I'd wear this instead of a modern suit any day.

No comments: