Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: VINTAGE SWIMWEAR Historical Patterns and Techniques


Hi friends! I've gotten something very different to share today. I was asked to review a book and when I saw that it was about vintage swimwear, well I just couldn't refuse! VINTAGE SWIMWEAR Historical Patterns and Techniques by Jill Salen (Batsford Publishing) is not only filled with gorgeous pictures of authentic swimwear, the book also provides the history behind the designs and sewing techniques. I enjoyed leafing through every page, watching the designs change (and become much skimpier) throughout the 20th century. The best part, in my opinion, is that each swimsuit comes with a pattern (you do have to scale to the appropriate size). I don't have my sewing things set up right now, but if I did, I would be tempted to try several of these. The author, Jill Salen, is a freelance costume maker and lecturer working in theater in Wales.

The book starts in 1880 with this frock - I dig the detachable skirt. The description says that "this type of garment highlights the transition from sea bathing to sea swimming: rather than just immersing yourself in the water, this garment would have allowed you to swim properly and maintain your modesty."

Skipping quite ahead, I wanted to showcase this gorgeous suit featured on the cover from the 1930s. I love the design and the floral print. "Shirred costumes appeared in the 1930s and the flexibility this introduced allowed the suit to be used season after season."

In the 1930s, we also have the sun suit, one of the first two-piece swim suits. "This garment demonstrates that two-piece swimsuits were around before the 'bikini' was born in 1946; it differs from a bikini in that the shorts element covers the navel."

Next, I want to showcase my favorite pattern in the book, the scalloped swimsuit from 1953. While I don't like the colors, I love the design and could definitely see myself recreating this one in different fabric!

Here is a design that doesn't surprise me - this fabric looks so typical 1960s and the design includes underwire and mimics the bra designs of the time.

Of course this book wouldn't be complete without a few men's swimwear examples, one of my favorite being this pictured below. Can you imagine if your boyfriend or husband went to the beach in this?

So if you're inclined to make your own swimsuit and appreciate these historical designs, I recommend taking a look through this book! I want to leave you with a picture of a cute vintage swimsuit I picked up last year for only $5 at an antique store - it has the shirring seen in the above pics and is made from a cotton star-printed non-stretch fabric. I love it and haven't had a chance to wear it yet.

Thanks so much for dropping by and have a great week!

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