Saturday, September 8, 2012

1925 Bathing Costume

What does it mean when you find a bathing suit pattern (in Women's wear of the 1920s that you think is completely adorable, then you find the original at the Met, a fashion plate featuring the bathing suit and the original patent for the suit?

You make it, of course!

1925 Bathing Suit

The construction is really quite straightforward. It's made of red wool jersey from Nature's Fabrics. The tunic is two pieces--front and back--worn over a fitted undersuit. The body of the undersuit is also two pieces, with a gusset set into the crotch and shoulder straps. The tunic is embroidered with Appleton crewel wool from my wonderful local embroidery store, Stitcher's Paradise. I used the stretch stitch on my machine for most of the construction. The neck and arms are finished with straight strips (no need for bias!) of fabric sewn first by machine, then hand finished to avoid visible seam lines.

1925 Bathing Suit 1925 Bathing Suit

For accessories, I had a paper parasol bought at faire, a black silk taffeta trimmed with green cloche from the D.L. Designs 20s cloche pattern, and Capezio Cobra ballet shoes trimmed with green silk taffeta.

1920s Bathing Cape Bathing Cape Inspiration

1920s Bathing Cape 1920s Bathing Cape

For the ultimate accessory, I had a green and blue bathing cape based on one in the 1921 Delineator. It's a circle cape with a collar and straps that cross the chest to close it. I based the collar construction on an 18c men's cape in Costume Close-Up. It's just a trapezoid on the bias. So easy! Except for the back seam (my fabric wasn't wide enough to cut a half circle without a seam), the cape is sewn by hand. I sort of broke the tensioning screw on my 1917 machine when I was making it (I knew trying to fix the tension was a bad idea!) and the tension on my modern machine is also shot, so I had no choice but to sew by hand. I *really* need to get to the sewing machine repair place!

Beach! Beach!

1925 Bathing Suit

Though I went in the water with the full suit, to try to go in a little deeper, I took the tunic off. Embroidery, you know! We ended up not going in very deep though, as the waves were a little strong and there was a sudden drop in the water right at our part of the beach.

Beach Shoes Beach!

The before and after pictures of my shoes! They got a little wet and sandy :)


The ties stayed remarkably well once I found where they wanted to be tied. They also got very sandy.

Bathing Cloche

The hat was quite simple and only took a few hours to make. It's not strictly a copy of anything, but rather loosely based on hats I had seen.


Almost Finished Front

And the embroidery!

And for the long story of me making it, likely with many random things thrown in, my Live Journal tag for the suit!

And for pictures of the trip to the beach with my friends' wonderful suits as well, the Flickr set!


  1. Coming out of Lurker mode to say that your suit is FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing. :-)

    Happy sewing,
    ~"Wild Rose"~

  2. Adorable, and, surprisingly, much more flattering than so many modern suits.

  3. Your bathing suit is adorable! I love the embroidery on it! Do you have to do anything to the crewel wool like prewash before stitching so it doesn't shrink at the beach?

    Also, Vegas Vac and Sew on Sahara and Jones for your machines. I took a vintage machine there a while back and they did a great job. Just a suggestion :)


    1. I didn't do anything to it--my plan was to not get it wet! So far, it's worked.

      And thank you--I'll have to check it out. I have a machine costume with a deadline coming up, and I really should take at least one of my machines in. Sigh...

  4. I love it, top to bottom! Had the pictures been black-and-white, tehy really would have looked authentic!

  5. I love it! How was the material to swim in?

    1. Thanks!

      And I didn't do more than wade in this one, but I recently made a fitted wool jersey suit and really swam in it. It was surprisingly modern feeling. It did get long, and was very obviously not lined when I got out of the water, but it was rather normal :)

  6. I love all the pictures we took that day! You looked super cute. :)

  7. What an inspiring project! This is so much more exciting and fascinating than just a "regular" vintage project, and it's obvious you've done your homework. : )

    Thanks for sharing, and happy sewing!