Saturday, August 22, 2015

A 1946 Playsuit

1946 Bathing Suit 1

My 1946 playsuit in a picture taken by my 1919-1924 Brownie No. 2 Model E. It's based on this 1946 suit by Claire McCardell at the Met. It's made of wool jersey from Nature's Fabrics.

I made this in 2013 with plans to wear it to the hopeful pool party on Sunday at Costume College, but that didn't happen. I brought it in 2014 to wear to the beach, but that also didn't happen. I was quite happy to wear it to both the beach and Thursday night pool party at Costume College this year!

1946 Bathing Suit 2 1946 Bathing Suit 3

Construction was very straightforward. The top is a trapezoid with a slightly scooped neck that's gathered to self fabric ties. To pattern the top, I took a rectangle of muslin, folded the edges in a trapezoidal shape, gathered it to my neck and underbust, adjusted the width, and marked the curve of my neck. The skirt is a wrap skirt, and just a rectangle of fabric gathered to self ties. The underlap area isn't gathered so the skirt sits better.

To attach the ties, I sewed them right side to right side using my machine's stretch stitch. I sewed the back by hand. I also sewed the ties shut by hand. I'm sure there's an efficient way to do this by machine, but I'm a good enough hand sewer that I found it easy to do this way.

I decided to make the top tie instead of button as in the original to make it easier to fit, and to, although I wasn't planning on wearing this for actual swimming, not have to worry about stretching if it got wet.

1946 Bathing Suit 4 1946 Bathing Suit 6

I made the shorts a year after making the skirt and top--fortunately Nature's Fabrics still had the seafoam green! Instead of making the slightly diaper like shorts of the original, I used the pattern for shorts from the vintage pattern I used for my first playsuit. The shorts close in back with a button and loop at the waist and snaps on the placket.

1946 Bathing Suit 8

And though I didn't go very deep, I did wade into the ocean in this! A few waves tried to drench the skirt, but, being wool jersey, it repelled most of the water and dried quickly.


  1. Ok! This outfit is just too stinkin' fun!! You look so cool and fresh and comfy!! Very well done!

  2. This comment has nothing to do with the playsuit (fabulous creation, as always), but is the only way I could come up with of letting you know about something I came across while Google-searching for a costuming website whose name I have forgotten.

    If I'm not mistaken, this is one of your gowns and the seller seems to be using images from a number of people and companies. I obviously don't know if any (including you) have given permission for the use of the images, but I thought I'd better let you know regardless.


  3. What a lovely outfit! Swimmers back then looked far more stylish than they do nowadays

  4. You are looking so incredible in this play suit blue dress with the combination of black and white. This blog is really so awesome to read.

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  6. Yeah dear, I agree that beachside venues are becoming the choice for modern events. I have also booked a beautiful destination beach venue for my party. But I would like to throw the bachelorette party at local and the best venues Chicago. Please suggest some theme ideas for my event and party!

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  9. Hello, Katherine- My name is Kristi Roberts Schofield, and I am married to a cousin of yours on the Lurvey side. I came across your Lurvey Family Photo when I was searching for more photos of Orville Preston Lurvey for his daughter. As I see you are a descendant of Linza Bruce Lurvey, you must be related to my husband's cousin, John Lurvey, who shared that very same photo with us! My husband is Paul Schofield, and his grandmother was Beulah Avonis Lurvey. I have tried to email John, but the link no longer works. It was at the state house. He also shared his genealogical research with me- I am the family historian. I have been working on the Lurvey branch again and uploading the various family photos he shared- I came across one I am not sure is labeled correctly, so I would love to find out how to contact him again. This is the email I currently have that doesn't work: I figure he musty no longer work at the State House. I am on Facebook- you could pm me on there how to reach John if he's OK with that.

    On another note- we are avid Vintage Costumers ourselves! Well, myself and my daughters. We regularly attend balls hosted by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers which from Regency to Ragtime. We mostly make it to wither the regency balls or Victorian ones, but hope to get costumes together for all of them. I am always adding to our collection- gradually trying to create more authentic attire. Sometimes I just adapt Prom dresses I find, but I have made two Civil War era gowns from scratch now and two regency gowns. My skills continue to improve- but I'm still no where as talented as you are! I oarticularly love your regency gown. Did you emboider it yourself?

    Well, I hope to hear from you soon! I'll check here for a reply in case you aren't able to pm me in Facebook.

    Best regards- Kristi

    1. Hello!

      Just a quick reply right now, but my grandmother was Virginia Lurvey, who I believe is John Lurvey's sister. I've never had any contact with that part of the family though.

      And how fascinating that you costume as well. I have friends who have been to Commonwealth Vintage Dance events :)

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