Sunday, 29 July 2012

Swimwear special

swimwear gold
All that glitters ain't gold but is possibly Lurex

Now summer has finally come to London, and the Olympic Games are in full swing (almost literally on my doorstep), my thoughts turn to swimming – it's all I want to do when it's hot, and probably the only Olympic sport I'll bother watching. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the synchronised swimming team took to the Aquatics Centre pool sporting gold crochet one-pieces like this?

Or the bikini this Cybill Shepherd lookalike (who was out of focus on a deckchair at the back, above) is wearing on her own page:

swimwear blue

Both of these beautiful bathing costumes are taken from one of my trusty favourites, The Home Pattern Book of Needlecraft by Joan Fisher:

Home Pattern Book
Published by New English Library, 1979

Fancy yourself in a hand-crocheted metallic bathing suit? Here are your (free, printable) instructions.

Not put off by its unseasonal cover image, I had a flick through The Ladies' Home Journal book of Crochet...

swimwear crochet book cover
Published by Mason Charter, New York, 1976

...and discovered a pattern for this pretty white one-piece with flower-shaped cutaway (shame about the dodgy shell-tasselled shawl). If you'd like to make yourself one (a swimsuit, not a shall-shawl), click here for all you need to know.

swimwear white
This is the daisy age

If you're not a crocheter, I've also dug out this lovely 1930s 'Simple bathing costume' pattern for your knitting pleasure:

swimwear knit
How very daring

This must have been rather risqué at the time. Not many people wore two-piece swimsuits back in 1939 when The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting was published – after all, the word 'bikini' wasn't coined until 1946.

swimwear knitting cover
Edited by Catherine Franks (Odhams Press, 1939)

The book has a textured cloth cover and particularly nice endpapers:

swimwear knit endpaper
Caught red-handed

For your ahead-of-its-time 1930s knitted bikini instructions, click here.

All the above swimsuits are probably better for lounging around by the pool or at the beach than actually swimming in – imagine how heavy and uncomfortable they'd get when wet!

Well, I promised a swimwear special – and I haven't finished yet, I love the illustrations on old sewing patterns and I can't help slipping the odd one in now and again, even though I can't share the actual patterns. This cute beachwear collection is from New Zealand from 1969:

swimwear sewing pattern
Still the daisy age: see toes, left

And last but not least... this one's not makeable, but what a fantastic image. Jackie magazine had THE BEST fashion illustrations EVER:

swimwear jackie
Jackie magazine, 12 June 1976


  1. I once owned a very skimpy crochet bikini - done in brown purple and yellow yarn, in a teenage size. It was a hand-me-down from one of my cousins whose mum is a crochet- & knitaholic with an outrageous colour ccombining skill :)
    Unfortunately I'm not sure what's happened to it - I never wore the bottoms but did wear the 2 triangles & string top, I was under 10 so it was okay :)

    1. Sounds like an extremely 70s colour combo! x