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1971- My Sister and Me, Please Mom..

My sister sent me this to use or not use. How could I resist? That's me on the left at age 8 and on the right is my sister at age 10. This post is from her point of view.

Rolling into the summer of 1971, I was just starting to find my personal style. Looking back, I know it wasn’t really a ‘good’ sense of style, but I was experimenting and trying to find ground that was my own in a family of 3 girls (oh, and one boy, but he’s not in this story) whose mother was pretty stylish…. Mom was quite a good seamstress, but amid the beautiful things she made for my sisters and me, there were a few duds. Case in point: the swimsuit of ‘71.

(Every Summer we drove from Ohio to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to visit family. This picture was taken

at Rye Beach, N.H. where the ocean never got up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.)

I had what might have been the typical 10-year-old figure (do I need to describe it?): a bit thick in the middle as my body prepared for its transition to adolescence. To say that I was self-conscious was an understatement. Between the ‘transitional figure’, my unruly brown hair, and my fair and freckled skin, my awkward stage was in full bloom. I was smack in the middle of a triumvirate of sisters: one 18 months older, who tanned easily and had long straight blonde hair; the other 18 months younger, who was sweet, adorable, and comfortably ensconced in young childhood.

So, back to the swimsuit of ‘71…. For some reason--it must have been a money-saving move--Mom got it into her head that she would sew swimsuits for my younger sister and me that year. For the eldest, she bought a suit: a white bikini with a brightly-colored, almost psychedelic pattern. To me, it seemed very cool, grown-up, and glamorous. Much to my dismay, that’s not what I got that year. She not only decided to sew, but she also decided to use fabric that she had on hand. For me, she chose a plaid woven cotton fabric and lined it with white cotton. It was not only dull and unfashionable, but it was uncomfortable, tight, and unyielding (there must be multiple reasons that swimsuits are made with stretchy fabric). Could it get worse? Oh, yes. And it did. The fabric that she chose, as I mentioned, was something she had on hand (you see where this is going, don’t you?). No stretch, old, fragile…. Yup – it tore. Not at the seams, either. It was embarrassing to wear it when it was intact, but having it tear was the ultimate insult.

Thanks for the great, entertaining post! Now for my part!

A swimsuit especially a great 1970s one Like McCall's 3129 or 1960s Butterick 3545 can be a great project – and it’s especially nice to be able to customize it. For your sake or the sake of your child, though, choose carefully—really carefully!

Or - since we were talking about kids, How about Butterick 6582 with a cover-up to protect young skin from the sun!

This gem from 1943, Butterick 2560, is true to the era. WWII nautical style!

Here's one that gives you choices!

Kwik Sew 3998 and an adorable cover-up with a cute ruffled hem! What little girl doesn't need 2 swimsuits for summer?

And - one of my personal favorites, is

Advance 5524 Technically not a

swimsuit but a beach set...

While woven cotton was considered to be an acceptable fabric through the 1960s and into the early 1970s apparently, today it is definitely NOT! Look for 4-way stretch fabrics that are labeled as swimsuit fabric. Your children will thank you.

Here are just a few examples of solids and prints available through Fabrics Universe on Etsy. At the time this was written, the Solid Color 4-Way Stretch was $9.49/yard (56" - 58" wide) and the prints

$9.99/yard (58" - 60" wide)

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Miembro desconocido
07 mar 2023

Funny story! We've all been there with bathing suit horrors! I was either way too skinny and covering up or ...well... not way too skinny and always covering up!

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Miembro desconocido
13 feb 2023

After writing this with my sister, my oldest sister emailed this to me.

"she did make me a suit once… from fabric that she found in Aunt Ruth’s house after she passed. I remember the fabric… purple violets. We still lived on Newcomb Road, so I was 6 or 7. It was my first 2 piece bathing suit. I was excited to go to the pool. The whole neighborhood was there.. I jumped in the pool…. And the suit disintegrated. The material was so old it just disintegrated… I will never forget that…"

My mother.... who apparently didn't ever check the condition of the fabrics that she was using!

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