top of page

Beach-Worthy Vintage Sewing Patterns


Summer. It's a joyful time for children splashing in the tide pools, building sand castles, and body surfing the waves. Adults can join in the fun too. I enjoyed playing with my kids at the beach. I would sit in the tide pools with them showing them the different fishes and the Brittle Stars. See, my kids were all born in Kona, Hawaii. The beach was a weekly thing for them, part of our lives. Free entertainment!


Swimsuits have evolved over the years. From Swimming Costumes made of wool. I can't even imagine! to barely-there thongs and G-strings and everything in between. I will show you that swimwear from over the decades can still work today.


My mother's Aunt Ruth was born in 1899. I don't know exactly when this photo was taken but, I assume the 1920s.


I believe that this photo would have been taken at the beach across Rte. 1 in Rye Beach, New Hampshire. This is one style that I wouldn't recommend wearing today!











The 1930s


The hemlines got shorter and the necklines got more daring. The Bolero Jacket covers up the bare shoulders and the V neckline.

This Pattern, Mrs, Depew 3043 can be

found Here.


As you can see, this style still works today!









The 1940s

There was still some modesty for those who wished to stay covered and a two-piece with a bare midriff for the younger, brave set saving fabric for the war effort. You can find this great Pattern at Mrs. Depew 1002


The 1940s were a turning point in all clothing and beachwear wasn't left out. Women especially moved out of their comfort zone and into fashionable garments! Even the music of the 1940s was energetic and fun! Think Big Band, Swing, and Jazz. Many beaches had dance halls nearby and the music poured out drawing the crowds in as they left the beach in the evenings. At The Rendezvous Ballroom located on the Balboa Peninsula in Orange County California, a dance was created and became famous. It was called - The Balboa.


Now on to the 1950s


The Post-War 1950s. People in the U.S.A. had a disposable income again! The war had put the final nail in the coffin of the Great Depression. Unemployment was low, people were spending, and all was right with the world.



The Vintage Pattern Market has this perfect example of a mid-1950s suit. Simplicity 1607 is in German with Metric measurements.

The fifties brought a shapelier fitting swimsuit. Like this one, many had fitted waistlines, flared, short skirts, as well as accentuated bustlines.














This is my mom around the same time as the Simplicity pattern above. She was likely 17-18 years old. She's sitting on the hood of my dad's car. No, I don't know the model.



My mother made matching swimsuits one year for herself and my father. I think this was before they were married. They were married in February 1959. They were most likely in college. (Boston College)


The 1960s


Brought lots of changes and fashions reflected those changes.

1963 brought designs like McCall's 6820 bloused bodices over shorts or, a surplice bikini top and shorts that showed more bare skin than ever before. You can find this pattern at oldpatterns.com


Not a giant change from the 50s just yet. Hang on, it's coming!











By 1965, women's swimsuits had gotten smaller and the cover-ups didn't really cover much. Here is an example:

Butterick 3545 had skimpier boyshorts bottoms with or without the cool belt! The top was fairly modest and the cover-up is sleeveless. I don't know about you but I need my shoulders covered by the end of the day! The sheer version is my favorite. No sunblocking ability there. Just a cute sheer Micro-mini dress.

This pattern is available at





Later in the 60s


The styles got a bit skimpier. Check out this pattern from 1967.


Vogue 6752 has bottoms that sit lower on the hips with a sarong skirt tied over them. The top, while still providing decent coverage, has narrow straps and the back closure is also skinny. Scandalous! Kinseysue has 3 copies left in stock! They are going quickly!




Very cool look. I would wear this if I were younger & thinner!













Let's head over to the 1970s shall we? I hit my teens in the late 70s. I had two older sisters and so I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes. Some I loved and couldn't wait for them to be mine, some I hated and dreaded the day that my mother would tell me how beautiful I looked in it. Ugh. One that I loved was a bikini that was my oldest sister Kathy's. It was a shimmery brown bandeau bikini with a halter tie around the neck Very much like View F in McCall's 4471



I was 15 and walking across Route 1A in New Hampshire every morning to go to the beach. I was by myself since my mother slept in (and still does). It was the first time I had ever been whistled at. Hard to forget that swimsuit and that summer. Beach, The Thornbirds, and my grandmother's rundown cottage. It was the last time I was ever there.

I know this isn't a 70s pattern but it goes with my story. Back to the 1970s now.


View F - Blue with Polka Dots




The early 70s

The 1970s didn't get off to a great start. In 1970, at a small college in Ohio, four students were killed and nine wounded while protesting The Vietnam War. That was the Kent State Riots. I later, in 8th grade had a teacher who was there during the riots and got a first-hand account. He was my favorite teacher ever. Mr. Mudra taught 8th Grade History. The ERA, Equal Rights Amendment passed in 1972. It was a tumultuous time. I remember watching the news and seeing women burning their bras, and riots on college campuses, I thought it was funny, I was 9 years old, not even close to needing a bra.



This pattern Simplicity 8792 was issued in 1970. you can see that the bottoms are not bikinis but come to just below the belly button. How useful is the combination towel/poncho? I love it. ❤️❤️❤️

The Gingham Life has this clever pattern and it's on sale through July 31st!









This gem from 1972 shows the definite shift in style from the 60s to the 70s.








Simplicity 9933 has very low-slung bottoms that, in View 3 (center) are below the hipbones.

The tops are a bit more revealing as well but there is still a modest option available for the lady who chooses to keep her bits to herself.

If you like this style, go to Oldpatterns.com and shop her selection of swimwear!








The Mid 1970s





I don't want to leave out the always-available modest suits for ladies who feel more comfortable covered up a bit more or are of a certain age when or shape, or both that itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny is no longer appropriate. This Stretch & Sew 1325 from 1974 has a short skirt with a side slit. It has a traditional tank-style bodice with darts as well. Not your grandmother's skirted bathing suit. Visit Kinseysue on Etsy to see this and other swimsuit sewing patterns.
















Simplicity 7526 has it all! Before the beach, at the beach, and after the beach, you are covered! Stop by Redcurlzs on Etsy and grab this one.









And finally, the 1980s and 90s








The 1980s was a decade of excess. Big hair, shoulder pads, ruffles, and big debt. Everything was big everything except for the bikinis.

This pattern is McCall's 8583 and is available at The Gingham Life













Kwik Sew 1606 from Kinseysue Patterns is an example of an athletic style. The 80s was also a decade of aerobics which, apparently, translated to athletic swimwear. No straps falling down, and- one sensible pair of bottoms and one insanely highcut leg bottoms.

The one-piece is a "normal" cut leg.













In 1984, Life magazine did an article on Daryl Hannah and, of course, a photo shoot as well. Quite a swimsuit they had her wear.

Watch Social Media for more Swimsuit Sewing Patterns.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vintagepatterndirectory/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vintagesewingpatterndirectory/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/vintagnhepatterndirectory/




Go find the perfect vintage sewing pattern for the beach and get sewing!


























































6 Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Unknown member
Jul 25, 2023

I enjoyed writing this post. Finding the old family photos was a bonus.

Like

Guest
Jul 24, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great patterns!

Like

Guest
Jul 24, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Really like seeing all of the examples from different decades. I also can not imagine wearing a wool bathing suit! A person might drown with all that wet fabric on them.....

Like
Unknown member
Jul 25, 2023
Replying to

I guess you wouldn't have known any different. I have had to swim in jeans, a sweatshirt, and shoes. It wasn't easy! I would guess it would have been similar to that,

People, especially women, waded more than actually swam. I guess we know why!

Like

Unknown member
Jul 24, 2023

Love all of these.🥰🥰🥰

Like

Unknown member
Jul 24, 2023

Great post (again!)

Like
© Copyright 2023 Vintage Sewing Pattern Directory
bottom of page