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A knitted swimsuit???? That’s right I knitted myself a vintage two piece swimsuit using a vintage knitting pattern from the 1940s. I had to grade the pattern up to get it to fit and swapped out itchy woolen yarn for a more comfortable cotton but I’m so pleased with how it turned out.
1940s Knitted Swimsuit Video:
If you read my post about my knitting plans for 2021 you will recognise this pattern from the Teen Age book from Stylecraft.
With this being a pattern designed for teenagers the sizing was very small, and like a lot of vintage knitting patterns, there was only the one size given.
So I began by grading up the pattern using a spreadsheet. I added 2 inches to each half of the trunks pattern but doing a total of 6 extra cast on row, 2 extra lots of cast on 2, 2 extra lots of cast on 3 and 2 extra lots of cast on 4. This took the trunks up from a to fit 34-36″ hips to 38″-40″ hips. I went for the smaller end of the size range because I didn’t want to end up with baggy trunks.
I did also grade up the top but in the end I didn’t need to and actually it still turned out too big even though it should have been too small at 32-34″ bust!
Substituting vintage yarns is always tricky and as I’m trying to use more of the yarn in my stash I choose a 4-ply cotton, instead of the suggested 3-ply Shetland wool. Shetland wool! For a bikini! Can you imagine how itchy that is?
As I already had the lighter shade in my stash (MillaMia Naturally Soft Cotton in shade Sweetpea). So I just bought 2 balls of the same yarn in a different shade (Seaweed).
The pattern called for 3oz (85g) of each colour but I ended up using a lot more. I think it was thanks to grading up the trunks so much! I had to buy another 50g of the contrast shade and I used more like 150g of each shade for 300g total! Thankfully I had enough of the lighter shade in my stash that I didn’t have to buy any more of that.
This pattern features that classic 1940s knitting technique of slipping the same stitch over multiple rows to get a contrasting V design. It’s really simple to do and looks really effective. The only tricky bit of this design is that you’re not working in stocking stitch. Instead all the purl bumps end up on the right side. This means you have to keep track of which row you are on because not every right side row is knit and vice versa!
The Finished Knitted Swimsuit
I’m so pleased with how my 1940s swimsuit turned out! I felt like a pinup girl as a posed for photographs on this amazing drift wood tree. This was at the beach at Talland Bay in Cornwall.
You can see the way the bikini top is too big. There is a noticeable gap at the bottom where I’ve lifted up my arm. Oh well I still love the finished bikini!
If you’d like to make this pattern for yourself it is now available in my Etsy shop!
I’ve also completed a few other projects from my knitting plans post so I shall have to do a follow up to show you all how they turned out.