Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mary Ellen's Swim Suit: A Look at a 1940's Original

When I venture into a new era, if possible, I like to find an original garment that I can add to my collection, study, and love. I thought the name made this swim suit especially fun! 

I'm not sure if this was a bought or home-made suit. The somewhat sloppy nature of the stitches suggests home-made, but the overcasting on the seams leads me to question this. Any ideas? 

Either way, I'm loving that stripe matching in on the skirt!

It's a little faded now, but the suit is lined in blue knit fabric. The outside of the suit still looks great. It's a stretchy sateen.

A very clever addition: the front waist of the suit has a belt for cinching in as needed. I love this feature! I might add it to my suit, since mine is not stretchy.

The top is also very adjustable. Aside from the neck and back ties, the front bust laces up, too. Cute detail!


  1. What a wonderful piece! My theory is that this was a classroom project, probably made by a high school or college girl as part of a sewing course. The slightly "rustic" elements are the sorts of things you'd never expect to see in a mid-20th century commercially produced item, but the overcast seams suggest access to a quality serger. This could even explain the embroidered name, if several students used the same fabric.

    My mother made several things in home-ec in high school (none as sophisticated as this swim suit, though), and she always had to embroider her initials or name on the finished garment. It was required, both as a teaching tool to encourage neat embroidery, and as a necessary means of identification since nearly all the students used the same material for their smaller projects.

    1. Well that is just fascinating! I never thought of that possibility. Thanks!