Tuesday, June 18, 2013

1930s Hawaiian Playsuit

Is it summer where you are yet? It was 101 degrees here in Austin yesterday, so I find this 1935 playsuit to be quite apropos for the weather! I will confess to you that I actually sewed this playsuit last fall in anticipation of spending Christmas in Maui. That's why my picture is so exotic!

The pattern is from Eva Dress, a company I quite like for reproduction vintage patterns. I got the fabric shipped from Hawaii because I was determined it be authentic for my trip.

If you click through to that link, you will also discover that there is a giant picture of me on the product page there! I didn't even realize that until I was looking up the link for this post.

My Cattywampus Built-In Bra Cups

Coworkers, look away! I'm going to talk about my unmentionables.

It's important to me that the things I sew are functional. So I decided to sew built-in bra cups to make this playsuit something I could comfortably wear. I had never done that before, though, so it took a bit of internet investigation and exploration on my muslin.

I found a tutorial on sewing built-in bra cups with these basic steps:
1. Place the bra cups on the pattern where your bust will be.
2. Place them 1 1/2 in apart (for C cup or larger).
3. Zig Zag stitch and cut away the excess.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well I botched up at #1.

See what's wrong? The rounded part should be at the bottom, instead of at a side tilt. 

How Did It Go Wrong? 

See where the arrow is on the picture below? I had thought this piece gathered and then twisted. I was right, but my direction was wrong. I gathered and twisted UP towards the neck strap. This resulted in the bottom band rising up towards my bust. It wasn't flattering. I also accounted for way too much twist.

What I needed to do was twist DOWN, which instead tilted the neck strap. That works better anyway because I needed the neck strap to go out and around my neck, not straight up and down as you see in the picture below.

The pattern piece with the area I had to gather and twist marked with an arrow.

Does that make sense? To be honest, it's still hazy to me. I did a lot of on the fly last minute adjustments to make this top work in spite of the cattywampus placement of the bust cups I had already stitched down.

What I Would Have Done Differently

1. I would have been a lot more attentive about placement when I did the muslin! I didn't want to sew down the cups and waste a set on the muslin, so I pinned them down and did some eyeballing. For something so new to me, it would have been worth it to spend the couple of extra dollars to get it right. 
2. I would have lined the cups. The white against the black floral fabric is such a stark contrast! 
3. I would have picked different cups. These are very flimsy and don't provide as much support as I'd like. Dixie DIY suggests ones from Sew Sassy in her swimsuit sew along.  

Overall though, I'm still glad I sewed them in and I learned a lot. It was a good first foray into lingerie sewing at any rate. I also find this playsuit to be just darling, and have enjoyed wearing the shorts by themselves with a blouse. I hope you are all staying cool in this heat! 


  1. I love it! Turned out great! Love the ukulele ha ha!

    1. Thanks, Lorie! It only seemed right that we get a ukulele while we were in Hawaii. :0)

  2. So cute! And I love the ukelele shot.

    Those sew sassy cups are pretty flexible so they don't provide as much support, so to say, more like shaping and coverage. But that's what I like about 'em. You can move them around in any position or shave a bit off the edge here or there. Did you buy those cups at Joann and are they pretty stiff? I might have used those before. They look familiar.

    1. Ah, that makes sense. Thank you, Dixie! Yes, I got these at Joann's and they're very stiff.