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How to make 50's inspired swimsuit with boning

Updated: Apr 13, 2019

This is a tutorial for vintage style swimsuit with boning. The inspiration for this bathing suit is Julia Adams costume in the movie Creature from the Black Lagoon. This costume is suitable for anyone who desire to rock Vintage or Pin-up style!

Creature From The Black Lagoon

I decided to make this vintage swimsuit because it's really gorgeous, feminine and simple. Also, I wanted to do something with the inserted boning. I love how it accentuates the waist.

This sewn inside boning makes the waist look slimmer, it covers a tummy and nicely follows the curves of the chest and booty.

I usually avoid making something with the boning, because it doesn't let to move freely. In this case, the bathing suit is made from 4-ways stretchy fabric, so it's quite comfortable. It doesn't squeeze everything together as corset should, but that's why it's more comfortable.

If You decide to try to make swimsuit from this pattern, I suggest You use 4-ways stretchy fabric. These straps are also important for support. Keep in mind that this costume won't work without them.


I used 0.4 in boning. I think the next time, I would use thinner boning, maybe 0.2 in. I think it's not necessary to use this wide boning because although it flattens out beautifully on the body, It looks kind of strange when this swimwear is put down on by his own. The important part that it looks good on the body.

It just bothers me because I couldn't do a nice picture for this blog when this bathing suit is put nicely on the table. I sew boning on front and back seams. I didn't put it on the side seams, just that it would be a bit more comfortable.

The last part that I didn't think trough, was that the boning doesn't look good when I sit down. If I will repeat this design, I will end the boning about 4 in up the bottom of swimsuit.

I think the decorative string will hide this part and this problem will be solved. While sitting, the boning didn't affect the look or comfort in the back.

The sewing part was quite basic for this one. I sewed all parts of the main fabric, then added the boning on the seams. I sewed the linen parts separately.

Then I joined these parts on the top. Then, I sewed on nice decorative, stretchy velvet string on the seams. I measure on myself for how long string I should leave to hang as a strap around the neck. I added the second strap, also at the time of fitting. I wanted to sew it on the right place that it would give extra support for the chest, and also, that it won't add any wrinkles.

In the original costume, I notice That the decorative strings look much elevated than on my bathing suit. This is the part where I make this design a bit simpler. I wanted not to be wasteful and use the beautiful velvet string that I already had :) I didn't sew this decorative string on the back.

I joined the crotch part of both layers. I sew leg parts together with overlock. I fold the seam ironed it and end it by hand with invisible stitch.. Of course, it's not the only way to finish these parts, but with that much of the boning, it was just simpler than to sew these stitches from inside. And It still looks seamless.

I liked this design because it didn't need a lot of fabric, 2,8 inches of fabric and linen, and about 9,5 inches string for the straps. I also love it, because I didn't need to use a zipper which is common in this kind of fitted designs, but not so common in swimsuits.

The pattern which I added to my website is a bit different than in these pictures. I adjust this pattern after finishing this swimwear. I noticed a few parts that I correct while sewing. In the finished pattern, I make it more fitted in the waist and chest.

I am pleased with the result because I managed to get this charming and feminine silhouette which I aimed for.

Inspiration: Julie Adams

The star of Creature Of The Black Lagoon Julie Adams passed away on this years February 3rd in Los Angeles. She was 92-years old. She was a leading lady in the 1950s for Universal and appeared in many of their projects over the years and continued to work for six decades

In a retrospective interview with the film historian Tom Weaver in 1991, Ms. Adams voiced no serious regrets, although she noted, “No matter what you do, you can act your heart out, but people will always say, ‘Oh, Julie Adams — “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” ’ ”

She was initially skeptical about the role and the movie, which seemed to her like a horror comic book. She was to play the victim of a gruesome merman who takes her off to his grotto, with filming done both above and under water in 3-D black and white. She considered rejecting the part but feared suspension by Universal.

Like the title character in the classic 1933 movie “King Kong,” the creature is a proud, sensitive monster who falls in love at first sight with a beauty and must die for his devotion. In a lost world up the Amazon, the creature lurks in the depths as Kay Lawrence (Ms. Adams) and two scientists chug upstream on an expedition aboard their laboratory boat.

In a white one-piece bathing suit, Kay takes a swim in a murky lagoon as the creature, a reptilian terror about the size of a tall (costumed) man with gills, webbed feet and hands, stalks her with backstrokes from below in a submarine.

At one point he glides up and touches her foot. Startled, she dives but finds nothing in the murk. Later, the creature is caught and caged. He escapes and carries her to his cavern, where armed men ultimately arrive to rescue her.

Critics were unenthusiastic. But the film, directed by Jack Arnold, was a hit, taking in $1.3 million at the box office (a little more than $12 million in today’s money)

About the movie

Advertising poster for the film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

I think we can agree that this Creature has a lot of similarities with the sea monster from the movie The Shape Of Water. The similarities with this new movie caught my attention, and I decide to dive deeper into this topic. It's a bit off the sewing topic, but I think these kinds of gossips make the costume a bit more interesting.

The movie's director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro sincerely admit that he took the inspiration for Shape Of Water from the movie Creature from the Black Lagoon.

However, one issue that some people are taking issue with lately, is the fact that the movie's director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro has also been nominated for Best Original Screenplay, as more than one source has come forward since the movie's debut to claim that it very clearly "borrows" from their works.

Admittedly, Del Toro has been all too honest that he has been primarily influenced by the 1954 monster movie classic The Creature From The Black Lagoon, telling Variety that he wanted to shift away from the scary aspects and focus more on the burgeoning feelings between the leads: "The movie is about love. That’s the one force we’re really afraid to talk about now."

There is one interesting article in this link, that writes more about these movies similarities :

Maybe, someday when I finish sewing these Hollywood beauties style costumes, I could aim to a more difficult goal and try this Sea Monster costume:)

The next costume which I want to recreate was worn by actress and singer Ann-Margaret. Why am I mentioning it You may ask? Because I found one similarity between these girls - they both have played with all beloved Elvis Presley.

Julie Adams and Elvis Presley in Tickle Me, 1965. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

In conclusion

I love how it came out! In one hand, If I would have done it like a real corset, with non-stretchy fabric, I could even get a more executed waist. But in this option, it came out much more comfortable. I think I managed to create this hourglass silhouette which was so necessary to recreate 50's fashion.

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