Historical Sewing Patterns
Compiled and edited by Deb Salisbury,
The Mantua-Maker Historical Sewing Patterns
Victorian Bathing and Bathing Suits is intended for costume historians, bathing enthusiasts, Victorian re-enactors, historical writers and history buffs.
When I decided to create a new bathing suit pattern, I searched for a modern book documenting Victorian bathing suits. To my surprise, I couldn't find one. Yet I had quite a few period magazines with engravings of bathing dresses in my collection. While I was doing more research, I fell in love with the traditions and ethics surrounding American, English, and French bathing.
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This book focuses on the culture of swimming and sea bathing across the decades, and on women's bathing suits, noting their styles, variations, and evolution, all quoted from the original writers of that time. For your enjoyment, I've included descriptions and engravings of men's and children's suits when I could find them, but their clothing was not as well documented as the ladies' dresses.
The culture and proper dress of bathing changed radically during Queen Victoria's reign, led, of course, by the French. The accepted ladies' one-piece bathing gown gave way to the two-piece bathing suit, and bathing went from a medical treatment to a social event.
Even the French bathing dress was not admired in its early days. It was plain, usually black, and, at best, boring. But once fashion got hold of the bathing suit, the dress evolved rapidly. By 1870, many bathing suits were downright gorgeous. Fashion magazines began to include descriptions and engravings on a regular basis, vying to provide the most up-to-date styles. Bathing went from a quick, unpleasant dip in the ocean to true enjoyment, and even swimming became popular.
123 pages in an 8.5" x 11" format.