15 Best Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns 1940s – 1980s

Crochet swimsuit patterns are always trending. However, you’ll find that the same doesn’t hold true for knit swimwear. Do a search for knit swimsuit patterns, and you’re not likely to come up with much. What you will find in that search, however, is a lot of vintage patterns. If you enjoy working from vintage patterns, know how to substitute with modern yarn choices, and want to make knit swimwear, these vintage knit swimsuit patterns are your best choice.

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retro knit swimsuit pattern

Tips for Working With Vintage Knit Patterns

If you’re only used to modern knit designs, you might face a few challenges when adjusting to vintage knit patterns. There are slight differences. These are easier to account for if you’re a skilled knitter. However, any knitter can learn. The basics are the same; you just need to make some adjustments.

CraftFoxes offers some great tips for working with vintage knitting patterns:

Double-check the knitting needle size.

Many older patterns were written in UK, not US terms. English knitting needle sizes differ from those we use in America today. Therefore, make sure you’re using the right US size needles.

knitting tips for vintage patterns

Become familiar with the terminology in vintage knitting patterns.

You might have noticed that even in standard knitting patterns, designers sometimes use different names for the same stitch or technique. This becomes even more true when looking at vintage patterns, written before there even was a more standard terminology. So, you might find different stitch names. Or you might see “turn over” instead of “yarn over.” It takes some thought, but it’s definitely doable.

Learn how to choose the right yarn.

Yarn options were limited when vintage patterns were written. We have many more options today. Using the right yarn with vintage knit swimwear patterns is especially important, so learn about yarn substitution. After all, you want a good fit. You also want a swimsuit that doesn’t get waterlogged when you wear it in the pool! Therefore, you don’t want to use wool; instead, you want to use cotton blends and acrylics.

Adapt sizing.

Finally, it’s easiest to work with these patterns if you can adapt the sizing instructions to your own fit. Unfortunately, not all designs were written with size inclusivity, particularly older patterns. But for some useful tips, By Gum, By Golly has a great blog series on resizing vintage knitting patterns.

Best Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns

So, here are some of the best vintage knit swimsuit patterns for sale through Etsy:

Asymmetrical 1980s Knit Swimsuit

asymmetrical 1980s retro knit swimsuit pattern

MyStitchAndKitsch on Etsy sells terrific retro 1980s knit and crochet patterns. We found a couple of great vintage knit one-piece bathing suit patterns in this Etsy shop. It”s almost like a strapless swimsuit. However, a single strap creates an asymmetrical design. Stripes and color blocking create the retro design.

1980s Retro Knit One-Piece Swimsuit Pattern

1980s retro knit swimsuit pattern

Here we have the second of the two MyStitchandKitsch patterns. It’s another one-piece swimsuit, this time in a more classic swimsuit shape. Summery stripes create the illusion of a high waist, while the top has abstract floral patterns. This also comes with a beach wrap pattern.

More Vintage 1980s Knit Swimsuit Patterns

Here are some 1980s knit swimsuit patterns from other Etsy sellers:

retro 1980's vintage knit swimsuits

PatternsALaCarte has a set of two knit one-piece swimsuit patterns from the 1980s. You can see that the asymmetrical look was trending. The second suit here ties behind the neck. The bold splashes of color are classic 80s.

MoonSunArtandCraft sells this ombre color-blocked knit one-piece design.

MoonSunArtandCraft sells this ombre color-blocked knit one-piece design.

vintage 1980's knit chevron swimsuit pattern

VintageXpressAU sells this knit chevron backless one-piece swimsuit with crocheted straps.

1940s Boat Motif Knit Bikini Shorts Pattern

vintage 1940's knit bikini shorts pattern with boat motif

More 1940s Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns

PrettyOldPatterns also has three other vintage knit swimwear patterns for sale on Etsy. Two are high-waisted bikini swim shorts designs:

vintage 1940s knit bikini pattern

This one (above) also includes a zipper cover-up beach skirt pattern.

1940's bikini & bolero

And this one comes with a matching bolero jacket knit pattern. Both are great because you can go from the beach to a cafe without changing.

vintage 1940's halter top swimsuit pattern

The third is a one-piece knit swimsuit with a halter top and cheeky bottoms.

Toddler’s Vintage Knit Swimsuit Pattern

Toddler's Vintage Knit Swimsuit Pattern

Are you looking for a young children’s knit swimsuit pattern? Look no further. This adorable one-piece shorts swimsuit for toddlers is perfect. That boat motif on swimwear must have been popular in the 1940s. Even if you don’t want to create this for your child to wear in the water, it makes a cute daily romper.

Vintage 1970s Knit Swimsuit Patterns

You can find knit swimsuit patterns from almost any era. Here are some great fun designs from the 1970’s:

1970 Ribbed bikini pattern

PastPatternsPalooza sells this 1970s knit contrast-trim bikini pattern. Knit ribbing makes the top look a bit like seashells.

ThePatternist sells this 1970's scoop-neck knit bikini pattern.

ThePatternist sells this 1970s scoop-neck knit bikini pattern. The bottoms have a lace knit design.

vintage knit boy shorts bikini pattern

PatternGrove sells this 1970s knit boy shorts bikini pattern.

deep v plunging neckline knit vintage swimsuit pattern

This Deep V plunging neckline isn’t right for everyone but if you love it then you can find the pattern over at Etsy’s TheGoodWitchPatterns.

1970s knit and crochet maillots

Especially good for the bicrafty among you, HoneyCombPatterns sells a set of four different knit and crochet maillot-style swimsuit patterns.

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Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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