15 Best Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns 1940’s – 1980’s

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, then 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 working with modern knit designs, then 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 are written in UK not US terms. English knitting needle sizes are different from the ones we use in America today. Therefore, you want to see that you’re using the US size needle that you’re supposed to use.

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” in place of “yarn over.” It takes a little bit of getting used to 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. Therefore, learn about yarn substitutions. This is especially important with vintage knit swimwear patterns. After all, you want the right fit, and you probably also want to create a swimsuit that won’t get waterlogged when you wear it into 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 have some ability to adapt the sizing instructions to your own exact fit. Unfortunately, particularly with older patterns, not all designs are written with size inclusivity in mind. By Gum, By Golly has a great blog series on resizing vintage knitting patterns.

Best Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns

With that in mind, here are some of the best vintage knit swimsuit patterns for sale through Etsy:

Asymmetrical 1980’s Knit Swimsuit

asymmetrical 1980s retro knit swimsuit pattern

MyStitchAndKitsch on Etsy sells terrific retro 1980s knit and crochet patterns. This is the first of two different vintage knit one-piece bathing suit patterns available in this Etsy shop. It is designed almost like a strapless swimsuit. However, a single strap creates an asymmetrical design. Stripes and color blocking create the retro design.

1980’s 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 is decorated with abstract floral patterns. This also comes with a beach wrap pattern.

More Vintage 1980’s Knit Swimsuit Patterns

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

retro 1980's vintage knit swimsuit patterns

PatternsALaCarte has set of two knit one-piece swimsuit patterns from the 1980’s. You can see that the assymetrical 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.

1940’s Boat Motif Knit Bikini Shorts Pattern

vintage 1940's knit bikini shorts pattern with boat motif

Of course, not all vintage knit swimwear patterns come from the 1980’s. And not all of them are one-piece designs, either. This 1940’s pattern is a two-piece with swim shorts for the bottoms. Both the top and the bottom have a boat motif worked into the design. Super cute.

More 1940’s Vintage Knit Swimsuit Patterns

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

vintage 1940s knit bikini pattern

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

And this one comes with a matching bolero jacket knit pattern. Both of these 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 that has 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 must have been popular in the 1940s on swimwear. Even if you don’t want to create this for your child to wear in the water, it makes a cute daily romper.

Vintage 1970’s Knit Swimsuit Patterns

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

1970 knit bikini pattern

PastPatternsPalooza sells this 1970’s knit contrast-trim bikini pattern. It’s ribbed, making the top look a bit like seashells.

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

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

vintage knit boy shorts bikini pattern

PatternGrove sells this 1970’s 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 maillot swimsuit patterns

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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