“It was an itsy-bitsy tiny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.
That she wore for the first time today.”
The 1960 release of that song played on every teenager’s turntable. The lyrics considered a bit risqué…but also fun. Move forward to 1974 – I am turning 14 and the summer beckons my older sister and me to persuade our parents that we could have our first two-piece swimsuit. We were teenagers!
Surprisingly, our mom said yes – not sure she even asked dad – but nonetheless, we were going to show some skin. There is a glitch to our wearing one though…granny (our seamstress for every outfit of special occasions) was going to have to make them for us.
Hum – granny making our two-piece ‘bikinis’ – no other option but to agree.
Entering the fabric store with enthusiasm, we tore through the pattern books and settled on McCall’s 8813. This pattern had all the latest styles in swimwear. We focused on one of them that would optimize our figures. Next, material selection. I chose purple. My sister chose burgundy. Granny – get sewing!
After multiple measurements and fabric cutting, Granny began the arduous process of making our fashionable swimsuits. The slippery and stretchy material (not at all like the textures of fabrics for other outfits she had sewn for us) proved to give her skills and patience innumerable headaches, but Granny, an accomplished seamstress, was not to be defeated.
The top was triangular shaped, and we could loosen or tighten it for optimal cleavage when tied tight. The bottom was high-waisted but sewn with a pull string on either side of the hip to again optimize a “smaller” fit if you so desired! Oh YES, we desired! But only after we were out of sight from our parents.
Unfortunately, our debut of the suits was nothing impressive.
We lived 12 miles out on a farm, there was no “cement pond” to go show off our upgrades. Instead, we fashioned a place on our roof, slathered on coconut butter and began the tanning process. We cinched those strings so tight that “thongs” today would have a tough time rivalling our fit. Proudly we wore our itsy-bitsy tiny weeny bikinis but unlike the girl in the song…we did not hesitate to come out in the open. We embraced our granny-stitched swimwear.