Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sew maternity: a retrospective

Hello, it’s Scruffybadger here, guest posting for Minnado’s House. I’m sure there’s a lot of warm fuzzy feelings thinking about family Minnado and their new addition. I hope they are all getting on just fine & are enjoying getting to know each other.

So when Minnado asked me to do a guest post, I kind of knew what I wanted to post about, having been so impressed by Minnado’s clever positioning and creations for the Fall Essentials Sewalong to make her capsule maternity wardrobe.




Minnado's Lingering Layers Skirt

Dressing for pregnancy is the perfect time to think about how to maximise your clothing, because unless you’re dripping in cash, or you plan some serial baby brewing, you don’t want to invest too heavily in clothing that has a very limited life. Most people when they are pregnant end up with less clothing than normal & wear it into the ground. Maternity clothes therefore are best acquired to maximise the options you have in wearing them. But I’m not going to post about today’s maternity wear. No, I was always encouraging Minnado to sew some vintage maternity clothes, suffering with the illusion that they would be super cute. And then I did some research – not too much mind you, but enough to gather some thoughts & memories (some made me choke with laughter!)

Hands up if you can remember pre-lycra maternity clothes? Hands up if you wore pre-lycra maternity clothes? Now I fell into this category, just about graduating into jersey during my second pregnancy possessing a single pair of leggings, but always wearing them with a floral bum & bump obscuring smock top. During my first pregnancy (late 80s) tents & pinafores (jumpers) were in. That’s what we wore. Clothing that emphasized how huge we were. Clothing that perpetuated the feeling that we were carrying a huge load, but in a vague tent-like way (no credit given for the small & perfectly formed pregnancy). The idea of showing our form & the beauty of our bumps was just not conceivable. (But please don't think I'm writing this with any kind of bitterness!)

I therefore looked up the history of maternity clothing & found some interesting articles. There is this one at the Huffington Post by Lindsay Mannering. “ A brief history of maternity clothing”, which explains how medieval women who were preggers wore aprons, to cover up where clothing didn’t quite meet around their belly anymore. Clothes were loose and not particularly figure hugging so this was not an issue. It was from the 14th century that western clothing became more form fitting, & this would require seams being let out as well as the advent of tailor made dresses for those who could afford it. The first maternity gown was created during the Baroque period, 1600-1750, and from then on clothing developed over the centuries to even accommodate breastfeeding with dresses with bibs.

The author identifies pinafore dresses as the maternity uniform throughout most of the 20th century, with little profit in this market for designers, until that is the rise of the paparazzi. Lindsay credits the increase in the designer market for maternity wear during the late 90s to the media interest in celebrity & their need to remain glamourous with bump. Look at Widepedia and it claims that designers such as Givenchy designed for Lucille Ball’s pregnancy in the 1950s. It made me chuckle that non pregnant models were used to showcase the design! Now I'd also suggest that the rise of technology and different fabrics, lycra and elastic helped progress maternity fashion, surely providing far more comfort, but in later years, also allowing allowing celebration of the bump. Which leads me to focus on my quest in this post. What kind of patterns were available for the home sewster ? How did fashions/ practicalities change over the decades?

I have to credit some fantastic sources of vintage patterns here - most of the pictures I have snaffled from Momspatterns.com - but it is a treasure trove! Here are some other fab places to look as well:

Are you ready now for some pictures?


From Moms Patterns

This one’s a WW2 blouse and jumper dress from Moms Patterns. These drawings look most definitely unpregnant though! Details provided indicate an adjustable waist & it is not clear what happens to the blouse as you balloon. Perhaps it is more floaty than it looks.



Moms Patterns

Another one from Momspatterns, this 50s pattern looks like normal wear (you know for women with waists!) But it all seems to be in the waistline which is adjustable- the skirt laps over at each sides to softly pleat, held with snaps & a French tacked tie belt. But what about room for busting bazonkas? Let’s face it, bust size changes & even the smallest chest takes on the guise of large tropical fruit. And one can also acquire extra arm fat– I’d imagine the bolero would not be comfortable in the later stages.



Moms Patterns again

Now look at these trousers/ shorts from Moms Patterns – described as “something new in maternity pants and shorts”. It has an expandable and adjustable covered front.


Betsy Vintage

This above from Betsyvintage.com and the one below (Hey Chica on Etsy) show slim skirts with adjustable waists with A line smocks over the top, but don’t they look very chic? Is it possible when you feel like a whale?


(Simplicity 2476) Hey Chica

I had great fun scooping up 60s patterns – it seems to be a design era I am drawn to. Anyone watching Mad Men will remember showing pregnancy on both Betty and Trudy (& Betty’s friend) through their latter stages & looking huge! Yay! Beautiful, glamorous and obscured in volumes of fabric. (Sorry no pics, here's a link to Trudy in a babydoll)

For the home sewster I found these patterns. From 60s, there seemed to be many “Easy to sew", lots of pull ons, I guess with the widespread availability of elastic (I’m sorry I haven’t done any research to date elastic, so this is pure supposition).


Moms patterns

The trouble with maternity patterns is that they are shown on non pregnant drawings & actually look really cute! I love the tabbed empire line for this pattern. And I REALLY like the shorts + smock look (& actually wore shorts & smock 90s version myself during mine ....)

Ready for something more ridiculous?



Moms patterns

NO! And no again! The dress is OK, but the triple triangle styling in caramel just reminds me of the pyramids ....but go to Moms Patterns if you fancy it....

Onto just one from the 70s, found at Etsy at Tenderlane.


Tenderlane at Etsy


Strangely enough, being a child in the 70s this clothing is similar to what I was dressed in by my Mum! I had a pinafore like view 3 in bottle green needlecord (with a beige peter pan collared bishop sleeved blouse. Hmmm. It was even a birthday present. Thanks Mum!).

I don’t know about you, but I want a trip down my maternity memory lane & I want me some laughs. I am just going to now bombard you with some images from the 80s. And I will point out any items that I had in my maternity “capsule wardrobe”. Mompatterns again comes up trumps .... from the McCalls “Today’s Mother “ range ...



Gathered dungarees anyone? I had some khaki ones (bought mind you) for my 80s pregnancy. I just KNOW they were awful - big bump at the front, pulling all that fabric from my behind...could be worse - I could have dressed like my baby to come - ref pink shorts romper!


Moms Patterns

Ha ha ha! No, none of these featured, but I had you guessing. I did not have any occasion to need such finery. Interestingly enough there are quite a few “career” maternity patterns out there, showing the rise of the working girl. Luckily that wasn’t me, didn't quite start my career before children!


Moms Patterns

Think Lady Di anyone? I had a bright pollen coloured yellow jumbo cord pinafore. But not quite like this one above. It was more of a tulip shape. There are stacks of Lady Di maternity patterns out there. Thankfully I did not have the urge to follow that trend....(bonus of being pregnant young I suppose)



Moms Patterns

See the shorts & smock look? For my second pregnancy I sewed more & although it wasn’t this pattern I made, I had something similar. Still looked the size of a house.

And at last.... a maternity pattern showing someone looking pretty pregnant!



Stumbleupon at Etsy

Honest modelling! I made something similar to the sleeveless short smock for shorts, but found short sleeves were better than sleeveless (arm fat struck). This has that "dress up, dress down" adaptability that many of the 80s patterns seem to have- a capsule wardrobe in one pattern.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down maternity lane. It’s been long, if you managed to get to the end, well done. I’m not a Blogger user, so if I am slow replying to comments, that will be why (& sorry!)



24 comments:

  1. My goodness, those 1980s patterns are pretty hideous! But at least they might be practical - the early ones seem a little optimistic - I suppose when you got to that really big stage in the 1950s you were expected to hide in the house!

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    1. Think yourself lucky that you never ever have to go through the 80s being pregnant!

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  2. Oh dear me - the memories. My kids were the result of 1992 and 1995 pregancies. I wore a zip-fronted jersey jumpsuit for number one and looked like a blimp. For number two I was immensely proud of a topshop maternity pinafore that looked exactly like McCalls 8122 and was perfect through a long hot summer of commuting on the London underground. Lots of leggings and mens' plaid shirts. I agree about the 1970's patterns looking like what I wore as a child! Some bump-expansion panels look downright sinister :(

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    1. I had a feeling this would bring out some maternity fashion skeletons! It's OK - we're all friends here! Zip fronted jump suit, well! All I can say is "very comfy I am sure". I'd forgotten about wearing men's shirts with leggings- that was anti maternity wear, wasn't it?!

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  3. There are some gorgeous maternity patterns there and if you were in need of maternity clothing there is definitely a wide choice... although I would steer clear of the 80's and 90's stuff!
    Thanks for an interesting post.

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  4. Great post Winnie, really made me laugh. I also remember wearing Little House on The Prairie style clothes in the 1970's! I was lucky to be pregnant after lycra was introduced, VERY lucky judging by some of these patterns (McCalls 2273 really is the most hideous thing I've ever seen!) x

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    1. Yes, that is the pattern that made me choke with laughter Jane!

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  5. Great post! I loved it! I had my first in 93 and wore funny baby doll dresses the whole time or mens overalls.

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    1. I'd completely forgotten the wearing men's clothes option actually. Thanks for reminding me Justine!

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  6. Oh wow, so many of these are awful! It's funny to see how much fashion trends influence maternity clothing-- it makes sense that it would, but I guess I hadn't noticed before! Hilarious post!

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    1. Thanks Ginger, yes it was a really interesting thing to look into. I'd love to do a research project on it.... says a whole lot about society at the time too.

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  7. I so enjoyed this! Thank you! The 60s outfits were really rather glamorous, weren't they? The 70s ones reminded me of stuff my mom wore when pregnant with me. The 80s ones - eek! I totally see the Lady Di references you mention.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it- & yes the 60s outfits look glamorous - on the envelope - I wonder how glamorous it felt wearing them!

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  8. This has been such fun to read! I know if I ever decide to become pregnant I shall not be wearing any of these patterns! hehe! Phew! 80's and 90's fashions have a lot to answer for though don't they! Then again, the non pregnant looking 1940s/1950s patterns were a tad scary...

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    1. 80s fashion just makes me laugh so much!

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  9. Ahaha! I bought the cutest little 70s empire-waist dress pattern a while back, only to discover on closer inspection it was for maternity wear. Oops! I still think it's cute (and am still occasionally tempted to make it up...)

    I really found maternity fashion a struggle, partly because my budget was limited, partly because (especially with my first pregnancy) the societal expectations of what to wear infuriated me. I think my theory was good---find things that hug the curve of your back or show off your legs---but the actual execution was limited. There were a few things I wore to death, and a lot of stuff that was just awkward and unhappy-making.

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    1. Exactly what I'm talking about the envelope illustrations do not always give the impression they are maternity wear, do they? And some 70s/ 60s styles do look cute!
      It's a shame societal "norms" dictate what we should/ shouldn't wear during pregnancy as it's a really positive time (providing you feel well of course). I wasn't as happy as I should have been during my first time, I felt like I should hide, being a young Mum-to-be amongst all the older Mums. I wished I'd rebelled a bit more but am grateful I didn't sink so low as to wear Lady Di sack dresses with sailor collars and a bow! Bright yellow pinafore- yay! Not really very easy to hide!!

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  11. OMG ~ I was that princess Di clad expectant mum in the 80s TWICE! I also had dungarees that I wore in the early days but as the bumps began to dwarf me I couldn't stand even slight tightness so the more voluminous the better. SO glad I wasn't preggers in the 50s though!
    Thank for the laugh x

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    1. Trendsetters have a lot to answer for! Glad you enjoyed the memories!

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  12. Thanks so much for the in-depth research! My first pregnancy was in the early 90's and clothes were still so voluminous that I was able to wear non-maternity dresses to very end of my over-due pregnancy. My mom even made me a maternity dress that must have used 6 yards of fabric and weighed about 10 pounds. It was so huge, I never even wore it.

    My mom says that in the 50's she made pants and skirts that had the abdomen cut out in a big U and then a string tie over the bump to hold them up. This was worn over a trapeze top, which she says was actually sort of fashionable. The drafts must have been strange though.

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  13. Superb patterns shared here which is quite helpful to everyone to choose. I think all are very stylish and comfortable to wear.

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  14. It should be like this. Dressing for pregnancy is the perfect time to think about how to maximize your clothing.

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