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.
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:
- grandmashouse and the following Etsy sellers:
Are you ready now for some pictures?
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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 ...
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!
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)
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!)