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Mar 23, 2012

Maternity Pattern Madness!



Readers, if I told you I was shopping for maternity patterns, would you think I was nuts?

Well it's true -- the shopping part, I mean.  A pretty, young(ish) model we all know and love is....how shall I put this -- in the family way.  Please don't ask for the gory details, just trust me that's it's happening. Meanwhile, we're frantically pricing round trip bus tickets to Niagara Falls.  And thinking clothes.



After considerable online research, I have learned that the heyday of the maternity pattern was the 1950's and early 60's and things have gone down hill since then -- not in terms of comfort, but aesthetics.  Let's review.

In the no-nonsense 1930's and 40's, maternity patterns were usually just big smocks.  You could paint in them, dust in them, be pregnant in them, or just get fat in them; sometimes all four.





Even expectant lesbian couples wore decidedly normal clothes.



During this period you also find patterns for what look like ordinary dresses, but with pleats or tucks that snap open to allow the dress to expand.  The message is, Get on with your life, don't make too much sartorial fuss, and please, don't call too much attention to "it."



The Fifties changed all that.  It's no surprise that this was the peak of the postwar baby boom.  All of a sudden, millions of young women were having babies and the big pattern companies began pumping out stylish maternity patterns.  The A-line tent top, usually worn with cigarette pants or a pencil skirt that could expand at the waist, was the look for fashion-conscious pregnant women.





There were maternity suits, day dresses, play clothes, and even evening clothes.  Pregnancy was big business.  Lucille Ball set the standard for pregnancy chic.





Fifties maternity wear was adorned with oversized Peter Pan collars, big bows, and lots of polka dots.  Like most Fifties fashion, the look was polished and put-together, whether one was lunching in town or simply contemplating a rose.









 

Skirts were made with specially engineered adjustable waistlines -- there were no stretch fabrics back then.



In the mid-to-late Sixties, as the A-line silhouette, the empire waist and, later, the smock top became mainstream fashion for everyone, maternity clothes started to look much less special.  In fact, they were downright dull.  Pregnant women began dressing like everybody else; they just loosened their belts as needed.







Eighties fashion was perfect for the pregnant woman, since you could fit a baby as well as few bags of groceries under even the non-maternity clothes of the period.



Today, does anybody even bother with maternity fashion?  With stretch fabrics, your clothes already expand as needed.  I'm sure Hillary Duff is comfortable below, but she's not exactly glamorous.  Then again, she is carrying a child -- OMG, she just gave birth TODAY!  Mazel tov, Hillary!



Back in the day, it was rare that a celebrity would be photographed pregnant; it just wasn't for public consumption.  You'd see a photo of them posing in a bed jacket with a little bundle of joy in Life Magazine and figure out the rest.  No one whispered about baby bumps and there were no nude pregnancy portraits, for better or for worse.









In closing, readers, if you've ever been pregnant, did you buy (or sew) special maternity fashion or just wear stretchy separates?  Did you prefer dressing like everyone else, albeit with an expanding belly and (proportionally) larger accessories?

Do you agree that maternity fashion peaked in the Fifties and early Sixties and if so, how do you explain it?



I hope you are as excited as I am about what's likely to be our next photo shoot.  As always, we're up for anything here at MPB!

Happy Friday, everybody!


67 comments:

  1. I was working and pregnant in the early 1980s and our glamor girl was Princess Diana. Work clothing was still pretty formal at that point, so I made myself a bunch of dresses, and wore stretchy pants at home and on the weekends. Now, offices are very different.

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  2. When I was pg in the mid-70'd all the maternity fashions seemed to want to make everyone look like a little girl; frilly, lacy, boys and those awful Peter Pan collars. I think it's wonderful that woman can now be pregnant and look like a sexy, powerful grown up woman (although with J. Simpson it was TMI).

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  3. I had three kids between 1985 and 1989. I made several maternity dresses when I was having the first kid plus two pairs of overalls. It was true that whatever you made you were tired of by the time you had the baby. . . I made several dresses that closely resembled Butterick 6191 above.

    I think the 50's and 60's maternity clothes were a high point but in reality until the stretchy things came along recently overall the clothes don't change nearly as fast as other things do.

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  4. I used overalls (like Sarah C.), lots of leggins and empire tops

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  5. Hi Peter,
    Congratulations on your cousins happy news!
    My girl Nina is just three months old, and I did sew during pregnancy; empire waists, low waisted pants and plenty of jersey. The best thing I made was a swing jacket with a little extra 'swing' in the side seams.

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    Replies
    1. Empire waists are the thing thats missing from those patterns, and definitely the thing I wore most of.

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  6. Since I love the female form in all it's wonderful variations, I love that today's pregnant gal is showing off her beautiful baby bump. It's been 8 years since I was last pregger, but I liked my maternity clothes and felt like myself in them. My friend who were expecting in the 80's (and earlier)could not BELEIVE how ugly the clothing were. Big neck bows and tent-like proportions. Feeling like your were in costume sure didn't help to make the experience more enjoyable for them. I will add, that all these pregnant fashions are designed for you in the peak of your 'bloom' between your 5th and 7th month. After that, no matter what, you look like you were squeezed into everything.

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  7. The biggest mistake I hear from first-time pregnant women is that they want to find something fashionable that they can also wear after the baby is born. Believe me, the young(ish) model in question won't ever want to see those articles again because she will have worn them every other day for the last 3 months of pregnancy!

    BTW, I have a collection of Simplicity pattern catalogues from 1967-1970 in which they constantly refer to maternity as The Waiting Game. i.e. "Are you waiting? Wait in style"; "Play the waiting game in this cool collection". No mention of the word pregnancy, bumps or babies. And the models are all flat fronted. It took me a few seconds to realize what they were talking about. Ah, those were more dainty times, weren't they? ;)

    (Not to be too indelicate, but I had assumed your cousin to be a mature lady with no interest in heirs.... )

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    1. Even clothes I had owned and loved for a long time became the most boring thing on earth after being over-worn during pregnancy. I kept some of the empire line tops though - that style suits me all the time.

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  8. worse than shopping for maternity patterns is shopping for nursing ones. not even vintage patterns have much to offer here... it's like have the baby but don't think of not giving it a bottle.

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    1. true. I made myself an awful top with these weird flower petal shaped things in front to cover the openings. It also claimed that you could make it with knits or wovens probably bc it was sized like an 80s top.

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  9. I think the challenge in maternity dressing comes more in that there is a good bit of time where ones body is changing, and ones jeans likely do not button but one also doesn't so much look pregnant. My kids are 9 and 4 so it hasn't been that long but I assure you I was glad for stretchy maternity clothes with both. I particularly liked tops that were drapey empire waist things so I had plenty of room for my growing belly or the five guys burger and fries that I felt entitled too. Some were real maternity and some were not. All my bottoms were though probably starting before most did. I figured if I was going to have to buy them anyways I should get my money's worth so as soon as the regular ones got uncomfortable I switched to the ones with the nice stretchy waist.

    All that said if it were just a fashion question I think I'd still prefer modern thought the 50s expandable dresses looked fun. Mine would have to have expanded in the chest as well though.

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  10. After having 7 babies from 1992-2005 (all planned), I put together a pregnancy wardrobe from my 2nd pregnancy onward. It was built around key, neutral pieces and then I would add a few new pieces each pregnancy, based on style changes and fashion.

    By the time my last baby was born, my original pregnancy wardrobe had changed 2x - I was on my 3rd wardrobe.

    I found myself comfortable in clothes similar to what I wear when not pregnant - jeans, skirts, knit tops, or blouses with stretch in them. I found most dresses to not be flattering, even though my key figure point was my extruding tummy (trust me, at 5'4" - my tummy was out there from 3 months!)

    I would sew myself a few skirts with ribbed waistbands, or a few knit tops, adjusting the patterns I normally wear for my tummy.

    I love vintage maternity patterns, and would emulate the style - pencil skirt/capris, leggings with a longer top, sometime swingy, sometimes not. No bows, collars, etc (I don't wear things like normally, why would I wear it during pregnancy?)

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  11. I actually think some of the vintage patterns are pretty cute. I like the swing tops with pencil pants - not too far from today's tunics and leggings. I was happy to have stretch material during pregnancy, for comfort. I don't mind showing off 'the bump' - but I never wanted to show off the actual skin - or see others for that matter.
    As for talking about pregnancy, my mother would never say the word 'pregnant'. She would always say 'expecting' or PG.

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  12. When I was pregant in the late 70s I was still a teenager. One of my friend's older sisters had just had a baby, so she gave me her maternity clothes. She was working during her pregnancy, so they were good quality and mostly really cute. I don't think I bought anything or made anything for myself-- no money. We did make the maternity wedding gown (I wasn't showing yet, but it was similar to the one from Funny Girl.)

    If you make these patterns, keep in mind that the woman's arms, shoulders and bust will be increasing in size throughout the pregnancy, so cut a little generously.

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  13. I made my maternity pants because no maternity pants ever, ever had pockets (jeans with a panel- another story but who's wearing jeans when you're pregnant in August?)

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  14. I hope you don't mean Cousin Cathy. She doesn't seem built for childbirth.

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    Replies
    1. That's what they said about Nadia Comaneci.

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  15. Tell that lovely model, congratulations! I just can't wait to see the layette you are going to be sewing next : )
    This is the timeliest post ever! I just bought a great Vogue pattern at the thrift store from 1960, got home, took a second look, and now see it's a very fashionable maternity fashion. I don't really need it, is Cathy interested? http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Vogue_5055

    When I was pregnant in the early 90's I wore regular dresses most of the time because the dresses had so much ease. My mom made me a maternity dress: the designers seemed to have just doubled the already generous amount of fabric so the thing was-tent sized and weighed as much as a baby. (I never wore it.) The second time around (late 90's) I spent almost all of my budget on a really swanky pair of stretchy maternity jeans.

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  16. Must ask... Who is the lucky father?

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  17. Peter, let me tell you something... Did you know that they don't sell maternity clothes outside of specialty stores anymore? It's true. Shopping for gifts for two very pregnant sisters have taught me that--I scored a whole wardrobe for the price of two outfits for my sister because Wal-Mart was liquidating their stock. None of the big three carry maternity clothes anymore. To get those, you have to go someplace like Motherhood Maternity. And if you look in current pattern catalogues, you won't find maternity clothing patterns, either!

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    1. Is that true? Target either? I didn't love Target Maternity, but at least you could get a simple maternity t-shirt if you needed to. If this is true, you'll be seeing a lot more pregnant woman in their regular stretchy clothes because boutique maternity is PRICEY!!!

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    2. Actually, Target still has a very tiny maternity section, and like 3 nursing bras. (Just had my son in Jan 2012.) It was good enough for me, I got a pair of jeans, leggings, and a pair of sweats that, with a skirt from H&M maternity (yes, they have a small section too) got me through 5 months I was showing. As for tops - tunics worked well. I made a couple of things, but when you are only going to wear them for 5 months (+ one month postpartum while you shrink back down) you don't want to put a lot of time in.

      And, yes, I have happily given away everything except the leggings now, I was sooo sick of all of it.

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    3. H&M maternity was an absolute gift when I was pregnant. Full of clothes I'd normally wear anyway and the price wasn't hiked up.

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  18. Firstly, to clarify is it Cathy that is pregnant or the pretty blonde girl that modeled your blue sundress? Either way congratulations!!!
    Re maternity wear, in the 80's not much of it was available in the shops and it tended to be either very low end cheap and cheerful or exquisite and expensive from speciality boutiques, so I made my own. That way I could bypass the 80's bows somewhat. I had a dress that had a Russian collar opening with a placket and long cuffed sleeves, another that was a collarless smock dress very much like the tunics around today, another was a velvet patchwork extravaganza for when I was feeling flamboyant. People in the mothers group asked me about these dresses post pregnancy when I no longer wore them and I gave them away to other people who loved them.
    OMG What's Cathy going to WEAR!

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  19. My favorite thing I sewed for maternity wear was a Isaac Mizrahi's Vogue 1794 -- it's very vintage looking tunic with pockets hidden in the front panels. It wasn't maternity, but if you weren't pregnant wearing it, someone would think you were. Here's a link to one posted for sale: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/VOGUE-ISAAC-MIZRAHI-Pattern-1794-Oversized-Blouse-Shirt-Cropped-Pants-18-20-22-/200701574161
    I sewed four of them -- one white, one black, and two patterned ones. It's about all I wore besides big maternity t-shirts for the last few months of my first and second pregnancy. Expectant for what will develop here!

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  20. I'm due to give birth any day, and I used these patterns. I found it really hard to find nice maternity clothes, especially ones that were work appropriate http://shop.megannielsen.com/category/sewing-patterns

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    1. Congratulations, Anonymous. Very exciting!

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  21. Maternity clothes in the 60's when I was pregnant were HIDEOUS!!! I made a few nice tailored shirts, wore my jeans until they'd stretch no more. Now the stretch clothes cover it all. Wish there had been nice stretchy clothes back then. And the swim suits. The HORROR! Big voluminous tents that billowed in the water and just hung soaking wet when you came out of the water. Ugh! Be glad you young things, you can be comfy now and proud of your "bump."

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  22. I am currently pregnant and the first thing I went for were the 50's patterns. The maternity clothes now are really unflattering (and down right dumpy). Love LOVE the 50/60's patterns. They are super easy to purchase on EBay and Etsy!

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  23. I have two little curtain crawlers of my own and wore the standard junky maternity clothes. I wasn't sewing then, but if I had it would have been from 50s patterns. Target had a decent maternity line through Liz Lang. It's all stretchy stuff though. They all looked like regular clothes. I had a huge, like think beach ball, belly on a tiny size 2 and 5' 7 frame. I looked like big bird. I walked like big bird. I felt like Snuffalumpagus. Everything from Motherhood Maternity was awful. Too much denim and appliqué teddy bears, too flowery, too flouncy. Ick. Im only 30 now but I felt 45 when I was pregnant. It's like modern maturity clothes are either trying to hide the baby with pleats and bows or is shoving the little uterin dweller in your face with spandex. There seems to be no alternative. I'm getting that urge to have another little window licker with dreams of a vintage sewn wardrobe. But I suck it, grab another glass of wine and sew myself a new dress while watching my kids ( 5 and 2) run around the house like monkeys. Ill live out my vintage fantasy through some friends, I'm pretty selfish with gifting people sewn outfits though. Ppl don't realize how much work goes into each garment.

    Cheers to your cousins little maniac on the way!

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  24. when i was pregnant with my first I worked in a childrens sewing factory. i was in the design department, I was not the only pregnant one, but I was the only one who showed up to work looking like a laduy and not a slob in her husbands sweats (no joke). The girls that were preggers at he same time bought one dress that they wore to church and to sale meetings. Other than that they literally were in sweats and flannel shirts. I went out bought a Voge maternity pattern and made about six dresses. I really didn't think anything about it until towards the end of my pregnancy the owner of the company approached me and said how grateful he was that I always looked dignified in my pregnant state. He could not believe that in the design department of a clothing company I was the only one who cared about her appearance. My daughter was born in 1997 so I know they could have done better.

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  25. Does one offer Cousin Cathy congratulations or commiserations? I know it's polite to 'make pretty' and offer congratulations in such situations, but i can't help but ask the ugly hard questions about how will our dearest Cathy cope being a single mother? Let's face it, she's not exactly in the best position (being an ex-con and all) to provide the best life for a baby. I hope someone is sensitively counselling Cathy about her options?? Call me a killjoy if you will, but i am concerned about the baby and Cathy's future.

    As for maternity garments...i was pregnant in the late 80s and then again in the early 90s and never owned a maternity garment other than jeans during both pregnancies. I lived in oversized tees, shirts and maternity jeans.

    As for Cathy's maternity wardrobe; i can't wait to see her in bloom...she'll be just beautiful.

    Great post Peter; i was peeing myself laughing from the get go.

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  26. I have always sewn my own clothing. Long legs especially make pants difficult to buy off the rack. It only seemed natural to make my own maternity clothing when I was pregnant. During my first and second pregnancies in 2004 and 2009 I purchased a few patterns from JoAnns and had fun sewing my wardrobe. When I found I was pregnant, again, this year I happily drove to JoAnns to buy a few winter maternity patterns. There were none! The big 3 pattern companies didn't have a single maternity pattern! Thankfully, I had several patterns from the previous pregnancies.

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    1. What has become of maternity patterns?

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  27. I think the infantalization of pregnant women via peter pan collars, bows and polka dots is very bizarre. Now the pregnant form is likely to be presented as beautiful, however, sometimes pregnant woment are sometimes OVERsexualized. Maternity clothes -ugh! I think I burned mine afterward. And Yes, Cathy will outgrow some of her maternity clothes by week 38!

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    1. And soooooo much applique! As if you were the baby.

      Though to be fair to the peter pan collars, I think they're meant to be a distraction from whats going on down below.

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  28. My only comment to that time of my life was/is-I felt like the QEII coming into port and where are the tugs??!!

    I miss the style that people had then. You dressed up to go into town or out to eat. I miss the differences in male/female clothing. You'd never confuse Lucy & Ricky,Bogart & Bacall or Carey Grant & anyone!
    Now it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

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  29. This post had me howling with laughter after a very trying day at work. Thanks!

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  30. Back when I was preggers (20 and 17 years ago now) I had two pinafores (what you Americans call jumpers) which I alternated with different shirts and blouses and sweaters (what WE call jumpers) underneath. One was red corduroy and the other was navy blue gabardine (or similar). I also made myself a few tent or a-line tops to go with various skirts that were held together with elastic around the buttonhole.
    For the first pregnancy I made a jumpsuit in a navy blue floral which was an utter disaster. Because as anyone who is pregnant knows, you always need to know where the nearest toilet facilities are, and be able to use them at the slightest provocation. Jumpsuits don't lend themselves to this need easily!

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    1. Americans use the term "pinafore", too, although usually it's employed to describe a garment for a little girl, not an adult woman. I had one in the 1960s. It was a lacy, smock-like garment that went over a dress that was worn with a crinoline skirt.

      It was like a jumper, but fancier. Jumpers tended to be made out of things like corduroy.

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  31. Actually I think vintage maternity patterns are really ugly and dowdy, in those days women were trying to hide pregnancy however today's opposite trend of boob-and-belly-letting-it-all-hang-out is just as extreme. When I was pregnant in the late 90's Vogue had great maternity patterns that struck a happy medium between celebrating a blessed event and still being fashionable but covered up. They even sold designer maternity patterns by Lauren Sara that are still available on Ebay. Her designs are really great, kind of Donna Karan-ish but still maternity wear.

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  32. It's not vintage or anything, but Ottobre Woman magazine has maternity patterns and they are really cute - one issue in particular, Spring-Summer 2008 had dresses, leggings, jackets, tops and skirts designed specifically for pregnancy. They also have nursing top patterns - though not in that issue. Nice thing is, if you take away the pregnancy features - stretchy tummy, nursing flap, you can use the patterns again post-pre pregnancy. Your cousin might like a little Finnish fun whilst playing the 'waiting game'.

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  33. You know I'm all over vintage maternity patterns-- I mostly have empire waist ones and 40s and 50s ones with the pleats and snaps. I'm all about fitted styles and found smocks really unflattering when I was pregnant so I just treated my underbust as my waist. Motherhood Maternity clothes are crap, they sell your name to formula companies too.

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  34. In case anyone is interested "Burda" has maternity patterns. Though they may not be to your taste, they are inexpensive, multi-sized and instant download.

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  35. I have to tell you, I hate '50s clothes, so the maternity entries don't stand much of a chance. Apart from the streamlined A-line tops, I think these things are hideous.

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  36. I did make maternity clothes. What spurred me at first was a very sad event I had to attend, the funeral of a dear friend. Nothing was going to fit at all. I found a pattern for a formal type dress, 60's type to make up and did so with some black dupioni. it felt important to wear something respectful. The dress went on to keep me looking decent for many other events. I then made several other things to keep me comfortable and happy. It's nice to have a couple decent dresses to take you through those last months, even if it seems impractical at the time.
    Re: Nursing patterns, I did make two dresses that were designed for this purpose. They worked really well but because a new baby takes so much time I didn't make more. Should have done that ahead of time.

    I have quite a few maternity patterns for the 50's and up to now thought I might be the only one! The attitude towards maternity in general is very interesting. Clearly shown in pattern styles. Back in the day all effort was in hiding the fact and now it's exaggerated emphasis for all to see.

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  37. When I was pregnant with my first in 2000, I made a maternity dress that was a disaster. Something went horribly wrong with sizing, or something -- it was the first garment of any kind I ever attempted -- and it was just enormously huge through the gaping, ghastly neckline and don't even get me started on the shoulders. I donated it to Goodwill immediately and I hope that some nice pregnant linebacker is wearing it with great style and panache!

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  38. Ha, I guess I was a lucky one; I barely showed, even on the way to the hospital. From behind you couldn't tell I was pregnant. (my mother said she was the same way, even when she was preg. with me she said all she ever needed was a pin in her waistband, and I weighed 9 pounds!) So, I never needed anything "maternity" at all. I just pulled up the waists on my dresses and skirts a bit.I didn't gain any weight, either; I left the hospital in my pre-baby jeans.There was an article in Vogue recently on how to modify patterns for pregnancy; I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it.

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    1. do you have a link to the vogue article/reference? :) thanks!

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  39. I was pregnant in 2004 and 2009 and I prefered to wear stretchy separates that held it all in. I felt the most comfortable when the belly was a little supported. It's perhaps a bit more challenging in the summer's heat, but doable (I'm in Australia so it gets a bit warm here too)

    I do like the look of the fifties patterns though :-)

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  40. Those cute "swing" tops look lovely on the illustrations, but I'm pretty sure they would make me look like a tent. I love vintage styles, but I thank my lucky stars I have been pregnant in a world with stretch fabrics!

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  41. The perfect clothing for antenatal style, for those who can credibly wear it, is the sari. Nothing comes close to it for comfort, expandibilty, practicality and elegance.

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  42. 1990 was the year for me, my lovely daughter was born in November. I wore a lot of stretchy, stirrup style pants until the end. Wore a lot of my husband's shirts which worked great! The late 80's styles were big shirts and skinny pants so that worked in my favor. For work I spiffed up a bit with skirts that I made or elastic waists that I could wear under my belly. Really, it was so simple. I can't bear the childish looking maternity clothes (50's) that seem to want to make the mother into a madonna. I mean, really, we all know what you did! ;) I remember sewing a mandarin style maternity dress for a friend in the early 80's that was really just adjusted with an a-line skirt. It was tres chic and she looked elegant in it. I don't think anyone needs to HIDE it anymore, but I'd rather not see your nude maternity portrait on the cover of People, or you in something so super stretchy that I can see your belly button poking out. Something that skims can be celebratory and stylish!

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  43. I had my first kid almost a year ago. I imagined I would like to make maternity clothes, so I bought some vintage patterns to dress up the cute little bump - then gained a lot of weight all over and started sleeping 13 hours/day. It was also a really cold winter, so I lived in two pairs of wool trousers (a friend had grown out of them and I added a stretchy front panel) and a bunch of cheap long-sleeved tops. I had two cardigans that had been too big before, and two purchased blouses, and that was it. Yes, I was sick of it all afterwards! I got some secondhand blouses for nursing, that I still wear.

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  44. My mother had her children in the late fifties and early sixties. She always made her own clothes (I still have soime of the fabulous dresses she made). When I was pregnant in the nineties, she was always telling me how envious she was of what I was wearing. In her opinion maternity clothes in the fifties were AWFUL. She loathed, absolutely loathed, the way they made you look. Apparently the difference between what was fashionable and what was necessary was rather large in those days. Being pregnant meant being an absolute frump for months on end.

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  45. I have a 4 month old so I just recently got out of maternity clothes. I feel that maternity clothes are essential! I did not want to look like one of those teen moms squeezing into their stretchy clothes because it never fits right. I sewed a lot of my maternity clothes from vintage patterns. Butterick and McCalls have come out with a few new patterns and you can modify normal size patterns for maternity. Always remember to drop the front hem to account for the growing belly and make sure to add a FBA!

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  46. Maternity clothes, oh my! I wore Laura Ashley wool challis smock dresses and had a black Danish wool jumper that I adored. I had babies in 84 and 87, so the demure princess Di was the icon. For comfort and style ( or so I thought) I wore leotards as tops, sleek and supportive, and drawstring waist skirts. I do not like the feeling of swimming around in baggy clothes. I also had legging and knit tunics. My husband had an argyle knitted pullover maternity sweater made for me. God bless him. It was pink, vanilla, and blue and yukky. I wore my trench coat with the belt tied in back. Hope this helps.

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  47. My belly was so big when I was pregnant that I had to sew my own clothes, I couldn't find anything that fit. I'm 5'3", short waisted, and pretty slender, but I gained 85 lbs, and it ALL went out in front. I made 2 pairs of pants and skirt, and rotated those. A warning about maternity patterns, they say to make your normal size, that they've been adjusted for pregnancy - IT'S A LIE. They just give you a *little* more belly room. The first one I made, a dress, when I was 5 months, not even that big yet, I could barely get on, my belly was busting the seams, and there was no way my boobs were fitting in there.

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  48. Hi Peter!! I completely understand what you're talking about - modern maternity fashions certainly leave a LOT to be desired of!
    I've had 2 kids and goodness me did I get MAD when i tried to find maternity sewing patterns when i was pregnant! Its kind of shocking how little there is in way of maternity sewing.

    Anyway, long story short - I'm a designer, and recently launched my own line of maternity sewing patterns - you can check them out here - http://megannielsen.com/collections/sewing-patterns

    Let me know if you'd like to try some out, I'd be thrilled to send you some :) You can contact me at store@megannielsen.com - would love to hear from you!
    Hugs!
    XOXO

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    Replies
    1. Oh, Peter, you *must* check out Megan's patterns if you get the chance! We carry them at my shop, and they fly out the door like no one's business, probably because they look like actual clothes, but for people who are making people. Very well-drafted, darling packaging, solid instructions, great aesthetic. You'll love them!

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  49. My mom's theory (7 babies born 1971-1984) was that maternity clothing was so ugly in the 70's and 80's as a way to punish women for being pregnant. ;) She made peasant blouses for herself, and she and her sisters passed a box of maternity clothes back and forth between pregnancies.

    I made some of my maternity clothes during my first pregnancy ('03). I had no idea the Big 3 weren't making maternity patterns anymore!

    Having inherited some '90's maternity clothing, I was glad that Old Navy and Gap had nice maternity clothing, and a local boutique also had a narrow selection of maternity clothing (it was a lingerie shop but she had had maternity and nursing clothing too).

    The thing I will never understand is why so many maternity items have to have bows and ruffles. It's as if the assumption is that when a woman becomes pregnant, she turns into a walking bassinet. Ugh. I was glad that, as a seamstress, I could sew what I wanted and bypass all the bows etc.

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  50. I had my first child in 1995, and the convention for pants patterns at the time was to put in an elastic waist with enough length in the elastic to cover even the most horrendously large belly, but then to pinch it to your current size and put in thread stops every two inches or so. Then, when you finished the casing, you'd leave an opening at one side or the other through which to grasp the elastic, so that you could use your seam ripper to remove one thread stop at a time as you expanded. As you can imagine, this led to very lumpy waistlines. Since the rise of the pant also put the waistband EXACTLY at your navel, this was a tragic look for everyone involved.

    Personally, I prefer those 50s skirts with the "kangaroo" cut-out, which I expected to be an expanding pouch, based on the name, but which is actually an opening finished with bias tape that has ties at sides and bottom to "hold in" the belly. Having birthed four whole people at this point, the entire idea of that kangaroo cut-out makes me giggle.

    Best wishes to the new mother, and happy pattern hunting! That Diana pattern is GOLD.

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  51. I had my daughter in 2004. Casual dressing is normal in the software business, so I only bought jeans for my maternity wear (first regular jeans 2 sizes larger, then ones with an all-around stretchy waist band, then ones with the stretchy kangaroo pouch section) and then wore my husband's knit shirts (rugby's and polos) for tops.

    I was horrified at how shoddily made most of the clothes in maternity shops were, and how high the prices were. Wearing my husband's shirts felt great - good fabrics, nice colors, and plenty LONG to cover the bump nicely. (He wears Mens L, I wear Womens S, so I had to roll up the sleeves on the long sleeved shirts.)

    Those slender pants and pencil skits look cute on the envelopes, but I'm skeptical that they look quite that good in person - they don't seem like they can really accomodate a good sized bump. Maybe those tops are longer than they seem to me? I'd love to see a picture of someone in them who is at least seven months along.

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  52. I did sew myself maternity clothing in 1974. When pregnant again in 1980 I was selling real estate and bought clothing, including knits.
    Why my attorney daughter was pregnant again 4 years ago I thought I'd sew something for her and there wasn't much at all available! Peter I'm amazed at what you come up with! It's like the history channel for patterns here!

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