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Apr 23, 2012

More Maternity Madness + Vogue WINNER!

Hello, readers, and welcome to my second half century.  I have so many fun things planned for us while I'm still lucid (and continent).  First, to announce the winner of the June/July issue of Vogue Patterns!

She's a thrifty crafter from Anchorage, Alaska -- please put your hands together for KELLY!

Kelly, please send me your mailing address (peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com) and I'll get the magazine out to you ASAP.  Congratulations!

And now, friends, you'll never guess what.  As those of you who've been there know, pregnancy takes nine months.  You can't rush it, and in the meantime, you still have to leave the house. 

I have become something of a maternity pattern maven, having looked at -- literally -- hundreds of vintage maternity patterns in the last month or so.  And what I have learned is that most maternity fashion was little more than super-sized Shirley Temple dresses.

But a few styles were more ambitious -- less cutesy and more formal, something you could whip up in shantung and wear to the theater with a mink stole; you know the look.  You really have to dig for these because there weren't many of them.

Readers, over the weekend, I found one of the very best of these on eBay and I had to buy it.  Please meet McCalls 4638 from 1958, a pattern so rare it isn't even listed on the vintage pattern Wiki page! (Am I allowed to add it -- how does that work?)

Of course, it's the far left version I'm obsessed with, View B, the black sort-of-sack dress that is the quintessence of Hefty-bag hauteur.  Of course, the first thing it made me think of was this -- quick: name that I Love Lucy episode!

I guess McCall's 4638 was trying to echo this late Fifties chemise-dress silhouette.

I think the reason this look didn't really last is because it was extremely unflattering.  But you could hide an imminent bundle of joy (or a few shoplifted rib-eye steaks) in one.

In closing, friends, I know many of you were hoping this maternity thing was just a phase but I think I may have finally found an area of specialization thankfully unclaimed by any other vintage sewing bloggers! 

BTW, does anyone know where that chemise dress/sack dress thing came from? Was it Dior, was it Balenciaga?  How long did it last?

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. WOW, that pattern you bought is so interesting, unique, and I can't believe anyone would wear such a thing! Do you think anyone ever did? I really hope that you make it for Cathy - if anyone can pull it off, she can.

    1. I wonder how many they actually printed. Like I said, it's not in the vintage pattern Wiki. It's hilarious -- a must-make!

  2. Hefty Bag Hauteur?! Snort! :-) I'm looking forward to seeing Cathy's next maternity ensemble. Also, what's this about a "second half century?" Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday Peter!

    I'm totally enthralled by Cathy's 'delicate condition' and look forward to the next ensemble.

  4. Happy Birthday! I wish I had these patterns, but alas I do not. But maybe something in the pics gives Cathy some ideas for her maternity trousseau

  5. ha, I loved that episode of I Love Lucy, but I am not good at remembering details like that. Yeah, this side of 50 is psychedelic, isn't it? Oh my, I hope you don't lose the ability to recall trivia!

  6. 50 is the BEST!!! I forgot hubby and you were born just two weeks apart. That makes me smile!!I actually think the girl on the right of 4638 looks oh so fabulous. All in all I think woman's hips have gotten broader..unless of course you are from NYC or LA...where they are slimmer...the sack dress would just not sell well across middle (hrumf)America.

    That Lucy show is one of my favorites. They made the dresses out of burlap if I remember correctly.

  7. It was Balenciaga who designed a very pared down, minimalist dress in the late '50's that inspired that whole chemise/sack dress style.

  8. The Vintage Pattern Wiki is open-source--anyone can edit and add patterns (I've added a bunch myself, as I almost always do if a vintage pattern I've bought isn't there already.

    LOVE the unusual maternity dresses you found, especially Vogue 5595.

    I may no longer be pregnant, but I love maternity fashions... so please do keep on!

  9. Peter, something tells me you're going to be continent for a lot longer than Cathy will be! :-)

  10. I loved the Vogue with the numbers 812 showing. I'd wear that now!

  11. I reckoned you would be moving on to sewing period babywear. There are any numbers of fabulous old patterns out there and it leads in to such exquisite joys as smocking, sewing on buttons with embroidered rosebuds, pintucks, insertion lace, et cetera: or would that just be a tad too strange?

  12. Peter,

    First of all belated congratulations on your bithday! I have tried to write before, but the traffic here was too much and the site was not downloading!

    I have a suggestion for Cathy... Next time, you can go to a "time-machine" post and show Cathy, years later, as a fashionable young mother of... Patti Playpal! Hahaha! Of course, a Patti should also wear a version of her mother's clothes!

  13. I too really like the Vogue ?5 812. It would look terrific in a drapey velvet of some kind, assuming that the neck has soft folds not stitched pleats? Just a thought.

  14. (trying not to break into uncontrollable laughter)
    Absolutely luv the Patti Playpal idea.It cheered up a morning that started badly.

  15. I was born at the end of WWII. My grandmother made me a 2-piece chemise dress in a turquoise cotton with 1/2" white dots. The skirt was straight and the top was short sleeved, probably an A-line gathered into a 3" wide band at the hips and a big flat bow at the center back band. I was about 12 or 13 and I loved it, though it should not have been made of that stiff cotton.

    If memory serves me, and it often doesn't, daytime chemise dresses were designed by Coco Chanel, but made of soft knit jersey. The result was fluid. My beloved turquoise cotton looked better after a few washes. My taste has improved since then.

    The style didn't last. Rich women had worked too hard at keeping their figures to hide them under a chemise and the stiff cotton knock-offs were often dreadful. There was even a rock & roll song, "No Chemise, Please." I should go look it up and see if there is a vocal online.

  16. I found the song, rather easily:

  17. Awww , Marilise beat me to it; I was going to say...BALENCIAGA. The sack dress may not have been the most flattering on most women, but on the right sort of figure, it's actually quite stunning..takes a clever designer to make such a style look even remotely "chic", and that was definitely Balenciaga.


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