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Vintage Maternity. Awesome.

What? You thought I’d be writing about St. Patrick’s Day? Sorry gang, the parade is out for us until the kiddies are bigger, and drinking is out for me (wine: okay!; car bombs: not okay!) for the foreseeable future. Chances are decent for an impromptu family get together later today, but my father is out of town on business and he’s usually the ringleader.

Anyway. I’m here to talk about sewing. Yesterday I went on a little field trip to the largest independently owned fabric store in New England, The Fabric Stash, on wind of a rumor that they have a good selection, open classes and a clothing designer on staff. (All true!) I picked up some fabric for my Folklore Bag, and was excited to start on it this morning.

And this morning I found out that my copy of the book was missing the pattern insert for this particular project.

After a quick phone call to Storey Publishing, a new (complete) copy is on its way. Very happy with the customer service, but am itching to get started on a sewing project.

Said itch has led me down the rabbit hole of vintage maternity patterns. Check out the awesomeness:

From the 40s. I swear to you this is a maternity pattern. I have no idea how – I mean, in my skinniest (and I have been pretty damn skinny at a few points in my life) there is no way my waist would ever have been that small. But pregnant? What?!?!?!?

From the 80s. Though completely opposite, these are not much better than the ones from the 40s. In fact, these are only a few short steps away from a burqa. Are they trying to hide they have a body altogether? Is there anything that could possibly be less flattering? I mean, really, you feel big enough when you’re pregnant without wearing a circus tent.

I am, however, completely in love with the next 2 patterns:

From the 60s and 70s, respectively. Now those are some cute, wearable maternity clothes. I might skip on the bloomers (perhaps they were a better idea back when the average age of pregnancy was early 20s, not early 30s, speaking from the state of my upper thighs these days), and the ankle length version of the 70s dress, but overall, I heart these.

Wish patterns these days were more than the dumbed-down, shapeless, fashionless tunics I have found so far. With home clothes sewing a dying (dead?) art, there’s just no point in developing a wide range of well designed patterns I suppose.


28 Comments Post a comment
  1. stacey #

    The Fabric Stash is about 2 miles from my house – I love it!

    March 17, 2010
  2. Kathode Ray Tube #

    I wouldn’t fit into those 40’s style maternity dresses non-pregnant! I do remember those 80’s style tent dresses. My tiny sister used to wear those. Fun to look at styles reinterpreted through the years. The 70’s style ones are stylish now.

    March 17, 2010
  3. But look… in the small picture at the bottom of the first pattern they show that you are allowed to remove the belt in extenuating circumstances! (Except you have to make up for the lack of severity in your waistline with a more severe hairstyle…)

    March 17, 2010
  4. Nice! I think the one from the 40s is meant to grow with you. You know… the one maternity dress. Like Loretta Lynn says in her song about birth control…. she’s going to throw hers out. hehe I’m with you though. I like the 60s/70s patterns. They’re cute…. surprisingly. :) I’m a childbirth educator and this is pretty interesting to me. Fun!

    March 17, 2010
  5. sulafaye #

    Have you looked at tops on the Jalie website? Some people have had some success making some minor adjustments for some nice tops, and in my experience they have the best fitting patterns out there. Oh, and the assorted notions blog ( has been going through maternity patterns herself recently. Still the pickin’s are few, so good luck with that! ;)

    Looks like I need an excuse to find the Fabric Stash!

    March 17, 2010
  6. Those are funny (and really cute). Why *not* sew your own maternity clothes? Unless you can afford fancy Heidi Klum designs (I’m not actually sure how much that line costs), I’m sure this is a much cheaper alternative and you can make clothes you actually like. Fun!

    March 17, 2010
  7. I was estatic when I wore those things in the 60’s…. They were comfortable, feminine, pretty, and just proclaiming in a very lady-like way, “I’m a mommy.”…. Actually, they looked better in real life than in a designer’s sketch.

    The ones I sewed when expecting twins had to be enlarged from the given pattern. :) I even had to make a winter coat because the stores didn’t have anything that would change the proportions from a tailored fit in the shoulders to a fit around the waist…. Sigh!… Those were the days.

    March 17, 2010
  8. WOw… I would totally wear most of the clothing!!! Are you going to sew all of them?? ( Hehe.. I am a scanner… so I just looked at the pictures… lol) But the dresses are totally cool!

    March 17, 2010
  9. I love vintage patterns! Bring back the waist!
    How is the The Fabric stash? I live in Boston and there’s really no good fabric store in the city!

    March 17, 2010
  10. **Filing this away for ideas next year once I’m preggers. :)

    March 17, 2010
  11. Those are awesome. I think people in 50s fashions wore some crazy spanx girdle things. It’s crazy and if I hadn’t watched so many old movies, I’d bet the people didn’t have the waists, only the pictures. But they did.

    As for the second batch, you must make that one in plaid, middle part your hair, and buy the 70s shoes.

    PS, who’s Ed and why’s he so cheery?

    March 17, 2010
  12. When I was in my teens and 20s I sewed through economic necessity. What I remember best is the thrill of taking out the pattern and the fabric and beginning a new project.
    My son was born in the early 80s – I really did wear those maternity tents as pictured above.
    After that I stopped sewing for ‘time’ reasons.
    I would love to see a return to home sewing, but would need to stop doing something else to have time for it.

    March 17, 2010
  13. That ankle-length 70’s dress? My best friend’s mom made that in wild flower fabric. I tried it on when I was pregnant. I was outta sight groovy, let me tell you.

    Love your blog!

    Trying to sew with a 5 yr old and 3 yr old underfoot is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

    March 17, 2010
  14. blackseagirl #

    The ’60s and ’70s patterns are adorable! Wish they had those kinds patterns and colors nowadays, for all women :). These days there’s too many faded colors, grays and blacks. Of course, these can look good as well; but some variety would be nice.
    Loved the pictures and the blog post!

    March 17, 2010
  15. make like pheobe from friends n wear santa trousers as maternity clothes

    March 17, 2010
  16. Those 40’s styles MUST have been designed by men.

    March 17, 2010
  17. You pictures of the patterns made me feel a bit nostalgic my Grandma got me started sewing and made me lots of dresses when I was young…she had boxes of patterns. :)

    March 17, 2010
  18. Have to agree with you – the patterns from the 60’s and 70’s are by far the best out of the decades you’ve shown. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how a pregnant woman could comfortably wear the style from the 40’s. There really can’t be a way, can there? Never been pregnant, so my knowledge on this subject is limited to second hand (or more) experience.

    Regardless, you’ve inspired me to try my hand at sewing again and see what sort of mischief I can create. Thanks for the great blog!

    March 17, 2010
  19. What an upbeat post! I remember the clothing styles of the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s cute when they make a comeback. I remember seeing my mother’s dresses from the 50’s with the tiny waist, girdles and corsets were the answer, even when (and especially) when pregnant!

    Although I’m “old” now, I’m kind of getting used to seeing young women display their pregnant belly in bikinis and crop tops. I think this is sure a lot better than cinching in a corset!

    March 17, 2010
  20. Yura #

    The models look so skinny except for the bump on their stomach.
    If only I can stay that way when I’m pregnant…

    March 17, 2010
  21. Oh my! I don’t think I would have fitted into those 40’s patterns when I was a small 5 yo child… The 60s/70s pattterns are gorgeous though!
    Just stumbled across your blog, and like what I’ve seen so far… Cheers :)

    March 17, 2010
  22. SallyK #

    I still have the maternity dress my mother was wearing when she went into labor with my youngest brother in 1964. It was a swing dress, sleevelss for summer, in a “mod” green print. It is sooooo 60’s! She made almost all her own clothes back then and mine and my sister’s too. She admired Jackie Kennedy’s style and a lot of her clothes were modeled after Jackie’s. Like some other commentors, I would love to start sewing again. These vintage patterns are so great – wonder if my Mom has some stashed away? Loved your post….

    March 17, 2010
  23. Cool! Loved your post….

    March 18, 2010
  24. How is that a maternity outfit?
    Even if I’d suddenly become anorexic, I could never fit into one of these, let a lone if I was pregnant.

    March 18, 2010
  25. Bobbie #

    LOL! I sewed all my maternity clothes during my two pregnancies in the 70’s. The stuff in the stores was too seriously 50’s for my taste. I also claim to be one of the first women who cut out the front of her jeans and sewed in a panty-hose top to allow for a spreading waistline. I even made a smocked-top bathing suit–with panty. Best wishes for your pregnancy.

    March 22, 2010
  26. Wonderful post, I like your impressive blog, found you on FP.

    Please visit my interesting training blog.

    September 4, 2011

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Nothing to do with food « Yumski's Blog
  2. Where can I get a custom maternity t-shirt online?

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