Here's my next sewing creation with maternity in mind, though the original pattern is a teen girl's style and not intended at all for pregnancy. Yet I think it will work very well, and doesn't look like a maternity pattern so I can wear it afterwards too!
I made it out of some lightweight cotton in cheery nautical stripes. It features an adjustable waist via wrapped ties and loose front panel that can gather more or less as needed. I think the panel would hang well in rayon or a drapier fabric as well, but this fabric makes a great summer 1940s house dress.
I had a few adventures with this pattern. For starters, when I opened it up I found out it was missing two pieces - the collar and the front panel. The collar I knew I could substitute, and the front panel thankfully I could eyeball when I compared the sketches of the front and front side on the back of the pattern envelope. It worked!
Then too, I had to size it up 4-5 inches, which created a few bumps later on with fitting. Again, though, since there is no waist seam in the front and the panel is adjustable depending on how tightly it's tied, it wasn't as big a deal as it might have been since I could already adjust the fit. I overdid it a bit, ended up having to take a few darts in the back neck, and still couldn't quite fit the collar correctly. I also had to open the front seams a bit and move down the ties which I first placed too high, and it ended up on the short side despite the narrow hem. But I have a better idea of how to size it up if I make it again - and for an everyday dress I'm not terribly particular about perfection.
The front panel I did differently so that it could open for nursing. I still sewed it at the top to the yoke, but faced it at the top down to the waist and overlapped it all the way down, topstitching it from the waist down to the side front. On the under layer, I used wide bias facing to double as both seam finishing and a more solid base to sew the buttons to. It adds a fun interior touch.
Facing on the top inside:
Because of the wide waist and the neck zipper, I don't need to use the buttons to take the dress on and off, so I won't find out until it's time to use it for nursing if I left enough room to do it comfortably. Meanwhile I think they add such a cute, double-breasted touch to the dress! They are some of my favorites from my new additions to the button stash and I have a few left for another project yet.
I used a bodkin for the first time to turn the belts and it made the process a lot easier! I definitely recommend.
I simply turned up and top stitched the sleeve and hem edges since it's an everyday dress...that saved some time, so the only hand sewing was the neck facing, hand picked zipper, and the buttons. Once more my one step buttonhole foot came in handy.
I really like the way the front panel looks. It is very comfy, and there is plenty of room for expansion. On me it looks like a maternity dress at the moment, but on my mannequin (whose size I used to be) it looks very trim. I have a dress pattern of similar design actually intended for maternity which would need less alterations and has all the pattern pieces, so I don't know if I'll do this pattern again - I may just stick with the other. At least I'm pretty sure now I will like it when I do make it up.
Because it is for everyday, I merely accessorized it with my comfy red 1940s slingbacks. A brooch distracts from the buttons, and a house dress like this one most likely wouldn't have been worn out of the house, so gloves and hat weren't necessary. Another time I might add red nail polish and a bracelet, but otherwise leave it simple.
This was yet another one of those projects I cut out, eventually got around to putting the front together (the difficult part since I had to figure out how to make it work with buttons), then had to drag myself to work on it more...until I actually sat down and started. Then it was a breeze to finish and really enjoyable. I guess it really helps to take my own procrastination advice! ;-)
The dress is trim, breezy, and comfortable - everything a house dress should be. Despite the few hitches in the process, I'm fairly pleased with this dress, chalk it down as another successful learning curve, and am definitely ready to keep experimenting with maternity-friendly vintage dresses in the future.
The classic trench coat is a style that has been in fashion with very little change since the 1940s, which makes it a great easy to find addition to your costume wardrobe without having to make one. Mine is this modern lightweight lavender coat, scored at a thrift store years ago for a dollar or two, which I break out every spring.
It's very basic, with straight lines, a tie belt, buttons down the front, collar, and patch pockets. All very typical of 1940s coats, which were yet another civilian way to incorporate military styles in their fashion. This particular style is very practical and turned out to be extremely popular and worn yet today.
While a lot - perhaps most - 1940s trench coats were double breasted, there were also the single breasted coats like this one, so you don't have to worry about accuracy in that regard when coat shopping.
In the 1950s, trench coats tended to be either boxier and worn without a belt (though belts were also worn), so the style we know today is most suitable, costume wise, for the 1940s era.
Long coats were usually the same length as the dress hem, or perhaps a little shorter as hem lines varied from year to year - but never, never longer than the dress underneath - something to keep in mind if you want to look well put together.
While trench coats are typically neutral colors today, especially khaki, in the 1940s they were often bright and interesting shades like mustard yellow, sky blue, forest green, etc. So again, the lavender color of this one is right on track - and it's surprisingly easy to pair with different outfits, something that I wasn't sure about when I got it.
One nice thing about a trench coat style is that it isn't fitted at the waist, which makes it adjustable and more likely to fit different body types, rather than a princess style coat - also a popular vintage style from the 1930s on.
This was my Palm Sunday ensemble this year. I paired the coat with a season-transitional dress I made for Thanksgiving a few years ago. It's another one of those dresses that was too big for me and now fits me again, with an alternate (i.e adjustable) belt. :-)
I still want to make another one eventually in a solid color so the details show better - and try narrower ruffles this time.
Once again...wind made pictures challenging.
I always enjoy a change from my heavy winter coats and sweaters once it's spring enough to wear my light coats! When it costs practically nothing, is suitable vintage style, and I didn't have to make it, so much the better!
I have to say that I'm not a fan of a lot of modern maternity clothes. Too tight. Nor do I want to look like a walking tent. I am hoping that the vintage maternity patterns I have - from back in the day when it was in good taste to disguise your pregnancy as much as possible - will turn out to be helpful with being tastefully dressed even when I feel like a lumbering walrus.
Not that I've ever felt like a lumbering walrus. But I've heard descriptions from friends who have experienced something similar towards the end of the third trimester, so I expect my time's coming.
Some of these vintage maternity patterns are quite creative, with a fitted front or back and an adjustable panel on the other side, which means you can fit it to your particular size at any given time. I look forward to seeing how well it works in real life.
There are also the classic 1950s styles with a narrow skirt that has a cut-out around the belly, and a long, drop-from-the-shoulders blouse. Though I think that is less becoming, especially on women with wider shoulders (aka me).
However, I'm not limited to just the few patterns I have labeled "maternity". As I looked through my pattern stash, I was surprised how many dress patterns are suitable, especially in the early stages when you just need a bit more room. First of all, just princess seam dresses without the restricting waist seam will work for a while.
Peplums and inverted pleats can help to disguise the growing bump as well.
Wrap dress styles are still used for maternity.
For later on, there are dresses with releasable gathers on the front or side, draw strings, or waistless like my recent project. Of course they are shown with a belt, but that can be easily omitted. Some of these may not fit all the way through the pregnancy, but on the other hand they don't look "maternity" either, since they weren't intended to be. So they can be worn afterwards too.
You will likely see makes of most of these patterns appearing on the blog in the next few months.
I also know that many women's bodies mature and change after their first pregnancy (not everyone can fit back in their wedding dresses after a few sit-ups), so it's a good idea to avoid making super fitted dresses at this stage when you don't know if you will be able to wear them again. With that in mind, a dress like this pink striped one that I made last year I find very comfortable for early pregnancy. No belt, a waist that hits above the belly, the bias skirt has some give to it around the hips and plenty of fullness under the pleat in the front, and since it has a blousy, button-down bodice, I will be able to wear it after the baby comes even if I do develop into a different shape. (Though of course I'm going to try very hard to regain a trim figure afterwards.) Another version of this pattern is in the works.
For afterwards, I can look for normal dresses that open down the front - or can be made to open down the front. Almost any dress with a center front bodice seam can be made to open with an invisible zipper, or buttons - though that means a bit more alteration since it either has to overlap or have a modesty panel and button loops. A dress with a center front seam means you can put a longer zipper in and do away with a side zipper altogether, which makes it easier to get in and out of.
There's always the classic tunic for a more modern look. Similarly, shirt style blouse patterns from the 1940s and 1950s that are not fitted at the waist are also fairly easy to find, and can be worn tucked in when you're trim, and out over top when needed.
I've also discovered that it's a good thing to have a range of pattern sizes is the stash and some too-big clothes in your wardrobe - you know, the ones that didn't fit you anymore but you didn't want to get rid of. There is a stage where a few extra inches at the waist doesn't need to be cinched in with a belt anymore. When I was closet purging before I got married, my mother warned me not to get rid of all the clothes too big for me since I lost weight, and I'm glad I listened. It's called being between sizes, though it also means keeping a larger wardrobe on hand, and one where what fits you well fluctuates at any given time.
But of course, for some days it's awfully nice to have in your wardrobe some modern dresses, skirts, and tops in the comfy knits we've come to enjoy - things that will stretch, have elastic waist seams, or with empire waists. They can be pretty too.
Of course, some of this still remains theory. As I actually make and wear different outfits as the pregnancy progresses, I'll be able to experiment with just what does work best in real life!
And I just got some yummy new fabric, so it's time to get back to the sewing machine...
Item of the week is this pair of gorgeous chocolate brown suede 1950s sandals, size 7.5-8. Half price for one week only, they are slashed from $35.
Also, in honor of Easter coming this month and the long standing tradition to break out spring hats on that day, use the coupon code 10OFFHATS to get 10% off any hat in my shop, vintage or crocheted. Sale runs all month long.