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).
Photos from Pinterest
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...