Saturday, February 04, 2017

Pretty, Modest Maternity Dress

In this post are pictures of maternity sewing patterns from the 1980's.

There was a time when maternity clothes were very pretty and feminine. Fabric from the blouses and dresses draped gracefully and did not reveal every detail of the "baby bump."  Pregnant ladies would have been embarrassed to be seen in clinging tee shirts that showed the outline of their growing tummies!  Maternity clothing is so different now, I think some women have just given up and are wearing the jeans and tee shirts, because they cannot find anything else.

Here are some of the patterns I used for maternity clothes.  The matching trousers had a stretch panel, but that part was always concealed by the blouse. These clothes were designed with the idea of making expectant ladies comfortable, graceful and feminine.  There was an elegance to them.
The maternity clothes represented a very special nine months of your life, and ladies were encouraged to pay attention to their clothing, by having something new, clean, fresh and pretty.  
Because some of us were not always feeling completely well, having nice clothes was a great thing.
Husbands would be inspired to compliment their wives and say they looked beautiful during the waiting period.

It was always recommended that clothing be of natural fibres and the garments not too tight, but today the pregnant ladies look a little uncomfortable in the clothing they have to wear.

Ladies did not cup their hands under their bellies to emphasize their size, which  has been a trend in commercial photos recently.  It is not that women were ashamed of their pregnancies, but that it was something private enough to cover in a way to be less obvious. With these kind of clothes, there was not the tendency for people to pat your stomach! I would say it is unlikely any woman would try to show extra weight around her middle by outlining it with tight clothing or her hands, even when not pregnant.  However these days, no one seems to want to hide their bellies, pregnant or not.  It should be a matter of modesty and not wanting some parts of your body to be unnecessarily noticeable.

In the commercialization of everything, no part of the body seems to be sacred enough to cover loosely.  I liked these maternity patterns because they didn't bring too much focus on certain areas of the body.

On the subject of fabrics, I remember the cottons used to be substantially thicker and sturdy,  Because of this, ladies clothing in general, not just maternity, created the appearance of slenderness. Stretch knits just are not very flattering and do not create a visual slenderness, nor give a feeling of dignity.  

One thing that might help, is to remember that your children will see pictures of you when you were pregnant with them. Let them have some pictures of you wearing pretty maternity clothing.

Pretty maternity clothes makes you enjoy life during the pregnancy.

Below, from Jane,LLC are hospital gowns, but the design would be good maternity wear because it is pretty, fresh looking colors and fabrics, and modest. I recognize the Waverly fabrics and have made dresses from some of it. I would not put the ribbon around the top of the stomach. While the models present a pleasant look for pregnant women, no one would have cupped their hands around their belly like that or shown their body profile exactly.

You might go see what Princess Diana wore during her pregnancy. She often bought clothes from Welsh designer Laura Ashley:


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I had my kids in the late 80's. I wore dresses to church back then. Not to work, had to get into dusty bins to look for files so I had maternity jeans and tunics. One of the dresses that is blue with the peter pan collar looks like the one I wore for both kids. I also llked 2 piece skirt and top sets. Once I got large, it was easier to wear.
During the summer I had a sleeveless muumuu that I nearly wore out. But I loved the feel of the cotton. Was sad when I passed it on to a friend.

Anonymous said...

I wish I still had my maternity patterns, I could have made a few for my daughter in-law. I did buy her a couple nice modest tops that she never wore. Preferred instead the stretch fabric garments to show every detail.

Love the patterns you posted. So feminine.
Thank you for sharing, Janet

Lynn said...

It disturbs me no end to see what we look at today in women who are pregnant. I hope to the Lord that my granddaughters are never seen in tight knit tops, if pregnant. What mind set, who started this immodest trend?

Songsparrowgarden said...

I think showing every detail is extremely ugly on these young girls today. Huge belly buttons sticking out - - I mean really??? What about that is attractive? Nothing girls - - - nothing about it is attractive. Modesty would be preferred. . . but today things are very different. . nothing is sacred to them. . very sad. What will they have to look forward to with no body morals - - body values. It looks gross girls.. . take a look in the mirror. . that's what I say.

Kathy T. said...

I remember when I was pregnant with my twins in the early 90's, maternity clothing was still pretty end feminine. I had an outfit that was a pretty floral seersucker, sleeveless blouse, with Capri pants. That was my favorite. I bought cute things because I did not want to be sloppy, with stained tight shirts and sweat pants like I see too often nowadays. Lots of women look like they have given up or just don't care. Like you, Lydia, I just don't understand the tight, show everything maternity clothing that is popular these days. A woman should feel their most feminine during pregnancy, I believe.

Sibyl said...

Fashion for expectant mothers used to be quite fashionable, as you have shown in the patterns you have chosen. I look at girls (young women) and the way most of them dress when pregnant, leaves nothing for the imagination. Also the gestures they use and pictures that are seen are just almost risque. I seem to follow fashion about 30+ years behind. I have shown my daughter the styles you have presented in this post and she agrees with me that that is such a nicer look than what we see in the market place today. I even love the patterns and fashion of the 1950s. If nothing else, these are teachable moments for our children. No matter how old they are there are always times to teach. When I talk with my children about things we see, I feel I am not judging that person because of what they are wearing, but explaining to my children what I think is appropriate for them to wear or actions to take into their lives. Trying to nurture and not condemn.


JulyGulf said...

Love this article. My sentiments exactly. I call the current trend the "beer belly" look; not at all flattering or modest.

Sreim said...

These are very nice looking dresses! I sure would've liked them when I was having my babies. The first one especially looks pretty, but all are much better than what I see nowadays.

Susan-Anne White said...

Most pregnant women today dress disgracefully, with tight t-shirts (usually with jeans or short skirts) emphasizing their huge abdomens and enlarged belly buttons (and many of these women are professing Christians, shame on them.) Feminism is responsible for women dressing in such hideous clothing because feminism has taken all the wonder and mystery away from pregnancy and childbirth. When feminists are pregnant (frequently out-of-wedlock) they are determined that pregnancy will not change their behaviour in any way because to admit that they are fragile and vulnerable at such times emphasizes that they are different from men and this is something that feminists want to ignore. They must promote the nonsensical idea of "sameness" between the sexes at all costs. Feminism is a lie. Women and men are different and the differences should be emphasized and celebrated. Women should dress modestly at all times and clothing should be long, loose and layered.

Lydia said...

Long, loose and layered. Also, We did not like to wear dresses as short as these patterns show but absolutely loved them below calf.

Unknown said...

I wore the pretty, floral dresses when pregnant in the 80's, several that my mother-in-law kindly made for me. The dresses were comfortable to wear and made me feel pretty. Actually that's when I realized that I prefer skirts and dresses to pants and now wear them exclusively. Thanks for the post - I haven't thought of those dresses in years!

matty said...

I love the fact that this are modest dresses; I think the picture may have been at a baby shower and all the Mums are wearing modest dresses and the ribbons and cupping might have been to show that all of them are expecting. Looking the dresses and the ribbons, it seems the ribbons aren't part of the dress itself. And, the ribbons are the same for all the dresses, which would, again, be out of place. All this being said, I think the dresses are beautiful! When I was having children, women dressed modestly and stylishly. I had all dresses, except for one pair of trousers that were made of cotton and had an "expandable" waistband that was let out by releasing a tie that was long enough that it could be tied in a "bow" in each side pocket, making the trousers look very feminine. I would have DIED if my very round tummy had been "shown off" in anything! I am glad to see women becoming more modest!

Nancy said...

I could not help thinking of a photo of my mother taken when she was expecting me (in the 1960's). In it she is wearing a pale pink chiffon dress with long accordion pleats which began just under the bust and flowed down to the hem. It is so lovely. Thank you so much for writing about this topic.

D said...

The top dress pattern with curved bodice and soft pleats? Absolutely the sweetest, most graceful design I've seen. May just use the idea (less most of the fullness) to design a spring dress for me. A solid, soft colored fabric with some drapabily? Agree about the current styles....Not becoming at all. Fondly, D

Debra said...

That was a lovely and somewhat nostalgic post, Lydia. I had my children in the late 70's and early 80's, and I sewed many of my maternity outfits, using some of the patterns pictured on your blog post. I chose soft and flowing fabrics for my dresses and jumpers, and I can recall sewing trousers using pre-made, stretchy tummy panels. While recently shopping for clothing with my expectant daughter, I was disappointed in the current styles.

Mountain Housewife said...

I loved my Laura Ashley Jumpers that my mother in law made for me. I wore them with lovely lace collared blosuses with full sleeves. Also I had a very chic linen jumper for the early months and second semester that I adored. It WAS such an honor to have a special wardrobe and an enjoyable part of expecting. The girls today I think don't want to spend the money for clothes they only wear for a short time.

Anonymous said...

I honestly never thought much about maternity clothes needing to be draping. That is a good point. I am a skirt wearing momma who has been pregnant 7 times - I still wear skirts while pregnant, but have *never* found a lose fitting dress to fit me. I am desperate to find modest clothing for my six girls and I - they are learning to sew dresses with their grandma and I have learned to sew skirts. I am stuck at sewing the tops though as they are more challenging to me. To have a lovely maternity outfit like posted above would be such a blessing!
I also wanted to say how much I LOVE your blog. I daily check it for encouragement. You are like a godly mother of the heart to me. Your words of wisdom are encouraging and lovely. Thank you for this blog! I am so grateful.

Josephine's Girl said...

This applies to plus size gals too. I belong to this group and consider the addition of lycra spandex to every garment manufactured to be a great deficit to ample woman kind. I mean do I really want fabric clinging to the most unflattering part of my body?!!! Nice post, Lydia. Thanks for encouraging us to embrace the beautiful womanhood that God gave us!

living from glory to glory said...

I can't remember ever seeing a post on maternity clothing... Well, it has been a long time!! LOL But we did look lovely and fashionable and comfortable. And to think you still have the patterns... Geez they are probably worth money.

We had maternity clothing that we knew we would be wearing again, but so many have only one child, maybe two. And really dresses worn so much more comfortable, especially if you were pregnant in the warm months.
Blessings, Roxy

Lydia said...

From an email:

Loved your maternity wear article, thank you. I have tried for months to find something for daughter, but the stores have quit carrying a maternity line. Sears of all places should have continued the line. Imagine my shock when they informed me they no longer carry them. And to find a feminine outfit for a plus size gal like mine is impossible. She opted to simply buy oversized tops for plus sizes, second hand, to boot. Finding bottoms was even worse. They no longer have 'panels', but much thinner expanding 'bands' at the waistline, which look terribly uncomfortable. The push for population reduction is evident everywhere. Very sad.

Bethany Lynn said...

Lady Lydia,

I could not agree with you more. I am a midwife and a contributing seamstress to Practically Pretty by Design. We offer custom patterns and custom clothing for women and girls, including maternity. I am a long time reader of your blog, before Practically Pretty existed. I hope it is ok to link here as you and some of your readers may be interested:

Also, Baker Lane has some really lovely patterns for maternity that we love using:


Lydia said...

Bethany, i have had Mrs. Need in my home years ago, and Practically Pretty by Design has been on my sidebar for many years. Perhaps I can add a maternity clothing source on my blogroll.

Tyro said...

Neither of the styles are good nor bad. They simply represent different eras of style. When Princess Diana was pregnant, it was fashionable to hide the appearance of pregnancy. In that era, women would say with pride how people hadn't even noticed they were pregnant.

Now the fashion is to accentuate the "baby bump," creating the appearance of a pea in a pod.

Lydia said...

Tyro, Maternity styles tend to be similar to whatever is current in fashion, and altered and enlarged to accommodate the special body changes in the pregnant woman.

A clothing designer once said it was more difficult for American women to wear dresses because they had grown upnin jeans and tee shirts and tennis shoes. They had got comfortable in them and felt awkward in anything else.

pregnant women will not wear styles that are too dofferent from the current style. When Dianna was pregnant, her clothes were similae to the other styles she wore when not pregnant, only they were looser . It is the same today. You can get maternity clothes at but they look like the common fashion of tee shirts and jeans.

That being said, there was a time when ladies did not want to outline too much of the private areas of their bodies with stretch knits. It makes me see the designers are promoting something areas of the body to draw the eyes of others to focus upon. If this is not true, then why arent fashions emphasiziing wrists, ankles and necks, instead of bringing attention to the biggest areas of the body, as well as creating see-through-leave-nothing-to-the-imagination designs? Must we involuntarily outline every extra pound or every private area? Why not have a collar, cuffs or hems with trims?

When we were growing we used to make paper dolls and draw around them to make clothing. It helped us understand the dynamics of clothing and how be creative with it. When I first began to sew, I would draw a picture of what I needed and could erase and add or subtract elements of the design. But with jeans and t-shirts being the current trend, there is not as much to work with. It is such a limited style.

Bethany Lynn said...


If you ever want to interview any of our seamstresses for your blog or do a giveaway, just let us know! We would love that. Thank you for being a supporter for so many years!


Mallorie said...


Thank you so much for posting this. It is perfect timing for me, as I enter my second trimester and am growing out of my "regular" clothes. I find myself in an interesting position: my husband and I had our first child when I was 20, he 21. We are currently expecting our 7th child at ages 30 and 31. (We never really planned to have such a large family, and do not feel religiously compelled to do so, but here we are, and it is fun!) I bought/borrowed many maternity items during my first pregnancy 10 years ago, but have since loaned them out to several friends, the most recent being a neighbor who loaned them to her cousin without asking me, and the cousin never returned them. So, I find myself trying to put together a new maternity wardrobe, and I can't bring myself to step into the outrageously priced and shamefully monopolized "Mega Maternity Store" in my area. Even if I did shop there, I feel certain I wouldn't find anything to suit my taste. Nearly all maternity wear nowadays is made from stretchy/unnatural fabrics that don't breathe well (this is my 5th summer pregnancy in a desert climate.) Also, why aren't dresses sold anymore? I am sure they are somewhere, but really, I can NEVER find a cotton dress, or even a decent looking dress that hangs past my knees (preferably mid-calf.) The maternity store's idea of dresses is that you must need it for some cocktail party or something, and they are "dry clean only" get ups that daren't be worn whilst bending over, or else they are designed with plunging necklines to accentuate one's bosom, since they claim that is your "best feature" while pregnant. Since when is a pregnant woman's fashion goal to prove that she still has sex appeal? Isn't that a little backwards and inappropriate? How does the father of the unborn child feel to see his wife parading around other men wearing low-cut, belly-hugging shirts, paired with elastic-topped daisy-duke shorts? And what of those of us who have a modicum of respect for our husbands and our bodies, and would like to wear something comfortable, practical, and modest? Sorry soon-to-be-mamas, you won't find it in stores. I am piecing my wardrobe from thrift stores, and gathering some old sewing patterns to make the rest. I should be able to buy plenty of fabric and notions with all the money I won't be spending on this generation's ridiculous idea of all-nonsense fashion wear. I am sorry if this came across as negative and bitter; I hadn't intended to go in that direction. It's just that after seeing the options that used to be available to women in maternity wear, I feel cheated to be expecting a baby in 2017.

Lydia said...

I am interested in you offer.

Maternity clothing might sell well. The problem is that daily wear since childhood for most women has been jeans and t-shirts, so everything mist feel like jeans and t-shirts in order to sell. It has to b stretchy slinky and cling to every part of a woman's anatomy.


It is worth it to look up maternity patterns from the 1980's. Many of them are not used, and like new. You can fimd them at places like Mom's patterns and The Rusty Zipper. I am going to try and retrieve some of the ones I used to have. Just type im "1980's maternity sewinf patterns " sewing patterns being the key words.

Thank you for bringing up the immodest maternity wear. Designers know women are used to immodest stretch knits and will not feel comfortsble wearing any other type of clothing--wovens , for instance-- so they sell clothes that are like what is already popular. Until the fashions change back to natural woven fibres like cottons, linens and others, and the styles back to collars, sleeves and fullness, the maternity clothes will be just like what is sold now.

That being said, even if you do not sew, you can get clothes that are high waisted and used them as maternity.

Lydia said...

If you are health conscious, check in to the synthetics you are wearing. They do not allow air through them to dry moisture on your skin. These are acrylic and other man-made fabrics. They trap the heat. They are made of nylon and chemicals, and when you consider it all, you are practically wearing a derivative of plastic on your body. I do not mind synthetics for outerwear like coats but the dresses and shirts and pants are much better for your health when made of natural woven fabrics fabrics. Learn the difference between cotton and spandex, woven and knits, natural fibres and synthetics. Children should not sleep in anything with synthetics. They may be flame retardent but that just means the fabric will melt right in to their skin.