Mamma Mia: Designer Maternity Patterns

Detail of Vogue 1689 strapless, black maternity dress by Lauren Sara
Detail of Vogue 1689 (1995) Image via Etsy.

Last year, Peter of Male Pattern Boldness posted a general survey of vintage maternity patterns. Sewing patterns for designer maternity wear have a different history. In honour of Mother’s Day, here is a selection of designer maternity patterns from the ’70s to the ’90s.

Some of the earliest patterns for designer maternity wear that I have seen are by Lady Madonna. (Yes, it’s named for the Beatles song.) A 1971 article in Time magazine, “Modern Living: Bellies Are Beautiful,” partly credits the Lady Madonna label with changing attitudes to maternity wear:

“Maternity clothes have always been designed like the Trojan horse: to hide, disguise and deceive. The wider the dress, the more pleats and folds, the less identifiable the condition—or so traditional pregnancy fashions would have it seem. Lately, however, the shape of things to come has undergone some happy alterations, supplanting voluminous tents and overhanging blouses with jumpsuits and knickers, low-cut evening gowns and even hot pants. Largely through the intervention of the Lady Madonna Maternity Boutique, women can now look great with child.”

Vogue Patterns released Lady Madonna patterns in the late 1970s. (The label later made the switch to Simplicity patterns.) Vogue 2157 is a long, Empire-waisted slip dress; the model is Pat McGuire:

1970s Lady Madonna maternity dress pattern - Vogue 2157
Vogue 2157 by Lady Madonna (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Update: this maternity dress pattern by Geoffrey Beene dates to the previous year:

1970s Geoffrey Beene maternity dress pattern - Vogue 1943
Vogue 1943 by Geoffrey Beene (1978) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

American designer Carol Horn also licensed some maternity designs to Vogue Patterns:

1980s maternity pattern by Carol Horn - Vogue 2394
Vogue 2394 by Carol Horn (c. 1980) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.
1980s maternity dress pattern by Carol Horn - Vogue 2395
Vogue 2395 by Carol Horn (c. 1980) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Around the same time, McCall’s had maternity patterns by Evelyn de Jonge, like this one for maternity separates:

1980s designer maternity pattern by Evelyn de Jonge, McCall's 7193
McCall’s 7193 by Evelyn de Jonge (1980) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

As Peter points out, in the Eighties, even non-maternity styles could be roomy enough to be worn during pregnancy. Style patterns released a number of patterns by Jasper Conran, including this one for a maternity dress or tunic and skirt:

1980s Jasper Conran pattern - Style 4751 maternity separates
Style 4751 by Jasper Conran (1986) Image via Etsy.

In the early 1990s, Vogue Patterns had designer maternity patterns by Manola, an established New York maternity boutique. This Manola design uses front yokes to control the volume of the dress:

1990s maternity Manola dress pattern - Vogue 1124
Vogue 1124 by Manola (1993) Image via Etsy.

Designer Lauren Sara already had some non-maternity patterns with Vogue Attitudes when she licensed her maternity line, M by Lauren Sara. This design for an evening-length dress includes a formal, strapless version:

1990s Lauren Sara maternity evening dress pattern - Vogue 1689
Vogue 1689 by Lauren Sara (1995) Image via Etsy.

Like swimwear, a decade’s maternity wear reveals a lot about its attitudes to the female body. The absence of designer maternity patterns before the late 1970s seems telling. Yet today, Vogue Patterns has again phased out maternity designs…

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