Monday, April 16, 2012


I have the gestational stays almost finished (and a good thing, too--I need them this weekend!), but wanted to share, instead of pictures and a project rundown, an apology that I've been absent and will continue to be spotty. About two weeks ago my husband got a job out of state, and in about two weeks we're moving. Yeah. Apparently doing "one thing at a time" isn't our operational mode, so yep--new job, interstate move, buying a house, and having a baby all at once. I think it's like ripping off a bandaid, change is...might as well have it all done at onec! I might be a touch checked out for a couple weeks--but I'll be back, and around when I can!

Because spring is pretty, timely, and represents change for the positive:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nothing to Wear: The Story of My 18th Century Maternity Wardrobe

So, what did pregnant 18th century ladies wear? In deciding how to outfit myself at events for the next six months (and believe you me, I have no intention of not participating fully in events, swollen ankles, giant belly, crankiness or no! Sorry about the potential crankiness, rest of my unit...), my first question must be, "what is correct for me to wear?"

Good news--for the most part, women in the 18th century didn't have maternity clothing. Their everyday clothes were adjusted--and built to adjust--to accomodate the weight gain and loss associated with pregnancy. Fitted gowns and jackets would lace or pin, ever-wider, over stomachers--perhaps made extra-wide. Bedgowns and shortgowns, which are looser-fitting clothes, could just be wrapped around and pinned or belted with an apron. And petticoats--you have to love the genius of petticoats, which just tie looser or tighter depending on the current state of affairs. Stays were either built with additional side lacing or, in some cases, eventually discarded in favor of quilted support garments.

Bad news--I've been building my wardrobe since I was 16 or so and really wasn't thinking "baby-bump adaptability" at that point.

So, I have in my current wardrobe no loose bedgowns or shortgowns, and several perfectly fitted and--let's sigh together--non-stomachered gowns and caracos.

What to do?

First, the things that shan't need adjustment--my shifts and petticoats will be good to go.

Second, the things that might work for a while--I have one jacket with a stomacher that I can squeak by with for a while, and a caraco with a lot of extra room in the front.

Third, the brand new--the peachy pink stays. More on those soon, and what makes them pregnancy-adaptable.

Finally, the creative solutions. I may rework one gown with robing and a stomacher to make it adjustable. I'm afraid that just pinning or lacing what I've got over a stomacher will look incredibly wonky, and while that might be forgiveable, it's not ideal. I may finally make a bedgown, even though I kind of hate how they look. Don't judge. They're a great garment. They're adaptable. I know. They're just so...schlumpfy. At least on me. Some people look adorable. I look like a schlumpf. I've never done schlumpfy and I'd rather not start now, but it may be unavoidable.

My final creative idea: I've been hankering after a chemise a la reine for a long while, and from examining Norah Waugh's cutting diagrams and others' finished products, I think it could be quite adaptable. The only issue--it falls just at the tail end of what I can document for our period (through 1783) and definitely falls outside the range of dates for my current portrayal (1777). Still, I may just throw caution to the wind, make it, wear it happily, and claim pregnancy exemption from criticism.

The current priority is getting the stays done by mid-April for my first event of the year--it's going to be a bit rushed, but after trying on my "normal" stays to get the fit of the new ones right, I think it's a necessity. Not comfortable!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Mystery Fabric, Solved! And the Winners Are...

Apologies for leaving you in suspense so long (well, perhaps not in so much suspense as all that...) I have some exciting new things going on that stole some time last week, and will keep on doing so for the next couple months, but let's get on to the point!

What is that fabric becoming?

I'll tell you--some of the ideas put forth by the guesses really got me thinking! Brooke's idea for a pale pink cocktail dress, complete with accessories, might have to go on the to-make list. And Taylor and MrsC are both spot-on that I'm in love with 1912 and want to make a gown from the era soon (and peachy pink would be lovely for an evening gown, in my opinion). Cassidy is correct that 1920s is on the (cutting) table for me--just not for this project.

Someone, however, did guess 100% correctly.

And that person guessed that I'm making a set of stays.

But wait! I said this was going to be different! A new project, a departure! So it must be a different era, right? Maybe Regency? Maybe early 18th century?

Nope. Still late 1770s/early 1780s.

OK, that's just cheating.

Except. A certain Anonymous (and please feel free to id yourself in the comments and claim your prize!) was correct in the slight difference. I'm making gestational, or maternity, stays.

Which means that, yes, the next departure will be baby clothes.

Hopefully by September.

Yikes. That's a lot of work on a lot of fronts :)

Wish me luck! And I'll be posting my progress and the fun stuff I find on clothes for mothers and babies in the eighteenth century along the way!

And the winner of the prize, chosen at random (and with quite a good guess of her own) is Caroline! You've got my email, Caroline--drop me a line to claim your prize :)

Photos soon of the stays in progress, and my research on stays for expanding waistlines soon!