Desirable Styles for Maternity Wear 1904
From the days when the little maiden plays “mother” to her dollies, she looks toward the time when she will clasp in her arms her babe. The mother instinct and love is greater than all else.
The woman who awaits the crown of motherhood must be lovingly and tenderly cared for, and on the other hand, must fulfill her obligations.
She who consecrates herself to this dignity, and hopes to become a worthy mother, will not allow her family or friends to become slaves to her caprices. She will cultivate a bright, cheery manner, a cheerful disposition, and a love of the beautiful and refined.
Preparing for Motherhood
She should read books that tend to elevate the mind and leave delightful impressions. She should, if possible, live amid beautiful surroundings—and the simplest home can be made attractive if one is happy and feels in it a deep interest.
Her eyes should rest upon inspiring pictures, and her ears listen to beautiful music, if possible. Statistics prove that children born of women thus surrounded are lovelier in feature, form, and disposition than those who have come into a world that has ever seemed cheerless to the expectant mothers.
The unborn child partakes of and inherits its mother’s tendencies, and it is at this period that it is most susceptible to influences and impressions.
Though natural curiosity is strong, common-sense and a duty to the unborn child should compel a woman to avoid sights or impressions of an unpleasant or disagreeable nature.
The woman who believes herself to be a martyr or a stricken being whom everyone should pity does not deserve the joys that come with motherhood.
The baby’s fate—the condition of its nerves and brain —depends upon the health of the mother before its birth, and even during the first year of its life, when it derives all its sustenance from her.
Nature endeavors to adopt all precautions for the health of the mother and her child, but her plans are often frustrated through ignorance or indolence.
Exercise is of the greatest importance, and the expectant mother should resist the temptation or inclination to lounge about indoors all day and should spend as much time as possible in the open air. An exercise of a mild, gentle nature, which will call into play all her muscles, is excellent.
She should take moderate walks but never carry them to excess, and when tired, should lie down for half an hour or so two or three times a day.
There are exceptional cases where a woman is very delicate, or her condition is attended with distressing symptoms; in such instances, the family physician should be consulted.
The mother should be careful of her food. She should not indulge too heartily, or indigestion will result but should take good nourishing food in reasonable quantities.
Stimulating beverages should only be taken when prescribed by a physician, and in general should be avoided as a matter of conscience, since a liking for them may become a deplorable inheritance of the child.
The woman who has the interest of her babe at heart will forget the desires of her appetite and general inclinations when her common-sense tells her that the thing desired is harmful. When of a reasonable character these fancies of the appetite may be indulged in.
Adaptable Clothing for Maternity Wear
The physical imperfections of many children are due to the way, through pride or ignorance, the mother has clothed herself. Her clothing should be so adapted to her changing figure that no undue pressure will rest upon any part of her body.
If corsets are worn, they must be very loosely adjusted and have rubber lacings at the back and over the abdomen. Both mother and child will suffer from tight lacing during the period of gestation, and the sensible woman will not allow her pride to rule.
Her outer garments should be arranged that they may be gradually enlarged using the closings. Dresses and negligées may be made of attractive materials, preferably of soft wool or silk, and plain, solid colors are better than figured effects.
The addition of lace, embroidery may give them a pretty touch, and ribbon, so that one need not at any time appear unattractively gowned. The shoes should be entirely comfortable, with low heels, as any woman who attempts to wear the high or French heels puts her own and her child’s life in danger.
Many garments are uniquely designed so they may be adjusted comfortably to the changing figure and yet have the neat appearance of a fitted gown. The principal difficulty has been the lining, as when that was initially made and fitted there was no way of gradually enlarging it.
Maternity Gown Costume No. 7377
This has been overcome by lacing the front and darts. Pattern 7377 illustrates a maternity gown in which the necessary changes may be made by moving a few hooks and tapes. The blouse lining should be basted and fitted in the usual way, making it a neat fit but not too tight.
Turn back the hem at the front of the lining and stitch it with the usual two rows of stitching but make the first one three-eighths of an inch, and the second three-quarters of an inch from the edge. Slip the bone between the two rows of stitching and work eyelets near the edge the entire length of the front on both sides.
Another way is to place the bone near the edge, as in the ordinary lining, and sew eyes, but not the hooks, in the usual manner and lace through these. It would be well to sew a fly or underlap underneath each side of the fronts.
Make each about two inches wide and sew hooks and eyes on the front edges that they may form protection under the lacings.
Lace with a round elastic cord such as is used for corset lacing. Rip the darts open and mark the seams with a basting thread; then make that thread the edge of a tuck, one-quarter inch deep, running not entirely to the top of the dart.
Slip a round bone into this tuck on each side of the dart and work eyelets or sew on eyes. Lace with elastic cord. The seams should be boned in the usual way.
The girdle section, which crosses the front, may be adjusted as required, and the soft blouse vest should have a ribbon or tape run through a casing at the waistline.
The unsightly shortening in the front, which makes the ordinary skirt undesirable even when the belt is enlarged, is provided against in the pattern by an extension at the top.
The cross-line of large, single perforations shows where a casing is to be sewed on, through which should be run a ribbon or tape to come through a small, buttonholed opening cut in the center front.
When fitting the skirt, see whether this casing mark is at the proper height by pinning a piece of tape around where the belt would naturally come. Run a basting thread where the lower edge of the tape comes and sew on the casing at this line.
The part of the skirt which extends above the casing should have its raw edge overcast or bound and be turned down inside the top of the skirt, where a couple of tackings will hold it fast. If the skirt should become too short across the front and sides, the casing may be moved up toward the top to lengthen it.
The back of the skirt may be laid in plaits, as indicated by the notches and perforations, and the pleat let out from time to time if necessary, or the casing may extend across the back, giving the effect of a gathered back. Pattern 7377 costs 25 cents.
Maternity Gown No. 6990
Pattern 6990, price 25 cents, is a maternity gown slightly different in style.
It is well in ordering a pattern to get two sizes larger than the usual bust measure. A light-weight cloth will be found best for the suit. The coat may be interlined with flannel across the front and back.
Elaborate Blouses 7180 & 7067, Corset Cover 6266
Pattern 6266, price 15 cents, is a very suitable corset-cover and should have either a casing or beading at the waist and neck.
Petticoats and drawers should be finished with a casing at the top, made adjustable by omitting the front darts and continuing the back casing all around.
Pattern 7067, price 20 cents, is a shirt-waist which may be used by treating the lining with lacings as already described and running a casing at the waist-line of the fronts. This may be worn with the skirt previously mentioned for morning house wear.
For afternoon or more dressy occasions, a sun-plaited skirt made of crepe de Chine, or one of the many weaves of veiling will be suitable and should be shirred at the waist into a belt of soft taffeta several inches larger than the waist measure and a ribbon run through this to draw it to the right size.
For afternoon home wear, there are several dressy negligées, of which pattern 7180 (shown above), price 20 cents, is a good example. It is developed in crepe de Chine or India silk trimmed with lace and ribbons.
Maternity Blouse for Evening Wear No. 7027
For evening wear, waist 7027, price 20 cents, is one of several which can be modified with the aid of the lacings already described.
Attractive Maternity Tea Gown No. 7432
An incredibly attractive tea-gown is shown in pattern 7432, price 25 cents; it is to be commended because of its extra fullness and long lines and is suitable especially when made of a soft woolen or silk material.
Comfortable Maternity Kimono / Wrapper No. 5852
A comfortable kimono for lounging and room wear is shown in pattern 5852, price 25 cents. This is an improvement on the usual Japanese model, the side plaits that are laid in each front and the circular back giving it the fullness and grace of a wrapper without detracting from the general features which make the kimono such a fashionable garment.
It may be made of any of the usual lighter woolen materials; if greater warmth is desired, it may be made even of eiderdown. An exceptionally lovely and warm garment will result if the pattern is cut from China silk and albatross, the two made up as one material, the albatross on the inside as a lining.
Almost any of the loose wraps shown in recent numbers of The Delineator will be found suitable for both day and evening wear.
Maternity Cloak / Overcoat No. 7234
Pattern 7234, price 25 cents, made in broadcloth or one of the new cloaking zibeline with either applied stitched bands or several rows of quarter-inch spaced machine-stitching trimming the sleeves and cape instead of the lace, will make the coat suitable for ordinary wear, while the addition of a detachable stole collar will transform it into an evening or theatre coat.
“Desirable Styles for Maternity Wear,” in The Delineator: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Paris-London-New York-Toronto: The Butterick Publishing Co. Ltd., Vol. LXIII, No. 2, February 1904, p. 342-345.
Editor's Note: Some terminology used in the description of women's clothing during the 1800s and early 1900s has been changed to reflect more modern terms. For example, a women's "Toilette" -- a form of costume or outfit has an entirely different common meaning in the 21st century. Typical terms applied to "toilette" include outfit, ensemble, or costume, depending on context.
Note: We have edited this text to correct grammatical errors and improve word choice to clarify the article for today’s readers. Changes made are typically minor, and we often left passive text “as is.” Those who need to quote the article directly should verify any changes by reviewing the original material.