Category Archives: maternity wear

New policies for 2016


Wow! We’ve had an amazing year! I feel like I say that at the end of every year, but 2015 really turned out to be one of our busiest of all time! I estimate over the course of the past 12 months, we stitched over 1200 yards of fabrics and completed over 300 garments! We lead 2 hands on workshops and gave 8 historical clothing presentations! What a year!

Looking ahead, we will be instituting a few new policies. As our markets and clientelle change, so must we. Effective January 1, 2016, we will be changing a few of our requirements. So here goes:

1. All film commissions will require payment in full at the time of order. Orders not paid in full within 10 days of order date will be subject to cancellation.

2. Effective January 1, 2016 a design fee will be added to production estimates for custom designed projects to cover the cost of pattern drafting, sizing, mock ups, and research (if applicable). Our design fee begins at $75.00 per design and is subject to change based upon individual projects (i.e. the more complicated the design, the higher the design cost).

3. Beginning in January, established clientelle will have priority completion dates. One of our biggest compliments is a returning customer and we would like to say thank you by offering priority scheduling.

4. Our reproduction fabric will now be dedicated exclusively to creating our custom historical garments. Any available yardage will be offered for immediate purchase on our IN STOCK page. -REVISED 2018- ALL FABRIC SALES ARE ACTIVE!

5. Our production calendar runs from January 2- May 31 and September 2- December 20. This allows us to spend our summer months conducting workshops, giving lectures, and attending conferences. All orders placed at the end of our production calendar will receive first priority at the beginning of the consecutive production season. We ship IN STOCK garments year round.

And just a gentle reminder:

All Maggie May Clothing images are protected under creative copyright and may not be shared or published in any way without written consent. This applies to our main website, our Etsy shop, and all affiliated social media sites.

Thanks and we look forward to another fabulous year of historical fashion!

What to wear (Again!)

Another conference! Another decision!

What to wear?

Last time I attended an Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museum conference, I sported a lovely 1840s gown inspired by an original in the Met.

1847metgown  romanticgown

That conference was in the summer and the Northeastern Ohio weather was lovely! However, this upcoming conference is in the winter, and Southern winters are unpredictable- so I am thinking layers!

Initially I planned on wearing my Fall Harvest dress– as it is one of my favorites and I think would fit the venue perfectly! But after having a baby this summer, my current post-baby silhouette is a little wonky. It’s so strange how your body is in constant flux during that first year after childbirth. Not to worry though, as with my first bundle of joy, my body will return to its natural shape (just not in time for the conference!)

With that in mind, I’ve had this gorgeous c.1790s jacket and petticoat pinned on “Must sew” board for a few years now.


I am thinking this conference might be the perfect excuse to FINALLY make it! It will be adjustable so I can wear it again later with few alterations. I don’t have to worry too much with fussy undergarments. It is nursing friendly and should allow for lots of freedom of movement (in case I have two little kiddos in tow!)

So, this 1790s era ensemble it is! Here’s the plan:

In lieu of a simple strapped petticoat, I am going to make a full dress to wear underneath. The dress will have elbow length sleeves so it can be worn at a later date for evening wear. I am going to make it in round gown style from 100% semi sheer cotton with all over silver thread embroidery.



The Bodice (turned jacket) will have to be drafted. (It looks to be part caraco, part shortgown, part spencer. Whoo! Lots of parts to piece together there!)


I’ve stashed away some lovely medium weight cherry red silk. I also have a watermelon linen that might be nice too. We’ll see. The trim will have to be ordered. I’m going to use silver instead of gold. Here’s some possibilities-

LV-TL-6-915 LV-TL-24-915

LV-TL-123-915  LDM-526-925

I’m also going to make a few garments to donate to the silent auction.  With all this AND orders to fill, I better get sewing!

Historical Maternity gowns

I recently received an inquiry in response to a post I did a while back about historical maternity wear. In reference to this gown: c. 1850s (source Augusta Auctions)


Question: Is this a dress that a woman would have worn during the day, at home? If not, is there a better example of that? How would the woman who wore the dress have described it–what language would she use? For example, what would she have called the material from which it is made? What would be the word for such a dress–is it a day dress?

Answer: The term “maternity” in reference to clothing did not come into popular language until the 1950s-1960s. However, evidence of publicly marketed “maternity clothing” can be traced back as early as the ready made mail order industry of the 1900s. During the mid half of the 19th century, there were no specially made garments for pregnancy. Pregnancy was simply adapted to. As a result, clothing of this period worn during pregnancy retains its same name- i.e. day dress, morning gown (or wrapper), evening gown, etc. The gown shown above is a silk day dress which was meant to be worn at home, in public, or when receiving visitors.

During the first two trimesters of pregnancy women continued to wear their pre-pregnancy clothing- including corsets. By the third trimester women began to adapt their clothing by adding additional panels (as seen in the gown above), taking out darts, and temporarily enlarging dresses anyway possible with the intent that the gown would be taken back in after childbirth. Corsets were loosened as well.


c. 1855 wrapper (source Kerry Taylor Auctions)

Today, people often associate the term wrapper with maternity wear for this period. However, according to The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming, et al, a wrapper is a loose, robe which might be worn in bed. During the 1850s, the wrapper was also worn during the morning hours before a lady fully dressed in her corset, petticoats, etc. It is quite possible the term gained its association with mid 19th century maternity wear because by the last trimester of pregnancy, middle and upper class Victorian women stayed at home (i.e “went into confinement”) and most likely wore their wrappers for the better part of the day. However, a wrapper was not a garment meant to be worn outside the home, in public, or when receiving visitors.


Historical Maternity Wear

For years, historical maternity wear was something of an obscurity. But now, more and more museums and other historical clothing collections are paying attention to these special garments and making them available for study! Here are few of my findings.

Maternity gown c. 1825
Image courtesy Powerhouse Museum

Two mid 19th century maternity gowns c. 1850-1865. 
Images courtesy Augusta Auctions.
Maternity Wrapper c. 1850s
Images courtesy Antique Textile
Maternity Dress c. 1850s
Image courtesy Augusta Auctions

Maternity Bodice c. 1860
Images courtesy Antique Textile

Visiting Gown c. 1870s
Image courtesy Powerhouse Museum
Maternity Gown c. 1880-1890s
Image by Susan Jarrett
Maternity Corset c. 1892
Image courtesy Antique Textile.

Maternity Gown c. 1900-1914
Private owner/Ebay listing

Wool Maternity gown- c. 1880-1900
Private owner/Ebay listing

McMillen, Sally G. Motherhood in the Old South: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infant Rearing. 1990.

Kennedy, V. Lynn. Born Southern: Childbirth, Motherhood, and Social Networks in the Old South. 2009.

Hoffert, Sylvia D. Private Matters: American Attitudes Toward Childbearing and Infant Nurture in the Urban North 1800-1860 (Women in American History). 1988.