Adventures In Maternity

Now that I have been given the blessing of carrying a new little life inside of me, one of the things I've always been interested in making has been a maternity or gestational corset. Research on this project has been difficult, since there are very few extant gestational corsets out there, and most of the reproductions are based on later models -- from the 1870s. I discovered an 1877 patent for a laced corset that looks very much like a gestational corset, and interestingly also has a very similar shape to the 1860s. Since I can't imagine that maternity corsets sprung instantly into fashion in the 1870s, I can only presume that gestational corsets did, in fact, exist in the 1860s, and that they would look similar to the one in the patent drawing.

So I set to work, drafting a corset that will be lightly boned (with spring steel for added flexibility) and possibly corded, buttoned down the front and laced in the back, sides, and front sides for belly growth. I'll also be changing the laced bust with hook-and-eye bust openings for nursing, as I hope to wear this after birth as well.

I went ahead and cut the slits for the laced opening and for the bust (but the bust seam will actually be curved -- like a "U" shape). Don't laugh at my makeshift belly. :) I'm only 13 weeks right now and I imagine I'll get even bigger than I've represented here. But I wanted to see what the corset looked like when the belly began to grow. I did make the stomach slits higher than the corset in the patent as well -- as I presume my belly will eventually grow right up under my bosom. At any rate, here's to a new adventure! God Bless!


Sarah said...

Wow, that looks fantastic! It looks like it will be very comfortable as well. Did you alter a "regular" corset pattern or start from scratch?

You've inspired me to make one myself, when, alas, I will not be pregnant for much longer! I will have to keep your wonderful ideas in mind for next time!

lissawi said...

Ooh! Very cool! I made the Past Patterns one myself as I'm too afraid of drafting, but I only wore it while nursing and losing the baby weight, so I'm not sure how it would actually work while pregnant. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Amy said...

Good morning ladies! I started this corset from scratch, although the base pattern *is* a "regular styled corset. It seemed easier, since I don't really have an existing corset that fits nicely. See, I am not very well endowed and don't have much of a waist, so I used to design my corsets to nearly squeeze the life out of me in order to achieve a waist. This will be my first corset that will actually fit my natural waist measurement. (But hopefully I'll be more endowed for a while after baby!)

I'm designing it to close [fully] at a 30" waist, which will give me some "squeeze" without killing me. Loosened up, of course, it's going to be about my natural waist, so hardly any compression there. And with the 4 laced areas in the front and sides, the corset should expand nicely, and then be drawn back in to help me "get back" to pre-pregnancy figure.

Drafting isn't too hard (especially if you have a dress form to help you confirm your pattern), but I certainly don't know the science of it. I have a drafting book, but it doesn't talk about corsets. ::sigh:: So I do my best. I'm sure I'm making a hash of it, and probably "drape" the thing more than I should, since corsets should always be drafted flat.

If I can get the thing half made up in the coutil fairly quickly, I might be able to see how comfortable it is now, before my body starts to change a lot. I'm right on the cusp of starting to show a real belly. But maybe the baby will hide a little while longer.