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clothing-MN-msg - 9/23/18


Period and SCA maternity and nursing garb.


NOTE: See also the files: pregnancy-msg, cotehardies-msg, cl-Mid-East-msg,

babies-msg, teething-toys-msg, baby-gifts-msg, children-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: FRENCHBC%ctrvx1.vanderbilt.edu at RELAY.CS.NET

Date: 26 Apr 90 15:55:00 GMT

Organization: Society for Creative Anachronism

In period, upper-class mothers did not generally nurse their own children.

That's what wet-nurses were for.


However, since there's no wet-nursing guild in the SCA, nursing mothers have

to make do.  I'm not a mother myself, but I have a possible idea for garb

that would be suitable for both Pennsic and for nursing mothers.  It's cool,

it's comfortable, it's ridiculously easy to make . . . though arguably, it's

not in period (although I don't know that for certain).  It's the Greek


the garb of choice of Meridian women in the hot summer months (which have

already started down here).

The Greek chiton uses the timeworn principle of the "square".  The simplest

chiton is simply made of two squares sewn together from the floor to a few

inches below the wrist and fastened with buttons spaced about three inches

apart from the wrist to the neck.  Another summer chiton, the one which I

think would be eminently adaptable for nursing garb, is sleeveless.  The

square is overlapped at the top to form a fall of cloth over the back and

shoulders (note the sophisticated graphics to follow):


       fastenings -->   o--------o

                        /        \ <---fall of cloth)

                        |        |  


                         |      |  

              belt -->   ________


OK, so this computer is limited at best.  Basically, you cut the cloth about

a foot and a half longer than you need it to reach from the shoulder to the

ankles. Sew the sides from the floor to a few inches under the arms, depend-

ing on how big an armhole you want.  Fold the extra foot and a half of cloth

at the top so that the extra panel of cloth covers the front and back of

the chiton.  Fasten the chiton just over the points of the shoulders with

a couple strong stitches or a button.


This might be fairly easy to adapt to a nursing mother.  The front panel of

the chiton would not cover the breasts alone, but it WOULD hide any closures

used for a nursing panel.  Some ideas might be to cut out a square in the

chiton for the breasts and use some extra material to make a flap that could

button or snap in place; the extra-cloth fall would cover this closure

nicely. The chiton also affords sufficient coverage so that a nursing

mother could wear a nursing bra without it having to show; the placement of

the shoulder closures would be easily adjusted to cover the straps.  It also

follows all the necessities for Pennsic: easy to make, cool and washable.

A longer chiton, using the same principle but going from wrist to wrist,

would be easy to make for some of the cooler, rainy days.


And, on top of that, a Byzantine nursing mother wouldn't have to go all that

far out of her persona to do it.






From: bloch at mandrill.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)

Date: 27 Apr 90 02:02:03 GMT

Organization: University of California, San Diego


Somebody writes:

>I plan to still be nursing my baby by Pennsic, and have a problem.

>As far as I know, no Byzantine styles accomodate nursing!  The

>styles I've seen for Byzantine garb all seem to be variations on

>long tunics with overtunics -- nothing in two pieces, and if I

>remember rightly, nothing with a plunging neckline.


I don't know about Byzantines in particular, but I think I remember

what my friend Aoibheil (Irish persona, but not a stickler for details

like what continent she's on) wore to Pennsic while breast-feeding.

(Let's see... Meredith was 3 months old for Pennsic.  Aoibheil's best

friend's son was 15 months old.  So-and-so's daughter was 27 months

old. Is there a pattern here?)  It had a deep plunging neckline, but

covered by essentially a narrow white tabard, running under the belt

and falling to the same length as the dress.  When she wanted to nurse,

she could tuck Meredith's head under the tabard, the kid was out of

the sun (as was Aoibheil's chest), and even modest onlookers weren't

shocked. With a little Byzantine-looking trim on the edges of the

tabard (and a different color than white, as long as the fabric was

light), it would even look reasonably period.


Disclaimer: I am NOT a costumer.  I make T-tunics and bathrobes for

myself at the rate of one a year, nothing fancy.


Stephen Bloch

Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib



From: KGANDEK at MITVMC.MIT.EDU (Kathryn Gandek)

Date: 27 Apr 90 16:59:43 GMT

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


To quote Caitrin Gordon on making a Greek Chiton:

The Greek chiton uses the timeworn principle of the "square".  The simplest

chiton is simply made of two squares sewn together from the floor to a few

inches below the wrist and fastened with buttons spaced about three inches

apart from the wrist to the neck. (end quote)


Cait, thanks for giving me an opening to one of my favorite pieces of odd

information. My costume history/design teacher in college taught us a different

way of making a chiton, which drapes in a way I prefer to the above method.

Instead of using two pieces of fabric, use one long one.


The dimensions of the fabric:

The width of the fabric is the distance from your shoulder to the ground.

(This can very depending on style--I'll explain later.)

The length of the fabric is twice the distance between the tips of your fingers

(or less if you need to, but don't decrease it by too much or it looks odd.)

How this fabric makes a chiton:

DO NOT CUT THE FABRIC.  Fold it in half width-wise.  Position yourself within

the fabric so the fold is located at one hand and the open half at the other.

Overlap the fabric at your shoulders, gathering it as you choose, and pin it.


Variations on the theme:

If you were a woman from Sparta, you might well wear the chiton just like that,

without sewing up the side.  If you were a "later period Greek" from Athens,

you would probably sew up the side.  You also might have a peplum, kolpos or

fancy method of girdling the chiton. (Sometimes they got quite complicated!)


Peplum & kolpos---A folded over section at the top of the chiton made by

pinning together two folds instead of two edges at your shoulders, and a


over section made by girdling the waist and then pulling excess material over

the girdle (which was frequently then girdled again on top of the fold).


Two other variations are to pin only one shoulder of the chiton or to run pins

at intervals down the arms making sleeves.


I am willing to believe that chitons were made of two separate pieces of

material "in period", but I know they were also made this way and the resulting

garment falls quite nicely...once you get used to putting it on.  The first

couple of times you try to pin yourself into one...well, you may come up with

some creative phrases to express your feelings.  Especially if you want folds

like the ones in Greek statuary.  The softer the fabric, the better your odds

of the folds working like the pictures it seems.  (Personal opinion--chitons

that fall like the pictures and aren't flat fabric are easier on the eye.)


Oh, and one other interesting scrap--The tops of these were generally fastened

with fibulae (pins composed of a pretty part and then a very long, narrow

pointy part), of which certain styles were eventually outlawed.  It seems that

a great number of crimes of passion were occurring due to the ready

availability of weapons!


Catrin o'r Rhyd For               Kathryn Gandek

Barony of Carolingia              Boston Area

East Kingdom                      Kgandek%mitvmc.bitnet at mitvma.mit.edu



Date: 3 May 90 17:58:00 GMT


There was a lady who requested information for nursing in the SCA.

I'm not familiar enough with Byzantine (her period) costume to

make a suggestion for that period, but I recall seeing a picture of

The Virgin Mary nursing Jesus in a Rennaisance gown with a lace up bodice

(unlaced) and a loose chemise (pulled down).

I hope this is of some assistance.

LaMaia the Barefoot


Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: ritchiek at sage.cc.purdue.edu (unknown)

Subject: Re: maternity garb

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 20:10:41 GMT

Organization: Purdue University Computing Center


      Jamelyn, For maternity garb I would suggest something like

a nice Russian dress(the correct term escapes me right now) or

burgundian the burgundian style was supposed to make women look

pregnant even when they weren't-being fertile was the fashion of the

time. The style of russian I am thinking of is basically a full length

full circle of very flowing fabric that falls from a fitted band just

above the breasts.  The fabric is pleated into the band and the

skirt is very full.  As to blue- A discussion on the Historic costuming

mail group said that light blue was for servants very dark blue such as

would be achieved by many times in the dye vat could only be afforded

by the wealthy-Isabeau Pferdebandiger



From: DCROSS at eos.bentley.edu

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: maternity garb

Date: 21 Jul 94 16:14:42 EDT

Organization: Bentley College, Waltham MA


SADV153 at larry.HUc.uab.EDU (Jo Grove) writes:


> Also, what colors of blue are acceptable for Elizabethan dress?  I've

> heard that indigo is considered a servant or apprentice color during

> this period (which is fine by me, since I'm an apprentice as well as

> a Baroness...only in the SCA!...but I'm thinking in terms of Court

> garb here).  I remember reading somewhere that "azure", a brilliant

> blue, is acceptable, as is watchet (which seems to be some sort of

> turquoise or bluish-green as far as I can tell by a verbal

> description).  My husband has graciously relenquished a whopping

> plentitude of deep blue material that was originally intended for a

> horse trapper (thanks, hon, but I don't think I'll need *quite* that

> much! :-) ), but I'd rather not make anything from it until I have a

> better idea of when that color would have been in use and whether or

> not it's acceptable for Court garb.


If you are speaking late 16th c. ENGLISH, I wouldn't be caught dead in blue

(such a sad thing to lose one's station!).  However, if you sail over the

Channel, there are some FRENCH gowns depicted in blue.  (By implication, SCOTS

may have worn blue but I have never pursued that angle)  Get some portrait books

with color pictures to get the minor styling details down, I can't begin to

explain them since I am English and have only noted differences in French

dress. What I have seen over the years, though would hardly be considered

maternity wear (the corsetted, pointy waist type stuff with farthingale).  If

you are interested in sticking with Elizabethan (English

styles), red, white, and black are most prevalent, followed by

gold/brown/rust/orange types of colors and some green.  The gold, etc family

has decent pictorial evidence but green is scarce for women although the

literature mentions it.


The portraits of Elizabethan pregnant ladies that I have seen all seem to have

a very loose white underdresses with a black overcoat (ropa) buttoned down the

top to the beginning of the baby bulge.  There is no farthingale.  Janet

Arnold's Patterns of Fashions has a graphed layout of the garment that can be

scaled up.  Don't forget what ever you sew now

will still fit well enough after birth.  Plan ahead and make the garment serve

double duty as a nursing gown if you plan to breast feed.


Perhaps you can have someone dye the fabric black?  (Don't attempt to yourself

if you are already pregnant).  

Good luck,

Mistress Elayne Courtenay

Carolingia, East



From: mugjf at uxa.ECn.bgu.EDU (Gwyndlyn J Ferguson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: maternity garb

Date: 21 Jul 1994 15:21:16 -0400


Baroness Jamelyn asked about maternity garb:


My lady, If you might consider an earlier period, I would recommend the

sideless surcote of the 13th Century.  It can be made quite roomy, and

with minor hem adjustment can be worn after the blessed event.  It is the

cooler cousin of the houpelande.The sideless surcote can be worn over your

favorite roomy chemise now, and over a more fitted cotehardie later on.

The nice thing is that the surcote can be dressed up or down, made out of

cotton, wool or even brocades (definately suitable for court).  They are

quite easy to make, and are of the two-in-an-evening variety.

I have patterns that I would be happy to share if you would like.  And



Rhiannon Caer Vyrddin

March of Lochmorrow - Midrealm

Internet: mugjf at bgu.edu



From: Jo Grove (7/22/94)

To: Mark Harris

Mail*Link® SMTP               RE>maternity garb


Thank you for the info.  One person sent me a note suggesting the use

of sideless surcoats over a chemise.  After the baby is born, it's

easy to alter the hem of the surcoat and wear it over a more fitted

cotehardie instead.


If you ever see a picture of an Elizabethan overdress, or ropa,

you'll see it's very suitable for both maternity wear and nursing

wear. It's basically a lot like a modern day bathrobe, with a high

collar and yoke and a button-down front.  It's meant to be worn as

fancy wear over the standard bodice, kirtle and farthingale, or as

informal dress over a chemise or nightshirt.  Down each side of the

front, from the shoulders to about midway down, is a slit that has a

row of buttons or points to fasten it shut.  These can be opened for

nursing. Sometimes these really opened, serving a functional

purpose, and sometimes they were just decorative (trim sewn on the

gown as if to frame a nursing opening, with buttons or points added

for purely decorative purposes, but the gown didn't really open



Ropas are pretty, but unfortunately they take a lot of yardage so

they're not for someone on a tight budget.  They also take a little

fitting/pattern improvisation, though I'm told you can take a shirt

or blouse pattern with a back yoke and improvise from there.  They

make very pretty Court garb, though!


:-) Thanks again!





From: sclark at epas.utoronto.ca (Susan Carroll-Clark)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: maternity garb

Date: 21 Jul 1994 20:44:20 GMT

Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS



      The sideless surcote is a 14th century garment. Its predecessor,

the sleeveless surcote or sleeveless overtunic, dates from about the mid

13th century on. Thirteeth century styles involve a lot of fabric and

are flowing through the body but tight through the sleeves.  A lady

of my canton wore them throughout her pregnancy and was only "noticable"

towards the end.

      I would also recommend simple Italian Ren.  Since the "waistline"

for this style is often right below the bust, opeing out below

that to show off the underskkirt, you will have something which will

accomodate your expanding waistline without alteration.  If you make it

lace at the sides, you can even accomodate the bustline changes which

sort of go along with being preggers, and still be able to wear it after

the pregnancy.





Susan Carroll-Clark                 Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester

Department of History               (aka Nika Sergievna)

University of Toronto               Canton of Eoforwic

sclark at epas.utoronto.ca



From: mugjf at uxa.ECn.bgu.EDU (Gwyndlyn J Ferguson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: maternity garb

Date: 22 Jul 1994 00:01:00 -0400


Oops, I got my centuries mixed up! (never can remember, is it add or

subtract from the year?)   Anyway, I also meant to add that I have seen a

friend of mine (who is missing Pennsic 'cause she's due) wearing a

houpelande made up in cotton, so that it was lighter.  She could wear her

belt high, as was appropriate, or low (under her belly) which she said

was more comfortable.  Another idea would be the loose, unbelted Saxon

tunic -- mighty comfy, but hard to nurse from.


I remain (up to my neck sewing for War),


Rhiannon Caer Vyrddin

March of Lochmorrow-Midrealm

Internet: mugjf at bgu.edu



From: pourel at iastate.edu (Ina Pour-El)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: maternity garb

Date: 22 Jul 1994 18:06:08 GMT

Organization: Iowa State University, Ames, IA


   If you are planning to breastfeed I suggest sideless surcotes for both

before and after birth.  I had a long slit in the front of my undergown and

while my babies thought the surcote was just another blanket, I did not hang out.


   I would also suggest heavy terrycloth tabards for the newborn. I have

a pattern that I drew up when I realized that I needed  a period looking

outer garment  that would allow diaper changing and prevent leaks on the

court garb of friends.  Mine have my device on them (differenced of course)

and have also been useful through the toddler years " Have you seen a kid

run by wearing a blue and white snake?"

                  Ina Caspe de LaPointe    


I. Pour-El

pourel at iastate.edu



From: bloodthorn at sloth.equinox.gen.nz (Jennifer Geard)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: maternity garb

Date: Tue, 26 Jul 94 21:19:03 GMT


>Can anyone send me ideas on making "maternity" garb?  


One of Pagan's Rules of Thumb for Reconstructing Clothing from Inadequate

Sources is that for women's clothing the interpretation which best deals with

pregnancy and breastfeeding is probably correct.  It's amazing how your focus

changes when someone says "We're having a child in June, and do you have any

ideas for maternity garb?"


>.... I'm not sure if my limited sewing skills can handle

>the Elizabethan overdress without a pattern to follow.


Have a look at the Janet Arnold book on clothing from about 1580-1620, which

has pictures of a real one and a graphed pattern redacted from it.  Not too

complex, and a very useful garment (use it over a chemise as a housecoat, and

over all your garb as an extra layer in cold weather.)  Make the breast-

feeding slots relatively long and bear their purpose in mind when deciding on

fasteners. Alternatively, "The Elizabethan Handbook" has a simplified

version of the ropa which should be easy to whip up.  Lots of fabric, but

most of it is straight sewing.


Another Tudor option, at least in the earlier months is the style worn by one

of the pregnant women in the Holbienesque porttrait of Sir Thomas More and

his family.  I think the sketches are more explicit than the painting itself,

but at least one of the women is wearing a dress which is laced very loosely

across the belly and appears to be an adjustable gown for pregancy.  Makes

sense, when you think about it.  


>... watchet (which seems to be some sort of turquoise or bluish-green as far

> as I can tell by a verbal description).  


My memory is that it's more green-with-blue-haze than turquoise, but I'm

without sources.


>Any advice, ideas, or patterns for the domestically challenged that

>you can share would be greatly appreciated!


Vikings had it sussed.  Like most things.  :-)  


  Payne, turning more and more into a Viking as time goes on, but still

looking for a name that will stick.


Jennifer Geard                         bloodthorn at sloth.equinox.gen.nz

Christchurch, New Zealand



From: Sandy_Erickson at thequest.com (Sandy Erickson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: maternity garb

Date: 27 Jul 94 14:10:12 CDT


When I was pregnant I wore sideless surcoats.  Since the sides were open it

left enouh room to grow.  When I nursed i used the sideless surcoat with a

chemise, (not totally period , but it works) I lowered the chemise and

nursed out the side of the surcoat,  I dont think anyone was the wiser.  IT

was very discrete.  



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: maternity garb

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Fri, 29 Jul 94 08:17:55 EDT

Summary: basics for Pagan Scandinavia


KGORMAN at ARTSPAS.watstar.uwaterloo.ca writes:

> In article <3XeTPc3w165w at bregeuf.stonemarche.org> una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org

> >        Tell me your persona's time & place and I'll tell you how to make

> >her maternity clothes. This offer is open to everybody, BTW.

> >        Same with nursing garments, if you'll have a use for them.

> I would be interested in what Norse women wore (specifically Swedes 9th c)

> for future reference.

> Eyrny

      Respected Friend:

      There was a CA published on Norse clothing, I believe. You'll find most

of it useful.

      Four- minute version: Make a narrow- wristed T tunic with a long

gusset extending up into the underarm.

      _______________________    ________________________________________

      l                    /l    l                                      l

      l                 /  l    l  .                                   l

      l               /    l    l         .                            l

      l               /     l    l                .       SLEEVE        l

      l              /      l    l                       .              l

      l             /       l    l  SLEEVE                      .       l

      l            /        l    l                                     .l

      l           /         l    l        (SLEEVES NOT TO SCALE)        l

      l          /          l    l_____________________________________ l

      l BODY    /SIDE       l    

      l        /GUSSET      l

      l_______/ ___________ l                                         '\

                                                 ,                       \

      BECOMES:                           '            

       ______________    ,

      l   )           \                                    .

neck-->     l )        \     SLEEVE

         l)            \                           .


slit--->ll             \

      ll             \,,,,,,,,,,,,,, .

      l              *\           /

      l BODY         *\        /

      l               *\      l

      l                \       \

      l                 \        \

      l                  \          \

      l                   \            \

      l                    \               \

      l                     \                  \

                              \ GUSSET            \


      Authenticity would probably call for lengthening the center slit.

      Modern modesty would leave gaps where the * are. Pick one.

      To keep the hem looking reasonably even, I'd put in a basted 5" deep

pleat across the front panel at waist or hip level, and keep making the center

of the pleat smaller as needed.  That way you don't get crescent-shaped

mudmarks, as you would if you made a `growing room' hem, and you don't have

your knees in the breeze at 9months+.

      Instead of moving loops on the overdress sections, you might want to

sew three loops on each side of each front at the start, and pin or baste the

unneeded ones down inside as appropriate.

      (With all due respect to the authors of CA#57, present research

indicates that the `viking apron' it describes was at best very, very rare.)

      The outer layer usually worn had two long and two short brooch loops,

wrapped completely around one side of the body (left front to left back,

or...) and was one of a pair in all but the hottest weather. The pair did not

necessarily match.

      If you have the modern preoccupation with hiding your tummy's expanding

proportions, you'll want to add an angle when cutting the oversections, so that

the decorative edging will still hang straight down, in spite of the curve

beneath it:

        _       _

      l l     l l

      l l     l l <--brooch loops

      l l     l l                 _         _


      ll--------------------------------------ll\                 ll--  

      ll      (double line shows normal cut)  ll \                      ll  

      ll                            ll \                     ll

      ll                            ll   \                    ll

back--> ll                          ll    \                   ll

      ll                            ll     \                  ll

            (continue to hem)                       (continue to top)


Or make the normal rectangles and insert the wedges in under each arm.




      ll            /\        ll

      ll           /  \       ll

            (continue to hem)

      Mind you, they probably didn't bother. Sex and birth were things to

be proud of, not to hide!

      Well, that's the basics. For Christianized scandinavia, add a shawl

and a headscarf or Yorvik cap.

                        Be well-


                        Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf, C.O.L. SCA

                        (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.

      This article may be reprinted by any local newsletter without charge,

under the following conditions:

      A copyright notice including both my SCA and legal names is printed

with it, and a copy is sent to me at PO Box 56, So. Lyndeboro, NH, 03082;

      And:If the ASCII drawings are redone, which I recommend, I approve the

redraw _BEFORE_ publication.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: madinia at eastern.eastern.com (Marsha McLean)

Subject: maternity garb

Organization: Public Affairs Services, Toronto CAN

Date: Sun, 31 Jul 1994 03:02:43 GMT


Baroness Jamelyn asked some time ago about maternity garb.  Now that i'm

catching up to the rialto... I your excellency is of a later period, may

i suggest a spanish surcoat, aka a loose gown.  this can be as simple or

fancy as you wish, and serves admirably as a nightgown (as indeed that

was one of their uses).  patterns abound in Arnold's Patterns of Fashion,

or Juan de Alcega's Tailors Pattern Book of 1583./s

Best wishes, Madinia Devereaux O'Tuatail :^>




From: hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu (Heather Rose Jones)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Mother

Date: 5 Jan 1995 20:02:55 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


Kate Macdonald (katemac at CSOS.ORST.EDU) wrote:


: I'm hoping some kind gentle here on the Rialto can assist me.  I'm

: looking for patterns or even just suggestions on styles of garb that are

: easy to nurse a baby in.  I have always done very early period, long

: tunics with long sleeves, but that is unsuitable for this purpose.


Well, research in period art should be a breeze. (Does the phrase "virgin

and child" mean anything?) It depends to some extent on whether you are

looking for "ease of access" styles or "ease of concealment" styles. If

the latter, you could always try the 14th century with the combination of

a front-buttoning coathardie and a hood with a fairly long shoulder cape.


Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

(with no practical experience on the subject whatsoever)



From: lise at perth.DIALix.oz.au (Lise Summers)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Mother

Date: 6 Jan 1995 22:20:09 +0800

Organization: DIALix Services, Perth, Australia.


Dear Kate,

I tried to mail to you privately but I'm having problems with my system

and so will have to go public. I have successfully nursed two babies, and

unsuccessfully nursed one ( she preferred a bottle to me - imagine that!)


During my pregnancy and later I wore italian Renaissance dress.This

involved a drawstring neck kirtle or chemise and a dress laced down the

front and sides for maximum width and access. Basically anything that

opens down the front will work. Cotehardies and houpelandes are great,

particularly if you button rather than lace the front. For pregnant

ladies the high belt of the houpelande stays in place and the swell in

the front looks just right. Similarly the high waist of Italian dress

sits just above the swell and the fine gathering makes the most of an

obvious feature - if you can't hide it , flaunt it ! I even had one lady

ask me if I had made a padded petticoat to get the correct shape once.


Make your garb in light weight washable material. You can always add

cloaks, coats and mantles, draping them over the feeding baby if privacy

is required.


hope this helps.

Angharad of Chester




From: sharons at juliet.ll.mit.EDU (Sharon Stanfill)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Nursing garb...

Date: 5 Jan 1995 10:07:18 -0500


Greetings, Kate of Oregon....

       Nursing garb - well, I tend toward early , basic tunics myself.

What I did was to steal, more or less, the design common to modern

nursing t-shirts and apply it to a tunic. Here goes:

Make a tunic.

Put in appropriate nursing slits.

Make a sort of a flap which attaches at the shoulders and extends

down past the slits and out onto the shoulders. Trim the flap on

the bottom. Somehow it ends up looking fairly authentic.


For babies - tunics over sleepers or pants work well...


Lady Nesta ferch Meriadoc Hartley



From: JARI.JAMES at rook.wa.com (jari james)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Moth

Date: Thu, 05 Jan 1995 22:30:54 GMT

Organization: Knight-Line! (206) 565-0594


I made a couple of drawstring-neck chemises and wore a cope over them

when I was nursing.  I could lower the neckline, put the baby to breast

and the cope provided modesty for the two of us.


In regards to baby garb, I made a *lot* of those drawstring bottom

sleepers out of colored flannel and trimmed them.  They worked quite well.


Rowan <- who was delivered of son by c-section 3 weeks before she

               became founding Baroness of Blatha an Oir - what fun!



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Mother

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Fri, 06 Jan 95 08:48:08 EST


katemac at CSOS.ORST.EDU (Kate Macdonald) writes:

> Greetings All!


> I'm hoping some kind gentle here on the Rialto can assist me.  I'm

> looking for patterns or even just suggestions on styles of garb that are

> easy to nurse a baby in.  I have always done very early period, long

> tunics with long sleeves, but that is unsuitable for this purpose.

> Thanks in advance!


> Kate

      Respected friend:

      Trust me, early period people who wore long tunics nursed. None of

us would be here if they hadn't. Two related methods spring easily to mind:

      1: Lengthen center front neck slit on outer gown, make two slits-

out nearer the armpits- on inner gown. Lace outer slit when not in use. (Use

lacing rings or embroidered eyelets, not metal ones- much more authentic and

they won't scratch baby's face.)

      2: Split and lace up side seams of outer gown, inset slits on inner.

      Depending on your year and country, one of these is more probable for

you. A third method is to simply make the gown scoop-necked and wear a wimple.

      All of this assumes you are trying to hide the fact that you are

nursing, which is a solely modern convention. (The most common period opinion

seemed to be "If you can't deal with seeing a breast you belong in a hermitage"

and/or "if you don't already know what one looks like it's high time you found

out".) In my nursing days, exactly two SCA people commented on my nursing in

public; my response to both was "Don't worry, soldier, if you see anything that

shoudn't be there you just go ahead and shoot it." (I was, of course, trying

to be discreet about it all- not a Dark Ages attitude, but even with the

present government in power this isn't the Dark Ages...)

      In the medieval period the scoop neck was often favored, as was laced

slits vertically bisecting the target area.

      Hope I helped, milady.


                               Yours in service to the Society-

                               (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk R.S.F.

                               Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf C.O.L. SCA

                               Una Wicca



From: iys6lri at mvs.oac.ucla.edu (Lori Iversen)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Mother

Date: 7 Jan 1995 01:36:35 GMT

Organization: ucla


In article <3eg6eb$ktk at CSOS.ORST.EDU>, katemac at CSOS.ORST.EDU (Kate Macdonald) says:


>looking for patterns or even just suggestions on styles of garb that are

>easy to nurse a baby in.  I have always done very early period, long

>tunics with long sleeves, but that is unsuitable for this purpose.


Consider that women throughout SCA period had no other option *but* to nurse their

babies, and the logical conclusion is that garb of *all* SCA periods is

suitable (or can be made so).  Your own early-period garb is easily

adaptable: move the neck slit to the front (if it isn't already) and

lengthen it to just above your navel, then turn it into a neon advertise-

ment for breastfeeding by embroidering or painting it.  A few judiciously-

placed hooks-and-eyes will eliminate any embarrassing gape.  The only

other modification I would recommend would be to shorten your sleeves

to just-above-wrist-length and narrow any flare a bit to avoid dragging

in...well, only someone who has changed a beastfed-baby diaper would



Other options that come immediately to mind:  a front-opening cotehardie

with *removable* tippets; a lovely voluminous houppelande (cf. any

number of Madonna-and-Child portraits); landsknecht-era German garb,

which can and was engineered to unlace or un-hook over any part of the

torso; and the ever-popular Elizabethan-era Spanish surcote, a wide,

flaring robe with long nursing slits from either shoulder down over

each breast, closed with buttons, frogs, or hooks.  Whatever you choose,

don't forget to lengthen the neck opening of your under-chimmy, too!


>Also, hints on making garb for a wiggly baby would NOT be out of order.


I haven't yet tried this for my own wiggler, but since Caid's Twelfth

Night this year has a Viking Theme(!), now's as good a time as any,

since Viking garb complies with three major practical considerations:

1) easy on/off; 2) no danglies to choke or strangle baby; and 3)

easy access for diaper changes.  Little Viking tunics and comfy trousies

fit the bill perfectly.  Traditionally, children were dressed as

miniature adults *except* that both boys and girls wore skirts until they

were privvy-trained.  My testosterone-crazed husband, however, will

have none of that, so it looks like Sasha-bear gets miniature trews

regardless -- with the exception that I'm giving them elastic waists

and snap crotches.


Incidentally, I came across a "*plus ca change...*" item when I was

researching children's clothes in period:  late period toddlers

often had extra long false sleeves (up to several feet long) hanging

from the armsceye of their doublets.  In a couple of portraits,

these were being carried by an adult standing behind the baby.

Their purpose?  Period shopping-mall leashes!  When not in use,

the sleeves were tied up out of the way behind Baby's back.  And,

with a ten-month-old who's already dashing about at horrendous

velocities, you can bet this is one period custom I'm going to emulate!


Alexis Vladescu                             Lori Iversen

WyvernHo-ette                               (IYS6LRI at mvs.oac.ucla.edu)

Altavia, CAID                               The Valley, CA



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: dahleen at badlands.NoDak.edu (Lynn S Dahleen)

Subject: Re: Garb for Nursing Mother

Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 14:58:49 GMT

Organization: North Dakota Higher Education Computing Network


Honour Horne-Jaruk (una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org) wrote:

In addition to the fine sugestions just presented, you could try doing

what I just did for my nursing wife.  I modeled the neck line off of the

Viborg Shirt (10th century?).  I made a long tunic that was lined from

the waist up (not including the sleeves).  Like the viborg shirt, I then

cut a square neck hole and then slit the outer layer down to the waist

from one side of the square and the iner layer to the waist from the

other side of the square.  



                           |     |  <- neck hole


                           |     |

   Slit in outer layer -->  |     | <-- slit in lining

                           |     |

                           |     |                  



A couple of ties are all that are needed to hold the overlapping

flaps in place when not nursing.  This is also nice and warm which

is a consideration if you (or your persona) lives in cold places.

Hope this helps!


Tarrach Alfson          



From: bsibly at chch.planet.org.nz (Belinda Sibly)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Costuming and Pregnancy

Date: 12 Jan 1996 01:58:59 GMT

Organization: PlaNet(NZ) Canterbury


>The problem is that I'll be 6-7 months pregnant in June....and I've never come

>across patterns or descriptions of clothing for any but the lower classes that

>could concievably be worn when noticably pregnant.  (and even if I could, I'd

>refuse to wear a corset at that point)  Can anyone out there help me out?


There's a painting by an italian ren painter (Lotto I think) of the Madonna

proir to the birth of Christ. She's wearing a fairly standard Iltalian

Reniassance gown ( that's a fitted bodice, with a cartridge pleated skirt) but

all the seams in the necessary areas have been let out with lacing. You can

see the under dress showing in the middle of the wasitline, and at the sides.

If you like I can confirm the painting. I have a photocopy of it somewhere.





From: moondrgn at bga.com (Chris and Elisabeth Zakes)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Costuming and Pregnancy

Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 07:33:02 GMT


cozit at apexgrp.com (Eileen) wrote:

>I was told that the 30-year celebration in An-Tir would be a good place to find

>out more and meet people, so I plan to go, but would like to "fit in" a

>little...not to mention going in period garb would be interesting (I've always

>liked long skirts).


>The problem is that I'll be 6-7 months pregnant in June....and I've never come

>across patterns or descriptions of clothing for any but the lower classes that

>could concievably be worn when noticably pregnant.  (and even if I could, I'd

>refuse to wear a corset at that point)  Can anyone out there help me out?


>I know this question has come up before, but I've always missed the answers.


Unless you're an experienced camper, or have a "civilized" place to

stay, I question the rationality of doing a week-long campout when 6-7

months pregnant. But that's neither here nor there relative to your

clothing question.


Try these:

1. middle-to-late 1400's--the ideal was to look pregnant, even if you weren't.

2. Early Italian Renaissance--generally loose and flowing, rather than

the corsets and bum rolls of the later Renaissance.

3. Peasant/merchant clothing of most periods--a little harder to

research, but these are clothes people worked in, instead of their

"dress clothes" worn while posing for paintings.


Hope it helps...


      -Tivar Moondragon

C and E Zakes

moondrgn at bga.com



From: bdominey at mindspring.com (Barbara Dominey)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Costuming and Pregnancy

Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 11:28:32 -0500

Organization: MindSpring Enterprises


moondrgn at bga.com (Chris and Elisabeth Zakes) wrote:


>But that's neither here nor there relative to your clothing question.

>Try these:

(short snip)

>2. Early Italian Renaissance--generally loose and flowing, rather than

>the corsets and bum rolls of the later Renaissance.


To elaborate on Tivar's comments about Early Italian Ren:


Styles from Siena and Florence in the 1300's are very suitable for

pregnancy and beyond.  I can't point you to any one book in English, but

look for works by Giotto (particularly the Scrovegni Chapel frescoes) and

Simone Martini for starters.  Both artists were active in the early 1300's,

when women's fashions were loose and flowing.




Barbara Dominey   *****    Lilburn, Ga  USA  *****   bdominey at mindspring.com

Irina degli Schiavoni***Barony of Bryn Madoc, Meridies***Irina has no e-mail




From: signyjo at jax-inter.net (Beth Alexander)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Costuming and Pregnancy

Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 01:30:28 GMT


My favorite pregnancy gown was a simple sideless German Overdress from

the 1300's  It was beutiful and laced up both sides.  As I got larger

I mearly loosened the laces and let the dress natural expand.

Afterwards it made nursing easily accesible, and after I was finished

it laced up snug again.  I received alot of complements on that gown,

befor and after Ian was born.





From: koala at newwave.net

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses or any maternity clothes

Date: 23 Mar 1996 21:54:54 GMT

Organization: NewWave Communications, Inc.


In <4id9da$plp at garcia.efn.org>, carrie at efn.org (Carrie Hafner) writes:

>I am going to be 6 months pregnant (with twins!!!) during the 30yc.  I

>would like to go, as comfortably as possible!!!  My persona can be

>flexible for a range of time periods.  Any suggestions on appropriate

>clothes?? Simple to make please, since I won't be needing them to last a

>lifetime or win any awards.....

>Carrie (carrie at efn.org)

>Eugene, Oregon


Try Italian Ren garb.  The full skirt and high waist are very practical for

accomodating your increasing size and the fitted bodice provides enough

support for comfort without the need to wear a bra.  It also looks great.

BTW, congratulations on your babies.




From: liversen at physiology.medsch.ucla.edu (Lori Iversen)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses or any maternity clothes

Date: 25 Mar 1996 19:20:17 GMT

Organization: UCLA


In article <4j51d4$842 at news2.delphi.com>, IVANOR at delphi.com says:


>I have never seen any pictures of Tudor or Elizabethan maternity clothing,

>but would like to,



There is a fairly oft-reproduced portrait of Lady Burleigh (Mrs. William

Cecil), obviously pregnant and wearing an unstructured bodice that looks

surprisingly like scale armor.  It was used as the model for the

maternity gown that Queen Mary Tudor wears in the first episode of

"Elizabeth R."


-- Alexis

<liversen at physiology.medsch.ucla.edu>



From: brettwi at ix.netcom.com(Brett Williams)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses or any maternity clothes

Date: 25 Mar 1996 21:42:08 GMT


In <4j6rlh$odq at saba.info.ucla.edu> liversen at physiology.medsch.ucla.edu

(Lori Iversen) writes:

>In article <4j51d4$842 at news2.delphi.com>, IVANOR at delphi.com says:

>>I have never seen any pictures of Tudor or Elizabethan maternity

>>clothing, but would like to,



>There is a fairly oft-reproduced portrait of Lady Burleigh (Mrs.

>William Cecil), obviously pregnant and wearing an unstructured bodice

>that looks surprisingly like scale armor.  It was used as the model

>for the maternity gown that Queen Mary Tudor wears in the first

>episode of

>"Elizabeth R."

>-- Alexis


I will also add that there are good reproductions of Hans Holbein's

preliminary sketches to the More Family group portrait in the Dover

Holbein book-- in which most of the women present are in some stage of

pregnancy. The Medieval Miscellanea Early Tudor pattern that has the

gown depicted with the ties across the front bodice is a reproduction

of that style.


I have not made a garment from this pattern, so can't comment further

on it. Now that we have two little ones, my husband and I have no plans

to make any more!





From: 3hgf at qlink.queensu.ca (Fraser Heather G)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses or any maternity clothes

Date: 26 Mar 1996 02:16:27 GMT

Organization: Queen's University, Kingston


Greetings to the Rialto from their servant, Sarra Graeham:


Being currently nine months pregnant, what's been working for me for

materity garb is the early 13th century ladies' cyclas.  For those who

don't know the garment, it's a scoop-necked, deep-armholed gown that

falls in an A-line from the shoulders.  It's usually worn with a train,

though I have camping versions that just touch my foot.  It's worn over a

tight-sleeved gown, though only the sleeves are visible, and pretty much

always seen with the headgear of a chinstrap, hairnet, and that little

pillbox hat.  If you make your layers light, it would be great for warm

weather; pair up heavier layers with a clock for nighttime.


The nicest thing about this garb is that you don't have to be pregnant to

wear it and look stylish.


      Sarra Graeham of Birnham, Canton of Bryniau Twywnnog, Ealdormere

      (Heather Fraser, Waterloo ON, CANADA, 3hgf at qlink.queensu.ca)



From: ercil at astrid.upland.ca.us (Ercil C. Howard-Wroth)

Subject: Re: Empire-waist dresses or any maternity clothes

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Date: 26 Mar 96 22:31:33 PST


Honour Horne-Jaruk (una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org) wrote:

: IVANOR at delphi.com writes:


: > Quoting carrie from a message in rec.org.sca

: >    >I am going to be 6 months pregnant (with twins!!!) during the 30yc. I

: >    >would like to go, as comfortably as possible!!!  My persona can be

: >    >flexible for a range of time periods.  Any suggestions on appropriate

: >    >clothes??  Simple to make please, since I won't be needing them to

: >    >last a lifetime or win any awards.....


Hopefully, you are staying in a hotel???  Don't push the medical issue

or at least get your doctor's permission.  My youngest is one and I had

to give up a few events the last few two months due to pre-term labor.  I can't

imagine going camping and expecting twins........


B:    If you wear the clothes they wore for any given activity, you will

: discover that they knew what they were doing. They had clothes for travel,

: they had clothes for hunting and other physically demanding outdoor

: activities, they had clothes for everything we do while camping- including

: good looking, comfortable maternity clothes.


As far a garb I like the early periods.  The Spanish a bit later had

a wonderful dress that when made looks good for court, but can wear

like iron for the field.  It serves as both maternity and nursing garb.


It is very tailored in look.  It is high buttoned down the front, wide through the

girth, it has two vertical lines down the front that are about 6 inches

long -- these are the nursing slits.  Many individuals sew them shut and

think of them just for show, but indeed they were nursing slits.  


There was a certain time when it was fashionable to for the nobility to

nurse due to the thought of the Virgin nursing Christ and therefore a given

woman would be doing a holy office if she nursed her child.  This may be

why such a fashionable dress with nursing slits exists.


I also used big t-tunics, sideless surcoats  for pregnancy.  Italian and

sideless surcoats for nursing.


Good Luck!




From: "L. HERR-GELATT and J.R. GELATT" <liontamr at postoffice.ptd.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for an expecting mother?

Date: 21 May 1996 15:24:24 GMT

Organization: ProLog - PenTeleData, Inc.


Gentle Lady,


I have *been there* a number of times. I found with the first, that my

best bet was the sort of Italian Ren or Lansknecht (or any puff-and-slash

women's style).These have the added benefit of being very pretty to wear.

If your gown's fitted just under the bust, it doesn't matter what size

your tummy is. A friend of mine had a different solution: She slitted her

gowns up to the solar plexis and finished the edges. The under-dress was

very full anyway, and she let this show through, wearing the gowns

beltless. Watch out for rising hemlines with expanding tummies, though.

The last solution for hot-weather gowns for *ladies-in-waiting* is the

peplum---you know that Roman (but also viking and other cultures, with

variations) type apron-dress that is two rectangles with the tops folded

down, attached together at the shoulder by cup brooches, chains, tabs,

stitches, or ornate buttons. You basically make a tube, fold down the

top, attach the front and back where the shoulders would be (a little

extra "drape" in the front neckline makes it look nicer for a fuller

figure), put some nice trim on the folded down part and the bottom edge,

and wear it with a belt if you are comfortable doing so. This sort of

expando-garb is very comfy, but not terribly flattering to a larger

person such as myself (I tended to look merely fat for the first six

months.Very agravating). I think you'll find that after a while, looks

will be less important than comfort.


Re; silly looking garb:  Garb that is obviously too tight or small. And I

threw off the sideless surcotes for a while, along with anything that had

fitted sleeves, or was made with heavy fabric---I was alrady dragging

around extra weight in the form of the little one, so the heavy cloak

had to go.


Hope that helped. Don't forget the sun-hat, 'cause pre-natal vitamins

make you more succeptible to sunburn and heat intolerance.


I wish you joy with your child-to-be.





From: "Cassandra L. Baldassano" <cassie at nas.nasa.gov>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for an expecting mother?

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 12:58:03 -0700

Organization: NAS/NASA Ames Research Center


> Gentles, particularly gentlewomen who've been there :)

> I am expecting for the first time, and with my body expanding faster than I'd

> like, I looking for any advice on garb. I usually wear simple 'peasant' garb

> Leofwynn Criostai

> mka R. Fildes

> paladin at wizard.com


Having to come up with a solution for this problem myself in the

last 4 years, what I did was:


Make a T-tunic that flares out from just below the breasts as an

under tunic.


A second T-tunic I left the sides open in the mid section, sewed

on rings and laced the sides together for a comfortable fit.


I made this as a 12th night outfit with some very nice white and

black brocade with a black fur trim, and I was surprised with all

the complements I got, and it only took me two days to sew it.





Cassandra Baldassano                   cassie at nas.nasa.gov                

Sterling Software                      (415) 604-4444 or (800) 331-8737  

Supporting:                            M/S 258-6                          

NAS/ACSF User Services                 NASA Ames Research Center          

NAS/ACSF Account Administration        Moffett Field, CA 94305-1000      



From: sclark at chass.utoronto.ca (Susan Carroll-Clark)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for an expecting mother?

Date: 22 May 1996 10:00:33 -0400

Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS


Try the following:


Italian Ren dresses with the raised waist and lacing up the sides or front,

worn with a nice roomy chemise.


16th century "loose gowns"--essentially a long, roomy, sleeveless gown

made out of nice fabric.


A ten-gore dress.  There was just an article in TI a couple of issues ago

on how to make one.


Sleeveless (not sideless) surcotes--these are similar to the loose gown,

but pull on over the head and date from the 13th century.  Wear over a

comfortable tunic or ten gore dress.


Certain kinds of Middle Eastern garb.  Caftans with wide sleeves are

particularly comfy.


If it were not summer, I'd suggest a houppelande.  They can really look

_good_ on pregnant women....



Nicolaa de Bracton

sclark at chass.utoronto.ca



From: jeffebear1 at aol.com (JeffEBear1)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for an expecting mother?

Date: 3 Jun 1996 06:15:39 -0400


the best garb I have seen is a middle eastern guazzi coat and pant a loons

or skirts.   the front of the coat is usually very low or under the

breasts and the under blouse can be front fastened for easy breastfeeding.

the pregnant look is period. I f you need extra support in the late months

just tie a hip scarf under the belly for more support.  the back and front

(sides too sometimes) are all split so the privies are easier without

having to hold up a train or long skirt.   good luck  


lady Morigianna



From: foxd at ezinfo.ucs.indiana.edu (Daniel Boyd Fox)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 12th C English Nursing Garb

Date: 9 Nov 1996 23:08:42 GMT

Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington


Kent and Kat Dyer  <kdyer at nash.tds.net> wrote:

>I've seen several suggestions in various places for nursing garb.  Most

>of it suggests either chitons or later period garb such as cotehardies,

>sideless surcotes etc.  Does anyone have any information or practical

>experience on nursing garb for that nebulous mid-period?  I'm a 12th C

>Northumbrian with a 7 month old nursling.

>Lady Katrine Witan Runa


>kdyer at nash.tds.net


Cunnington, Phyllis and Catherine Lucas.  Occupational Dress in England

from the Eleventh Century to 1914.


Black:1972. Humanities: 1972.  


It has a section on nursing dress that covers the period.  Judging from

the illustrations it didn't differ much from everyday garb, but you might want to check it out for yourself.


Audelindis de Rheims



From: mamamoose1 at aol.com (MamaMoose1)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Pregnant people garb

Date: 19 Jul 1997 10:25:23 GMT


For pregnancy, I would suggest Italian Ren.  For pregnancy with horses,

something Middle Eastern (it's loose fitting and you wear pants



I wore (mostly) Middle Eastern during my pregnancy (although I normally

wear that at events anyway) and found that my garb fit comfortably until

the last couple of weeks (and the baby was about 10 lbs so I *needed* the

room). And for the last weeks you're going to be uncomfortable even in

mundane clothes (you get to that "Get this kid out of me NOW" stage).


                         - A'isha



From: "Tom R. Dennis" <Dennis.Tom at mcleodusa.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Pregnant people garb

Date: Sun, 20 Jul 1997 21:41:49 -0500


As a former pregnant person who has also had many pregnant friends, I

have to say that the woman now in question is probably not going to like

pressure on her chest--if it's okay now, it won't be in a month or so.

Also, having made Ren bodices myself, there's no way she's going to get

the kind of support she needs what with the increase in weight that

occurs in that area (she'll know what I mean). At least, that's true if

she has the kind of increase most women have; and Ren bodices will hold

her stomach in, as well, which she is also going to find uncomfortable.


Ren was the last thing my pregnant friends wanted to wear. They chose

houpelandes instead, belted just above the bulge. Every woman is

different, however, and she should do whatever makes her comfortable.


Elizabeth of Huntingdon



Subject: RE: ANST - A Long Introduction

Date: Wed, 21 Jan 98 16:32:11 MST

From: John Ruble <jruble at urocor.com>

To: "'ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG'" <ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG>


Sarah said:

> Also, pregnant garb... that's a new one for me. Any

> ideas? I would also be happy to talk with anyone who might need garb sewn;

> it's one of my favorite things to do.


My wife swears by bog dress for pregnant and breast feeding mothers.

These are early period tubes of cloth,  big enough to stand in and hold

the edges with your arms almost outstretched to either side.  Make the

tube as tall as you.  Hold it up until your feet stick out just a

little. From the inside of the tube, grip it about shoulder level, then

let the top flap down over the outside of the tube.  You now have a tube

with a large fold around the top, and your head sticking out.  Pin the

front to the back at each shoulder, with just a little drape in between.

The pins will show, so pick something pretty Celtic/Scandinavian.  A

belt to gather the dress in at the waist finishes it off.  You now have

loose garb, with big drapes at the shoulders/sides.


By all means, though, look for other ideas.  There's been pregnant women

for many years, in more than one country.


Ulf Gunnarsson



Subject: Re: ANST - A Long Introduction

Date: Wed, 21 Jan 98 16:59:25 MST

From: Ghislaine Fontaneau/Elayne Hoover <elyh at wcc.net>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


Hello, Sarah.  Welcome to Ansteorra!


> 2) Like a said before, any info on period maternity clothes (any period in

> period would be fine for now! I'll only have to wear them till June :) ) I'm

> not going to sew much for Kev and Heather until they pick personas, but I'm

> sure when they do, I'll be back begging again ::sighs::


I recommend Houpelandes (sp?).  In the day of the houpelande, it was

fashionable for women to have large, round bellies, and to stand leaning

slightly back....;-) sounds like pregnancy, don't it?


Check out the Houpelande homepage at:




As for children's garb, I recommend that you put boys in a blousey

Elizabethan shirt three sizes too big.  For girls, try Italian

Renaissance--the chemise is like a big, oversized blouse that she can

grow into over several years, and the over-dress can be made with tucks

of extra fabric in the shoulder seams and along the edges of the skirt

(if you do it right, it will look like fashionable, horizontal

pleating). Let out a few inches ever time she grows, until you've run

out of 'dress.'  Additionally, the 'bib' of the overdress can be made to

begin life at her natural waist, and end life at the standard

Italian-Ren waistline.




mka: Elayne "Ely" Hoover

SCA: Madame Ghislaine Fontanneau

elyh at wcc.net



From: koala at bright.net

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb suggestions for nursing mother (long response)

Date: 6 Jun 1998 03:44:56 GMT

Organization: BrightNet Ohio


My 'normal' SCA garb is Italian Ren, and while it was great during pregnancy,

those back-laced gowns didn't work very well for breastfeeding!  I tried doing

a lace-up-the-front version of Italian Ren, but found it didn't work very well for a variety of reasons.  The 'fit' of the bodice was wrong, no matter what I did to it, and it took entirely too long to unlace when the baby wanted to nurse NOW!!!


My solution was the cotehardie/sideless surcote combo mentioned by others.  I

used a princess-seamed pattern for the cotehardie and put hook-and-eye tape in

the appropriate places, which worked quite nicely.  The front of the surcote extended over the seam openings, so nothing showed through any gaps.  Also, when the baby was tiny, she fit quite nicely between the surcote and the cotehardie, tucked inside, if that makes sense.  She was another babe who wasn't thrilled by the blanket over her head routing, but with this, I could look down the neckline of the cotehardie and she could see me, so I guess it was different or something.  I also did a cotehardie that opened in a center seam and pulled to either side as needed.  A friend of mine who did something similar used a (hidden) zipper in hers to keep it toghether when the baby wasn't nursing.


I did a lot of research re: the clothes worn by breastfeeding mothers in period

paintings/illuminations/etc. My focus was more the later end of the SCA period,

as my persona is in ~1500 or so.  Generally speaking, just about any combination

of openings you can imagine for the chemise and overdress can be found: center

slit of chemise, center of dress; center of chemise, pull down dress bodice; pull down chemise, pull down dress; "portholes" in chemise, center lacing in dress; etc. etc.etc.  Someday, I'll get around to writing that article, but don't hold your breath!  (We've moved twice in the last 18 months; the documentation is in a box, *somewhere.*)


A Very Highly Recommended item which I found immensely useful, whether I was

breastfeeding at the moment or not, is a sling.  Find one in a not-too-modern

fabric and it serves very nicely as baby carrier and breastfeeding cover-up.  I

usually ended up having to nurse our baby during court, as the crowd's cheers

for the award recipients usually upset her.  Made for a few funny moments,

including one when a knight who'd been sitting next to us for quite some time

finally realized what the baby was doing, and got up and left!  As if it were

going to contaminate him.  


As for the swimming holes at Pennsic, I've never been to the family one.  I had

our ~1.5 yr old at the classic hole one year when it got to be naptime, so she

wanted to nurse to sleep.  No big deal.  I settled down on our towel with her and she was quite content.  As a couple walked up the path, the gentleman commented: 'Well, I guess it gives a new meaning to "breastfeeding in public"' to which we all laughed.  :-)


Good luck, m'lady; please let me know if I can be of any further help.


Clarissa, mother of a 6.5 yr old SCA kid



From: scarayya at GMAIL.COM

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Maternity/nursing garb

Date: October 16, 2011 11:32:50 AM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


I personally recommend greek; chitons are really easy to undo just one side, and the himation is a built in nursing cloth to block the view :D


Rayya, mommy of one


On Oct 16, 2011 11:05 AM, "T.D. Gillaspy" <calon.fyrd at gmail.com> wrote:

<<< I'm looking for ideas or suggestions regarding garb for nursing moms. Specifically, 'easy access' garb where mom doesn't have to run off to the tent every two hours to nurse.  All suggestions are appreciated.


Otoshi >>>



From: babybadarse at GMAIL.COM

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Maternity/nursing garb

Date: October 16, 2011 12:16:23 PM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


Consider that button down the front are very comfy, easy to nurse, and still can be as dressed up or as simple as desired. Nursed two girls and found this as my favorite.





From: jkilgore0719 at YAHOO.COM

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Maternity/nursing garb

Date: October 16, 2011 12:57:26 PM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


Sideless surcote with an underdress with strategically placed slits work well too.  (My son in 13 months and still nursing).  I just tried the viking apron dress with the slitted underdress at my last event and that worked well too.  



From: SuzanneBooth at YAHOO.COM

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Maternity/nursing garb

Date: October 17, 2011 8:40:03 AM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


Italian Ren can work ...  a front-laced gamurra worn over a front opening camicia ... if you go for mid-16th century, you can wear one of the collared camicias that have a front opening.  Those two items, plus baby's blanket would work for even the most modest of us.



Maestra Suzanne de la Ferté

Barony of the Lonely Tower

Kingdom of Calontir



From: mary_m_haselbauer at YAHOO.COM

Subject: [CALONTIR] Nursing AND Examples of Women fighting in period

Date: November 2, 2011 9:10:17 PM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


There are many images of the Madonna nursing on this site


What Nursing Mothers Wore: Period Options for Nursing Garb




From the FB "SCA Garb" group:


Kate-Nicola Mounce


I am in need of dress advice. I want to make a dress that I can wear through my pregnancy and use during the nursing period and then as a normal dress afterwards (maybe with a belt). I am a novice seamstress at best. I am not looking for anything that is bound by the period of my persona, mainly comfort.


Hanna Schempf

Similar goals were shared by maaaaaaany of our foremothers, and many styles will work. Searches in this group for "pregnancy," "maternity," "nursing," etc. should give you a number of past threads on the subject. smile emoticon


Viking, 13-15 C kirtles (sometime w/ sideless surcoat), and late period Italian are common suggestions.

16 hrs · Edited · Like · 2


Amy Fisher

Late migration under dress and peplos work well, just cut a really long keyhole in the neck smile emoticon I'm doing that now for feeding


Rachael Maillet

I wish you luck. I made a loose tunic with lacing up to the keyhole, under an apron dress but found it very hard to feed baby on demand. Peplos seemed to be the best option I found.


Ginny Leigh Hundley

I would say a peplos. They were traditionally made with lots of extra fabric blousing over the belt, showing off your status/how much fabric you could afford. You could easily move the belt up or down around your belly, whichever was comfortable, and the way I made mine it fastens with a button at each shoulder, which would make it super easy to nurse in. I have found good, easy patterns on Pinterest just seaching "peplos" or "chiton" (to my understanding the main difference between the two is how far down your arm you attach buttons to close your sleeves, but I could be wrong).


Beth Johnson

Houppelandes are incredibly roomy, generally belted under the bust, and will look just as good after the pregnancy as during. I wore houppelandes through both my pregnancies, and if you make the neckline deep, with a modesty insert, you can nurse in them, as well. ALSO, I made my summer houppelandes out of cotton percale sheets, so they were cool and pretty. All you need underneath is a lightweight sleeveless chemise (or one with sleeves, if you have big bell-sleeves on the outer houppelande.


Christy Hunt

Also most of my viking garb still fits. I gain weight all over so some of the dresses that were more form fitting in the arms and boobs are tight.



Jane Barneson Patterson

High waisted Italian. That's what I wore during my pregnancy and nursing period in life.


Christy Hunt



Ann Schde  

7:47am Jul 25

I researched some images of the Virgin Mary feeding Jesus and there are a plethora of images from 15th and 16th centuries showing three ways breastfeeding was accomplished...


front laced kirtle: simply unlace, drop one side down, and feed the child.


Italian ren type gown: simply lift the breast out and over the neckline of gown and chemise


Other gowns with higher necklines: A "pocket slit" in the fabric which the breast fits through.


Ahmie Polak Yeung

10:03am Jul 25

Problem with lacing is that it needs to be re-laced/tied after the feed is finished (which often also results in a sleeping infant in one's arms, further complicating the feat). I'm also rather endowed with "vast tracts of land" as the Python boys put it. I wear an H cup. Slits that are big enough to let my babyfeeders out don't stay gracefully closed when the feeders aren't in use. I'll be hiding a modern nursing bra under the garb to keep from having the girls hanging down by my belly button. I prefer lift-to-nurse (my daily modern wear is a t-shirt that I lift from the bottom to nurse, sometimes I have an underlayer, in cold weather I put a scoop-neck long sleeve t-shirt from Old Navy under the t-shirt to get long sleeves, the scoop neck is low enough to pull a boob out the neckline after I lift the bottom of my t-shirt).


I breastfeed into toddlerhood (my youngest is my longest breastfeeder, he's 32 months old today, my elder children all weaned between 19 and 30 months) so I've been at this for quite a while. I suspect the painters who gave us our period breastfeeding images were not quite as intimately aware of the practicalities involved and the outfit choices were at least partially to fit their aesthetic instead of reflect everyday realities of breastfeeding women of the time. Also, the women being painted were likely higher class women who had additional caregivers for the infant around to hold the baby while she re-garbed herself (or someone to hold the baby while someone else regarbed HER), so the logistics are a bit different.



Julie Molick Austin

October 6 at 9:50am

Ok, mommas, I need help\advice. How do I make my viking underdress nursing friendly? I'm 6 weeks, and if everything goes well, I'll have a 2 month old in tow at Pennsic. I can figure out how to adapt the apron ( super simple), but not sure what to do about the dress. Just lace it up the front? Or cut slits\pockets? Ack. Help!!!


Darby Le Clair

I made an underdress that had ties in the front and opened to about my belly button and an apron dress of sorts with the shoulder straps attached on both sides of the dress with a panel in front and one in back. I didn't sew the sides together. I could just move things over and have access to the front on my tunic. I skipped the pins and beads for a while because it was easier to hold a baby with out it. Hope that helps!

October 6 at 9:58am


Kiersten Wyatt

I made a keyhole neckline with an extra long slit that I buttoned closed when I wasn't nursing.


Mary Slaine Haselbauer

I made the slit on many of my keyhole opening tunics longer. My breast would go out the slit and over the front edge of the apron dress. A small broach held the the underdress closed at the top. I could undo that but often didn't. You really need something you can do one handed.

BTW I found dome large silicone beads that I planned to make into a baby chew friendly necklace.


Julie Molick Austin

Yes, one handed is essential!!! I love check toys, and fidget beads. They keep mom from being so sore wink emoticon


Ahmie Polak Yeung

For the original question, I'd suggest putting a center vertical slit in the dress and then putting a rectangle of fabric over it, then the apron can be secured to that, creating an easy way to push everything to the side to access breast. Breastfeeding 2 month olds are NOT patient enough to deal with waiting for you to unlace, and if it's hot and humid at Pennsic you're going to be breastfeeding a LOT to keep your little from getting dehydrated (and make sure you're drinking as much water as you can manage yourself so your supply doesn't dip). Been there 4 times myself.


In my profile pic I'm actually nursing my toddler at Midrealm Coronation. Late 15th century German as far as I've been able to figure out. I took pictures of the pattern pieces I made (much of it was just guestimates), and anyone is welcome to use what I've done for non-commercial purposes (I'm also OK with it being used for one-off commissions). The green section is actually a triangle "dickie", sewn in at center bottom and right armpit, held in place with a snap on the left to make it easier to get everything on/off by myself.


Low necklines, if you're comfortable being "all out there", are easy to come out the top of even for bustier ladies depending on the fabric (I'm an H cup). Again, be careful with how much lacing you'll have to un/redo for each nursing session as you'll be fussing with that quite frequently.


Sideless surcoats with a center vertical slit in the underdress are also quick & easy breastfeeding access.


Don't forget, slings are period and extremely handy for breastfeeding but take some practice. I make my own summer slings out of 2.5 yards of half-width gauze (too much width gets in the way when trying to get baby to breast quickly & discretely in my experience). I use metal rings from the curtain rings that have the little clips held on with a bit of wire (just bend the wire and it comes off with the clip), they sell them at Target and Walmart, don't by the "easy glide" ones just go for straight metal. With gauze even the smallest metal O-rings I could find at the local hardware stores and chains were so big that they were providing too much slipage, and I didn't trust macrame rings. I've used the same set of rings through four kids, wearing them in the same gauze pretty much daily from birth through about 5 months when they get too heavy for my spine to tolerate the weight being lopsided like that (even with the fabric well spread on my shoulder and back). Tail works well for a cover. Also very handy because babies should not be wearing sunscreen before they're 6mo, so you can cover the baby with the tail of a lightweight fabric sling while having sun exposure to prevent sunburn.


For older babies, I'm nearly positive the "Asian-Style Baby Carriers" aka Mei Tai (I think that's how some folks spell it) that were the inspiration for carriers like Ergo Baby Carrier were in use in period - just tied on instead of buckled most likely. Those are also breastfeeding friendly (and also more daddy-friendly since they're not so dependent on boobs for positioning baby upright if you wind up with a little one who tends to spit up after a feed - keeping them as vertical as possible after feeds by supporting them in a firm & tight sling immediately after helps keeps stuff traveling in a downward direction), but work better when baby is past the wanting-to-be-squished-up-as-if-still-in-womb phase.


I believe there are publicly viewable videos on my profile of my demonstrating how to make a no-sew ring sling and then how to wear it with a small baby - I made them years ago (before I needed the wheelchair quite so much, so I was standing in the video) and I think the friend's baby that I was borrowing for the video was around 6 weeks old.



Ahmie Polak Yeung

October 9 at 8:23am

For those looking for maternity through breastfeeding garb, this would be easy for both. The slits in the overdress should allow for belly expansion (bring them to hipbone height would be my suggestion - that also gives you the bonus of being able to put hidden pockets in the underdress or slits to the pockets in the pants you're wearing underneath if that's how you roll wink emoticon ). If the modesty cover in black under the deep v-neck is made as a "dickie", you will have an easy time accessing breasts by pulling the V further open to the side and the "dickie" toward the middle of your chest - I have several nursing tops with that design function. And the sleeves aren't crazy big for dealing with a toddler later on. Nearly positive this was the style I was trying to remember the top of that I saw at Midrealm Coronation. Now.... geography? Kimiko Small's pinterest was where I found this and she indicated:


Detail from "Le Roman de la Rose", the work of Robinet Testard (fl. 1475-1523), (owned by Louise de Savoie in the late 15th century) Bodleian Library, MS Douce 195, 47r.

Considered the work of Robinet Testard (fl. 1475-1523), "Le Roman de la Rose" (owned by Louise de Savoie in the late 15th century) Bodleian Library, MS Douce 195, 47r Illustration title: Phanie Interprets Croesus’ Dream Character depicted: Phanie, Croesus Costume: Gown and henin on Phanie


So I'm guessing French? Anyone have any ideas of how much travel this style may have had? Yes, if I really want to wear it I'm going to wear it, but I want to know how much I'm mucking things up historically, and figured other ladies here would like to be aware.



From the fb "SCA Garb" group:


Amanda Ritz

4/25/17 · Moundsville, WV

Dealing with ill-fitting garb while pregnant: I'm nearing 3rd trimester, and there's an event this weekend. I'm finding that my usual go-to stuff doesn't fit, at least in a complete ensemble. Things such as my overcoats not closing and a few of my tunics being too tight. It's probably mostly me being too fussy when trying on stuff...but how have others dealt? I'm trying to make sure I have enough warm options because because this event is iffy on weather.


Allyson Szabo

Honestly? I'd suggest making a couple of Viking outfits, or going Roman (though that's better for warm weather imo). Even inexperienced me can whip together the basic tunic dress and apron over dress for Viking garb, and it tends to flare out very wide at the bustline (and you can make it do so and no one will look twice). And it's comfortable, made so you don't trip over the dress hems!


Kassandra De Haas

Viking apron dresses, Chitons, and bliauts are what I wore the most when I was pregnant. I was 8 months at GW and lived in my Roman.


Renee Schmutz

I did pennsic 7 months pregnant. I wore front lacing dresses and bodices laced with a gap. I wore middle eastern stuff that was flowy layers and that only was fitted to just below the bust. And on the days i gave no f!ck$ i wore a loose chemise with a full skirt over my bump and a sash to hide were the skirt waistband gapped and i had to safty pin it. (those days i looked soooooo preggers with all that fabric!) I had also made a few light weight linen and silk simple a-line gowns in the months prior and made the purposely oversized trying to guess how big i might get. That was hit or miss, but i still have one of the dresses and wear semi regularly.


I also found belting above the bump worked better for me than below. Plus you look so obviously pregnant people let you have first dibs on the big bathroom stall.:-) (except for that one eastern knight who cut in front of me to use the battle field porta john....nob i don't hold grudges, why do you ask?)


Taija Paju

For my first pregnancy I borrowed an Italian ren dress and for the latter two I just had gores that started high enough. And a cloak for warmth.


Lisa Morello

During my last pregnancy we had just moved back to our home Kingdom and wanted to attend 12th Night, so I wanted something fancier than the tunics I had worn thru the other pregnancies. I made a high waisted Italian Ren. It worked for quite a long time. It was comfy and we had a lovely homecoming event.


I have seen people unstitch the sides of their Norse apron dresses from just under their bust to the bottom hem. Then when they were ready to, they sewed it back up.


Celeste Wheater

I've been making new front-lacing florentine dresses as required - I've gone 2 &1/2 bra sizes from pretty flat to 'wow, these are annoying!' so if you do go for a fitted or laced dress, remember you will need to shape the bodice to accommodate breasts, as well as making sure to have enough skirting or width beneath them to fall lightly over your tummy and ribs.


I'm still attending events and intend to attend Crown next month and this style is still quite comfortable for me :)


I've attempted to build my latest with enough to allow for modesty while breastfeeding as well as the breasts continue to grow post pregnancy - I'll let you know post-baby in June how that goes!!


Sheena Boychuk

I used my normal front laced 15th century kirtle and inserted a peice of fabric as a modesty panel and loose laced it. I was.. about 9 months on the dot when I did that. Additionally I got a cheap comfy skirt from a thrift store to put under the dress as my bump made the skirt hike up in the front. Worked out pretty well. Also viking under tunic with a split neckline and an apron dress was magic for nursing. Just sayin.


Catherine Van Verth Sayre

Houpland because even skinny girls look pregnant in them.


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