Oh Baby! Sewing Maternity Clothes: My Favorite Easy Hack

I'm twenty-six weeks pregnant this week, and I've been in full-on maternity-mode sewing lately!  There's no denying this bump any more!  Even when I'm not pregnant, I sway more towards the fitted side of clothing styles . . . but when I am pregnant, I love fitted clothes even more.  Relaxed fit is nice in early pregnancy, but once the second and third trimesters are here, I'm all about showing off that bump! 

Luckily, it's super easy to take your favorite fitted top or dress pattern and turn it maternity-friendly.  These are both the Super Sleeve pattern from George and Ginger (definitely a favorite of mine).  You can see the extra side ruching that makes it maternity-friendly.  


This light purple top (fabric from Sincerely Rylee) was photographed a few weeks ago, so you can see the extra fabric I have in my midsection that I still have to grow into.  I think I was 20 weeks here, so there's definitely still a lot more bump coming ;)  


Both of these fabrics are brushed poly spandex.  Brushed poly has been my absolute favorite for maternity sewing.  It's so soft, comfy, and most of all, stretchy.  You won't regret using it for your maternity wear!  This blue fabric is from Vintage Lace


Now!  Let's get on the the nitty-gritty!  Grab your favorite fitted top/dress pattern and 1/4 inch elastic.  The only piece you'll be cutting any differently is the front piece-- you can cut all your other pieces the same way as the pattern calls for.   I'll give you the numbers I use, but remember that you may need to adapt them to your size/height/baby bump size. 

First, we determine the length you want your ruching to extend.  Hold the pattern piece up to your body, and determine an underbust point, right before your bump really starts.  For me, I go with 5 inches. I then also mark 1 inch above that (my 4 inch dot on the pattern piece below).   Next, I make a mark under my belly bump (that's the dot by my 3 inch point, as in 3 inches from the hemline [this is a shorter shirt, but I probably still should have done it just a little bit higher]), and then make a second dot 1 inch below that (so, my 2 inch dot).  When it comes time to ruche, I'll be stretching the elastic from that 5 inch dot down to that 3 inch dot.  The extra inch above and inch below is just extra to get my elastic started, but I don't stretch the elastic at those points.  


Now, measure the distance between the two furthest dots (for me, between my 4 inch dot and my 2 inch dot).  For this top, the measurement was 13.5 inches (so, again, 11.5 inches to stretch, plus the extra inch for the top/bottom to get started/finish off).  Pre-stretch your elastic, and then cut two pieces of elastic to this measurement.  


Now!  Time to add the extra length to your front piece.  I cut my pattern at that underbust/above-the-belly point (here, 5 inches).  I then separate the pattern, and slide the bottom piece down seven inches.  The amount you spread is up to you!   This is the extra fabric that you'll be ruching, so it's up to you, your body, and where you are in pregnancy.  I've done other shirts at five or six inches.  I know a friend who usually uses 8 inches at this point.  

I only add length to my maternity shirts.  If you feel like you need more room, you can also consider adding width at this point, and grading the bottom half of the pattern to the next size up.  Personally, I feel good about my use of brushed poly, and know this shirt will stretch plenty for me.  


Cut out your new extra-long front, and transfer the markings on to the pattern.  


Now head over to your sewing machine, and set it to a zigzag stitch.  You're going to be attaching the elastic to the front piece, which will ruche it.  At the end, you'll want the elastic to be in your seam allowance when you sew the front to the back.  So, for this pattern, I put the elastic close to the raw edge.  Put the raw edge of the elastic on that first dot and sew it for that first inch (to the next dot), without stretching it.  Once you reach your second dot, you'll begin stretching the elastic.  


Stretch the length of the elastic down to the third dot (leaving an extra inch of elastic at the end to not have to stretch).  


You can see here, the last inch was not stretched (the zigzag is bigger, compared to the tighter zigzag when I was stretching).  


If your measurements were correct, and you stretched the elastic accurately, the side seams of the front and back pieces should match up perfectly!  Proceed sewing the pattern as per the directions! I will note that my serger prefers the front piece (the one with the elastic on the bottom). If I sew one side with the elastic up, and one side with the elastic down, the sides won't line up correctly on the one side.  Just saying.  Every little thing makes a difference!

I hope this helps you make your own maternity shirts.  Obviously, this isn't a magic set of numbers, but it's an easy way to base it off of your own size and body.  

After pregnancy, my plan is to cut the side seams apart from the arm pit to the hem, take out the extra length, re-sew the side seams and re-hem.  I really can't stand wearing maternity shirts after the baby is born-- it just makes me feel/look still pregnant!  But I've been loving what I've been sewing, so they'll definitely be altered into "normal" shirts once the baby is here!

Happy sewing! Go show off that bump ;) 


The Wiggle Dress: P4P Pattern Release

There's been a lot of hype in Patterns for Pirates about this hot, curve-hugging little number.  And for good reason!  This is the perfect pattern for to use for professional wear, date night, or when an extra-fancy event finds itself on your calendar (I'm still waiting for my invite, haha).  

Personally, I was super excited about the Wiggle Dress  because I knew it would be super easy to hack it into some gorgeous maternity wear-- and I was right!  Just add their Layer Me Up maternity add-on (Kelly Bailey went over using the add-on with other patterns on the P4P blog), or your own favorite ruching hack (I shared mine here). 


The first one I made was from this gorgeous Liverpool from Sincerely Rylee.  Above the knee, 3/4 sleeves, low scoop back.  Stable knits like Liverpool are perfect for this pattern, because otherwise you'll have every lump and bump showing.  And there was really only one bump that I wanted to highlight, haha.  


You can see the side ruching here! I integrated the Layer Me Up maternity add-on into the pattern, which alters the front piece only, adding both length and width to your midsection. 


My husband and I are sneaking away for a weekend up north this weekend and I'm so excited to pack this one for our official date night.  I'm also thinking it will look super cute for holiday parties this year! 


For my second version, I knew I had to go glam and take this opportunity to do some maternity pictures! 


This is the off-the-shoulder version, with long sleeves, and full length skirt.  I used the stretch velvet from Jo-Ann's, which is super easy to find at a super good price (like less than $5 a yard).  I also just got in on a preorder of stretch velvet from Sincerely Rylee though, because she had way more fun colors! 


Honestly, I'll have nowhere to ever wear this dress, haha.  But I knew I wanted one for these sweet bump pictures.  Pattern testing win!  Because I would have basically no pictures of this bump if it weren't for pattern testing, haha.  I was only bummed about them because I was having issues with my camera that day, which left me with 90% of them sadly blurry.  Lesson learned.   


There is a sway back adjustment built in to hug your backside  . . . make sure you mirror that back piece, or you're going to be really sad.  Especially if you're making a full-length dress.  Not saying that I know from experience or anything . . . 


And yes, that was legitimate wind blowing my hair like a movie star-- Ha!  This little wooded nook is right off of Lake Superior, and it was windy that day! 


Are you in love with it yet!?

You can buy your copy of the Wiggle Dress here.  Or, if you're not convinced yet, check out all of the options here, and the P4P list of easy hacks here!

If you're interested in the Layer Me Up, and the add-on, this is an actual Layer Me Up I made, using the add-on:


xoxo! Molly