Well I’m currently 37 weeks pregnant and the countdown to giving birth is turning into days, instead of weeks …however shamefully it has also taken me 37 weeks to finally sit down and write this long-promised maternity sewing blog post!
During this pregnancy I have made maternity specific patterns, hacked non-maternity patterns to accommodate the bump and worn plenty of non-maternity makes in a pregnancy-friendly way.
I have really tried to keep a sense of myself over the last 8.5 months, for example I have never embraced the whole sportswear trend, it looks great on other people, but it’s just not very ‘me’. Therefore I naturally avoided this trend in pregnancy as well. No matter what your style, keeping a little bit of ‘you’ in pregnancy is important. You are going to have up and down days, days where you feel like you could make sleeping into an Olympic sport and days where you just want this baby out NOW! Your wardrobe (or handmade wardrobe!) plays a huge part in how you feel about yourself in the day to day, the pregnancy books all tell you to take time for yourself - and this was my way of doing just that.
Please don’t read this and think I am moaning about pregnancy in any way. I am more than aware how lucky I am to be needing a maternity wardrobe, as my journey to this stage in my life hasn’t exactly been like something from the pages of a Hollywood script. So as much as I have missed my old wardrobe, I have tried to embrace and enjoy every part of this pregnancy, no matter how humongous I get!
My bump decided to make an appearance very early on and has always made me look further on than I actually am (people were asking questions from 10 weeks, and the “are you sure it’s just one in there?!” questions followed pretty soon after!), so I had to up and change my wardrobe pretty quickly! So let me guide you through my maternity makes and what I have learnt along the way.
MATERNITY SPECIFIC PATTERNS
First up, my maternity specific makes, or should I say make as I have only used one maternity pattern throughout this whole pregnancy; the Tilly and the Buttons Maternity Agnes. This PDF pattern is the Agnes we all know and love, pre-hacked for you by the team at TATB to include gathers across the stomach. You have the option to make it as a top or a dress, both with our without adjustable drawstrings. I opted to make the dress, without the drawstrings - in fact I made a grand total of 4 of these beauties! As the Agnes comes with long and short sleeve options, and looks great with both bare legs or tights and boots, it’s a brilliant staple maternity make that will see you through your pregnancy whatever the time of year.
Any stretch fabric will make the maternity Agnes, however the amount of stretch will determine how long you can wear this make as your waistline expands! The Agnes in the photo above (where my bump look so tiny - and to think I thought I was huge at the time!), is made from our Nautical Stripe Ponte Roma. This fabric stretches reasonably well, however as I am now in the latter stages of pregnancy it is pretty snug and isn’t as comfortable as I’d like. I also made a version from our Grey Viscose Jersey, the viscose element makes it so soft and the fabric has much more stretch than the Ponte Roma, making it as comfortable now as it was in the first trimester. Our Grey Viscose jersey has now sold out, but we have plenty of other viscose and non-viscose jerseys that would make fabulous Agnes dresses or tops. Check out our selection below!
Whilst not a bought pattern, one of my favourite (and totally extra!) maternity specific makes was my self-drafted Christmas skirt. To make this skirt, I used the same method as my self-drafted pencil skirt which you can find further on in this blog post. The only difference was that I needed to add pleats to this skirt, as I opted to make it from our Champagne Sequin. Whilst this garment has an element of stretch, it isn’t as much as cotton jersey and therefore needed a little help to get over the bump! To make your own sparkly skirt, follow the instructions below for the self-drafted pencil skirt and just add around 30cm to the length of the front pattern piece. Hold the front pattern piece up to you and mark the top and bottom of your bump on each side seam, then mark these notches onto your fabric. You will need to gather between these two points. If you are using sequins then this won’t be possible, therefore I opted to pleat the excess amount instead. Gather or pleat the front skirt until it matches the length of the back skirt piece. You can then finish the skirt according to the self-drafted pencil skirt instructions below.
When hacking patterns for pregnancy I was very aware that this is a very short period of time in my life and therefore didn’t want to create something that I would never wear again post-pregnancy. With this in mind, when hacking a pattern to accommodate your expanding waistline, try and think of how you can ‘undo’ this modification after your bundle of joy has arrived.
First up in my maternity hack lowdown is the TATB Cleo - however I would like to make a disclaimer here and state that it isn’t technically ‘my’ hack, as my lovely manageress Alex was sick of me talking about making this Cleo and in the end just made it for me (thank you Alex!!!!). If you don’t have your very own Alex, then keep reading to find out how she made the Cleo bump friendly.
The Cleo is a naturally loose fitting pinafore, however you need to add a little extra to ensure it fits throughout your pregnancy. To do this, Alex created a slight curve in the centre front seam of the front dress pattern piece, starting from the bottom of the front pocket. At its maximum the curve was 3cm which then gently sloped back into the centre front seam. We used our Ex-Designer Stretch Denim, which can be a little stiff before it has been washed a few times. If you are using a softer material, a needle cord for example, then you may want to grade out slightly less. The main point is not to stress about altering the pattern! If you are unsure, then go out slightly further than you think you need, tack the fabric together and try it over the bump. If you are in the earlier stages of pregnancy, remember that you want it to have plenty of growing room!
The other alternation Alex made to the Cleo was to add plackets at the side seams, as you can see from the above photo, these are simple triangle shapes. The plackets are sewn together, right sides in, and attached to the pinafore at the back dress side seam. Attach buttons to the plackets, and sew button holes into the front bodice. As the plackets are triangular, you are then able to move the buttons at an angle as your bump expands.
To undo these modifications post-pregnancy, move the buttons back to their first position, and you will have a cute button detail at each side seam. You then need to remove the centre front curve, turn your garment inside out and fold in half with the curved seam on one side (like the above photo!). Take a ruler and draw a straight line down the centre front, eliminating the curve. Sew this line and try the garment on, if you’re happy, then cut away the excess in the new seam - and voila, a cute non-pregnancy Cleo that would be perfect for nursing and beyond.
The Cleo looks lovely in a variety of woven fabrics, opt for denim for a classic pinafore look, or cord or linen for something a little different.
Next up is the fabulous By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress, I feel like I’m scraping the barrel calling this a hack as the only notable modification I made was to use stretch fabric, when the pattern calls for woven. I made the decision to use stretch as it allowed the Hannah to stretch with me as my bump grew. When swapping a woven for stretch, I would usually size down, however I opted not to here for obvious reasons! I also shortened the hem slightly, as I knew I would mainly wear this dress in the winter and therefore wanted a flattering length to wear with tights. If you opt to shorten the hem length, be aware that as your bump grows the dress will look shorter and shorter at the front! Therefore make the dress slightly longer than you would like, to ensure you get the most amount of wear from it as possible.
The Hannah is a brilliant pattern, that will take you from pregnancy to nursing and back to normality - where you don’t need to concern yourself with a beachball shaped lump under your clothes, or easy access to boobs!
My final hack is even less of a hack than the Hannah! I made the Sew Over It Eve Wrap Dress that we sell as a full kit. The pattern gives you the option to either have a shorter length tiered hem, or a straight midi hemline. I went for the shorter option, but I levelled out the hem to eliminate the tiered effect. Having a large bump will create a tiered effect for you, so definitely opt to level out your hem if you make this pattern while pregnant. Once the baby has been born, you can either keep the hem level or recut to get the tiered look. Like the Hannah, the Eve is perfect for nursing as well, ensuring that you will get a lot of wear from this garment both during and post pregnancy.
Both the Hannah and the Eve ask for woven fabrics, if you’d like to use a stretch then look for something thicker such as Ponte Roma, as this will still give you the structure that the pattern requires. If you’d like to stick to the rules and use a woven, then a viscose will ensure that your dress is floaty and cool. We also spotted Elisalex from BHL in a gorgeous Cotton Double Gauze version of the Hannah, which is definitely getting added to our sewing list!
Throughout this pregnancy I have mainly worn non-maternity clothing. This is possible whatever the size of your bump (I cannot stress how humongous my bump is!), you just have to pick carefully. My most worn item is my self-drafted pencil skirt - please don’t run for the hills at the mention of self-drafting a pattern, it is not as complicated as it sounds! I already owned a stretchy pencil skirt, which was a midi length. If you don’t own a skirt like this, then a stretchy fitted dress will also do the trick. To construct the pattern I simply drew around my existing skirt onto pattern paper, then added a seam allowance (add extra if you’d like a little more growing room). I also lengthened my pattern by around 15cm.
To make the skirt; sew the side seams and then turn over the waistband and stitch a channel for the waistband elastic. Then just the hem and you’re done! Whilst I would wear the original skirt on my waist, I now wear my self-drafted version pulled up over the bump (hence adding to the hem length), additionally this area of my body hasn’t expanded as much as my stomach, so it still fits comfortably today. I opted to use a cotton jersey with plenty of stretch - a Ponte Roma or French Terry would not work here. A viscose jersey would also be perfect for this project.
When styling my pencil skirt, I have paired it with (my numerous!) True Bias Ogden Camis and Friday Pattern Company Adriennes, as well pretty much every shop bought top in my wardrobe. To make the tops work with the skirt/bump, I either create a knot with the excess fabric, or I French tuck, à la Tan France!
Another non-maternity pregnancy staple has been my TATB Indigo dresses. Now the bump is the size of a large beach ball, the Indigo looks quite cute, however during the earlier stages of pregnancy it just looked frumpy. This was a huge disappointment, as I love the #secretpyjama aspect of the Indigos! I soon fixed this issue by wearing a shirt over the top of the Indigo, tied at the waist. This pulls in the smock aspect of the dress, eliminating the huge sack effect!
My final non-maternity specific garment has been my most worn this winter and is by far my favourite make ever! It is the By Hand London Juliette Coat. This coat is a swing style (huge Mrs Maisel vibes!), and has been designed to be lose fitting in the bodice, while remaining stylish and chic. The large amount of fabric can be wrapped around the bump with ease - perfect if you are pregnant during the depths of winter and don’t want to invest in a maternity coat. My only advice would be to not add the button/buttonhole until after the pregnancy. I had every intention of adding mine, however due to the bump, the suggested location was completely in the wrong place. Instead you can add poppers as a temporary closure, then add the button and buttonhole once the baby is here.
I was planning on writing another blog once the baby is here with all my nursing friendly makes …however as I can barely find the time to write a blog now, I’m not sure how I think this will happen once I have a small human occupying my life! Instead, here is a round up of the garments I have either made already, or I have every intention of making (anyone want to take bets on how many actually get made?!).
Without a doubt, my BHL Hannah and SOI Eve dresses will be worn repeatedly once the baby is here. The wrap aspect of each dress pulls you in at the waist and will (hopefully) hide all the post-baby wobbliness. Additionally, it makes access to feeding a doddle, as you can loosen the dress to feed, without exposing yourself to everyone around you! I have also been very kindly gifted the True Bias Calvin Wrap from Alex, which is currently cut out and sat waiting for me on the sewing table. Although I have never made this pattern before, I am sure it’ll be just as flattering and nursing friendly as the Hannah and Eve wraps.
One item of clothing that I have really missed wearing during pregnancy is skirts - although I love a pretty dress, I make more skirts than anything else! From ruffle wrap skirts, such as the Made Label Frankie (a free pattern!), to self-drafted pleated 50s style skirts, I love them all! During the summer months I usually pair these with shop bought tees or an Ogden Cami. I also received the gorgeous Sicily Slip Top and Dress for Christmas (thank you Secret Santa!), which I know will become as much of a staple of my summer wardrobe as the Ogdens. Whilst tees might be off the menu for a few months, I have thought of a nifty hack for the Ogden/Sicily that I plan to try out. Instead of sewing in the straps, I plan to add clear poppers to the front of the top, allowing me to un-popper and feed with ease. I have also made an Ogden with tie straps in the past, so it will be interesting to see whether this will work for nursing, however I have a feeling that tying the straps back up might be a little tricky, especially when you have a wriggly baby to contend with!
I hope that this blog has helped all your Mamas to be! Remember to tag us in any of your maternity makes, as we'd love to see them!
Stay safe and happy sewing,
Kate & the Sew Creative Team x