Hi everyone, Kate here, one of your Sewcialists Editors bringing you maternity sewing inspiration! Two of my favourite Australian sewists happened to be pregnant at the same time and were sewing for their bump! (They have both since had their babies since I wrote this). They both bring different approaches to maternity sewing, which is more than I can say for when I was pregnant; I did nothing. If had I read the experiences of these two, then I might have been a bit more interested! I hope you find their tips and experiences inspiring, and I have also done a round up of the patterns they have sewn and recommend at the bottom of the post.
Brooke and Sil both live in dry and sunny areas in Australia, Queensland and Central Australia respectively, and in my mind are lucky to be warm weather sewists all year-round. They both have crafted and sewn since childhood and now both do dressmaking – but rock totally different vibes. As well as dressmaking, Sil makes the most adorable plush toys – you can see these on her blog. While Brooke is a vintage lover and has an orange combi van that would make anyone turn green with envy.
Brooke wears the Abi Jumpsuit from SMYLY patterns; Sil wears a McCalls 7505 shift dress
Why sew for your pregnant self?
One of the dilemmas about sewing whilst pregnant is that it is so short term. As well as maternity clothing having a limited lifespan, there is the time needed to sew the garments, and a load of other things to think about besides sewing! Sil wanted to commemorate the time of life and feel like herself (even with a watermelon attached to her front) and got around this by choosing designs that can be worn pre and post pregnancy. For Brooke it was about choosing a selection of pieces to make: “I wanted to have intent behind my sewing and select items that I felt really excited about… a full and extensive maternity wardrobe wasn’t feasible and I didn’t want to feel obliged to continue sewing for the sake of having something me-made.”
Choosing patterns for a changing shape
Being pregnant doesn’t mean an instant switch into maternity wear, and sewing for pregnancy doesn’t have to be all maternity patterns. Many non-maternity clothes (whether that is RTW or self-made) are wearable with a few adjustments, especially if they have looser silhouettes. One standard maternity adjustment that Brooke did is to lengthen front hems by around 2 inches. Just by looking at the general shape of the pattern you can think about how to adapt it – simply sizing up doesn’t always work. For example, a cinched in waist can be modified to an empire waist. A zipper can be substituted for a button or elastic closure.
You could also just get pattern that has bump-friendliness built into it, even if unintentional.
There is also an element of practicality involved. Later in the pregnancy, Sil started to look for nursing friendly patterns, recognising that floating romantic dresses often seen in pregnancy photoshoots were not to her taste!
Managing expectations of yourself
In some ways it can be easy to think that you can just carry on with your sewing like you always have – just a few adjustments here and there or choose a different pattern. But the reality is a little different. A constant changing body shape including chest, ribcage, limbs changes means your measurements can be all over the place and you do need to use your intuition to think about how something will look and hang. One way to help with this is to look at the finished garment measurements.
Finally, carrying a growing baby is hard work! Sewing motivation can be low as your energy levels might dip. Then there’s time spent organising baby things, and maybe you are working as well. Sil also noticed family and friends assumed she would make a lot of baby things rather than sew for herself.
Ultimately the point is to remember to be gentle with yourself, expect some change, and accept that some things might take a bit longer or not happen at all! And that is all ok. After all, sewing is for fun at any stage of life, right?
Brooke wears the Celeste dress (I AM Patterns); Sil wears Vogue 9253
And finally, here’s what you’ve been waiting for if you’re pregnant or sewing for someone who is pregnant…. the pattern round up!
Pattern Round Up
- Alex Shirt/Dress from Sew Over It London (part of the capsule collection – SOI City Break). No maternity alterations required for early stages, there is a lot of ease.
- Mito cami/dress from Papercut Patterns. This one is good for layering over t-shirts and long-sleeved tops
- Kyoto Sweater from Papercut Patterns. This is an oversized design so it is highly recommended as a lovely top/sweater that will last you a long time! (including post partum)
- Celeste dress/blouse from I AM Patterns. This is a lovely swingy pattern with beautiful detailing on the back panel. Again a non-maternity pattern but due to the nature of the design very wearable for those with a “baby on board.”
- Wren Dress by Colette Patterns. A lovely knit dress with beautiful bust detailing.
- Samantha Dress by SMYLY patterns, knit dress with an empire waist option and several variations.
- Abi jumpsuit by SMYLY patterns. A knit jumpsuit, so very forgiving in the fit department! This can be changed to an empire waisted option and the SMYLY team provide a lot of support fit-wise so you can adjust the pattern to your body shape.
- Afternoon Blouse and Shift Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. There’s elastic in the back to provide a bit of shaping and the front button could easily be made functional to allow for breastfeeding.
- Penny Dress from Sew Over It London. This has an elasticised waist and button front (good for breastfeeding), and flattering silhouette.
- Joni dress from Tilly and the Buttons (part of the “Stretch” book) – a twist front empire line dress with a maternity option
- Vogue 9253 – the bodice ends at the base of the chest so can work as a maternity pattern when the bump isn’t too big
- Burda 6957, a maternity and true wrap-style pattern. with optional ruffles. There are pleats across the front bodice and upper skirt to accommodate the bump, and a waist tie to accentuate the under-bust
- Simplicity 1469, a maternity pattern by Megan Nielsen for Simplicity. There is an under panel at the bodice to make it breastfeeding friendly.
- Style Arc has three maternity patterns plus a bunch of bump-friendly dresses and tops in the regular line-up!
- For a one-stop-shopping experience for pregnancy and nursing patterns in a wide range of sizes, check out MaternitySewing.com!
Lovely outfits for both ladies! I made several maternity outfits for myself a few years ago, and enjoyed the challenge. I mostly had to hack patterns into bump-friendly pieces because the big 4 maternity patterns weren’t really my taste, and really wish MaternitySewing.com had been around back then! But aside from jeans, I found the RTW maternity clothes even more disappointing (taupe EVERYTHING, ugh!), and the process really helped my pattern hacking skills. Honestly, I found postpartum/nursing sewing to be much more challenging!
Thanks for the feature! Now I have to think about sewing for my postpartum self, which is quite different in my physicality and lifestyle than before pregnancy!
[…] I have the honour to be recently featured in the Sewcialist Blog about my handmade maternity wardrobe, together with the lovely Brooke of Retro Novella. You can read the post here. […]
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