So, I’m about 6 months pregnant and have been working on some maternity sewing for summer. We have very few maternity store options in town. I’m able to get basic jeans and solid colored t-shirts, but that’s about it. If I want anything with printed fabric, interesting styles, or quality construction, I have to make it myself (or load up 6 kids and drive over an hour…).
I remember trying to make maternity clothes several years ago. There were very few instructions online and no patterns available. I did manage to take an empire waist dress and make it fit by adding extra width and gathers in the front. I also adjusted a knit wrap shirt by making it wider and longer. It was all just a guessing game though. There are so many more options now! Lots of indie designers have easy to sew knit clothes that can be adjusted for maternity, and there are tons of tutorials for maternity sewing.
The first pattern I hacked to fit over my baby belly this time is the Lodo Dress from True Bias. It’s a casual knit dress, with a basic straight shape. I bought it as soon as it was released, knowing I could make it work for maternity wear without a lot of changes. I used an organic cotton interlock fabric from Cloud 9. The weight and stretch are perfect for this dress.
I chose to start with a size 10 in the bust and shoulders based on my current measurements. I also cut the longer length because I knew I would end up cutting a bit off while making adjustments. To make room for my baby belly, I measured across the front of a maternity t-shirt that fits me well and graded out in the waist to that size. (Something like this tutorial from Melly Sews.) That ended up being around the size 16 waistline. I cut the back of the dress just one size bigger in the hips and didn’t change the waist.
I sewed most of the dress together (which was really quick & easy!) and then basted the side seams to check the fit. It was way too big! I’m not sure why the t-shirt fit and the dress didn’t, but I ended up cutting off a couple of inches on both sides. In the end, the waist and hips might only be 1-2 sizes bigger than the top. My belly isn’t small at this point, but with the stretch fabric and loose fit, there was still plenty of room for my baby belly.
I gathered up the sides of the dress front below the bust line to add more length over my belly. Then I cut about 4 inches off the bottom of the dress back, so that the hems were the same length. I ended up with a nice knee-length hem.
If you want to make a maternity Lodo Dress (or any dress of a similar style, like Caroline’s Coffee Shop dress), my best advice is to cut a little bit more width than you think you will need and try the dress on as you go to make adjustments. Every belly is a different shape, so it helps to make changes as you go.
Besides the side seams, I also ended up taking in the center back seam near the waist where my back curves to support my growing belly. I suppose that would be a swayback adjustment, but it was easiest to try the dress on inside out and pin where I needed to take in the fabric.
It took some trial and error to get the fit right, but a second dress would go together really quickly now that I have the sizing figured out. And even better, I think I can easily take out the side seams and redo the hem so I can wear this after pregnancy too!
I have another easy maternity hack, using the Rumi Tank from Christine Haynes, to share next week…