Maternity Empire Waist Dress by Maggie of Smashed Peas and Carrots

Hi everyone *waves*!  I’m Maggie from the blog Smashed Peas and Carrots.  I am super thrilled to be visiting DIY maternity today!  When I was pregnant with my #3 last summer (who is now my crazy crawling little 8 month old girl named Eloise!) I was just itching to wear pretty, airy dresses in the hot and sticky summer humidity.  This dress fit the bill perfectly.  To make it I upcycled an old tank shirt which allowed me to breathe some new life into some of my closet cast-offs, it makes me love this dress even more!

Things You’ll Need

  • 1 tank top
  • 2-inch wide elastic (cut to the measurement under your bustline)
  • Fabric of your choice (1 1/2 times the measurement of your waist for the width and cut to however long you would like the length…mine is cut to right at the knee)
  • Rotary Cutter and Mat
  • Sewing Machine and Thread

What to Do

1.  Grab your supplies…so far so good!?!
2.  Put on your tank and mark it where you would like it comfortably to fall beneath your bustline.  If you are serging the cut edge add about a 1/4 inch to your length. If you are using a regular sewing machine add about 1/2 inch so you can fold it under about 1/4 inch twice and hem
3.  Serge or hem the raw edge and set aside.
4.  Place the elastic band under your bust and add about an inch to the measurement. I know my elastic is white here but I had a change of color choice at the last minute!!
5.  Zig-zag stitch the elastic band into a tube overlapping the edges by about 1/2 inch, the zig-zag gives some stretch to the seam. I also zig-zagged mine a few times for added strength.
6.  Take your fabric and either hem (folding the fabric over 1/4 inch two times) or serge the top edge…where the elastic band will meet it.
7.  Then make a gathering stitch right under the hem (or serged edge). To make a gathering stitch you are going to use the longest and widest straight stitch on your machine and you are going to sew a straight line all the way across your fabric (at the width you measured at 1 1/2 x your under bust measurement). Do not backstitch at either end and leave long threads at both ends!
8.  Pull the bottom thread (the bobbin thread) slowly and carefully to make nice gathers throughout the fabric until the length measures your elastic band.
9.  Sew the fabric into a tube with the gathering stitch at the top.
10.  Pin the skirt fabric, right side facing the elastic band, to the bottom of the elastic band and zig-zag stitch it in place. Make sure your skirt seam and your elastic band seam are matched up too!
11.  Pin your tank top, wrong side out, at the upper portion of the elastic band and zig zag into place too. Making sure your tank top side seam is matching the elastic band/skirt seam too!!
12.  Flip your dress right side out and try it on to see where you would like the bottom hem to fall. Then just cut your fabric and hem it in place and you, my friends, are all done!
Isn’t this such a fabulous upcycle of a boring old tank top?  And the best thing about this dress is that you can totally wear it after the baby is born too…I can’t wait to get mine out again once summer weather is here!

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  1. Trisha says

    oooo i saw a lot of these dresses in stores last year – i had no idea they were so easy to make!

  2. says

    GREAT tutorial!!! I can’t wait to make this dress – it’ll be perfect for the hot Houston summer! I featured this on my blog.

  3. Karen says

    I bought my material today and can’t wait to get started!! Thank you so much for the tutorial!!

  4. Ashley says

    Ohhh! You could easily make this for fall too, but using a long sleeve fitted t, and wear it over leggings. Very cool, I think that will be my plan! Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. Helena says

    Hi there! I really liked this tutorial. I have a question, though, which could be stupid but since I am new at it, I need to ask it. When you say 1 1/2 times the measurement of your waist, do you mean your waist before getting pregnant? Or your actual waist, so it still has some room to grow?

    thanks a lot!

    • says

      Hi Helena!
      Your waist is actually the part right under your boobs (see the picture!) so it really shouldn’t matter too much when or how pregnant you are when you measure. Don’t measure your belly but the area right under your rib cage! Hope that helps and happy sewing!!!


  6. Julie says

    I whipped one of these up this morning, it only took about an hour. I left mine as a maxi because I hate hate hate hemming with passion. I had everything on hand, but my fabric was a little short so the skirt opening is narrower than I like, but its perfect for bumming around on hot summer days!

  7. Gayle says

    Hi there, what kind of fabric would you recommend using? Jersey? Cotton? Thanks in advance!