Hi! This is Blanca from Tes Pes al Miayo. I am a mother of two year old twins, boy and girl, that are, of course, the love of my life. I work as a full time engineer, so I only get to sew (and blog) at night… and I’m not a big photographer, that’s why all my pictures look so dim. I have little experience in blogging but, thanks to my mum and grandma, I have been sewing almost all my life. My technique may not be fully pro, but most of the time things turn out just fine!
I offered my modest blogging and sewing skills to Megan, and guess what? She accepted! Thank you, Megan, for having me.
So this is the tutorial for a stretch maternity dress I sewed for my best friend for her birthday. I translated it from my blog for DIYM.
Upcycling a huge super-elastic knit scarf and starting from an average sleeveless round neckline tee, I sewed this dress, pretty indulgent with my many mistakes. I still can’t believe it turned out so well!
We will need:
- - Approx 1 yard x 3.5 yard knit fabric (sorry, I just had this piece of fabric, make the math for stardard fabric sizes)
- - Approx 1 yard x 1.3 yard matching knit fabric (more or less the amount of fabric from a regular tee)
- - A shirt that fits, to use as a pattern
- - Pins, scissors, matching thread, sewing machine/serger
NOTE: Please, keep in mind that fabric sizes are waaaay too approximate (I didn’t actually measure the size of the piece of fabric I had), just recalculate for your needs.
1. The pattern
Fold a regular round neckline sleeveless shirt in half, with the back side up. Most pregnant women do maintain a regular silhouette from the back, so we will not make any significant modifications in the back pattern.
We will just enlarge about 10 cm (4” approx.) just to reach the hip (the tee was waist length). We also increase the width at the bottom in about 2 cm (0.8” approx.) in order to give a little looseness to the skirt (1) (you can make the dress a top if you just add the desired length and not adding the extra 2 cm for the skirt width. The dress will have wide straps so you can wear a pretty and elegant (yeah, right…) maternity/nursing bra. We will lower the back neckline and slightly modify the armhole line (see the dashed line in the image) (2).
To make the front pattern, we copy the back pattern in another piece of paper and proceed to the modifications:
First, we rectify the front neckline. We will lower it about 2.5 cm (1” approx) (1). We also modify slightly the armhole line (2).
In this case, we need to make the breast zone wider, for mums with bigger sizes. So we will increase the armhole line in a couple of centimetres (0.5-0.8” approx) following the previously drawn line (3).
To give a little more room for the belly, enlarge by 5 cm (2” approx) the pattern at the bottom (4). This extra fabric will be used for a small gathering in the sides (5). The more stretchy the fabric, the less gathering needed. Also give the bottom width 1 cm (0.4” approx) extra (4).
Once we have taken the mentioned extra margins, draw the silhouette guiding yourself with the original back pattern line (dashed in the pic) (6).
2. Cutting the fabric
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and cut one double piece for each piece of the pattern (remember to add about ¼” for seam allowance). Since we are making a dress, you should add to the pattern the skirt length (remember that we have drawn the pattern just down to the hip length). You can also cut the pattern as it is and the add a piece for the skirt just in the same way that we will be adding the bottom end (follow the instructions that are given below).
Sew a gathering thread through the 5 centimeters that we added for the extra room in the front pattern. Be careful to make the gathering at the same height in both sides and gather just as much to make the front and back pieces the same length.
Seam along the side edges, right sides together, starting from the armhole down to the bottom hem. Take into account that the front piece is wider than the back, so you just have to match each side edges and sew. Knit fabric doesn’t fray, so if you are not using a serger, you won’t need to make a zigzag stitch.
Now it is time to hem the armhole and the neckline. This is where I found the first problem. I tried to make a small hem, but the fabric was too stretchy and the neckline too round for my little expertise with the elastic stitch of my new machine, so it all became ruffly and “decomposed”. Sewing disaster #1.
I remembered that I had this purple top in the “Big Scrap Mountain” and just as stretchy as the stripped fabric. With the same pattern as the dress I cut two pieces of purple fabric one for the front and one for the back. With right sides of the plain and the stripped fabric together, sew along the neckline and the armhole (just leave the top unsewn, where the straps will be added later). It doesn’t curl anymore and it gives the dress a new fine look.
I realized then that the bottom hem may not be as easy as I thought. Besides, the dress was a little too short for the mummy I was sewing it for. All right… sewing disaster #2.
Cut a piece of fabric about 20 cm (8” approx) wide and the same length as the perimeter of the bottom edge. Fold the piece in half lengthwise and sew it to the bottom of the dress facing its right side. Remember that you can sew the full length of the skirt by this method, not just the bottom; it adds some weigh to the fabric so it fits better and it gives the dress a more finished look.
Next, the knot straps. I drew the pattern for the straps so they could be sewn to the bodice of the dress, with a little narrowing for tying, and pointed in the end. Cut four pieces of the each of the fabrics (no seam allowance adding is needed)
Place the two parts of the strap right sides together next to the dress inside out. Tuck the dress between the two pieces of fabric of the strap, folding out 0.5 cm (1/4” approx.) of the stripped fabric of the dress (you can also fold the plain fabric, but it will end up in the wrong side of the dress and it doesn’t fray anyway)
Pin the group together, using a couple extra pins to hold the “sandwich” that we just made in the joint. Sew along the perimeter of the strap, paying special attention to the continuity of the dress seam with the strap seam. Do not sew the horizontal seam at the joint; we will use that gap to turn the strap inside out.
Once sewn, turn the strap and the dress inside out. Looks scary, huh? The ¼” hem that we carefully folded seems undone? Well, just fold back the small hem (the two edges of it are now sewn to the strap). Sew a horizontal topstitch along the gap to hold the pack together (just don’t look to close to this picture, I used a very short stitch and it looks like an ant path)
To finish, just tie the straps and iron all the seams and the bottom piece.
As I pointed before, you can use similar or matching fabrics for this project, or you can enlarge the bottom piece (kind of 20’s look if you take it up to the hip). If you have enough fabric (not like me) you can cut the fabric including the straps piece, so you can skip the last instructions of the tutorial. When worn, I noticed that maybe the straps were too long, take your time to take correct measures (I couldn’t as the dress was a surprise present). And don’t forget to check Meg’s stretch fabric sewing tutorial for techniques for handling this tricky material.
I hope the translation is understandable… well and the instructions too, you can notice that there’s a little improvisation in the tutorial :D Feel free to ask any doubt!