Since I am going to have another baby in a month and a half, I have to get some baby supplies together. Most of my old stuff is still perfectly good, but I need more burp cloths! I decided to sew myself a little stash of soft, absorbent burp cloths for the new baby. This turned out to be a quick and easy sewing project for a baby! Plus it is very cost effective considering the cost of burp cloths from a store.
I used the burp cloth tutorial from Dana Made It.
I used flannel fabric for the backing and chenille fabric for the absorbent layer of fabric. Of course the minor problems I ran into were related to the burp cloth fabrics. The flannel shrunk and the edges shredded when I pre-washed it more than I expected. The soft chenille stretched a lot when I was sewing it AND it made an unholy fluffly mess all over when I cut into it.
As a result the sizes of my burp cloths are a little inconsistent. In the end I decided that the burp cloths might not be perfect, but they are good enough to be puked on.
Well now that I am 40 weeks pregnant I am FINALLY getting around to sewing the Megan Neilsen Ruched Maternity T-Shirt pattern! After all, the pattern package says it is great for post maternity too, so why not? For this maternity top I used the leftover turquoise cotton jersey fabric from one of my Vogue 8390 wrap shirts.
This maternity top sewing pattern is simple, with only three pattern pieces and four total pieces of fabric to sew together. Megan Nielsen sewing patterns are printed on nice thick paper, so no messing around with annoyingly fragile tissue paper. My swollen and clumsy hands can’t handle tissue paper right now, so this is great. I used a walking foot and a stretch stitch.
Simply put, this pattern was great! I would recommend it even for beginners. Of course its a maternity t-shirt pattern, so you will want a fabric with stretch (like jersey). If you are okay sewing with jersey, then I think you should try out this pattern!
There is one change I would make to this sewing pattern. I wish there were some notches or markings on the arm holesfor the sleeves. Even though you are supposed to ease in the sleeves, there is no guidance on the pattern for doing so. Now I admit I have hardly ever sewn sleeves, so maybe this is just the norm and I am in the wrong. Still, if I had my way the armscye and sleeve would match up more easily. I got around this by ironing the sleeve in half (before sewing them to the shirt) so I would have a nice crisp line to match up to the shoulder seam to pin in place. I then stretched out each half of the armscye to the point where it matched the sleeve edge and started pinning like crazy so I could sew it in place.
This shirt was pretty fast and easy to sew. And it nailed one crucial point, being long enough to cover the bottom of a belly bump. I don’t know why some of my professionally made store bought materntiy shirts are so short that they expose my stomach. Listen up designers, maternity shirts need to be wider AND longer unless you are trying to bring back belly shirts. Since I am happy with it, I am (maybe) going to make another version. I would love to have a longer, tunic length maternity shirt! The rouching will make it more flattering for the awkward postpartum period I think. Plus since this pattern was expensive at $18 PLUS shipping from freaking AUSTRALIA, I want to feel like I got my money’s worth. Still, I would definitely buy this pattern again
I found a few verisons online that I loved. Girls in the Garden made a cute missioni-esque shirt. Maybe I will get the courage to try a print someday! Cotton and Curls sewed a lovely floral print shirt. And Mad Mimsewed a cute turquoise print version.
My Problem: Wavy Seams on Knits/Jersey Fabric
I don’t know why, but the hems on my sleeves and the bottom of the shirt are wavy. Obviously, I want the hems to lie flat so the shirt looks less homemade. I used a stretch stitch and walking foot. I am not sure what causes the puckering on the hems. I did iron the neckline flat before sewing, but not the arms or waist hems. I THINK that I stretched out the fabric as it was being sewn, which was a mistake? So next time I will try a different approach, perhaps:
- Starch and iron, a la Fishsticks and Fries?
- Be sure NOT to stretch out fabric as it is being fed through the machine? I need to make sure I am not stretching knit fabric, according to the great guide on how to sew knit fabrics on Prudent Baby
- Maybe Serge??
- Sewing Machine Tuneup for Tension adjustment?
Maternity Dress Sewing Project
Now that I am obviously pregnant (31 weeks) there is just no hiding my belly. At this point I am clearly not just bloated. I absolutely need longer shirts and fuller dresses. I am still unwilling to pay super inflated prices for maternity clothing! The quality is terrible, and its not as if the cheap fabric it is made with increases the true cost that much! I decided to sew a maternity dress because I had nothing to lose. Besides, any thoughts of circus-tent proportions were outweighed by the shining promise of comfortable, non-restrictive clothes. I chose Kwik Sew 3486 Maternity Dress because it looked reasonably cute and comfortable. I made view B, the sleeveless version.
Kwik Sew patterns are available at my local fabric store for a good discount, so I don’t feel obligated to wait for a sale. Kwik Sew 3486 Sewing Pattern requires woven (not knit) fabric. I would prefer a stretchy, casual knit for a maternity dress, but I settled on a cheap cotton/poly purple broadcloth. I am still not at the point where I can realistically make a dress or shirt that I actually can wear in public, so I cannot splurge on nicer fabrics yet.
Overall, this maternity dress is a bit too at-home-on-the-compound for my taste. It has TONS of volume in the skirt, making me look HUGE! On the other hand, this dress would be a good choice for someone who really, REALLY wants people to know without a doubt that she is pregnant. But who knows, maybe by 40 weeks this will fit like a glove?
I made the sleeveless version of this dress (View B) instead of the three-quarters sleeve version (View A). This maternity dress pattern gets good reviews on Pattern Review, so I figured that it would at least be good practice sewing. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. Kwik Sew’s thick, real-paper pattern is great to work with compared with tissue pattern paper. Kwik Sew patterns often call for a serger (apparently) as they are often made for knit fabrics, but this pattern only included instructions to overcast stitch the edge of the fabric to finish it.
I am trying to figure out the best way for me to quickly cut out my pattern pieces without cutting up and destroying the paper pattern, so I can change sizes easily if I need to. This time I traced the roughly cut out pattern piece outline onto the fabric using transfer paper. This technique may have worked for some people, but I don’t think that the tracing was quite accurate enough as the pattern paper shifted several times. It also complicated the fabric grain alignment somewhat.
The construction of the dress was a pretty smooth process. No real surprises or major mistakes to report. The bottom edge of the dress came out a little uneven and I am not sure why, but I got it straightened out by hemming it.
Understitiching the Facings
I had to understitch the neckline facing on this maternity dress. The understitching tutorial at Coletterie was super helpful, especially because I had never been able to figure this out before. Next time I need to remember not to trim the seam too much to allow room for the stitches in the understitching.
My centered back zipper looks pretty pathetic, but honestly I have to call it a success because it is actually functional. Sure, the stitching veers off to the side where the zipper stop is, but it is still the best job I have done with zipper insertion! I used the instructions from Sew Everything Workshop and the Colette Sewing Handbook to help me out.
Sewing this dress was a good experience. Since I haven’t been able to sew during my pregnancy due to back pain (which is gone now, thanks Chiropractor!) I just wanted to at minimum not regress in my skills too much. This sewing project was good practice for me in that respect. I think that a nicer fabric with better drape (less stiff) would make this dress more wearable. Unfortunately most of the cute cotton prints available at my fabric store would require me to make a lined dress as they are semi-sheer. I wish I could find a cute dress pattern designed for a jersey knit.
Project: DIY maternity t-shirt
Cost: Price of shirt + elastic
Supplies: Loose T-shirt, matching thread, 1/4″ knit non-roll elastic
Well world, I am now 22 weeks pregnant (over half way through!) and I am looking starting to show. And by ‘show’ I mean that I look pretty chubby. No cute baby bump for me yet, just bloat. I feel like the only woman in history who has ever felt like this. My weight gain is on track, so what is up? DON’T JUDGE ME!
My sewing activities came to an abrupt halt due to 1) exhaustion, and 2) loss of motivation due to said chub. Let me tell you, the sad lack of cute maternity sewing patterns does not help inspire me. Why do they want pregnant women to look so bad? I feel oppressed!
Unfortunately, the few cute pregnancy sewing patterns I have found online are out of stock, and it appears that they will stay out of print for the duration of my pregnancy. Come on, fire up the presses and print up those patterns before an entirely new human being is formed in utero! Megan Nielsen designed some contemporary and flattering maternity patterns, but they are all unavailable on her website (and apparently through resellers too).
The alternatives to new maternity sewing patterns are maternity pattern alterations and maternity refashion sewing projects. Both of these are challenging to me as a novice sewer!
I decided that my first pregnancy sewing project would be a t-shirt refashion. By adding ruching to the sides of a large t-shirt I will add shape and comfort to a boxy, unflattering shirt. The idea for this project came from Homemade by Jill. I found that Sew Like My Mom had a very helpful tutorial. However, it was essential for me to subtract 3 inches from the length of elastic she used in order for me to get a ruching effect. (So, measure 4 inches from the armpit seam and 2.5 inches from the bottom of the shirt, and subtract 3. Cut this amount of elastic, but beware that maybe different kinds of elastic need different adjustments). I would love to try to alter the waist of some jeans some time like she did.
I needed more guidance on how to sew ruching with elastic. WhatTheCraft.com had a helpful elastic ruching tutorial.As in the tutorials, I decided to sew on the elastic to the sides of the shirt while it is stretched out. I had some problems getting the shirt/elastic to move through the machine. I have several unsightly thread balls in the shirt. They are never coming out.
Sewing the elastic was super annoying. Ripping it out was worse. If you are not pregnant, you may need a drink afterwards.
Verdict: This project has lots of potential if you have a shirt that is already flattering in the chest and shoulders, and if you know how to sew elastic. I used again with a women’s large t-shirt. Once I adjusted the length of the elastic needed, I was pretty happy with the results. I think a cute semi-fitted pregnancy look is the way to go, instead of the circus tent look. I think I might need to look for a longer style shirt in the near future.
I am still wearing my regular jeans thanks to the good old hair tie trick or my Bella Band. The Bella Band is great because it is much more comfortable and it covers up the zipper on your pants so people do not constantly tell you that your zipper is undone.
Luv in the Mommyhood posted a very helpful list of maternity sewing projects that I want to try out!