You may have noticed that not too long ago I was carrying a bubba in my belly and it was quite the experience! It had been a while since I had bought ready-to-wear clothes but with serious exhaustion and sickness, I found myself back at the stores desperate for anything that would fit me and my growing bump. It only took one shopping experience (from a popular online store) to remind me why I had tried to sew more of my clothes. One of the dresses ripped across the shoulder seam on the first wear (and having since fixed that it’s now ripped along the zipper!), the second one was super uncomfortable across my back and the third one frayed all along the hem in a gentle wash (as well as being tight across my upper arms). Disaster! It was the last thing I needed and I found myself reaching more and more for my last few sews. In fact, these were my comfiest clothes and the most flattering- and none of them were ‘maternity’ patterns! And the best part was that they pretty much lasted me throughout my pregnancy- from the first trimester “bent-over-the-toilet-bowl” days into the “huge bump, can’t see my feet, need-to-roll-off-the-sofa” stage!
I started sharing these 1st Vs 3rd trimester photos on my Instagram page but thought I’d do a round up, along with tips on how to make the garments work.
Frill Hemmed Top by Trend Patterns
I’ve just blogged my midi-dress hack of this one (which you can find here). In my review I mentioned how the hack creates a statement loose dress. And as luck would have it, it was roomy enough for a big bump with no adjustments! I ended up wearing it to work a lot. And it never failed to get compliments. The frill and the shape meant I still felt fashion-forward, even when I didn’t feel it!
Tip: I know I’m a sucker for plain block colours, but the black cupro (from Rainbow Fabrics) gave me the added versatility to change up the style based on accessories (or in my case, mainly my hijab!)
Self drafted swing dress
You may remember my experiment with stretch velvet? This self drafted dress (instructions found here) is one of my favourite makes to date. Its. Just. So. Comfy. And its got all the right levels of glam. Again, the fit and flare shape worked well here to provide all that extra room for the bump. One of the issues with normal dresses is that the hemline isn’t made to deal with the bump, so you’ll find the front hemline rides up= wonky hem. But the great thing about this style is the high-low hem: instead of looking odd, it just becomes more exaggerated as the months pass.
Tip: If you go for this style, make sure you create the flare to start from under the bust-line to give you more room and a nicer silhouette as the bump grows: cinching you in where there is space to be cinched!
Kielo Wrap dress by Named Clothing
It’s no secret that I love the Kielo wrap dress (I have four in my wardrobe now!) This became my grab-and-go outfit of choice. It’s comfy, stretchy and again the wide wings means that there’s enough fabric to accommodate a growing bump. It was only right near the end that it started to be more fitted around my bum (we can blame that on ‘widening of the hip bones’ near the end of pregnancy rather than the million and one chocolate bars I ate!)
I made the grey on in cotton jersey from Girl Charlee (which had a surprising amount of drape and washed/wore really well- I kid you not. I wore it ALL. THE. TIME.) I also made it in a green midi version for work, a red striped version in a lighter weight jersey from Fabworks (above) and my latest one is this jewel green from brand new knit fabric store, Pin & Sew. Just a quick note on this brand new store- not only does it have a super cute selection of knit fabrics, but it’s got the best packaging. The fabric comes in a lovely, sturdy brown bag with no plastic. Nada. Zilch. Amaaaazing. I love little details like that because it just shows such care and thought.
Do you believe me now when I say I think this is my favourite pattern? I love how different each one looks. Plus the different materials mean they’re good for different things. The Where’s Wally one is perfect for hotter days, whereas the green one is a heavier weight (which you can tell by the draping) and would be perfect for Autumn/Winter. (I wasn’t too sure about pairing it with the purple hijab but I kinda love it now!)
Tip: The only change I made with the latter two is that I raised the wings by a 1-2cm so it sat just below my bust. This isn’t totally necessary (the grey version hasn’t been adjusted and is fine) but it was just a little more comfortable to tie around over the bump than attempt to tie around my then non-existent waist!
Last but not least…
Drapey Knit Dress by Claire-Louise Hardie
CL is pretty darn amazing and I had been eyeing up this pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee book: Fashion in Fabric for ages. But only took the plunge after seeing how great she looked in hers in real life. It has the best pockets ever and a really unusual shape. I love the criss-cross front and think thats one of those lovely details that just elevates a pattern. I did a midi-hack and ended up wearing this one to death in the blue (even though it’s covered in bobbles, I can’t quite bring myself to part with it). I also made another in a gorgeous purple ponte (which I need to photograph). The stretchy fabric and roomy shape meant that I was able to wear this all the way to the end. The darker colour also made it more slimming. In fact it actually became a bit annoying at work because people wouldn’t notice I was pregnant! Which can be an issue when they ask you to heave a patient forward and listen to their chest/ bend down to take bloods/put in a cannula etc. Even on my very last week at work I had to tell some colleagues that I was pregnant when I wore this! But that might say more about them than me…
Added bonus is that you can get this pattern for free from Love Sewing Magazine online!
Tip: I did widen the hip area for both versions. If you do make the midi version, cut the back as two parts (with added seam allowance down the new centre back) and create a simple centre back slit up to the knees to make sure you can walk!
So those are the four patterns which I found the most versatile throughout my pregnancy. With a little bit of extra thought behind styles and fabrics you can make a sustainable wardrobe to last you throughout pregnancy and beyond. No need for a special maternity wardrobe (although next time I wouldn’t say no to Phoebe’s iconic watermelon-shop-lifting dungas!)
Hope you’ve found that helpful,
Special thanks for Girl Charlee and Pin&Sew for sending me fabric to test out. All opinions are my own.