Maternity Wardrobe Ideas

First a bit of news: I’ve developed a free Opal Pattern Add-On, which allows you to make the Opal Cardigan with a V neck. This free pattern will be available in the shop this Thursday. If you don’t have the Opal yet, subscribe to our newsletter before Thursday, it will contain a coupon to get it at 15% off! 

Allright, the first pregnant lady post! I’ve been diving into maternity wear lately, and guys, it is SO BORING. I’ve been looking at patterns as well as RTW and it’s just so much of the same. Pencil skirts and dresses with gathers at the side seam are prevalent, all in drab colours. Who wants to look like that for 9 (ok maybe 6) months? So I’m on a mission to craft a fun wardrobe and maybe get some ideas for patterns too. Funny thing is, I’ve talked to a few other designers about maternity wear and they all had the same thought when pregnant. In the end, it’s just a couple of months where you actually have a belly and can test your designs. And that’s not enough to develop a maternity line. So we’ll see where this ends!

My mission is to use patterns that can be adapted in a simple way for pregnancy, and to be converted back to normal wear afterwards. I’m looking forward to use my precious designer plaid for an Archer popover dress. With an extra pleat in the front like this example above, and no waist shaping to accommodate the bump. Jen just posted a tutorial on how to do this. I can always shape the waist later, I reckon it’ll be a great dress for fall. At first I felt like I didnt want to use my good fabrics on things I would only wear a short time. On the other hand this period of time is probably one where I’ll need to feel good in what I wear even more. The Simone dress I’ve had for ages and I’ve never made it. But wouldn’t it be perfect, with all those gathers down the front? I reckon it’ll be great to have something flowy in summer.

These two are shapes where I’d normally think they’d make me look pregnant. The Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt is a very simple but fun pattern that only needs some lengthening in the front. It’s the only one I’ve ordered new fabric for, a gorgeous double gauze.  I’m not too sure about the Phaedra Dress yet, I can’t seem to settle on the fabric choice so I’ll leave it to simmer for now. Plus it is similar to the Simone so I might let it go. It does have a fun shape though!

Some other patterns that would work well are the Natalie dress by Muse patterns, The Midsummer nights dream by Papercut (or any wrap dress really) and loose fitting tees like the Plantain by Deer & Doe. Kat even made her wrap dress nursing friendly by adding snaps instead of ties – clever! I’m not really a fan of wrap dresses or tops but I might change my mind when it comes to nursing.

These long tops are the basics I’ve made so far, plus grey wool jersey leggings. Together with that plum cropped briar they make a great mini ensemble. I’ve found I need long tops or skirts most now, since I still fit in most of my tops but not my bottoms. I have a maternity hacked Jade planned as well. The key will be to coordinate the fabrics so things will go together. I’ll also be working on maternity adaptations for our own patterns, and maybe throw in a summer Opal, or an oversized sweater. It’s probably all a bit ambitious but we’ll see, I’m looking forward to sewing these up and that’s what’s the most important.

Tell me, if you’ve been pregnant, what was your favourite outfit?

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  1. I loved my pregnancy clothes, didn’t get many, just used my normal clothes! I love leggins and those are absolutely comfortable for that period (I couldn’t stand wearing jeans). Tank tops were also a must for me, specially when they were longer to fit my massive belly. And my favourite was a fitted knit dress long just over my knee. I couldn’t wear loose clothes, they made me feel like a whale.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I wonder what it will be like when I’m further along, maybe there’s a reason most maternity clothes are fitted knit dresses.

  2. I made my first maternity dress using jasper in a stretchy knit. My only regret was I made it too short, but it looks great with leggings.

    1. I have to try that one myself too! Did you shorten it or should you have lengthened it for the bump?

  3. I mostly wore either bought things or made do with non-maternity clothes. I figured that making something just for a few months wasn’t really worth it. Especially because I was insanely tired all the time and was also writing my master thesis, which left me with little time. I did make two dresses, a pair of maternified Chataigne shorts and some t-shirts. I wrote about my experiences in some blogposts:
    We have quite a different aesthetic, but maybe you can get some feel of what to look out for. :)

    1. Thanks! Wow, I can’t imagine having to write a Masters thesis right now! I do love that striped Burda Dress. I agree we have a different aesthetic but all the thing you made look really good on you and are still an inspiration!

  4. I’m six months pregnant now and hate all the RTW maternity clothes I’ve tried on. They’re boring, they don’t fit well, or they’re super tight, and I don’t want to wear tight dresses and shirts. It just doesn’t make me comfortable.

    For pants, I’ve just been living in yoga pants, and a few pairs of maternity pants that I bought secondhand. I much prefer the yoga pants, though.

    The Deer & Doe Plantain is one of my all-time favorite tshirts when made in a nice drapey viscose/rayon jersey. They worked great for me until around the 5th month, when they started to be a little too small. Since I’d already cut apart the pattern to make a colorblocked version (raised the neckline slightly and cut straight across just over the bust apex, then added seam allowances) I used this as a template for a maternity version. I took the bottom part of the shirt front and added three inches to the width and two inches to the length at center front, which I graded out to only half an inch extra at the side seams. I gathered the extra width by sewing a piece of clear elastic to the top edge, and then sewed the two front pieces together and proceeded as normal. I made no changes to the back piece, other than adding an extra half inch in length. I now have four of these maternity Plantains, and I love them! They’re great if you want a shirt option that isn’t figure hugging.

    I also just made a Swoon Patterns Scarf Neck Cardigan, which is nice and drapey and keeps me cozy at the office while having plenty of room for my belly – which is stupidly large and just keeps growing… I would not recommend the pattern though – it has a lot of weird issues. I’m going to try the Style Arc Abby Cardi next, because it looks like a similar pattern but probably better drafted.

    The Simone dress/top is really cute (I’ve been eyeing it for ages, but it’s not quiiite my style) and would probably be good for the first few month, when you’re not showing much. Granted this is only my first pregnancy, but I definitely hit a point between four and five months where I suddenly started getting way bigger, way faster – and I think at this point I’d have to add a bunch of extra fabric to the Simone. Still an interesting idea, though. I’ll have to think about it. If nothing else, it will give me a reason to purchase the pattern. ;)

    1. Stretchy pants are a must have, right? Thanks for the Plantain description! I’ll be at 5 months when I have time for the Simone too so we’ll see if it’ll work. It’s my first so I don’t count on getting too huge, but you never know.

  5. I can’t really recommend any pattern because most things I sewed were self-drafted. I wore almost exclusively knit garments bc I felt more comfortable, but that’s personal taste. I had several knit wrap desses which grew with my belly, so I loved these. I used Butterick 5860 but made a lot of adjustments. I could never have lived without maternity leggings, these were absolutely essential. I bought these at h&m though.

    I can’t leave without a word on nursing tops! Don’t make the same mistake as I (and others) did – don’t think that a wrap top or dress is in any way practical. It’s not, especially in winter! Your boobs can be easily accessed but a wrap top always uncovers everything above your nipple. You will always feel the need to cover your chest with a nappie or so. I don’t have any problem with nursing in public but a bit of modesty has to be. I quickly started to wear tops that have detachable straps or just stretchy ones as underwear and then something “normal”, like a t-shirt or a loose fitting jumper that can be lifted. Also, I don’t wear special nursing bras because I can’t stand all these plastic pieces on my skin (everything is very sensible in the beginning). I’ve been wearing stretchy bustiers like sports bras ever since the baby was born.

    Sorry for the many words;-) Hope you’re feeling well!

    1. Oh thanks for the tip on wrap dresses! I’m glad you wrote this, a good excuse not to make them :) I have some ideas for nursing tops as well, and they would take the upper-boob-coverage into account.

  6. Ooh, baby bumps! Congratulations! Hope you are feeling okay. I hated pregnancy (but love the babies. ?). My favourite patterns that took me through my entire pregnancy and beyond were Jalie 2806 with the only mod being added length (and REALLY stretchy jersey) and Butterick 5796 -View B. This one needed to be sized down by 2 or 3 sizes (can’t remember it was 3 yrs ago!) and I left out the side ruching. But once I got the fit right I loved it. I tried out the Megan Neilsen maternity tee and wrap top, but they just didn’t do it for me. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

    1. Thanks Melissa! I feel great actually, second trimester heaven :) Thanks for the tips, I’ll check them out!

  7. I haven’t been pregnant yet, but I still wanted to say that your plans for maternity sewing look great, I would be happy wearing all of those patterns! And you make a good point about sewing something that you can wear afterwards too. Hope you’re feeling well.

    1. Thanks Nilla! I hope it works out – there’s nursing afterwards to think about too. I am feeling well, thanks!

  8. I was maximally pregnant in summer so sundresses were my go-to—my fave was a non-maternity one with a bit of an empire waist but, most importantly, a shirred back, so it hugged my figure while still fitting over the belly easily. I also had some cute shift dresses, and some gigantic overalls I never really liked but other people always seemed to think were adorable. (I wore them over crop tops.)

    I love that Phaedra dress, I hadn’t seen that pattern before!

    1. Oh a shirred back is a great tip, I have a bit of a sway back too. I’ll be at the height in summer as well. Overalls with crop tops are totally my style, I hope I can pull that off!

  9. Don’t try to replicate a whole wardrobe, make or buy what you need as you go. You have no idea what you will need or be able to wear next month. Bed rest makes you take an early leave? Sweating? New skin allergies? My interest in sewing took a nosedive early on; too uncomfortable to move around the sewing cave such as it was. And iron stuff? Forget it!

    I had a couple of fallback items, which I still have twenty years later. A long button front jacket, in navy twill rayon, bias cut front, that hangs like a dream. A dress to go under it, both from Japanese Weekend, which recently closed! It’s a empire waist shirt dress, in blue polka dot rayon, biascut skirt, with releasable buttontab gathers in the back. No elastic clips, no miles of extra fabric, with a doubled nursing front. Both items have very useful pockets. They made beautiful clothes I would wear any time of my life. A search on Japanese Weekend images should give you ideas, and do not ignore the MamaCoat (essentially a parka with many pockets with an extra zipped-in central panel).

    The key for me in nursing wear was a double overlapping top in knit and loud prints so milk leaks weren’t readily apparent. Motherwear Nursingwear was a great source, and is closed too; another image search will give you some idea of how that double layer was constructed.

    Pockets. You will want pockets, now and for the rest of your life.

    Hey, you’re making a person. Take it easy.

    1. Wow all of those sound really interesting! I’m off to google now :) But you’re right, I’m feeling great now but I have no idea what I’ll need later on. That mama coat looks amazing, I’m of half a mind to draft my own. Thanks for the tips!

  10. I wore a lot of tunics and leggings. It was great in the summer. One thing I didn’t understand until I had a big ol belly is how much longer my tops needed to be. Wider, yes, but the length issue was a surprise. Your pants can’t go up very high in the front so you will need extra length to go over the bump and extra length to reach your super low rise pants. Basically, my shirts were all tunics. I had a few maternity and some altered items and things like leggings that I wear all the time. Honestly, I liked most of what I had even if I got sick of them by the end.

    1. Thanks for the advice! I’m starting to think that even though tunics and leggings aren’t very exciting, it’s just what you want to wear in this time.

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