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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Converting a Non-maternity Dress or Top Pattern to Use as a Maternity Pattern

In this series of posts, I've been writing about maternity patterns, and especially, how to make any pattern for a top work as a maternity top. I showed how to convert a yoke-style pattern, an empire-line pattern, and how to make a tent-style top or dress. You can find more thoughts and ideas on this topic here. In this post, here's how to adapt a loose-fitting top pattern - and some ideas for using any just old top pattern as a base.

So before you buy maternity patterns, look through the patterns you already have. Almost any loose fitting top pattern can be used, and, depending on the style, it may need a little adaptation. So read on, for ideas on how to adapt it. 

This, below, is example of a non-maternity pattern which can  work as a maternity top with just a small adjustment. 

I used this pattern to make this nice animal print top for my pregnant daughter. It's loose right now but I'm hoping this will take her through the next three or four months.

This is already a nice loose fitting top. There are several ways this can be adapted to make a maternity top. 

1) Obviously, you can just add more width by flaring out the sides on the front. 

2) With a fairly straight top, you can also lengthen as well as widen the front, and elasticate the front sides into the side seam. I've seen examples of this done but when I tried, I found it sagged down too much at the front (certainly while she is only half-way through) so I took this elastication / gathering of the side seams out. 

3) For this animal print one, I adapted the pattern by adding a centre pleat. The way I did this was to add a few inches more to the width of the  centre front pattern. (About 4", as I was using a soft jersey knit)
 Then, I folded the material of the centre front right sides together, made a short seam down from the neckline where the centre front of the original pattern was, down to just where the bust started. 

I then opened out the two sides, and pressed the 'revised fold line with the centre of it against the seam I had just made, so that there was equal material either side of the seam. This made two side folds to the pleat.

Then I sewed the neckline of the pleat to the original neckline, The effect of this was to form an inverted pleat down the centre.  You can perhaps see how that is working as the waistline is expanding.

This top I made with the sleeves as in 'D' in the pattern - that's the blue patterned one with the solid blue hem.

Finally, I had a long enough strip of the material left to make an optional belt tie, which can be tied under the bust as an alternative look. I made little belt loops just underneath the armscyes.

Here it is still going strong at eight months pregnant.

But if you don't have a loose-fitting top pattern, you could adapt almost any pattern for a top you have kicking around - even one you may have drawn round a T shirt that fits!

The pattern below is a very basic top with several necklines, with or without sleeves. If I want to vary the style for tops, I just take the necklines and armhole arrangements of these, and make my own pattern - perhaps using the bottom of another pattern. So you can easily redesign a pattern like this for maternity use using the techniques I've described earlier - for example: - flaring the side seams, adding in a front pleat as above, lengthening the front to allow for expansion, extending the side seams so you can elasticate them - these are all techniques that can change a non-maternity top into one for those precious few months when the waistline is expanding. I've shown how to convert this type of pattern into a tent-style top of dress in this post.

However, since I first wrote this post, I've now found an interesting article on the same subject from Melissa at Melly Sews, whose patterns and tutorials I very much admire. She has an alternative approach (or approaches) to pattern adaptation which would work especially well for patterns without an obvious easy way to make them fit the maternity bump. You can find her excellent article here.

I hope this post has given you some ideas to help you avoid needing to buy a lot of special maternity patterns that will be used only once. But if not - you can read more thoughts on maternity patterns here.

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