A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Maternity tee tutorial: 3 ways to sew it

Easy maternity tee tutorial

I first wrote those post more than five years ago while in the home stretch of my last pregnancy. It's been pretty popular, so I wanted to update it to be a little easier to understand. (To be clear, I am not currently pregnant!)

Towards the end of my last pregnancy, I needed new tees but I didn't want to buy more maternity clothes, and I didn't want to buy a maternity sewing pattern. Turns out, it's simple to hack a maternity tee from a regular t-shirt pattern. 

So for these tees I just took my beloved Plantain pattern (it's free!) and tweaked it.  Read on, and I'll tell you how to do it.  

Maternity tee tutorial: ruched front

Easy maternity tee tutorial

This method will work with any knit t-shirt pattern, so use one you already have on hand, or download one of the many free options available online. Here's what I did.

  • I added about four inches of length to my front pattern piece, but I made no changes to any other pieces. 
  • Next, I measured the back pattern piece from the narrowest part of my rib cage (this point is about 3.5" below the armscye on me) to the bottom of my desired finished hem.  I cut two pieces of 1/4" elastic to that length.
  • I pre-hemmed the front and back t-shirt pieces before adding my elastic.  
  • On the front shirt,  I stretched the elastic from the point 3.5" below the armscye to the bottom edge, and then sewed it on using a zig-zag stitch. Then I assembled the rest of the t-shirt as usual. When it came time to sew my side seams together, I serged them as usual, right over the elastic.
I prefer this method compared to the others I've seen online, which call for assembling the shirt and then sewing the elastic into the side seam. This ruches both the front and back of the shirt, which means you look like you're wearing a maternity shirt from both sides. But this method it only ruches the front of the shirt, so you won't wind up with fabric bunching above your behind.

I made these tees for a trip we were taking to Disney World that year. I also made some maternity tees from other patterns using different methods that I'll describe below.

Easy maternity tee tutorial

Easy maternity tee tutorial

Easy maternity tee tutorial


Maternity tee tutorial: Size up and lengthen

The benefit of using this method is that you end up with a tee that you can wear after the baby comes, and that doesn't scream "I'm still wearing maternity clothes!" For these tees, I used Maria Denmark's Kirsten Kimono tee pattern (it's free!).  

To make these DIY maternity tees, I simply went up a size and lengthened the pattern pieces by four inches. I didn't do any ruching because I wanted the shirt to be wearable after the baby was born. 

And it was. The resulting shirt is a bit long when you're no longer pregnant under it, but it's easy to hem it.

DIY maternity tee that you can wear after baby comes

Here's another Kirsten Kimono that I made using the same method, but with a less stable, drapier fabric.

DIY maternity tee that you can wear after baby comes

Maternity tee tutorial: Trapeze top

I wanted to make a maternity tee out of a knit that wasn't very stretchy. Since it wasn't stretchy, I couldn't use the above methods for it. 

So I altered the pattern, by simply widening the shirt about 2" at the hem, and trapeze-ing the side seam out from the narrowest point of my rib cage.  I can't believe it, but it actually worked and was my very favorite of the maternity items I sewed. 

This method also yields a tee that you can wear after baby comes.

DIY maternity tee that you can wear after baby comes
DIY maternity tee that you can wear after baby comes

Bonus maternity tutorial: Knit skirt

I also have two easy DIY maternity skirts to share. For this knit skirt, I cut an a-line skirt using my hip measurement, and scooped out the front to accommodate the belly. Then I grafted an extra wide (about 10") yoga band onto it. 

DIY knit maternity skirt tutorial

DIY maternity knit skirt tutorial

The following woven skirt is a very simple a-line that I "drafted" using my hip measurement. Again I cut a small scoop out of the front panel and added a yoga-style knit waistband.  I made it out of a yard of stretch sateen from the stash.


DIY maternity skirt tutorial

DIY maternity skirt tutorial


I hope this post has given you some DIY maternity wear inspiration! 

8 comments:

  1. cute! tees and knit skirts are my uniform! so awesome that you were motived enough to make your own maternity clothes. i didn't quite have it in me! :)

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    1. Thanks! I had to put the third trimester insomnia to good use ...

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  2. You are so adorable!!! I love your maternity makes. I made a couple ruched tops and really got a ton of wear out of them. I agree, I think the trapeze shaped top will be a great postpartum top. Also, the foldover elastic looks great! Why haven't I tried that! What a good idea! I hate neckbands.

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    1. The FOE neckband was a last-minute idea to avoid sewing yet another wonky knit neckline - my stretching-and-sewing-evenly-coordination seems to have disappeared along with a large chunk of my brain this time around. Thanks!

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  3. Nice work! I especially like your use of the contrasting fold over elastic. Best wishes for your family.

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  4. Good work Momma! Especially since you probably have minimal sewing time and energy! That Kirsten Kimono tee is pure magic! Who knew it would make fabulous maternity wear!?! Hope the next few weeks go smoothly as you get ready for baby.

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  5. Wow! Prolific! I like all of them, but especially the elephants with the orange FOE. If you need to cut the sides open to alter after baby, you can just sew the sides up again. It will be great to have the option!

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Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!