Sewing for the Bump: Maternity (and Beyond!) Sewing Patterns

Being a pregnant sewist is kind of amazing. Not only are you busy making a human, you’ve got so many options to make a wardrobe that will fit and flatter and give you an extra boost of confidence as your belly beings to grow…er, takeover.

pregnant woman bs  Sewing for the Bump: Maternity (and Beyond!) Sewing Patterns

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If you’re looking for maternity sewing patterns, I’ve assembled my list of faves for you below.

I had a very particular approach to maternity makes: everything I made had to work post-pregnancy. As in now, 9 months after delivery and immediately after birth because the body will definitely take it’s time shrinking back down to size. And that’s a period of time when it’s just as important that you feel comfortable and stylish and lovely…anything to counteract extreme lack of sleep! So here goes!Screen Shot 2017 04 14 at 1.13.20 PM Sewing for the Bump: Maternity (and Beyond!) Sewing Patterns

I made three Grainline Studio Penny Raglan (top right above) while pregnant and those tops are still getting lots of use. The cut is kind of ballet style, so I often wore them with a cami underneath – pretty much the perfect scenario for breastfeeding later, if you choose to go that route.

Sew DIY’s Lou Box Top (lower right) is designed for knits and wovens and with it’s boxy

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Pregnant me in a Penny Raglan, spring 2016

shape, it’s perfect for pregnancy and later, especially if you like that boxy styling. Lots of ease in this pattern, though you’ll likely need to add a little length as your belly starts to kick out the shirt front more. Or extend it into a boxy dress – lots of amazing versions out there!

I made three of Whitney Deal’s Ryan Top (top middle) when I was pregnant. I extending the length a little bit for added coverage and the tops worked until the day I delivered. And I wear them all the time now, mostly with slim-cut jeans. The Mercer Tunic by Whitney is also a great pick for maternity but transitions perfectly later.

Made by Rae’s Luna Pants (bottom left) are a tried and true here, folks! First trimester through thirds, these pants were comfortable and stylish standby. Maybe try them in a knit for added comfort! The crotch actually seems quite long (at least on my short self!), so I had no issues placing the waistband up over my belly, even in later months. I also used the patterns to make some easy shorts since I had the supreme good fortune to be super pregnant in July (again!). Made by Rae’s Isla Dress (top left) is also super with bump.

True Bias Hudson Pants are elastic-waist joggers designed for knit fabrics….and they are divine! Keep in the mind that the crotch is a bit on the short side, perfect in a non-pregnant scenario, so unless you make an alteration, they’d be best for riding under the belly, especially late in the game.

Here are a few patterns I’ve scouted but haven’t made:

I know Megan Nielsen Patterns for her super stylish, on-trend patterns, but she actually got her start with maternity patterns and has a whole section of stylish maternity pattern offerings.  And, bonus points, they’ll totally work for after too.

The Hey June Santa Fe Top looks like it would be perfect over a bump – and definitely beyond. It’s super swingy, kind of trapeze style, and that will be easy wearing over a big pregnant belly. My only recommendation would be to add to the length a bit, especially for those later months.

And if you need a cooler weather layer, Hey June’s Tallinn Sweater seems pretty dreamy. It has a layered that can flex out over a big bump and the flap also makes for easy breastfeeding.

And consider wrap dresses, especially if you already have a favorite. This style is perfect for an expanding belly and post-pregnancy.

Design Ideas for Non-Pregnancy Patterns
If you have a favorite pattern that wasn’t designed for pregnancy, consider a few hacks for added comfort.

  • Add ruching.
  • Leave off the french seams at the side seam and go in later to add shaping.
  • Leave easy access to elastic waistbands so you can make them loose and tighten them up later if needed.
  • Consider altering a favorite pant pattern to include an elastic waist or elastic back waist.
  • Add swing to non-swingy designs by kicking out the side seams, especially at the hemlines.
  • If your pattern can be made in wovens and knits, consider all the knits – they are probably most friendly to a growing belly.
 Sewing for the Bump: Maternity (and Beyond!) Sewing Patterns
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Top 5 Raglan Sewing Patterns for Women

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 11.28.43 AM Top 5 Raglan Sewing Patterns for WomenI love a raglan sleeve. Or rather, I really hate setting in sleeves so apparently I’ll go to great ends to avoid them. But raglans: an easier fit for wide shoulders (at least that’s been my experience!), super quick and easy to sew, and I like the styling they provide, a little sporty but not necessarily so. I’ve gathered a few of my favorite raglan patterns from indie sewists here. Full disclosure: I haven’t sewn all of these. My picks are based on favorable reviews and to show the full range of looks – many not sporty at all! – that you can get with raglan sleeves in both knit and woven fabrics. Here are my picks, in no particular order.

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1. Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio - Are you tired of me talking about this pattern yet? Fresh off a Linden Bender – and I’ve got 2 hacked sweatshirts, 3 tees and a dress to show for it. There’s just so much you can do with this pattern beyond the classic sweatshirt, which I also love! Continue reading

 Top 5 Raglan Sewing Patterns for Women
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Simplicity 8093 Pants Sewalong with Mimi G, week 1: Selecting Pant Fabric

Screen Shot 2017 04 04 at 2.06.38 PM 300x282 Simplicity 8093 Pants Sewalong with Mimi G, week 1: Selecting Pant FabricWe are so very exited to welcome Mimi G to the Sew News blog this week! Are you ready to sew some fabulous crop pants? Us, too! Mimi is joining us this week to discuss fabric selection. 

If you sew, you’re probably aware that your fabric choice can make or break a garment, so the selection process is so important. For many new sewists, that is one thing they struggle with.

Aside from not choosing the correct hand, you may also pick a print that doesn’t work well with you after you get it home. There have been many times when I buy something online or at my local fabric shop, and then when I decide to sew it, I realize I hate the print altogether and have no clue why I purchased it. Those are some of the reasons why when I design a new pattern for my Simplicity collection, I try to make that design work in many different fabrics.

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The pants in the April/May issue of Sew News, Simplicity 8093, are one of my favorites precisely for the reason I mentioned above; you can make them out of just about anything depending on the look you are going for.

For example, if the look you’re going for is more structured, utilitarian or even casual, you could choose to make them out of denim, mediumweight linen, twill or even a scuba knit.

You could quickly change even the style of the pant by adding topstitching and side pockets.

On the pattern envelope, I went with a flowy more relaxed look because the overall feel of the pattern cover was meant to be softer and feminine. One of my favorite fabrics to work with is rayon because it’s easy to work with, not as fussy as slippery fabrics like a charmeuse and softer than cotton. It has so many possibilities that it seems to be a go-to fabric for me. Rayon blends are also a great option for a more fluid pant. A few other choices would be a jersey knit, crepe and even a satin for a fancier look. I also plan to make these in a lace.

Have fun with your fabric and know that no matter the fabric choice you can, and will make an excellent pair of pants using Simplicity 8093! I can’t wait to see them so please make sure and tag me on social media @mimigstyle.

 Simplicity 8093 Pants Sewalong with Mimi G, week 1: Selecting Pant Fabric

And tag us, too! Use @sewnews and the #sewalongwithsewnews so we can see your makes! Join us next week as we talk tips for sewing with sheers and for adding a lining. 

 Simplicity 8093 Pants Sewalong with Mimi G, week 1: Selecting Pant Fabric
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Sergers in the Costume Shop

As you may or may not know, I began my sewing life in theatrical costuming. I learned to sew in my university costume shop, and worked for several years in a professional shop after I had my degree. For National Serger Month, I thought I’d tell you a bit about how we used sergers in the theatrical world.

We always had a serger or two in any shop — but we never used them for seaming. In fact, I never stitched a single seam with a serger until I started working for Sew News last year. If you consider the way theatrical costuming works, not sewing with a serger makes perfect sense.

costumes  Sergers in the Costume Shop

Photo Credit: Brigitte Sporrer, Getty Images

Almost all costumes are constructed from basic measurements only. In many cases, we would cast actors from out of town, which made it impossible to bring them in before rehearsals started. Even for local actors, it was not usually not viable to have them in for fittings before we went into rehearsal, so we worked from measurements. And as you know, measurements don’t always accurately reflect an individual body’s shapes and quirks — which meant the costumes usually needed fairly extensive alterations.

Because of the short construction timeline and often large numbers of costumes needed for a theatrical production, muslins are rarely used in theater sewing. The piece that’s fitted is the piece that will eventually go onstage, and this is where we get back to why we didn’t sew with our sergers — we needed to be able to adjust the seams. While we tried to err large rather than small, it was important to retain the seam allowance in case something needed to be let out. And if you’ve ever had to rip out a serged seam, you’ll know why we didn’t want our seams finished together — ever.

costume designer Sergers in the Costume Shop

Photo Credit: Image Source, Getty Images

Nevertheless, our sergers still got plenty of use. Of course we used the rolled-hem setting to finish the edges of lightweight and sheer fabrics, but the main thing we used them for was finishing fabric edges, thus extending the life of the garment.

Theatrical costumes need to be able to take a lot of wear and tear. The actors are generally moving vigorously for extended periods of time, putting strain on the garments. In addition, they’re doing it under hot stage lights, so the clothes get quite sweaty and need to be laundered often, some of them between every performance (up to eight times a week). Even clothes that must be dry-cleaned are sent out weekly for cleaning. Because of time constraints, hand-washing is usually not possible, especially on a large scale, so costumes that can take repeated machine-washing are a must.

The costumes need to be able to stand up to all of this without falling apart at the seams — and I use that idiom intentionally. To make sure that seam allowances didn’t unravel, almost every item we made had each edge of each piece serged after cutting but before construction began. This ensured that no edge ever raveled in wearing or in the wash.

I still do this to this day. There are some exceptions — if I’m working on something sheer, for example, I’ll usually choose French seam and double-fold hems instead. I will also sometimes skip the step when working on knits. However, for any woven fabric thicker than gauze, I’ll serge all the edges before I ever start. If instructed to trim a seam allowance that won’t be fully enclosed, I’ll do it on the serger, using the blade to trim and ensuring the edge is finished.

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Here are a few tips for serging a cut pattern:

  • The loopers are the important element in this process. The straight stitching on the serged edge itself won’t take much strain. Because of this, you can safely use a 3-thread overlock stitch, though if you prefer 4-thread, there’s no reason not to use it.
  • When marking your fabric, make sure to mark your notches out a little past where the left-most needle will stitch (often 1/4” from the edge; I usually make my notches 3/8” long) so you won’t have to search for them in the loops.
  • Make sure to test your settings on a fabric scrap before serging.
  • Even when your settings are good, the stitches usually end up tugging on the fabric a little. To minimize this, try to stitch the same direction on parallel seams. For example, stitch the waist and then down the side seam of a skirt, then flip the fabric and stitch down the other side seam across the bottom. If preferred and the fabric is sturdy, you can just stitch all the way around, which is faster.
  • I like to keep my blade engaged to trim any stray threads as I go, but if you aren’t confident in your serging abilities, disengage the blade to ensure you don’t trim anything off the seam allowance.
  • Only trim the thread tails off at the end. After you stitch off an edge, stitch a small tail, then pull the fabric around, place it under the foot, and begin stitching along the next edge from the same corner. There will be a small loop left behind at the corner. Once you’ve serged the entire piece, go back and cut off all the loops and tails.
  • When serging inward curves, tug gently on the fabric so the curve straightens out as it feeds into the machine. This makes it easier to get a good edge, and it will regain its shape once it’s out of the machine.
  • For very tight inward curves and corners, try out the same technique, but disengage the blade in case something slips. If you absolutely can’t get it positioned correctly in the machine, don’t worry about it. It’s okay to leave a little piece — especially a difficult-to-reach piece — unserged.
  • You may find your pieces don’t lay completely flat after they’ve been serged. Try running the edge between your fingers to redistribute the fabric. Then press the pieces flat on the appropriate setting. Keep in mind that if you used heat-removable markings, you’ll need to re-mark after pressing.
  • Be mindful of how the pattern goes together. If a fabric is not likely to unravel while being handled during construction, you can leave edges that will be completely enclosed unserged. It’s also not necessary to serge the edges of bias tape or other binding strips.
  • If using interfacing, attach it to the pieces before serging the edges. Not only is it neater and more stable, but it gives additional security to the interfacing by stitching it to the fabric at the edges.

Screen Shot 2016 08 16 at 3.36.45 PM Sergers in the Costume Shop

 

 Sergers in the Costume Shop
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13th Annual Denver Paper Fashion Show 2017 #paperfashionshow2017

I attended the 2017 Denver Paper Fashion Show put on by the Art Directors Club of Denver on April 6. It was an event that I’ve wanted to attend for awhile and the stars aligned this year.

FB DPFS Post single 13th Annual Denver Paper Fashion Show 2017 #paperfashionshow2017

Denver Paper Fashion Show 2017

I went as the press rep for Sew News, which allowed me great access for photos.This event supports Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAV), a local community organization that provides after-school arts programs for urban youth ages 3 to 17. Their mission is to strengthen the community through the art. This event is judged by local Denver business owners, artists and community leaders. Teams compete for 1, 2 and 3 place and DAVA Choice, Star Student and Art Directors Spirit  Award. For more information on DAVA please go to www.davarts.org and to see past Paper Fashion Shows head to ADCD.com. Continue reading

 13th Annual Denver Paper Fashion Show 2017 #paperfashionshow2017
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Sew Your Stash: Creative Busting

My tendency toward fabric hoarding is well documented…and I’m mostly okay with it. I set limits for myself and try to stick to plans to sew my stash…and sometimes succeed.

fabric stash Sew Your Stash: Creative Busting

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As I sew more and more garments, my stash of scraps is growing. And there’s some special stuff in there! Recently I embarked on a mission to use some of those scraps as I gear up for spring and summer sewing…and learned a few things along the way.

Screen Shot 2017 04 06 at 4.20.51 PM 270x300 Sew Your Stash: Creative BustingUse your scraps to create muslin samples. I’ve been auditioning a few woven tanks for summer sewing and wanted to test the fit of the Willow Tank by Grainline Studio. I had a good cut of thrifted black linen left from another make and some precious ikat (on an ikat bender, folks!). I simply cut the pattern pieces apart and added the strip at the front and back…and I think I want to do it again.  Continue reading

 Sew Your Stash: Creative Busting
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Perfect Fit: How to Find the Apex with Joi Mahon

The apex is a key location for pattern making, flat patterning, draping and adjusting a pattern for a custom fit. When you learn flat-pattern design, the apex is the starting point for rotating darts and creating any garment pattern you can imagine. When scaling a pattern for the perfect fit, you use the apex as a key reference point. If you draft a pattern from scratch, the apex should be the first mark you place on your paper.

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When working with commercial patterns, there are some common-sense tricks that any sewist can use to determine this reference point that make it quick and easy to find. Some patterns have the apex already marked. Even if it is not marked, the apex is still there; you simply need to find it before you start to alter your pattern. It can be as simple as looking at the pattern and making a logical guestimate of the location, but for a more precise placement, follow the guidelines below. Continue reading

 Perfect Fit: How to Find the Apex with Joi Mahon
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