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altering patterns for maternity

Michelle | Posted in Patterns on

Does anyone know of a formula for altering regular patterns to fit maternity wear? (preferably tops or shirts)


shelly in Jerusalem


  1. GALEY | | #1

    I had a friend who never bought maternity clothes but just went up in size for her tops and wore larger elastic waist pants.  She was able to make this a very stylish look, but she controlled her weight gain very rigidly.  As for altering patterns, the pregnant body changes in so many places--neck, shoulders, biceps, bust (you won't believe), front waist length, waist, and also across the upper back and hips--that I would start with a maternity pattern and make changes from that.  Most of my relatives and customers (and myself) that put on a maternity dress made from a commercial pattern for the first time say "I'll never be this big" and then, they are thankful they are not wearing tight clothes at the end.  Also, in all maternity sewing, I suggest that designs for nursing mothers be considered--buttons, plackets, etc.  The mother can wear these clothes the first few days until her body is more normal.

    1. Michelle | | #2

      Thanks for your response - I once came across a site that had a formula for converting regular patterns to maternity however one had  to pay  in order to log in -

      I guess I could draft a pattern myself but I was wondering if anyone knew what 'formula' was being used.

      shelly in Jerusalem

      1. stitchmd | | #3

        Even if you knew a "formula", as galey said each woman changes differently. It's like trying to get a good fit from a standard size, only worse. I think a good thing to do is have adjustable features such as elastic, especially buttonhole elastic, or D ring belts on each side of the waist. Look at any maternity patterns or RTW sites for ideas.

  2. liselaure | | #4

    Hello Shelly,

    Looking for something else I came across a whole page of Threads about "maternity alterations". It's page 16 of issue 106.

    I also found a few information elsewhere. Here is a summary:

    • Add fullness for the breast enlargement (2" to 3" larger than the normal bust measurement)
    • Lengthen the front (at least 3" longer than the hipline)
    • Enlarge the hips by at least 8"

    Hope this will help.


  3. Kiley | | #5

    For pants and skirts, I believe you can purchase the stretch panels to be sewn into the front portion.

  4. suesew | | #6

    If you start with a shirt pattern that has a yoke in the front and back, You can add fullness to the lower part by gathers or pleats as you wish.

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