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Altering Patterns to suit maternity

Aimee_Kandl | Posted in The Archives on

I am disappointed both with RTW and patterns available for maternity, and would welcome any advice or current publications on how to alter standard patterns for maternity. My main problem is that I would like to start sewing now, before I need the clothes, so that they are finished when I do.


  1. Paula_White | | #1

    I have five children, these were spread out over 17 years on purpose. With each baby I needed to start my maternity wardrobe over again. With the last two I figured out how the use regular pattrens and resize them to fit while pregnant and then easily alter them for continued use after the birth. This was accomplished be premarking the regular stitching lines onto the inside of the fabric by using a blind hem stitch. later I recut the garments and sew them up again very quickly.

    1. scholastica_dunleavy | | #2

      *Shirley Adams, who had a sewing show on public tv for years, showed how to alter normal patterns for maternity wear. I looked at the show but was not too interested but I do remember that she said that you needed to buy a pattern that would fit your upper bust. Then she suggested marking a new width at the hemline of a blouse, for instance , and pivoting from the underarm out to the side. She got the new hemline measurements by going to a good maternity department with her tapemeasure. This gave her the new "ease."The important thing to remember is that your shoulders don't get bigger, so just buying a larger pattern is an error. Also, keep it simple. I worked with a woman who had a very simple maternity wardrobe, and she always looked professional and elegant. It consisted of two skirts, two slacks, two tops and one dress. They were all in one color and good fabric. Hope the baby is healthy.

      1. Lorna_Newman | | #3

        *www.elizabethlee.com for nursing patterns that also have maternity alterations in them.

        1. Karen_Vesk | | #4

          *I have changed regular patterns to maternity for clients in two ways.One is to take regular maternity patterns and change details to suit the person who will be wearing it... Like, taking plain fronts, adding a front button closure, then adding a collar. I have literally taken two patterns and pinned one on top of the other, using the maternity body, and, say, a banded collar at the top.The other is a bit more fiddley. I take a regular pattern, for say a shift dress. I cut the shoulders on both front and back in the person's regular size. I cut the back mostly the person's regular size, but taking care to ensure that the hips will be large enough. Thus the side seam will still hang perpendicular to the floor. I cut the side front much wider starting from nothing at the underarm seam, going progressively wider toward the bottom. I cut the centre front quite a bit longer than the original, so that it curves. When lying flat, it looks like it will be way too long in centre front.Leaving generous seam allowances assists in the fitting process.If I put darts in the back of the dress, it can make the wearer barely look like she is pregnant when seen from the back.

          1. terri_kelly | | #5

            *Does anyone know of a pattern or instructions to make a maternity belly for a dress form/costuming?

          2. Karen_Vesk | | #6

            *Terry, whenever I have had a maternity client, I use my adjustable judy, set her bust size to the client's current size, estimate what her waist and hips might be if she were not pregnant (sometimes I do not have the luxury of having done work for them before they were pregnant), then use layers of quilt bat and/or arctic fleece remnants to pad the tummy out front in the approximate size/shape of the client. Then I cover the entire body with a stretchy judy cover that a friend of mine made for it.

          3. terri_kelly | | #7

            *Hi Karen, thanks for that. I actually found a really neat idea at a costuming discussion board - relating to actors. they used a one piece girdle/ bodysuit and stitched a circle of single knit fabric. Leaving the top undone a little, they then stuffed with fiberfill.You could use the top of a pair of maternity hose for this as well. Using the fiberbill, you can grow with your belly, taking measurements both around your 'waist'and vertically from the top to bottom of your belly. Just thought others might be interested.

          4. Marca_Weaver | | #8

            *I agree with the keeping it simple idea. It's just way too expensive to buy or make all new clothes that one only wears for a few months.I would add this bit of advice. When you do figure out how to adjust the pattern you want to (I laid awake nights thinking about this when I was pregnant with my now 2 month old baby), doing a drawstring waist is really the way to go. It's more comfortable than elastic because it doesn't press on your belly, and you can do it in the same fabric as the garment. It also grows with you, which is something else you need to consider when making maternity clothes: you will get bigger, so unless you have a stretch panel to work with, make the front a couple of inches larger than you presently are, even if you're six or seven months along.Good luck--maternity clothes were a real bugaboo for me also.Marca

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