Making it Maternity: How to Alter Patterns for Pregnancy

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


We all have our go-to patterns. For Laura, it's probably a great A-line skirt. For me, I've fallen in love with Colette's Iris -- a perfect-every-time-for-every-body short pattern. But, being pregnant for most of the past two years has changed the way I look at patterns and obviously how I sew them. So many of my shorts and skirts (purchased or hand-made) have wonderful stretch knit waistbands added to them. Today, I'm going to share how you can alter your skirts, pants, shorts, and other bottoms to allow for that wonderful belly expansion.

It's as simple as making a knit band and sewing it on :) Simple enough, right? I have learned from experience that the best knits for pregnancy comfort are single or double stretch knits that stretch at least 35 percent. To see if your knit has at least a 35 percent stretch, follow these simple instructions:

  • Draw a four-inch line on a piece of paper
  • Extend the line by 1.25 inches. 
  • Hold a 4" piece of the knit fabic on the line
  • Try to stretch it out the 1.25". 

**If you can get it to stetch that far, your knit will work great!

Depending on how high you want your band you are going to make two rectangles. I like my waistband to be 7 inches high that means I can fold it over to be a 3.5-4" on my stomach. To get the seven inch band you need a rectangle that is 14 inches high. Obviously, if you want your finished band to be taller than 3.5 to four inches, cut your rectangles taller than that. You'll want the finished height to be half of the cutting height.

Here are the sizes I recommend.
XS - Finished waistband is 25.5"..... 13.25"W
S - Finished waistband is 28.5"........ 14.75" W
M - Finished waistband is 31.5"...... 16.25" W
L - Finished waistband is 35.5"........ 18.25" W
XL - Finished waistband is 39.5"..... 20.25" W
**NOTE: You'll cut two of each of these 14 inches high (or your preferred height) by your desired size's width.**

After you cut out your band, the rest is very simple.
  • Sew up the side seams
  • Fold the band in half WRONG sides together. 
  • **Using my 14 inch tall cut, this will give you a 7" band and BOTH sides will look like the right side.
  • Mark the center and side seams of the bands
  • Mark the center and side seams of the skirt, shorts, or pants.
  • With right sides together pin the band at the sides seams and the center points using the 4 pins.
  • Using a ball point needle start at a side seam and pull the first center mark at the pin until the two raw knit edges and the raw edge of the shorts, skirt, or pants are all even. You will be stretching the knit to match the width of the shorts, skirt or pants. *This will work on knits, cottons, denim, corduroy, or any mid-weight to heavy fabric.
  • You will use each pin as a goal to work towards. Once you make it the first pin, stop sewing, adjust the fabric, and move on the next until you make it all the way around.
If you pulled it evenly to each goal (pin) you should not have any kinks or folds.

The purple fabric is the knit. The orange houndstooth is the short. With the two pinned together at four points, pull the knit until it's raw edges line up with the garment.
As I mentioned, this can be done to replace any waistband you're currently sewing or the techniques can be used to refashion an existing garment.

I made the Colette shorts in early July after Laura wrote her blog post about how great the pattern was. I found out I was pregnant the day after I finished them. A little annoyed, I decided to remove the yoke completely but for time purposes decided to leave the zipper in. I added the knit band and now they fit great. Who even notices there's a zipper AND a stretchy knit band? LOL! I am going to wear them to the Clemson game this weekend :)

Seriously so adorable, right? Fabrics: Fabric Finders Orange Houndstooth and St. Johns Double Stretch Knit in Purple. I used the Colette Iris pattern and added prepared purple piping (avail in store only).
We've got a lot of great knits in store and online. If you want to know which ones fit our stretch test, feel free to come by and check them out! If I'm there, I can point you in the right direction from memory. Did I mention, I've been pregant a lot lately? :)


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