I gotta tell ya, there’s a level at which I REALLY enjoy the few moments of life when that isn’t a relevant question. Because quite a few of my favourite styles of clothing, um, make me look pregnant. Even when I’m not. I love empire-waisted dresses, including ones with gathered skirts. So, while pregnant seemed like the perfect chance to indulge that love.
This pattern was a recent donation(among many, many others) from a friend of my mother’s. Thank you, Bernie! We all know I’m a sucker for 70s dresses, and I have a bad case of sundress-on-the-brain, so this was an easy thing to gravitate towards. I have had NO energy for the last several months, but finally just in the last week or so I’ve had a tiny bit of extra jam in the evenings, enough to very, very slowly piece this dress together over the course of the last couple of weeks.
The pattern is in a size 12, which WAS my size, but is now a good three or four inches small. At its core it’s a simple princess seam empire bodice with a lightly gathered tiered skirt; there are some cute ties across the bust, though I almost skipped them. I made quite a few mods on this first version to be more maternity friendly—I prepped a shirred panel to cut the back piece from, and after some measuring made a small FBA on the front.
For this particular dress I just used a simple gathered rectangle for the skirt, to take advantage of the border embroidery of my fabric. And it’s probably more full than it needs to be, or would need to be if it weren’t going to be going over twins.
The front hem will certainly go on lifting as the belly expands, but I’m cool with that. It’s a bit long as it is.
I thought that the front tie provided an opportunity to try out some kind of a nursing access point for the sundress. I never had any nursing-specific clothing with my first two pregnancies, and I did plenty of nursing, so I’m a bit sceptical about the value of such mods, but I thought I’d give it a try, at least.
I basically just sewed the CF panel separately from the side front panels + ties, and then lapped the pieces and tacked them at top and bottom. If the ties are tied everything stays securely in place, and if you untie, you can fold it back and access the slit. In theory the other side will stay closed, though if it becomes an issue I can see adding some kind of a belt-loop in the middle to keep the non-nursing side in place. As I said, we’ll see. That particular feature isn’t likely to be tested until next summer, anyway.
So between the FBA and the little bit I added at the side seam and then the stretchy back, I actually had to take in the side seams, an inch at the under-arm tapering to more like 1 cm at the bottom of the bodice (tricky to do because I made the whole thing very clean-finished inside, pretty to look at but not exactly easy to alter, especially when one of your layers is on the bias. It’s not super pretty up close. I’m very curious to make this without the stretchy back at some point just to see how it would compare. The (2 cm) FBA gave a LOT of projection in the boob area, rather more than I currently need, but it’s somewhat adjustable by tightening the ties, so it seems to work. I’m not sure if I’d do it again, though. And my boobs are likely to get bigger before they get smaller again.
I used my favourite gathering-with-dental-floss method, using a cording foot from a set I bought last summer to keep the dental floss snug in the middle while I zig-zagged over it. This definitely makes it a more foolproof method. I finished the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt separately so I can take the skirt off and re-adjust if I want fewer gathers later, though attaching the gathered skirt to the shirred back was kinda hell so I’m not sure I’ll wanna try that again.
All in all I think it’s a pretty cute experiment. I feel like the proportions might be better if the bodice was slightly longer, but on the other hand since my belly starts right below my boobs, I don’t think that would really work very well right now. So it is what it is; i may try styling with an elastic belt below the bust to see how that looks. But for maternity wear, I think I’m pretty happy with it.
Now if only it would get warm enough to wear it!