Friday, October 17, 2014

Maternity T-shirt Dress

39 weeks pregnant the day before having
my baby.
I wrote the below several months ago, but never got around to finishing the post before I moved, had a baby, and entered leasing season. But we are mostly settled into our new place, all 20 apartments are leased for the next year, and my beautiful Peter is 5 months old and the mellowest baby you have ever met. Seriously, David sat on him and he barely whined. But now lets go back in time:

I am 35 weeks pregnant, and I get kind of huge-looking when pregnant. I have carried both my babies completely out in front of me. By the time I hit about 30 weeks, there are a lot of maternity clothes that can't cover me as my belly hangs out the bottom.

When you take everything above into account with the fact that I only go to the laundry mat once a week, my outfit on Wednesday makes so much more sense. I was wearing some rather worn looking jeans and one of Patrick's T-shirts (you know, the kind they give you for free when you volunteer or participate in some school function). I did not feel particularly attractive.

I finally walked down the street to the fabric shop that is about a block away. I purchased 2 yards of some stripped knit for $17. Then, I spent a while mulling over what to do with it and made dinner. Patrick was up on campus working until late, so after David went to bed, I spent a while on the internet searching for ideas. I came across quite a few cute ideas, but in the end just did my own thing (it so often turns out that way).

So now that I have taken forever explaining the why, here is the how.

I first folded the fabric in half lengthwise. Then, I took a knit maternity T-shirt that fits well, turned it inside out, and tucked the sleeves inside so it looked like a tank top. Then I  laid it out on top of the fabric close to the top and about 2 inches from the outer edge. Make sure to match the grain line in your pattern shirt with the grain of your fabric.

I cut around one half of the t-shirt, excluding the bottom, with a seam allowance. Usually, the front is slightly larger than the back of a fitted T-shirt. To make this a really simple dress, I ignored that fact. The side seams may be a tiny bit forward, but since my knit is stretchy, this was minimal in my dress, even with my giant belly in front. Also, though I was cutting out both the back and the front, I just followed the back neckline. I adjusted the front neckline later in the process.

To make the sides the same, I marked where the center of the t-shirt was on my fabric with a couple pins (one by the neck and one on the bottom), removed the shirt, and folded the entire length of fabric over on the grain line that passed through these two pins. Then I used the first side as a pattern for the second.

From this point, I had to determine how long I wanted the dress. Mine falls a little below my knees, but you can make yours any length. I put on the pattern shirt and measured from the bottom of the shirt to where I wanted the hem to hit. I would recommend getting someone to do this for you with a measuring tape. As I was alone, I took a piece of string and dangled it so that the end was where I wanted the dress and the part I was holding was at the bottom of the shirt and then measured the string. Whatever method you use, add a little extra for hemming.

Once you have your measurement, measure from the bottom of where you have cut your dress to what will be the hem. Cut across a inch or so below that point. Also cut a straight line from where you stopped cutting around the shirt to the edge of the fabric. It will be a diagonal line.

Next, I cut the neckline on the piece that was to be the front to the desired depth. Keep the front folded in half while you do this so as to avoid asymmetry--unless of course you want asymmetry. Also, don't cut in on the shoulders at all, simply start at the point you cut for the back neckline and cut in from there. It will get lower than you think pretty quickly, so I would start with just a little cut.

To make the sleeves, I folded over the folded edge of the remaining fabric and cut out the sleeve. I used the actual sleeve of the shirt as a guide, just like I used the front by pining it in place and moving the rest of the shirt out of the way as I went.

Next, I sewed it all together. I pinned rights sides of the front and back together and sewed the shoulder seams and then the sides. I then attached the sleeves and hemmed everything. Patrick came home to me in a brand new dress.

Back to the present: I didn't take pictures originally (this dress happened out of frustration after all), so I had to create some. If the above is at all confusing, I would recommend taking a look at this post. She did just about the same thing I did, but made a tunic instead of a dress by making it shorter. She also simplified it by cutting the sleeves in the same piece as the rest of the dress. I prefer cutting out the sleeve because it lies a little better that way, but it isn't that big of a deal with knit. She also just cut around the whole t-shirt instead of folding it in half so it is perfectly symmetrical, which works, but you have to be a little more careful.

Alternately to either method, you could also use a basic t-shirt pattern and lengthen it much the same way as we both lengthened the t-shirt.

I can still wear this dress and it only looks the tiniest bit big around the middle. I don't wear it, however, because it does not work for nursing. Should have thought of that.

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