Altering non-maternity patterns for your pregnancy

I must have been taken by the print of this fabric because it literally has the same feel as the gym shorts from my 6th grade P.E. class.  Thankfully, this top does not come with the nasty athletic girls, the teasing, and the coach with the Rod Stewart spiky mullet (no lie–Rod Stewart was her hero) that those hideous blue shorts did.  Over a tissue weight t-shirt and jeans, that nastiness can’t be felt anyhow.

Aside from that, this was an easy tunic (if you can call something that hits you at mid-thigh a tunic), and I’m so glad to have something in my preggy wardrobe that’s not colored maternity dark and bland (don’t get me started on RTW maternity lameness).

BWOF 02-2008-122(a non-maternity tunic that works great as a maternity tunic)

What I learned (or more encouragement really for other pregnant sewists out there):

Why you should alter non-maternity patterns when you’re pregnant:  Maternity patterns are few and far between as far as all pattern companies are concerned.  There’s a few patterns, but they’re not terribly interesting, and the sizing is weird in my opinion.  Worse yet, if you do a search for “maternity” on Polyvore, you can see that with little exception, a few basic silhouettes are repeated without much interest, care, detail, and in a woeful color selection.  Not personally wanting to spend 9+ months in t-shirts, I’m left to alter existing patterns.

For some valuable help on adding fabric for your expandomatic tummy, check out Rostitchery here.  I’ll add that to add for that extra full bust that accompanies pregnancy, I trace off my normal shoulder size and swing out an extra size from my normal at the very bottom of the armscye and continue that size down.  That becomes my base size that I work from.  This is nice and simple, does the job, and prevents the mess that FBA’s can become (if they work for you, you are a lucky gal).

It sounds like a lot to do, but really, it’s no different than making any other alterations other than the fact that you’re attempting to hit a moving target.  As for picking patterns to alter for maternity here are my tips for success:

  • Knits, especially those with lycra are your friend: stretchy fabric is way more comfortable when you’re growing in all directions.  You will probably have more success with knit patterns whilst pregnant, but you can also make up woven patterns in a knit like I did on this top.
  • Find styles with minimal seaming: less seams = less altering = more time that your tired pregnant self can spend with a cuppa reading a book with your feet up buried under a nice blanket.  Empire seams and seams that hit above the bust are very easy to add volume to and will give the eye a focus other than your obvious anatomical addition(s).
  • Look for patterns with pleats and gathers: since these features already create volume, it’ll be nice and simple to add more where you need it.
  • Feel free to choose styles you wouldn’t wear while not pregnant: I would NEVER in 8 million years wear an empire-waisted, tunic, or billowy, shapeless anything non-pregnant.  The combo of my petiteness and hourglass shape and lack of definition at the waist adds weight to my figure 100% of the time.  Not having a waist makes it possible to pull some of these styles off, and I figure when I’m in the temporary state of pregnancy, it’s fun to play around.
  • Take advantage of online communities: Patternreview has such helpful people on it.  Burdastyle has had some helpful maternity tutorials in the past as well.  I promise you someone will walk you through finding specific maternity patterns or altering a pattern for maternity on these sites and others if you just ask.  Shoot, I myself would be glad to help you.  You can always email me at

My review of this particular pattern is here at Patternreview.

Now for that cup of rooibos and Barbara Kafka cookbook I picked up at the library…

4 thoughts on “Altering non-maternity patterns for your pregnancy”

  1. Cute tunic, and great tips!! I am so with you on the bleak desolation that is RTW maternity – unless you want to spend a fortune at a Pea in the Pod. Which I don’t. As I come to the end of this maternity journey, I find that I am living in the couple of pieces that I made myself and ignoring the RTW pieces that I already owned. And the maternity patterns I bought when I found out I was pregnant? Never got used.

  2. What you said! I mostly just altered non-maternity patterns–I only actually sewed one genuine maternity pattern, and that had to be altered so much anyway I might as well not have bothered.

  3. Perfect timing! I am about to enter into this life adventure (for now, my regular clothes still fit), so I’m starting to think about what I’ll be needing. 🙂

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