My knit maternity top is finished. While I wait for the Professor to take pictures of the finished product, I thought that I would share a maternity top that I made earlier this winter.
When my tops started to get a bit tight in November, I thought that I would try to make a maternity top that would work with my expanding belly. So I pulled out my Simplicity 2599 pattern, which I used to create a few tops last spring. I was envisioning a top with a gathered empire waist – something that this pattern could easily be adapted to reflect.
To adapt the pattern for maternity wear I used the “cut and spread method” of increasing pattern size. This allowed me to keep the slopes of the necklines, armholes, and side seams intact while adding much-needed width to the front bodice.
Here are some helpful tutorials on this method: Threads Magazine shows the typical cutting lines and the one by Sandra Betzine gives a good visual diagram. You could also search for tutorials on “full tummy adjustments” as this is essentially the same adjustment as converting a pattern to maternity wear.
This is what my pattern looked like prior to the maternity adjustment. The white bodice pattern shows my adapted version (which is overlaid against the original pattern), in which I removed a fair amount of ease. I added this ease back into the pattern for the maternity version.
I only adapted the front bodice of this pattern- preserving the back bodice and neck facings as originally constructed. Starting at the center front, I drew several lines that were parallel to the center front and pivoted 90 degrees toward the side seam.
Once you have drawn several lines a few inches apart (the number of lines depends on the width that you are adding to the pattern), cut these lines and spread the pattern half of the distance that you require. The width is halved in this particular pattern because it is cut on the fold- thus you are only adding half the width to one half of the bodice front.
I originally added about an 1″ to each point for a total of 8″, but ended up reducing the width to a 1/2″ at each point for a total of 4″ after making my muslin. The shirt has fit well so far- I started wearing it around 20 weeks, and now I’m almost 8 months pregnant and it still fits just fine.
The second step in creating a maternity pattern is to remember to length the bodice. As your stomach grows the hem on your shirt will get shorter and shorter. I would recommend adding 3″ or 4″ to the pattern to accommodate this growth. Length should be added at the center point of the bodice, and should gently taper toward the existing side seams. No additional length is necessary in the back.
I also made a few alternations to the pattern itself. I wanted the top to appear more fitted, yet still allow for growth, so I used 4 rows of shirring at the empire-waistline to get a tighter fit (and allow for lots of stretch). The great thing about shirring is that I’ll also be able to wear the shirt postpartum, as it easily shrinks back to a ‘normal’ size.
I also adapted this top to have long sleeves using an existing sleeve template.
All in all I’m really pleased with how it turned out! I hope that this tutorial helps!
The 30 week belly!