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Sewing Maternity Clothes

Sewing Maternity Clothes

Smart-looking maternity clothes can enhance the special glow of pregnancy. Even if you're a beginner, try sewing some for yourself and you'll discover what fun it can be.

My first serious sewing project--too long ago to mention--was a maternity top that looked like a tent. Maternity clothes have become a lot more stylish since then, with limitless fabric choices. And they are still easy to make, since fitting is minimal. Because you wear these garments for a relatively brief time, you needn't strive for perfection and durability. Instead, consider it an opportunity to try new colors and creative details.

In the first trimester, regular clothes are probably going to be fine. Those popular long dresses and jumpers, for instance, will easily disguise a growing tummy for a while. Then make a gradual transition to garments with a looser fit, especially in the waist. Try an easy fit t-shirt paired with elastic waist cotton knit capris or pants.

When you get into the last four months or so, you'll need to buy maternity patterns, so plan for the appropriate season. These special patterns do follow fashion trends, and some don't look much different from regular styles. Expectant mothers expand in five major areas--bust, waist, hips, crotch depth (distance from waist to the seam where pant legs meet), and front waist length. It's important to buy the same size pattern you'd normally choose, since maternity patterns have that extra ease built into areas where needed. Do the same alterations you routinely make, such as shortening, lengthening, adjusting for narrow shoulders, broad back, sleeves, etc.

In general, use light to medium weight fabrics with at least some natural fiber in them, e.g. cotton blends, rayon challis and lightweight wools. Knits--any fiber--are especially comfortable. Avoid plaids, crosswise stripes and directional prints because maternity patterns often have extra length in the front and you don't want a distorted effect.

Pants are a must, whatever length you like. Don't buy a larger size, or the legs may be too wide. Instead, use a stretch panel in the tummy area and stick with your regular size. Be sure your top is long enough to pull down over that.

Moms-to-be in the workplace need to be especially particular about styles and fabrics. The selection of ready-to-wear may be limited in these garments, so "sewing your own" is the answer.

You'll want to focus on an understated look with clean lines. Interpreting the patterns in higher quality fabrics, solid color or subdued print will help achieve that. Look for simplicity of style. The jacket or tunic, paired with a skirt, can give the effect of a business suit. A one-piece straight dress is also appropriate, or try a jumper with crisp blouse or knit top. If the fabric is light enough, a swingy open jacket could be layered over it. Make a few boxy blazers or cardigan style jackets, and you'll feel just as professional as you did before. Try to coordinate your pieces as much as possible for maximum mileage with a limited wardrobe.


About The Author

Barbara Gash is a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based writer and sewing columnist for the Detroit Free Press.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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